The landscape of the United States is cluttered with histories interpreted through personal perceptions. This complex combination is represented in this painting of North America topped with South America. Credit: “Umber America” by George Mark England. Courtesy of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. All Rights Reserved.

Voices: Discord and Harmony in 1896

The most familiar notes of the Utah statehood story are a settlers’ story, which most listeners might consider a harmonious melody about a rag-tag bunch of outcast religious pioneers who left the United States of America to settle in a Mexican territory by a salty lake. Members of the young Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an industrious people, worked hard to fulfill Biblical promises to make the dessert “blossom as a rose.”

Yet that’s only one melody in this western state’s fascinating historic symphony. As Utah celebrates its 125th anniversary, other chords reveal an even more complicated and dissonant history of the people who helped shape Utah into a state.

A retablo scene in a box commemorating the centennial arrival of Latter-day Saint members to the Salt Lake Valley, 1896-1996. The scene depicts the traditional settler coming by wagon or handcart surrounded by what was already here: the landscape, animals, and Indigenous peoples.
Credit: “Utah Centennial 1996 Retablo” by Jeronimo Lozano. Courtesy of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. All Rights Reserved.


Themes and variations 

How the short, remarkable history of Iosepa, the Polynesian colony of Latter-day Saints in Utah’s west desert, anchors thriving contemporary communities

Learn about Iosepa

How a diverse combination of communities established roots in the Fort Duchesne area
Learn about Fort Duchesne

How the state’s sheep farming industry grew and expanded
Learn about the sheep industry

How Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind reveal the complications of establishing a secular public education system
Learn about the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind

How local female innovators supported emerging forms of entertainment
Learn about Female Inventors in Utah

How The Broad Ax, a black-owned weekly newspaper, reveals the intricacies of the state’s African-American communities
Learn about The Broad Ax

How exuberant statewide celebrations underscored residents’ will to overcome a tortured history with the United States government — and underscored widespread loud support for women’s voting rights
Learn about the Statehood Celebrations