Published: Sept. 23, 2016

Original article can be found at HJnews  
Originally published on September 23, 2016 By Kevin Opsahl 

A professor and administrator from the University of Colorado will talk about federal government employees’ role in the development of the American West in this year’s annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture. 

Patty Limerick will present “Hair-Raising Tales from the Department of the Interior” at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 29, in the Logan LDS Tabernacle, 50 N. Main Street. The lecture is free open to the public. 

“Contrary to the stereotype of the boring bureaucrat, the stories of the men and women who have worked for the agencies in the Department of the Interior carry intrinsic interest and give rise to thought-provoking interpretations of, and insights into, the American West’s past and present,” Limerick wrote about the lecture in a USU news release. “Enormously important in the shaping of the American West, federal employees have been unjustly and inaccurately classified as ‘boring.’” 

According to the USU news release, Limerick’s lecture is based on a series of interviews conducted with interior employees between 2004 and 2006. 

The Arrington Mormon History Lecture is named for the late Leonard Arrington, who was a historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a USU professor. 

USU reached an agreement with Arrington before he passed away in 1999 that all of his papers would be donated to USU Special Collections and Archives and an annual lecture would be held in his name. 

The lecture is now in its 21st year and has brought everyone from prominent Mormon historians to people interested in the subject and just getting their feet wet in the realms of Mormon history. 

Topics lecturers bring usually focus on some aspect of Mormon history. Last year, a professor from a New York college discussed Jane Elizabeth Manning James, a servant of Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois, and one of the early African American converts to Mormonism. 

Brad Cole, dean for University Libraries and former director of Special Collections and Archives, said Limerick’s lecture, while not directly dealing with Mormonism, nevertheless reflects the goal of the Arrington Lecture. 

“Leonard Arrington was more than just a Mormon historian,” Cole said, noting Arrington’s involvement in founding the Western History Association and Western Historical Quarterly. “It reminds people that Leonard had a broader scope than just Mormon history, and we’re thrilled to have Patty, who is trying to bring out Western topics.” 

In a USU press release, Cole said Limerick’s lecture topic also “speaks to … how Mormon history fits under that greater umbrella of western history.” 

In conjunction with the lecture, USU invites students to write a 2,500-word essay based on Limerick’s topic of her presentation. Cash awards totaling $1,750 are presented to the top three students. 

Submission deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, and entries can be dropped off at Special Collections and Archives, Room 035 in the Merrill-Cazier Library. Students can call USU’s Special Collections and Archives, (435) 797-2663, with any questions.