This blog offers SHRA associates a less formal place to write about the intersection of current events, academia and history. We will also share "finds" from the various primary sources we examine. We post both Features, our long form pieces, and Vignettes, fun, interesting and notable shorts that we think would be of interest to our readers but that don’t warrant a longer analysis. To see some of our longer analytical pieces, click on Features. For shorter reads, click on Vignettes.

10/25/17 – Dirty Water: Thoughts on John Wesley Powell, the Paria River, and Surveying the American West

For millennia, southwest Utah’s Paria River has carved its way through the coarse, multi-layered sandstone formations that comprise the Paunsaugunt plateau from which it descends. After a 75-mile journey through the wilderness of what is now the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Paria, which means “dirty water,” descends through the Vermillion Cliffs for another twenty…Read the Rest »

10/10/17 – Let Sleeping Volcanoes Lie

Iceland has always loomed large in my mind, its geographic extremes and stark beauty placing it high on the list of places I want to explore during my lifetime. The volcanic island’s larger-than-life reputation in my head belies its true size, which is about that of the state of Oregon. Iceland has, however, had a…Read the Rest »

9/13/17 – The “10 a.m. Policy”: The U.S. Forest Service and Wildfire Suppression

In last week’s blog, I wrote about the history of lookouts (LO) as the early indicators of the agency’s aggressive fire suppression policy. This week, I explain how the LOs comprised but one element in the U.S. Forest Service’s policy of total fire suppression that culminated in overgrown forests – tinderboxes – primed to burn…Read the Rest »

9/7/17 – The Lookouts: Sentinels of the Woodland Empire

The Lookout Way above the forests, that are in my care, Watching for the curling smoke – looking everywhere, Tied onto the world below by a telephone, High, and sometimes lonesome – living here alone, Snow peaks on the skyline, woods and rocky ground, The green of Alpine meadows circle me around, Waves of mountain…Read the Rest »

7/26/17 – Modern Day Research Trips and The Famed Golden Age of Travel

My job description at SHRA clearly outlines that travel is required. In fact, all historians with SHRA can expect to travel and work away from the office roughly 25% of the time. This is to be expected of a job where we are in search of rare documents that likely exist in only one repository…Read the Rest »

7/19/17 – Teddy Roosevelt in a Forrest Gump Land

It is, perhaps, old hat to remark on the loss of a broader human story when we choose to memorialize a landscape in a particular way, but I was recently reminded of how prevalent this occurrence is in a place I least expected: downtown Washington D.C. As someone who studied environmental history, and especially wilderness…Read the Rest »

6/21/17 – The New Mexican Automobile Runway

While sifting through documents at the New Mexico State Archives on a recent research trip, I encountered references to “automobile runways,” a phrase I had never heard before. At first I ignored the term; it was not relevant to our immediate research topic. However, by the fifth or sixth mention of the runway I was…Read the Rest »

6/14/17 – SHRA Wins NCPH 2017 Excellence in Consulting Award

SHRA is pleased to announce that the National Council on Public History (NCPH) awarded its 2017 Excellence in Consulting Award to our firm for our research and consulting work in support of Idaho Power’s centenary commemoration. The NCPH grants this award to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of public history through consulting or contract…Read the Rest »

5/31/17 – Sourdough Story

At SHRA we spend a lot of our time interacting with archives. We locate archives online, we correspond with archivists, we review archival finding aids, and we travel to archives to conduct research. All of this archival work has to do with locating and capturing primary source materials: maps, ledgers, petitions, meeting minutes, newspapers, etc….Read the Rest »

4/5/17 – Sacramento Dreaming

A recent research trip took the SHRA team to Sacramento, California. The project we were working on had us examining events during the very early days of California statehood, when San Francisco was by far the biggest and most influential city in the new state. As we sat at the State Library, looking out at…Read the Rest »

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