Did you ever want to get the scoop on the Mountain Meadow massacre or the Hole-in-the-Rock gang but didn't want to take time to read a whole book to get the basic facts?
Well, help is just a couple of years away.The Utah Encyclopedia, now being compiled by the Utah Historical Society, is intended to provide a factual reference resource that will satisfy the needs of both the history junkie and the trivia buff looking for an odd bit of information to impress people at the next social gathering.
Kent Powell, field services director for the Historical Society, said actual publication of the encyclopedia is not expected before the summer of 1992. A contract with the University of Utah Press carries an April 1, 1991 deadline for manuscripts with actual publication expected 12-18 months later.
"We see this project as providing the basic facts book for Utah historians," Powell said.
The format will follow that used for the "Reader's Encyclopedia of the American West" with most entries ranging in length from 300 to 2000 words.
"The entries will be long enough to provide factual information for the readers but will not be so long that they will be overwhelmed," Powell added.
An advisory committee working on the project has been reviewing some 1,600 suggested entries in categories such as events, individuals, places, themes and organizations.
"We're trying to boil down the entries into priorities and are contacting authors to write the articles," Powell said. Thus far about 100 topics have been assigned, and Powell said the committee is very pleased with the response, especially since the authors will not be paid.
"We're still seeking suggestions for entries and would also like to hear from people willing to help write articles," Powell said.
"I think this is an opportunity for historians to make a contribution in a substantial way without the commitment of writing a long book," Powell said. "We're really seeking broad-based participation."
Powell said he expects the volume to be a great addition to the state's centennial celebration which will culminate on Jan. 4, 1996. Although the origins for the book are not tied to the centennial effort, he said the timing should give the project a boost.