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Celebrating the life of local historian Bernard DeVoto

The Weber Historical Society kicked off its first-ever virtual event, with just shy of 100 attendees on Jan. 24.

Nearly 100 people gather on Zoom for the first installment of the Weber Historical Society Lecture Series.
Nearly 100 people gather on Zoom for the first installment of the Weber Historical Society Lecture Series. Photo credit: Adam Montgomery

The first event of their spring semester lecture series highlighted one of Ogden’s most-awarded literary figures, Bernard DeVoto, a historian and the first Utahn to win the Pulitzer Prize. This year marks the 125th anniversary of DeVoto’s birth, Jan. 11, 1897.

Val Holley, an independent historian, Weber County native and author of25th Street Confidential,” inaugurated the event with a celebration of DeVoto’s work and life. He introduced the younger crowd to DeVoto and reintroduced him to those already familiar with the author.

DeVoto at home with his family in 1943.
DeVoto at home with his family in 1943. Photo credit: Weber Historical Society

Following Holley, David Rich Lewis, editor of the Western Historical Quarterly, talked about Ogden and Utah’s relationship and history with DeVoto. However, the event then suffered some technical difficulties while he spoke, making his speech hard to follow. Frustration and confusion filled the faces of those who had their cameras turned on.

It should be noted that this event was never intended to be fully digital, and this was a last-minute change. Passion for an event can be translated poorly when meeting virtually, and this happened to be one of those times.

However, Eric Swedin, the event organizer, said this would be just a “one-off virtual event.” Hence, any issues encountered won’t be a problem in the foreseeable future.

Closing the online presentation and saving the night was Russell Burrows, associate professor of English at Weber State University. He is also on the Bernard DeVoto Commemoration Committee as Co-Chair and a frequent attendee of the Weber Historical Society Lecture Series.

The Weber Historical Society will meet again with speaker John Sillito to continue the lecture series. Sillito’s lecture will be on his book “B.H. Roberts: A Life in the Public Arena” on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. in Dumke Hall inside the Hurst Learning Center. All lectures are free and open to the public.

For those interested in learning more about DeVoto, visit the Bernard DeVoto 125 Years Commemoration page on Weber State’s website.

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Adam Montgomery
Adam Montgomery, Editor at Large

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