The annual Utah History Conference held Wednesday in Salt Lake City was themed Local Matters: Interweaving Historical Threads of Community. The conference focused on the historical events and trends that have shaped the local communities in the state.
“The idea of Local Matters is something that many of us in State History felt very strongly about. As much as history is often considered a national thing or something with leaders and diplomacy, it really begins locally,” said Brad Westwood, director of the Utah Division of State History .
Exhibits, panels, speakers and presentations addressed different aspects of the theme. Westwood said one specific goal of the conference was to inspire people to gather the history of their own communities and to teach them how to do so.
“We are hoping that we can help communities across Utah see how they can collect and gather history," Westwood said. "Particularly primary sources that can help them really kind of verify and write history that is good and honest and defensible."
Because people can access such a wide variety of information, Westwood said it is especially important individuals know how to determine if the facts they are gathering are accurate.
He also said gathering community history can help unite a community.
“One of the ways that communities can become more cohesive is when there is a series of narratives, great histories, that are authentic, reliable, that can really kind of frame up why people are the way they are and why towns and communities have been built as they are today,” Westwood said.
The Division of State History has many resources for communities interested in preserving their history. These include grants, technical assistance and outreach events.