Mormon History Association conference notes Mormon relations with tourists

by | May 31, 2011

News from Utah

Tourism in Utah has had a complicated and ambiguous relationship to Mormonism from the time the state was settled, said Susan Sessions Rugh, the Friday luncheon speaker at the annual conference of the Mormon History Association.

She addressed more than 700 professional and amateur historians who have convened in St. George for the three-day event that ended Saturday.

"Visitors to Brigham Young's Salt Lake City satirized Utah's 'peculiar people' as frontier blackguards and homely polygamous wives," observed Rugh, a professor of history at BYU.

In 1947, Utah observed its centennial by emphasizing pioneer history, Rugh said. But with the advent of "industrial tourism" in the post-World War II period, "Utah officials attempted to brand the state like any product," she noted.

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