Newspaper clippings of the old racetrack, videos of older couples recalling meeting their sweethearts while the Mendon Jazz Band played and an image of a pioneer home with a milk stand in the front are a few of the items featured in a new digital exhibit from Utah State University.
The Merrill-Cazier Library’s digital exhibit, “I Remember When: Memories and Moments in Mendon, Utah,” aims to capture the legends, stories and memories of Mendon through photographs, audio and videos.
“The Mendon exhibit is a public online exhibit that highlights Mendon and what makes it special and unique,” Exhibit researcher and Editor Shelley Jones said. “It focuses very heavily on the history of Mendon and the ongoing traditions it has as well as some significant members of the community.”
Recent USU history, folklore and anthropology graduate Bethany Budge curated the exhibit while holding the Paul Willie Fife Folklore Archives Curatorial Assistantship, a position funded by its namesake, himself a Mendon resident.
“I really got to apply more of what I learned in theory from class on something that you can see,” Budge said.
According to Fife Folklore Archives Curator Randy Williams, Budge spent months researching and reading about the history and legends of Mendon before she interviewed residents in an attempt to capture and tell the story of the community.
Jones said one of Budge’s goals was to inform the public about Mendon.
“Building on that platform, she looked at what a lot of the people had in common when they were giving the interviews or what information she found,” Jones said. She “was trying to build some sort of narrative.”
Jones helped Budge analyze over 100 items submitted by Mendon residents for the exhibition, including fun stories, facts, videos, audio and images.
“I think that’s really probably one of the most important pieces of the exhibit, is the local touch,” Williams said. “It is an exhibit hosted here at Utah State but it very much involves the community.”
Budge said she really wanted to tell the story of the community, and she chose what would be included in the exhibition based on submissions and listening to Mendon residents.
“When I talked to members in the community, they told me what was really important to them,” Budge said. “We had a lot of older couples who talked about how they met their spouse by going to these dances at Elite Hall in Hyrum where the Mendon Jazz Band would play.”
The exhibit features interviews of these couples as well as audio of the band playing. It also includes the history behind Mendon traditions such as May Day and Pioneer Day.
“The exhibit is very similar to something you would go to in a museum and walk through,” Williams said. “The beauty of this is you can just stay in the comfort of your own home and look online and learn about Mendon.”
The exhibition is now available on the USU Digital Exhibits website, http://exhibits.usu.edu/exhibits/show/mendon.