Anyone who has spent time in Arizona will recognize the Udall name. An important political family, the Udalls have served as elected politicians in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon for over 100 years. In the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to update the Stewart L. Udall and Morris K. Udall Papers that are housed at Special Collections.
One of the projects I’ve working on is processing the Downwinders addition to the Stu Udall collection. The downwinders were individuals in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah who were exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of these people suffered health effects such as leukemia and thyroid cancer because of this exposure. Another group included in the downwinders addition are the Navajo miners who extracted uranium from mines on the Navajo Nation after World War II. Like those exposed to the Nevada nuclear tests, these miners also suffered cancers and other diseases as the result of the exposure to uranium. These materials document Stewart Udall’s work with both of these communities to document and raise awareness of these issues before Congress.
I’ve also spent some time rehousing the Morris K. Udall Papers. It is one of Special Collection’s larger collections (805 boxes!) and has been in need of some upkeep to fix spacing issues in the boxes.
As my assistantship at Special Collections comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the work I’ve done these past two semesters. I’ve learned so much about processing collections and creating finding aids as well as more about Arizona history. More than anything, this assistantship has confirmed that this is the job I see myself doing long-term.