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Ranch Family Documentation Project

Published by Utah State University


One could be forgiven for driving through the great basin country in northern Nevada and western Utah and think that it was a land devoid of people. A sort of human desert, with only a few isolated ranches breaking the monotony. The wide-open spaces in Elko and Box Elder Counties are, however, deceptive. Ranching families, while far-flung, have many connections and share a cultural background that creates a unique community. Think of it as a town where your nearest neighbor could be 20 miles away and the town lots are thousands of acres in size. Some of the last open-range ranching in the American West is carried on in this area and these ranching families provide the opportunity to study not only the continuity, but also the changes in ranching culture over the last one hundred years. Preserving the story of modern-day ranch families is an important area of interest of Utah State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives. In 2009, we embarked on a three-year collecting project to gather the voices, photographs, and associated materials of ranch families from four counties in the Intermountain West: Elko County, Nevada; Box Elder County, Utah; Cache County, Utah; and Rich County, Utah. This digital collection features photographs collected during the project. Check out the photograph collection’s finding aid. The oral history recordings, transcripts, and photos are available online in the digital collection: Ranch Family Documentation Project: Oral Histories, 2009-2012. A finding aid is also available for the oral history collection.



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