“There’s a lot that’s happened in this community … with everyday people doing incredible things,” said Melissa Francis, Special Collections Coordinator in the Stewart Library.
The Special Collections department will be hosting an exhibit titled “Immigrants at the Crossroads” to display lives of Ogden immigrants from over 60 years ago.
Francis said, “(The exhibit is) a two-pronged project of working with oral histories and also with photography students. It’s two ways of telling these immigrant stories.”
The opening night of the exhibit will feature spoken word along with the photographs displayed.
Several students who were part of Weber’s “Repurposed History” contest will be giving presentations on opening night about their research into Ogden’s history.
“(Attendees) will hopefully get a real sense of these immigrant communities and their contributions to our local community,” Francis said.
The exhibit will display over 180 photographs taken of immigrants from the 1910s to the 1950s.
Putting together this exhibit was no simple task.
Sarah Singh, associate curator of Special Collections, said their original intention was to display a culture that wasn’t in “old white man history.”
Singh said, “We were looking for people whose ancestors were Japanese, Chinese, Greek or Italian. We were surprised to find out how many people had Dutch ancestors who immigrated here.”
With this exhibit, and future projects, the Special Collections department hopes to ignite a love for community among students.
“Ogden is a fun place to be a part of. To learn about your local community helps shape you,” said Francis.
Over a century ago, Ogden was known as Junction City because it served as the junction between the transcontinental railroads.
“I don’t think the average student knows the fascinating things that have gone on in this community in the past,” Francis said.
Francis mentioned that locations such as Historic 25th Street in Ogden have a past rich with international cultural influences.
Several locations in Ogden open today were founded by immigrants.
“Ogden still has Japanese restaurants and stores that were started by immigrants. Topper Bakery on Monroe (Blvd) was started by Dutch immigrants,” Singh said.
The Special Collections department does exhibits like this to inform students of different histories.
“Here in Special Collections, we are always trying to tell stories,” Francis said.
Both Francis and Singh expressed their appreciation to the students who put in time and effort to make this collection, among others, possible.
This exhibit will be open until the end of the semester. It will be taken down after finals week to prepare for the upcoming library renovations.
The opening of the “Immigrants at the Crossroads” exhibit will be on April 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Special Collections department of the Stewart Library.