Emily is a welding student at USU who was hired to help organize and catalog records.

Rehousing the Oversized Museum Archival Documents is Just the Tip of the Iceberg at USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum

Genesie Miller Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board

Each year, the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board (USHRAB) awards grants to organizations throughout the state to assist with the preservation and public access of our state’s history. These grants are made possible by funding from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission at the National Archives. As we get ready for the USHRAB’s 2023 funding season, we’re going to spend the next couple weeks taking a look at some past and current projects and the work the Board does to make Utah history more accessible.

We here at USHRAB dig dinosaurs, and we think the ice age is pretty cool, too. Although fossils are the biological records of early life on Earth, archivists are more helpful when it comes to digging through paper records. When Katharine Corneli (certified preservation clever girl) at the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum applied for USHRAB funding to help preserve maps, sketches, photographs, blueprints, and other records documenting the study of prehistoric life in Utah, the Board was enraptored with the project proposal.

The primary goal of the Museum’s project is to rearrange, describe, and rehouse their archival records in secure, protective storage that will prevent further damage to these important documents, which is certainly a mammoth task. The museum narrowed the scope of this project to their oversized and rolled archival collection. This includes 195 individual oversized rolled maps, blueprints, and plans, 134 oversized, flat, documents including museum plans, exhibit concept art, and quarry maps, 17 envelopes full of 4 in x 6 in photographs, and 8 plastic binders, 1.5” wide, full of photographs, negatives, and digital prints.

Some of these records include original masters for numerous dinosaur quarries, such as the “Yellow Cat Quarry,” in which multiple holotypes were discovered (a holotype is the specimen upon which the name and description of that species is based) including the first ever Utahraptor. There are also original layouts and plans for the display of a nearly complete Columbian Mammoth found in nearby Huntington canyon. “The Huntington Mammoth,” as it is now called, is a source of pride for the Huntington community and local citizens helped excavate it. The Huntington Mammoth is also the first Colombian mammoth in the world to have its DNA sequenced, leading to revelations about the genetic relationship between Colombian and Woolly mammoths ( and a step closer to creating Pleistocene Park.) Photographs of the Huntington mammoth were stored in the side pocket of a plastic binder, but thanks to USHRAB funding, the museum has purchased archival quality storage and is in the process of rehousing these important records so they remain on the Holoscene.

If your organization has records in danger of extinction, consider applying for a USHRAB grant to fund a project to describe, arrange and rehouse your records. Helping organizations out brings a smileodon to our faces.

The USHRAB’s grant program is funded by a State Board Programming Grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives. The USHRAB assists public and private non-profits, as well as non-Federal government entities throughout the State of Utah in the preservation and use of historical records.