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Railroads in Native America: Home

In 2022, the organizers of the Railroads in Native America Symposium asked Brigham Young University to help create a bibliography of books, manuscripts, and other resources that could be useful for researchers, students, and others interested in attending

Following the success of the 2019 Railroads in Native America Symposium, its organizers began working with Native American leaders to host a second symposium on the topic from May 19-21, 2022. This symposium will be held under the auspices of the Utah Department of Indian Affairs at the Ogden Union Station, Utah’s official statewide railroad museum, which is located at the top of Ogden’s 25th Street Historic District. Please see https://indian.utah.gov/events/railroads-in-native-america/ for further details and to register for no cost. If you are looking at this page after May 21st, note that the symposium has passed, but we will try to provide links to any symposium content that was recorded and made available online. For more information about resources held by L. Tom Perry Special Collections on this topic, please see the "Manuscripts" and "Books" tab above. All sources have biases, and many of these sources are evidence of the long history of violence perpetrated against individual tribes, communities, and nations by American expansion to the West..

Finding Sources for Researching Railroads in Native America

We are still making some changes and edits to this libguide. 

John Flynn, of the American West Center at the University of Utah, created an excellent bibliography for this topic which is located at https://indian.utah.gov/bibliography-for-the-railroads-in-native-america-gathering-by-john-flynn/.

Numerous sources for researching the history of railroads in relationship to Native American history. Please keep in mind that the authors of this libguide are not members of any Native American or indigenous group and that we acknowledge the violence done to communities such as the Utes and later the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe during the establishment of the community we call Provo today. More information about these communities can be found  on their websites, http://www.sbtribes.com/ and https://www.utetribe.com/

This libguide contains short descriptions of items held by L. Tom Perry Special Collections, located on the bottom floor of the Harold B. Lee Library. We are open to students, faculty, researchers, and those who are interested in studying history whether affiliated with the university or not. To register to use Special Collections materials and to request items ahead of your visit, please visit https://lib.byu.edu/special-collections/

There are a number of additional official and unofficial historical and cultural resources available at many institutions and online. This introduction is intended to give you some sense of how to get started. Most of the following sources are useful for the general study of Native American culture and history, but others are specific to railroads in Native America.

Many Native American educators have created excellent research guides and aggregated content relevant to Railroads in Native America participants. These include the Utah Education Network (https://www.uen.org/americanindian/), which aggregates a number of sources related to American Indians in Utah.

Native American archives and libraries maintain their own collections of historical documents. The American Indian Library Association (AILA) and the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums (ATALM) are professional organizations with a specific focus on providing support for Native American communities, tribes, and individuals. Because members usually belong to the tribe or community they serve, they are often knowledgeable about their communities in ways that an outside observer cannot be. One example of this type of source would be the Shoshone and Bannock Language & Cultural Preservation Department (http://www.sbtribes.com/language-culture/).  Another example would be the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum (https://www.southernutemuseum.org/).

The stories of numerous tribes and communities are maintained at sites across the country by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. While many stories have been excluded over the years, many others are present both through the efforts made to bring tribal groups under the control of the U.S. government and through the numerous records created to assess and maintain government-recognized Native American groups afterwards. These records are invaluable for assessing the impact of railroads on individual nations. Professional archivists at these institutions are generally committed to working with patrons to help locate materials relevant to your research questions. The best place to get started on these sources is the American Indian Records page on the National Archives website (https://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans).

Other universities have worked hard to organize and arrange materials about Native Americans. The University of Arizona, for example, maintains a LibGuide to American Indian materials (https://libguides.library.arizona.edu/american-indian-studies/primarysources). The University of Utah's American West Center has organized numerous projects related to Native American communities at https://awc.utah.edu/resources/digital-archive.php

The Utah Department of State History maintains dedicated resources on the topic of Railroads in Native America on the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts website (https://dha.utah.gov/american-indians-and-the-transcontinental-railroad-2/). 

If you have any suggestions for other resources we could add to these pages, please contact me!

Curator, 19th and 20th Century Americana Collection

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Greg Seppi
Contact:
1124 HBLL
L. Tom Perry Special Collections
Harold B. Lee Library
Provo, UT 84601
801-422-6372

Curator - 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts

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Ryan Lee
Contact:
L. Tom Perry Special Collections
1130 HBLL
801-422-7774

Curator, 20th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts

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John Murphy
Contact:
John Murphy, Curator
1130 HBLL
L. Tom Perry Special Collections
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602
(801) 422 - 6370