UVU’s Pioneers in Your Attic Collection

Last fall, many of the people in the MWDL network participated in the Pioneers in Your Attic project. The premise of the project was to have representatives from different digital libraries take their scanners on the road and encourage people to bring their family histories out of their attics to be scanned and added to online library collections. Over the course of several months, members of the MWDL network held 42 scanning events all around Utah.

I had the chance to participate in four different events, and it was a librarian’s dream to see the items that came through: old photographs, letters, a boat ticket from Europe to America, pioneer journals, and maps of the Mormon trail. Donors would come in with items and tell family stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Two of my favorites at the Spanish Fork PIYA event

Of course we all eagerly awaited having some of these items available online so I was thrilled when Utah Valley University had their first 29 items from PIYA go live a few months ago. Pioneers in Your Attic by Utah Valley University is a collection of items — mostly photographs and journal entries — scanned by Catherine McIntyre and Brent Seavers at UVU. For anyone that doubts the quality of items you can get from mobile scanning projects, I encourage you to check out the gems in their collection.

Snippet of homepage for UVU’s PIYA collection

One of my favorite items in the collection is “Briggs, Rachel Amelia Tuttle, Remembrances” which is a series of captured recollections from Rachel Briggs, particularly about the many serious injuries she incurred throughout her life. Rachel’s parents were among the early settlers in Utah, and she was born in Bountiful in 1858. Among her many accidents, Rachel was hooked by cow horns twice, burned severely in a fire, run over by a double-bed wagon, she fell through a trap door and broke three ribs, and was partially blinded while chopping wood. Although the tone is somewhat humorous, it also emphasizes how difficult life was for early Utah settlers.

Opening paragraph from the remembrances of Rachel Amelia Tuttle Briggs

Another interesting item from UVU’s PIYA collection is the hand-written journal of Daniel Crook, an early convert to the Mormon church. Daniel joined the LDS Church in England and sailed to America with the hopes of making his home in Salt Lake City, UT. Unfortunately for Daniel, he was a skilled wheelwright and was asked by Church authorities to stay in Council Bluffs, Iowa to help others prepare for their journey to Salt Lake City rather than travel there himself. Daniel Crook never made it to Utah and his family said that because of this, he died of a broken heart.

In one of his drawings, Daniel shows how to tell time by holding a stick in your hand. 

I hope you enjoy Utah Valley University’s well-curated collection of PIYA items and, like me, eagerly await everyone else’s PIYA collections!

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