May 13, 2021 Associate Dean for Special Collections, Gregory Thompson, to Retire After Five Decades of Service
Over the course of his career Gregory Thompson, Ph.D. has received 14 honors and awards, has authored, co-authored, or edited 12 books and written more articles and reviews than one person can count. He has conducted countless oral histories, attended hundreds of community events, and raised millions in dollars and contributed collections. The list of presentations that Greg has given fills three pages on his resume.
All of this work, spanning Greg’s 54-year career, materializes in the 30 miles of archival shelving in Special Collections where the history of Utah and the American West is preserved. On July 31 Greg will retire, leaving this vast collection for all to use, explore, and enjoy in perpetuity.
Greg is the Associate Dean of the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library for Special Collections and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of History. Additionally, Greg has served as the State Archivist (GRAMA Records Officer) since 1983. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University (1965), Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Lewis College (1967), and his Master of Science (1971) and Doctoral (1981) degrees from the University of Utah.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that without Greg Thompson the American West Center would not be what it is today,” says Greg Smoak, Director, American West Center and Associate Professor of History at the U. “From the time he began working at the center as a grad student over a half century ago through the countless partner projects he created and directed at the Marriott’s Special Collections Department, Greg’s energy and vision have sustained the center and its mission. And throughout it all he has been an inspiration for generations of publicly engaged scholars, including myself, who cut their teeth at the American West Center.”
From 1967 to 1983, Greg served on the staff of the University of Utah’s American West Center. During this time, he worked with and helped develop tribal histories, tribal archives, and oral history collections for fifteen tribes across the Western United States. His own research focused on the Ute tribes of Colorado and Utah, and he served as a consultant to the San Juan County School District in Utah and the Southern Ute Tribe of Ignacio, Colorado. Greg has published several monographs on the Ute tribe including Southern Ute Lands, 1848-1899: The Creation of a Reservation (1972); The Southern Utes: A Tribal History (1972); and edited, with Floyd A. O’Neil, Ph.D. (now deceased) A History of the Indians of the United States: A Syllabus (1979).
In the 1980’s Greg co-founded, with the late Sue Raemer, the Marriott Library’s Utah Ski Archives Program. He grew up in Durango, Colorado and as a youngster skied and competed in Colorado and New Mexico. An original member of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation Board and the Board of Trustees, Greg has been involved with skiing since the early 1950s as a participant and historian. He has lectured widely and published numerous articles on the history of skiing in the Intermountain area. His latest publication, with Alan K. Engen, First Tracks: A Century of Skiing (2001) focuses on the history of skiing in Utah. Greg is also the general editor for the Tanner Trust Publication Series, Utah, The Mormons, and the West.
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, in 2019 Greg was named a Fellow by the Utah Division of State History, the highest honor given by that institution. Other highlights include the Gordon M. Bakken Award of Merit from the Western History Association Conference in 2018, the Conference on Inter-Mountain Archivists (CIMA) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, and the Service Award from the Utah State Historical Society in 2000.
“In the five decades that Dr. Thompson has served the University of Utah, scholarship on the history of the West has flourished,” explains Alberta Comer, Dean of Libraries. “Because of his passion for growing primary source materials, the Marriott Library’s Special Collections is now one of the premier collections in the U.S., supporting research focused on the region’s indigenous and immigrant communities, such industries as mining and outdoor recreation, and the culture, technology, and history which defines Utah and the American West.”