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Life & Work with Sarah Langsdon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Langsdon.

Hi Sarah, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
As a student at Weber State University, I was working in the library and decided to switch my major from nursing to history. Taking history classes, I became interested in local history and inquired about a position in University Archives. I moved departments in the library and found my passion.

I had the skills and ability to work with primary source materials and found something that I wanted to do. I went on and got a master’s degree in history at Utah State University when I received a phone call from my former boss, who offered me a job. I came back to Weber and worked my way up from processor to Curator of Special Collections.

I love being able to help preserve the history of Weber and Davis Counties and share those stories with the wider community.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
When I first started working in the archival field, a master’s degree in history was what you needed to get a job. After about 10 years, the field changed so that a degree in library and information sciences was needed.

I knew that if I ever left Weber State, I wanted to continue in the field so I decided to go back to graduate school. I was able to do an online program which worked since I was at the time, a single mom with two young children. I had to be able to work full time and still do schoolwork in the evenings and weekends.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
One of my favorite parts of my position is the ability to create exhibits showcasing some of our collections. I have done the research and conducted oral histories and used that information to tell stories to the general public.

We have done exhibits on World War II in Northern Utah, environmental factors in Ogden and the impact women in Northern Utah had on the community. I like to receive feedback from the patrons and find out what we can improve upon and what they learned from the exhibit.

I have also written several books on Ogden that are heavily focused on photographs from the collection. I take images that tell stories from the past and allow readers to either relive the experience or gain a better understanding of what life was like in Ogden.

What are your plans for the future?
I always tell people that I will stay at Weber State University until I have told all the stories that I feel need to be told. Somehow, I don’t think that I will ever get to that point. I am constantly digging into history when I stumble across a new photograph or a newspaper story.

I am currently getting ready to embark on a new project that is looking to document the minority populations in Ogden. Their history and stories have been left out of the archives for far too long. Ogden, since the time of the railroad, was known for bringing in immigrants from across the world. Ogden had a thriving population of Chinese, Japanese, African-Americans, Greeks, and Italians.

I am excited to work with these communities and help bring their stories to light. I have even started a podcast, “Tales from Weber” that focuses on the lesser-known stories of Ogden. I walk people through events, crimes, murders, and people telling what I have been able to find through research.

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