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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

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