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Front Page » November 16, 2004 » Scene » Archives works to preserve history
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Archives works to preserve history

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Swasey family donates letters

Shirley Spears, Emery County Archives, and Elayne Swasey Cottingham with photos and letters from the collection.

Elayne Swasey Cottingham, with Patti Axelsen, Toni Lindsey, and Cheryl Nell Manzanares, all members of the Swasey family, recently presented the Emery County Archives with their family collection of Royal and Eva Swasey's letters and postcards dated 1908 through 1930, and also a collection of family photographs placed on five CDs.

Shirley Spears, Archives Administrator, said she and Cottingham have been discussing the family's donation of these letters to the Archives for the past several years, and it is so exciting to finally see it happen. Cottingham and her brother, Lee Monte Swasey, both acknowledge that donating these letters to the Archives will ensure their preservation for future generations of family members and history seekers. Most of the letters are personal correspondence between Royal and his wife, Eva, through their times of separation while he was in places such as Green River and Temple Mountain. The photographs are of various Swasey family members. These letters and photographs are a wonderful addition to the Archives' collections, and will be available for public perusal (with some restrictions) as soon as they are copied, documented, and given proper archival preservation attention.

October was Utah Archives Month, and the Emery County Archives will soon celebrate its fourth year in the county. The Archives opened to the public in May 2001, with a dedication to become an important repository for donations of family, organization, and agency documents and artifacts in order to be a major resource for research and documentation of the history, life, and culture of the people of the Castle Valley region. Phone calls and visits from people seeking information about the Castle Valley region are increasing as more people become aware of the Archives existence. Research information, photographs, and facilities were provided to California State University, Stanislaus, Professor Nancy Taniguchi, formerly of Price, who was writing a book on Castle Valley. Her book, "Castle Valley America - Hard Land, Hard-Won Home" contains history of Carbon and Emery counties' early settlers and towns, and is available in bookstores now.

The Archives has also been involved in the publishing of two books: "Cowboy Poetry From the San Rafael," layout by Dottie Grimes and edited by Kent Petersen (2002); and "Castle Valley: Our Towns, Our Desert, Our Mountains," layout by Dottie Grimes and edited by Kathleen Truman (available in November). These books are made possible through a grant from the Eccles Foundation.

Patti Axelson, Elayne Swasey Cottingham and Toni Lindsey make the presntation of the Swasey letters.

At the Archives you will find collections such as the Emery County Progress newspapers (1900 to present - the first 10 years which are now available on the internet at; files of information collected by the Emery County Historical Society and donated to the Archives; personal family histories and oral interviews; ledgers of businesses such as the Emery County Bank and the Bown Cattle Company which are no longer in existence; old law books, Relief Society books, and an assortment of others just as old; diaries, books, ship and railroad records, and other memorabilia from a 1913 LDS mission to Denmark; World War II memorabilia; old photographs and negatives (most of which have not been identified). In-depth information on the Manti forest service was gathered by the Archives during the 100th Anniversary celebration, which included oral interviews and photographs from people who worked for the forest service or were in the CCCs working to improve the forest and roads. That project led to another one for the CCCs in Emery County, which is still in progress.

Projects in progress at the present time are: a grant through the Utah State Historical Society on Castle Valley women at home during WWII, which includes an oral history and gathering family and WWII memorabilia; the Emery County Historical Commission projects on the San Rafael Swinging Bridge and the Muddy Creek bridge, both of which also include oral histories and gathering of photographs and memorabilia. The Archives urges anyone with information or photographs on any of these projects, or any other historical information or photographs which could be preserved in the Archives, to contact Shirley Spears at 381-2671 or 650-4780, or visit the Archives upstairs in the Emery County Courthouse in Castle Dale. The Archives also conducts preservation classes to teach the public how to care for, preserve and store their heirlooms, documents and photos, etc. Green River residents can visit the Green River branch of the Emery County Archives which is located downstairs in the John Wesley Powell Museum.

Earlier this year, the Utah State Archives requested the services of the Emery County Archives to microfilm town and county government records for the four-county region. The Archives has now become a regional repository for these films. Shirley is currently filming Emery County town records, under the direction of Dixie Swasey, Emery County Recorder and Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board member. After this filming is completed, she will begin on the government town records of Carbon, Grand and San Juan counties.

This microfilm will be available to the public for research.

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