An Akan proverb says, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” This belief underlies historian Amy Tanner Thiriot’s work in Slavery in Zion
. The total number of those enslaved during Utah’s past has remained an open question for many years. Due to the nature of nineteenth-century records, particularly those about enslaved peoples, an exact number will never be known, but while writing this book, Thiriot documented around one hundred enslaved or indentured Black men, women, and children in Utah Territory.
Using a combination of genealogical and historical research, the book brings to light events and relationships misunderstood for well over a century. Section One provides an introductory history, chapters on southern and western experiences, and information on life after emancipation. Section Two is a biographical encyclopedia with names, relationships, and experiences. Although this book contains material applicable to legal history and the history of race and Mormonism, its most important goal is to be a treasury of the experiences of Utah’s enslaved Black people so their stories can become an integral part of the history of Utah and the American West, no longer forgotten or written out of history.
Amy Tanner Thiriot is an independent historian and adjunct university instructor in the BYU-Idaho Family History Research program. Her work has been published in the Deseret Book series Women of Faith in the Latter Days
and in Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia
. She blogs at TheAncestorFiles
and has written several series for Keepapitchinin: The Mormon History Blog
Praise and Reviews:“An important addition to the study of slavery and (most importantly) enslaved peoples in early Mormon Utah. The author should be commended for the painstaking archival work to bring together well-known documents as well as lesser-known documents related to this history.”
— Max Perry Mueller, author of Race and the Making of the Mormon People
“Slavery in Zion is the most thorough and exhaustive treatment to date of the lives of Black Utahns in the nineteenth-century. It should serve as an indispensable starting point for other researchers to explore all sorts of potentially fascinating and important topics.”
—Christopher C. Jones, assistant professor of history, Brigham Young University