Winners of the Evans Biography and Handcart Awards will be in Logan Friday, Sept. 26, to receive their awards and to participate in the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the annual awards. The awards, and award presentation activities, are administered by the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies at Utah State University. The public is invited to the ceremony and related activities that begin at 2:30 p.m. in USU’s Taggart Student Center Sunburst Lounge.
The Evans Awards were established in 1983 by the family of David W. and Beatrice C. Evans to encourage outstanding writing of biographies about people who lived in or significantly influenced the Interior West.
Frederick H. Swanson, author of the Evans Biography Award winner Dave Rust: A Life in the Canyons, (University of Utah Press) and Handcart Award winner Jedediah S. Rogers, editor of In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892 (Signature Books), will be on the USU campus for the award presentation. The event, including the reception, book signing and silent auction, is free and open to the public.
The two winning books shed light on different aspects of Utah history. Swanson’s book is about a pioneering backcountry outfitter and guide in southern Utah. Rogers edited the diaries of L. John Nuttall, who was secretary to three early presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — Brigham Young, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff.
“Both books are important contributions to Utah history,” said Elaine Thatcher, director of the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies.
Over the past 25 years, the Evans awards have recognized such seminal books as Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge and Richard Lyman Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling.
LeRoy Ashby, co-author of a biography of Idaho Sen. Frank Church that won the Evans Biography Award in 1994, commented on the award and its anniversary.
“Receiving the Evans Biography Award has been one of the highlights of my career,” Ashby said. “It is always wonderful to have one’s scholarship recognized, but the Evans prize offers a particularly prestigious stamp of approval.”
With the 25th anniversary year, the award ceremony and reception include special events, including a silent auction featuring a complete set of winning books since 1983 and individual winning books from the past quarter century, Thatcher said. Members of the Evans family will also be present.
The Evans event follows the Leonard J. Arrington Lecture in Mormon History, with activities the previous evening (Sept. 25). The combination of events make a notable weekend of Utah history, Thatcher said.
The Evans awards are administered in a year-long process. The call for submissions has just gone out for books published in 2008, with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2009. Winners are announced in the spring, with the awards ceremony in September. The books are first reviewed by a regional jury made up of five scholars and book specialists from the Intermountain region. Three finalists are sent on to the national jury, which consists of three biography experts with national and international reputations.
For information on the Evans awards, contact the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies at USU, (435) 797-3630.
Contact: Glenda Nesbit (435) 797-3630
Source: Mountain West Center for Regional Studies