Donors Expand Access to Special Collections

Recent private gifts to the Marriott Library’s Special Collections have significantly elevated its research potential by expanding access to and awareness of three of its newest collections—an enlightening example of how private donations are benefitting not only students and faculty at the U, but the wider community as well.

Kristen Ries & C. Maggie Snyder HIV/AIDS Archive

When the HIV/AIDS epidemic was flaring in the 1980s and medical professionals were shying away from treating those affected, Dr. Kristen Ries and her physician assistant and now wife, Maggie Snyder, reached out to provide them with care, the first medical providers in Utah to do so. Recognizing the invaluable role they played, and determined to ensure that this piece of Utah history is preserved, friends and colleagues of Kristen and Maggie established the Ries/Snyder archive in Special Collections. Major donors to the project include Michael R. and Donna G. Weinholtz, Jane A. Marquardt, the Bruce W. Bastian Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Utah. The archive includes oral histories of their lives; their work at Holy Cross Hospital, the Division of Infectious Diseases at the U’s School of Medicine, and the University Hospital Clinics; and their extensive collection of photos and documents, which now are being digitized and archived in the library. The library is currently collecting and soliciting more oral histories and materials of others involved in the struggle against HIV/AIDS in Utah, thereby preserving this significant and heroic chapter in Utah’s history.


Dr. Kristen Ries and physician assistant Maggie Snyder were pioneers in caring for Utah’s HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980s. A new archive preserves the history of their courageous work.

Japanese American Railroad Workers Collection and Exhibition

A recent gift to Special Collections from the Union Pacific Foundation is increasing awareness and impact of the Mitsugi M. Kasai Memorial Japanese American Archive, which includes photographs, personal papers, and oral histories of Japanese American railroad workers. Japanese American history is deeply rooted in the railroad industry, as early Japanese immigrants constructed many of the major rail lines in the West, including those of the Union Pacific Corporation. The collection provides important context to a culture and industry that was pivotal in shaping the American West—and one that is quickly disappearing. As most first-generation Japanese American railroad workers are no longer living and their children are aging, collections are being split-up, forgotten, and even discarded. Preserving these stories and making them available online, and also available as travelling exhibitions in the community, will ensure that the history of the participants in the early days of the railroad industry will be accessible to posterity and preserved indefinitely.


Union Pacific Roadmaster (in leather chair) with his section foremen gathered together in Salt Lake City for an annual meeting in 1934.

The Brailsford Papers

In 2015 Kenneth and Linda Brailsford made a donation to Special Collections of several original handwritten documents signed by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other leaders involved in the early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The papers date from 1839 through the end of the 19th century. Valued at more than $3 million, the Brailsford Papers mark the single most valuable collection ever contributed to the library. Nearly all 13 archival documents are in perfect condition. The earliest examples include a paper signed in 1839 by both Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum that notes the sale of a property for a home in Nauvoo. A second example, dated 1859, is a four page letter to early church officials in Missouri and New York from Brigham Young detailing instructions for bringing 100,000 members of the church from England and Europe to the United States and the logistics of their westward migration.

The University appreciates the generosity and forward thinking of these individual donors who recognize the value and significance of preserving historic documents so they may be shared and appreciated by all.


Early document signed by LDS leader Brigham Young is part of the Brailsford Papers, recently donated to Marriott Library’s Special Collections