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About the Urban Pioneers Project

The Urban Pioneers Utah Folk Music Revival project was supported by a grant from LSTA.

The purpose of this project is to create an “Urban Pioneers” digital library documenting the urban folk music subculture that was centered in Salt Lake City, Utah in the 1940s-1960s. The digital library fills a gap in available information that folklorist Polly Stewart discovered when she was asked to review the book Folklore in Utah (USU Press, 2004). In Stewart’s words:

In January 2004, I was a reader—upon request of the Utah State University Press—of the manuscript of this book Folklore in Utah, edited by Dave Stanley. There was virtually no mention of Rosalie Sorrels and her husband Jim or about Utah Phillips; I was outraged because I had been involved with that group four decades before. I was shocked that there was no mention of them in this anthology about folklore in Utah, but what I learned is that the people who contributed to that anthology were asked to deal only with documentary sources. The second thing was, no one in that stable of writers had direct experience or knowledge with the 1960s Urban Folk Revival era. I realized that the reason there was nothing on that era was that there was no documentation—there were just a few scraps in archives. If someone did not document that era, when we were all gone there would be no record of us. (Polly Stewart Interview, UW-Madison Women’s Studies Program, Oral histories: Scholars of Feminism/ http://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/52561)

The digital library brings together material from various library archives with material donated by Stewart to Weber State University. The online collection is searchable through the Mountain West Digital Library. It is a collaborative effort between the J. Willard Marriott Library (Salt Lake City), Weber State University Stewart Library (Ogden), Utah State University libraries (Logan) and the Utah State Historical Society (Salt Lake City).

Jamie Qing Ye served as a MUSE Intern developing the website for this project and developing a coherent collection by integrating  video, audio components on the Marriott LIbrary's media streaming sites and adding searchable metadata to a CONTENTdm database. The MUSE Internship Program offers current University of Utah students paid, mentored, learning experiences in non-academic campus units.  The aim of these internships is to provide students with professional experience on campus while creating opportunities for teaching and program development within the sponsoring campus office.  Jamie reports,

It has been a thrilling experience to work with these materials. It is like a puzzle that each piece has a crucial relationship to the large picture that Ms. Stewart was constructing. This collection has captured my curiosity and fascination for quite some time. Now the challenge is how to transform that experience into an online exhibition that will inspire the curiosity of many others from many different academic disciplines.

Digital Library Team:

Polly Stewart, Folklorist
Jennifer Bott, Research Assistant, Sound Engineer
Alison Regan, Librarian
Amy Brunvand, Librarian
Ambra Gagliardi, Student Intern
Jamie Qing Ye, MUSE Intern & Web Page Developer

Original copies of these materials and other archival manuscripts and media are preserved in the Special Collections Department at the Weber State University Stewart Library.

The University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library Digital Operations scanned the materials.

Development of the digital library and web pages was done in the J. Willard Marriott Library Digital Scholarship Lab.


In Memorium, Polly Stewart (1943-2013)
Shortly after this project started , Folkorist Polly Stewart who was the driving force behind the collection died from complications of cancer.   We miss her, and hope that this project stands as testimony to her scholarship, influence and zest for life.



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 Last Modified 5/25/23