WSU’s Stewart Library Seeking Help to Tell Early Immigrants’ Stories

OGDEN, Utah – A new oral-history project, Immigrants at the Crossroads, will document Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Italian populations in Ogden, but the Weber State University Stewart Library Special Collections needs the public’s help to find photographs and interviewees.
The American Lunch cafe` at 254 25th Street was owned by Wakichi Matsukue and Matsukichi Akisada. They operated the cafe` for almost 20 years.
The public is invited to bring photos to the Ben Lomond Suites (2510 Washington Blvd., Ogden, Utah) Aug. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Special Collections staff will scan the images.

“We’ve held photo collection events like this before, and people have shared some great images with us,” said Sarah Langsdon, Special Collections associate curator. “We really depend on the community to help us with projects like this.”

While many of these immigrants were business owners and community leaders, Special Collections has very little to document their lives in this area. Staff members are searching old newspapers to glean information about these communities. They’ve found details about social organizations, businesses and churches, but now they also would like to fill in the gaps with photos and oral history interviews.

 “In Ogden’s earlier days, the railroad brought immigrants from all over the world,” Langsdon said. They settled in this community and became a vital part of it.”

 Last year Special Collections worked on a project highlighting Ogden’s historic 25th Street, and Langsdon said the research provided a glimpse into the immigrant communities. “When it came time to decide our next project, it seemed right to learn more about their stories,” she said.

Work on Immigrants at the Crossroads will continue throughout the year, culminating in a public exhibit next fall. The project has been generously funded by a Faculty Collaboration Award from the Hemingway Faculty Development Trust. The public is invited to contact Special Collections about oral history interviews by visiting or calling 801-626-6540.
Italian POW Joe Battisti and his wife Cleone. Several POWs held in Ogden married local women.

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Sarah Langsdon, associate curator of Special Collections
Melissa Johnson, Special Collections coordinator