Utah Political History


BYU has an outstanding collection of materials documenting the political landscape of Utah during the 19th and 20th centuries. Collections deal with various levels of politics, and can be used to gather information about the national politics of a time period, the political ideals of individuals, and the political interests of Utahns. All of the collections listed on this page are related to Utah politics, even though information about broader trends and issues may also be gathered from the collections.

Secondary Sources and General Information

L. Tom Perry Special Collections’ Utah political collections will be more useful after the researcher understands more about the general political history of Utah. The following bibliography identifies resources that range from short sketches of Utah’s political history to more in-depth information.

  • Bibliographies
    • Bibliography on Utah politics. Jonas, Frank H. 1958.
    • Government and politics in Utah : a selected guide to information sources. Harmon, Robert B. (Robert Bartlett). 1991.
  • Surveys of Utah History (includes information on politics)
    • Battle for the Ballot. Carol Cornwall Madsen, editor. A collection of essays on Women’s Suffrage in Utah.
    • Beehive History volumes 12 (Utah Government and Politics),18 (Utah’s Governors), 20 (Utah’s Constitution), and 21 (Utah Statehood). (These are short magazines produced by the Utah State Historian’s Society)
    • Legislative Politics in the Rocky Mountain West. Susanne A. Stoiber. pp. 63-117 deal particularly with Utah.
    • Utah’s History. Poll, Richard, Thomas Alexander, and Eugene E. Campbell.
    • Utah: A History. Peterson, Charles S. 1997.
    • Utah: A People’s History. May, Dean L. 2001.
    • Zion in the Courts : A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900. Firmage, Edwin Brown.
  • Sample Collections
    • Arthur V. Watkins (MSS 146)
    • Watkins was a senator from Utah selected to be a member of the Committee to Study Censure Charges against Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Thirty of the boxes in the collection contain items related to hearings before the committee. “These materials include complete files of the case from Senator Watkins’ office. The rest of the materials deal with Watkins’ various careers and his life in general” (Byline Record).
    • Emmeline B. Wells (Vault MSS 503 and Vault MSS 905)
    • Emmeline B. Wells served for 37 years as the editor of the Woman’s Exponent an independent Latter-day Saint woman’s paper. She is known as an advocate of woman’s suffrage both on a local and national level. She represented Utah women at the Woman Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C. in 1879 and she was the head of the Utah Woman Suffrage Association. The collections held by L. Tom Perry Special Collections include 45 diaries.
    • Reed Smoot (MSS 1187)
    • Reed Smoot was the first senator from Utah. He served from 1903 to 1933. Smoot was the co-author of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff adopted by Congress in 1930. This influential tariff effected American economics in the 1930’s and is thought to have played a major role in the Great Depression. The collection includes “correspondence, journals, newspaper clippings, speeches, and memorabilia. Most of the materials relate to Smoot’s career as a senator and his activities as a church leader” (Byline Record).
    • Stella Oaks (MSS 1712)
    • Stella Oaks is the only female mayor of Provo. Mother of three children, including Dallin H. Oaks, she was the director of adult education for the Provo City schools for twenty-four years. She was the assistant mayor of Provo from 1958-61, during which time she served as the acting mayor for one month. This collection contains autobiographical information, talks, and notes pertaining to a variety of subjects.
    • Wallace F. Bennett (MSS 20)
    • Wallace Bennett was a senator from 1950 to 1974. A Republican, Bennett defeated Democratic Senator Elbert D. Thomas who had been “one of the key figures in the New Deal” (1). Bennett, who served on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (1969-1973) and the Senate Finance Committee (1971-73) was recognized as “one of the nation’s leading fiscal and monetary experts” (1). “This collection contains senatorial and personal records including correspondence, form letters, speeches, bills, legislation, notes from the Office of the President and other departments of the Executive Branch of the United States, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous items. The materials relate largely to publicity, political matters, and office administration” (Byline Record).

This Popular Search Topics page offers only samplings of materials included in the 20th-21st Century Western and Mormon Americana Collection. To examine the complete collection inventory (and any other additional manuscript materials related to this topic), go to the L. Tom Perry Special Collections EAD Search page, and enter the term “Utah Political History.”

Last Modified: September 26, 2014

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