Driggs Room and Exhibit to Be Dedicated at SUU
April 23, 2008
More than a century after his service at Southern Utah University, the then Branch Normal School Founder Howard R. Driggs will be formally recognized for his contributions to the University and the region. On Friday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m., The Gerald R. Sherratt Library will open the Howard R. Driggs Room in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives at SUU.
The naming celebration on May 2, which is part of SUU’s Commencement Weekend, will highlight Driggs’ life-long efforts as an English professor and his tireless work to bring attention to the disappearing pioneer trails of the American West.
The naming ceremony, which is open to the public, will begin in the Christopher Mann Reading Room on the Library’s Garden Level. It will be followed by a multimedia program in room 002 of the Sherratt Library, featuring a collage of images and documentary video from the Howard R. Driggs collection of the Branch Normal School archives.
In 2004, the library acquired the papers, images, film and books of Howard R. Driggs, who was one of SUU’s founding professors and a national figure in the pioneer trails movement of the 20th Century. The Driggs collection will now have a permanent home within the Driggs Room.
The room will now house a permanent exhibit of more than 50 books which Driggs authored, his personal research library, artifacts, images, letters, journals, speeches and maps. Through the acquisition of the Howard R. Driggs Collection, a great portion of University and national history has come home to SUU and adds significantly to the University’s special collections.
Driggs came to Cedar City as the librarian and first English teacher at the new Branch Normal School in 1897. He left in 1905 to pursue advanced education, which led to his appointment as a professor at New York University and later as president of the American Pioneer Trails Association in New York City. He maintained friendships with Cedar City residents throughout his life. His son H. Wayne Driggs was Director of the Branch Agricultural College (now SUU) from 1945 to 1951 during the challenging post World War II period.
As a teacher, Howard R. Driggs wrote curriculum for language arts classrooms in America’s public schools, but he was best known for his books on the history of the American West, and books written to encourage recreational reading among school children. The White Indian Boy: the Story of Uncle Nick among the Shoshones is still in print 90 years after its 1919 publication. Driggs also wrote The Pioneer Photographer and Westward America with 19th century artist and photographer William Henry Jackson.
Thanks to a donation from his wife Margaret Brazier Driggs and a grant from the National Trails Office of the National Park Service, the collection is available for scholarly research at http://www.li.suu.edu/driggscollection.