Utah Minorities

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United States Gotoarrow.png UtahGotoarrow.png Utah Minorities

Knowledge of the history of the ethnic, racial, and religious groups your ancestors belonged to is important. This historical background can help you identify where your ancestors lived, when they lived there, and where they moved. This information will help you understand the types of records they might be listed in and the history of your family.

Minorities usually appear in the same records as other Utah's. Search for members of minority groups in the same records you would search for anyone else. Then look for additional records of a particular minority.


Online sites

  • The Peoples of Utah is a site by the government of Utah. The are histories about different groups of people including, Japanese, Jews, Greeks, Navajos, etc.

The majority of Utahns are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the United States and Northern Europe. Other groups came from such diverse areas as Australia, South Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Near East. A few African-Americans were among the earliest immigrants in Utah.

People not belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came from all parts of the United States and foreign countries. Jewish merchants established businesses in Utah cities and a small Jewish community was organized in Clarion in 1911.

Mining discoveries and the arrival of the railroad in the 1860s brought thousands of new settlers to the territory. These included small communities of African-Americans, Asians, and immigrants from the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Many immigrants settled in Carbon and other eastern Utah counties. A land boom in the Uintah Basin in 1905 attracted homesteaders to eastern Utah.

A small number of Hispanics from Colorado and New Mexico settled in San Juan County near the beginning of the 19th century. Since then, many Hispanics settled in the state.


Maps and tables that describe settlement patterns in Utah and list locations and dates of settlements are found in:

  • Greer, Deon C. et al. Atlas of Utah. Ogden, Utah: Weber State College and Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1981. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book Q 979.2 E7a This important work contains reference, topographical, historical, resource, boundary, population, and settlement maps.

Some books cover many minorities and some are devoted to only one group. The following contain good overviews of the minorities of Utah:

  • Hodson, Dean R. The Origin of Non-Mormon Settlements in Utah, 1847–1896. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms, 1971? WorldCat 10379255; film 1730829 This source is a dissertation about the communities of Stockton, Corinne, and Park City. It gives details about the relationship between the different religions.
  • Papanikolas, Helen L. ed. The Peoples of Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1976. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 979.2 F2p This book contains histories of many ethnic groups in Utah, including American Indians. An expert on the minority group wrote each section. An index is included.

The following books are devoted to the Jews and African-Americans:

  • Brooks, Juanita. History of the Jews in Utah and Idaho. Salt Lake City, Utah: Western Epics, 1973. (Family History Librarybook 979 F2b.) This is an indexed book on the history of the Jewish communities in Utah. It covers 1849-1961 and includes a list of the deaths in the various congregations from 1922 to about 1954.
  • Coleman, Ronald Gerald. A History of Blacks in Utah, 1825–1910. 1980. Reprint, Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International, 1990. (Family History Library book 979.2 F2c.) This addresses differing occupations, from trappers to African-American soldiers. In the appendix, a census summary is found and a study on occupations.

African Americans

Time line of African Americans in Utah

1847: Green Flake, Oscar Crosby and Hark Lay are part of the 1847 Pioneer Companies

1850: Census reports 50 African Americans and 24 listed as free 26 listed slaves.

1852: Utah Territorial legislature passes a law recognizing legality of owning slaves

1862: Congress passes legislation abolishing slavery in the territories.

1865: 13th Amendment

1869: Two Black militry units the 9th Cavalry and the 24th infantry patrol in Utah

1890-1940 The railroads are the largest employer of blacks in Utah.

18--: First Black church in Utah

1890's: Black newspapers published in Utah: The Domocratic Headlight, Tri-City Oraacle, Broad Ax and Utah Plain Dealer.1898: anit-miscegenation law; prohibit issuance of marriage license to mixed-race couples.

1899: the 24th infantry stationed at Fort Douglas

1902: Harlem Renaissance writer Wallace Thurman is born in Salt Lake City and lives in Utah until age 20. his novels: The Blacker the Berry, Infants in the Spring, and The Interne.

1921: Mignon Richmond is 1st black to graduate from college in Utah.

1925: D. H. Oliver becomes Utah's first black attorney.

1945: World War II brings many blacks to Hill Air Force Base in Ogden (Weber county) and Dougway Proving Ground in Tooele County

1950: Ruby Price becomes the first black schoolteacher in Utah- at the Inter mountain Indian School, Brigham City. Ruby was named Mother of the Year in 1877.

1863: The Legislature rescinds anti-miscegenation law of 1898

1964: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in voting, education, employment and public facilities.

1967: Charles James Nabors becomes the first black faculty member at the University of Utah

1968 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is killed in Memphis, Tennessee

1976 Rev. Robert Harris is elected Utah's first black state legislator

1984 Tyron Medley, Utah's first black judge 3rd Circuit Court appointed by Gov. Scott Matheson

Other Sources

Utah – Minorities will take you to the section of the Family History Catalog where records and published histories for the ethnic groups, including Germans, Jews, Basques, and Swedes etc are listed.

  • Indians of Utah has many links and records for the Indian tribes in Utah.
  • Histories many state, county, and city histories have sections devoted to minorities.
  • Papanikolas, Helen Z..The Peoples of Utah
  • Carter, Kate B.The Story of the Negro Pioneer. C. 1965. Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, Utah

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