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The Downwinders of Utah Archive Oral History Expansion

Here’s the lists of upcoming tour dates and events.

Click on the image to visit that Facebook event.

By Justin Sorensen


In 2016, the Marriott Library launched the Downwinders of Utah Archive, an educational resource designed to share the story of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing conducted at the Nevada Test Site and the impacts to individuals living downwind. The archive began small, presenting a timeline of detonations, documentation, and current events, but quickly grew to incorporate new collections, resources, and features that allow viewers to educate themselves about a time in our Nation’s history unfamiliar among many.

In 2017, the archive expanded into a new realm of conducting and collecting oral history interviews with individuals from Downwinder communities, enabling the Library to share and preserve unique first-hand stories for future generations. At that time, my colleague Tony Sams and I had the privilege of traveling to the Utah communities of St. George, Cedar City, and Kanab to meet with dozens of individuals and learn about their experiences with nuclear weapons testing as well as the impacts it has had within their (and their families) lives. The results of this work are presented through an oral history section of the archive complete with videos, audio, and transcripts of each interview conducted thus far.

This summer, Tony and I will have the privilege of returning to these (and other) Utah Downwinder communities to collect additional interviews and stories while sharing information about this important archive. Thanks to the reward of an LSTA Grant, we will be holding several events at public libraries throughout Utah (both in southern and northern regions), offering individuals the opportunity to come and share their stories with us – more information about these events will be shared soon through the Marriott Library and Downwinders of Utah Archive websites.

The Downwinders of Utah Archive has become an engaging and educational resource among those interested in the topics of Downwinders and nuclear weapons testing. Since its creation, I have had the privilege of meeting many individuals (both at the University of Utah and beyond) that have expressed the importance of this archive and how they are utilizing its resources within their projects, research, and curriculum (some of these are mentioned in an article recently published through the Journal of New Librarianship). Even more important is the role the archive plays for the Downwinder community itself, offering a platform and voice to all those impacted so that no one is forgotten.

I encourage everyone to visit the Downwinders of Utah Archive to learn more about the impacts of living downwind from nuclear weapons testing.

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services
justin.sorensen@utah.edu

2 Comments
  • Teri Marquez
    Posted at 02:23h, 31 May Reply

    Justin, was unable to attend your meeting last week in price. I live in Sunnyside and had a question I would like to know if there were any studies done in this area after the testing was done my father worked for kaiser steel corporation at the time testing was going on he was the tipple Forman and had a giger counter he used when test8ng was going on he told us the readings were off the charts each and every time testing was going on, also numerous other people would tell their stories of how the wind would blow after testing and you could see a yelllow haze in the sky. I’m a firm believer that the testing that went on effected this area also. The winds blow in from the south and hitting the mountains surrounding town there is no escape for it to go..in October 2018 I was diagnosed with colon cancer I cannot tell you how many people my age have had different kinds of cancer also I would like to hear from you to see if there is any informati9n available

    • Justin
      Posted at 12:53h, 31 May Reply

      Teri,

      Thank you for your message. The archive follows information from the 1997 NCI study, but there are many other studies that took place. Some of these are included in the resource section of the archive, but I’m certain many more exist. If you would like, I can consult with some of my contacts performing similar research to see if any additional study information might be available to share with you for your area. Just this week we received a spreadsheet from a former resident of East Carbon who supplied us with a list of individuals who contracted cancer including the type and when they died. This information will be included along with her interview that was conducted as soon as it is uploaded.

      Speaking of interviews and our recent event in Price, it sounds like you have an interesting story to share. Would you be interested in sharing your story through the archive? Even though we are no longer in your area for events, we could arrange to conduct a telephone interview with you. If you would be interested, please let me know and we can schedule a time to talk.

      Best,

      Justin Sorensen

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