“The Peoples of Utah”- revisited, to be ready for USA’s 250th (1776-2026) anniversary celebration

January 11, 2021 (Season 2, Episode 10, 42 minutes) BuzzSprout version of this Speak Your Piece podcast. The above panoramic photo is of members of the Ogden chapter of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Associations) gathered at the Mantua, Utah Fish Hatchery on July 28, 1929. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

It has been forty-five years (1976-2021) since Utah historian Helen Z. Papanikolas published her book The Peoples of Utah (Utah State Historical Society, 1976) with funding from the Utah American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. The book tells the story of Utah’s first nation people, African Americans, Jewish-Americans, and the early immigrants from the British Isles, Scandinavia, Europe, China, Japan, Greece, the Middle East, Mexico and from Latin America (today described at Latinx).     

The co-managing editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly (also based out of the Utah State Historical Society) Dr. Holly George and Dr. Jedediah Rogers, want to publish a new reworking of Papanikolas’ vision, which they have aptly christened “The People of Utah” —revisited. They want the new version to be researched, written, edited and published by 2026; just in time for the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution. They are calling for all interested parties to proffer proposals to take part in this cooperative digital publication (see — CALL FOR PAPERS: REVISITING THE PEOPLES OF UTAH).

Part 1 and Part 2 (combined):

Dr. Holly B. George is a co-managing editor of the UHQ, and is the project director of the “Peoples of Utah” – revisited project. She is a historian of the American West specifically the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West. She received her PhD in American History from the University of Washington. Her research interests includes “culture (high and low), networks of all sorts, social welfare, and gender.” Dr. George is the author of Show Town: Theater and Culture in the Pacific Northwest (1890-1920) University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.

Dr. Jedediah S. Rogers is a co-managing editor of the UHQ. Rogers earned a PhD in American history from Arizona State University. He is an environmental historian with interests in the intersection of land, culture, and religion. His is the author, coauthor or editor of: In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall 1879-1892 (2007), Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country (2013), The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (2014) and The Earth Will Appear as the Garden of Eden: Essays on Mormon Environmental History (with Matthew C. Godfrey, 2018).

Regarding Helen Papanikolas’ groundbreaking 1976 book, it served as a grand public registration, a near inclusive survey of nearly every ethnic, racial, or immigrant community—in part but often beyond the Mormon majority—who made Utah home during the previous two centuries (1776 to 1976).

Regarding the 2026 version, George and Rogers (and their UHQ Board of Editors) want to make this second book, which they plan to produce first in digital form, to be as ground breaking, as rigorous and innovative, as Papanikolas’ book was for its time and place.   

Setting the tone for the 1976 book, Helen Papanikolas wrote this first sentence: “Utah has long ceased being an agrarian society of a “peculiar people.” Although still predominately Mormon, many cultures have contributed to its unique essence in this lost domain of the Indians [italics added].” This “unique essence,” included deep economic and cultural impacts that had not been included previously in Utah’s general histories. To Papanikolas and Utah’s cadre of new social historians, these narratives had to be placed in tandem with Utah’s Mormon story. The group of circa 1970s new historians also urged that Utah’s history be more rigorous in following historical methodologies, and more evidentiary-based in its narratives and conclusions.   

What will the 2026 People of Utah—revisited say, do, include and amend, differently than the first version, especially covering the last fifty years? What new communities (including and beyond nationalities and ethnicties), what new perspectives, what new fields, what new questions and answers, should be included? As Dr. Holly George and Dr. Jedediah Rogers believe, these questions and answers, and the eventual scholarship to be produced, are entirely open ended. If you would like to take part in this new scholarship click here.


The Utah Historical Quarterly focuses on the Western USA and within boarders of Utah, “reflecting Utah’s geographic and cultural position at the crossroads of the West.” If you enjoy the podcast Speak Your Piece than you should subscribe to the UHQ. Pick up a subscription and sample back issues here.

Dr. Holly George in 2013 and Dr. Jedediah Rogers, one year later in 2014, took the editorial helm of the Utah Historical Quarterly, which has been in continous publication since 1928. The UHQ is Utah’s offical history journal. Its mission is to offer the highest quality articles and other works of Utah history. It is produced and edited to appeal to both the scholar and the everyday reader Utahn. Much of what was published in 1976 in The People of Utah, was first published in the pages of the UHQ.

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