“We just don’t know what to do with them,“ my neighbor said. The box of photos, letters, and ephemera was found among crisp, hand-embroidered linens and stacks of fiestaware, remnants from an estate whose owner passed away. The records were inherited by a couple, who passed on to my neighbor, who in turn brought them to me. After a little detective work, we determined that the records originally belonged to the Viglia and Bonomo families, Italian immigrants who settled in Price, Utah in the early 1900’s. The photos themselves are remarkably beautiful and tell an intriguing story of religion, music, death, and celebration. But what to do with them?
While attending my Utah History class at the University of Utah, I got my answer. Taught by Professor Paul Reeve, the class is includes a public history project where students will work in conjunction with Utah State Historical Society to update its database of state historical markers. When I learned that Price, Utah had an Immigrant Monument, I knew these records could help tell the story of immigrants in a very personal way.
The Viglia and Bonomo records include over 200 pieces such as photos, letters, postcards, receipts, greeting cards, and other ephemera. As immigrants, it is an important thing to tell your own story. By contributing the Viglia papers to the public history record, they can tell it in their own words.