This week I participated in an event at the Salt Lake City and County Building put on by Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies. They had asked if the State Archives would be willing to bring the State Constitution and put it on display as part of a program celebrating the success of the Center’s successful collaboration with Oxford’s Pembroke College on the Quill Project.
Honestly, before attending I was only vaguely aware of the Center for Constitutional Studies and was completely ignorant of the Quill Project. After seeing what the students involved have pulled off consider me a huge fan! The project seeks to apply data analysis and data modeling methodologies to help better explain the complex negotiating process that takes place in the construction of a founding document. They completed work on the federal U.S. Constitution before starting in on each U.S. State Constitution (beginning with Utah).
From my perspective, it was extremely gratifying to interact with a group of passionate students who were geeking out HARD on the historic records my institution has been tasked with preserving and providing access to. It was a meaningful reminder that archives are the source material of our shared collective understanding and that archival work is often cutting edge, helping facilitate projects and initiatives that have very real, very important outcomes in the world. Also, from a history nerd perspective it was pretty cool bringing the State Constitution back to the building where it was hashed out and drafted back in 1895!