The history of Mexican Americans in Utah is complex, but it is a history that is neither well represented in the mainstream literature nor well recognised in the mainstream understanding of Utah's past. Convoluted interactions among Native Americans, Spaniards, French, Mexicans, Anglos, and others shaped the story of Utah. Awareness of the long presence of Hispanics in Utah is essential to understanding the history of the state. This volume is an attempt to piece together that history through photos and oral histories.
As Armando Solorzano and other researchers conducted oral history interviews with Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and other Latinos throughout the state, a number of participants began giving the team photographs, some dating back to 1895, which provided an opportunity to reconstruct a history through pictures, as a community project. Within two years, Solorzano and his colleagues were able to create the pictorial history of Mexican Americans and Latinos in Utah and launch their efforts as a photo-documentary exhibit. The collected photographs represent different historical periods and the manifold contributions of Latinos to the State of Utah.
Readers may see these photos as artistic expressions or artifacts of history or photographic technique. Some readers will see images of their relatives and precursors who labored to create a better life in Utah. The images evoke both nostalgia for a time gone by and the possibility of reconstructing history with a fairer premise. This book can not tell the full story of Latinos in Utah but should prove to be a catalyst, inspiring others to continue documenting and reconstructing the neglected threads of Utah's history, making it truly the history of all.
Armando Solorzano is director of Chicano Studies at the University of Utah, where he holds joint faculty appointments in Ethnic Studies and Family and Consumer Studies. He is the author of Fiebre Dorada o Fiebre Amarilla?: La Fundacion Rockefeller en Mexico.