Speak Your Piece | 10: Season 2, Ep. 10, “The Peoples of Utah” – revisited, for USA’s 250th anniversary in 2026

January 11, (Season 2, Episode 10, 42 minutes); to read the full Speak Your Piece show notes, including guest bios, click here.  

It has been forty-five years (1976-2021) since Utah 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 in this cooperative digital publication (see — CALL FOR PAPERS: REVISITING THE PEOPLES OF UTAH).

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 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.

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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

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