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PHOTO CREDIT: J. Willard Marriott Library

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The University of Utah’s J. Marriott Library will unveil the new Downwinders of Utah Archive on Oct. 3. This interactive, geospatial archive depicts the story of Utah radioactive fallout related to atmospheric nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site.

Beginning in 1951, the era of nuclear weapons testing was a time of tremendous change at both national and local levels. In the name of national security, a variety of nuclear weapons were tested in a remote area of the Nevada desert known as the Nevada Test Site. Fallout and radiation from these tests have affected communities across the nation, in many cases resulting in the loss of property, health and life.

The Downwinders of Utah Archive presents an in-depth study of nuclear detonations, radioactive fallout and events that resulted in devastating effects for Utah’s “Downwinder” population. Through this archive, a variety of materials are presented:

  • Individual fallout maps and statistics related to Iodine-131 exposures for all Utah counties
  • Historic photographs and videos of nuclear detonations
  • Newspaper articles and documentation chronologically depicting the impacts and deceptions imparted to residents
  • A collection of oral history interviews from some of Utah’s surviving Downwinders

“The archive focusses on individuals, families and geographic areas that were negatively affected,” said Justin Sorensen, GIS specialist at the library and creator of the archive. “Our hope is that the archive illustrates the events and impacts in greater detail, while educating future generations in the hope that the mistakes of the past will never occur again.”

Former Rep. Jim Matheson, advocate for the Downwinder population, will speak at the launch event as will Mary Dickson, advocate and playwright (“Exposed,” 2007). Attendees affected by the radioactive fallout in Utah are invited to record their stories at the event to be included in the archive. There will also be a screening of the film “Downwinders” on the evening of Oct. 3.

Event details

Launch event
Oct. 3, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
University of Utah’s Marriott Library, Gould Auditorium, level 1
Directions and parking

Film screening of “Downwinders”
Oct. 3, 6-8:30 p.m.
University of Utah’s Marriott Library, Gould Auditorium, level 1
Panel discussion with the filmmaker Tim Skousen will follow the screening.

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Media Contacts

Heidi Brettmarketing and public relations director, J. Willard Marriott Library
Office: 801-661-6764

Jana CunninghamCommunications Specialist, University Marketing & Communications
Office: 801-581-3862