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Evans Biography Award-Winning Authors

Winners of the Evans Biography Award and the Evans Handcart Award are honored at an awards ceremony at Utah State University, in Logan, Utah. In recent years the authors have been interviewed on Utah Public Radio and made presentations on campus as part of these events. Follow the links to learn more about their award winning work.

2020 Evans Biography Awards Ceremony for books published in 2018 and 2019

Headshots - James Swensen and Tara Westover

Evans Award Seals

Evelyn Funda, director of the Mountain West Center, presents the Evans Biography Awards to James R. Swenson and Tara Westover. Listen to the authors as they explore their work and the importance of highlighting individuals who have shaped the Intermountain West region.

Listen to the 2020 Evans Biography Awards Ceremony »

James R. Swensen
In a Rugged Land: Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and the Three Mormon Towns Collaboration, 1953-1954
Evans Biography Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2018 and 2019)

Book Cover - In a Rugged Land

Contemporaries and longtime friends, Ansel Adams and Dorthea Lange, set new standards in their distinct photographic themes of nature's wonders and social commentary. Their forgotten collaboration for Life magazine titled "Three Mormon Towns" set out to document the people in the Utah towns of Toquerville, Gunlock, and St. George. James Swensen's in-depth research and interpretation helps to make sense of how this important project ended in disillusionment.

Listen to James Swensen » 

Tara Westover
Evans Handcart Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2018 and 2019)

Book Cover - Educated

Tara Westover writes a powerful memoir focused on life in the context of separatist, anti-government ideologies that take root in outlying locations in the Interior West. Entering a classroom for the first time at the age of seventeen, Westover became passionate and pursued learning for a decade. This book presents a life story very simply and directly, while addressing the role that perspectives and biases can play in trying to recollect and represent a complicated family history.

Listen to Tara Westover »

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Woman's Rights in Early Mormonish, 1835-1870
Evans Biography Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2017)

Book Cover - A House Full of Females

This book pieces together, through more than two dozen nineteenth-century diaries, letters, albums, minute-books, and quilts left by first-generation Latter-day Saints the never-before-told story of the earliest days of the women of Mormon "plural marriage," whose right to vote in the state of Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature as an outgrowth of polygamy in 1870 and who became political actors in spite of, or because of, their marital arrangements.

Listen to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich »

Rodney Frey
Carry Forth the Stories: An Ethnographer's Journey into Native Oral Tradition
Evans Handcart Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2017)

Book Cover - Carry Forth the Stories

Rodney Frey offers personal and professional insights into the power and value of storytelling gleaned from over forty years of successful work with indigenous peoples. He addresses permissions and cultural property rights, tribal review, "giving back," and indigenous learning styles. Frey intertwines stories from interviews, oral histories, and elders, and shares facets of his own cancer journey seeking help from both Native and Western healing traditions.

Listen to Rodney Frey » 

Gregory A. Prince
Leonard Arrington and the Writing of
Mormon History
Evans Biography Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2016)

Book Cover - Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History

Leonard Arrington is considered by many the foremost twentieth-century historian of Mormonism. He played a key role in establishing the Western History Association and the Mormon History Association. But Arrington’s career was not without controversy. Greg Prince takes an in-depth look at this respected historian and, in telling Arrington’s story, gives readers insight into the workings of the LDS Church in the late twentieth century.

Listen to Greg Prince »

Pete Fromm
The Names of the Stars: 
A Life in the Wilds
Evans Handcart Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2016)

Book Cover - The Name of the Stars

Pete Fromm writes a gentle recounting of one man's coming to terms with the tension between a love of wilderness solitude and the loving embrace of family and friends. Twenty-five years after spending seven winter months alone in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Fromm returns to again babysit fish eggs in the heart of Montana's Bob Marshall wilderness. As a husband and father of two young sons, he shares his journey of personal growth and discovery.

Listen to Pete Fromm »

Pete Fromm Video Presentation »

Angela Pulley Hudson
Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and 
a White Mormon became Famous Indians
Evans Biography Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2015)

Book Cover - Real Native Genius

In the mid-1840s, Warner McCary, an ex-slave from Mississippi, claimed a new identity for himself, traveling around the nation as Choctaw performer "Okah Tubbee." He soon married Lucy Stanton, a divorced white Mormon woman from New York, who likewise claimed to be an Indian and used the name "Laah Ceil." Together, they embarked on an astounding journey across the United States and Canada, performing as American Indians.

Listen to Angela Pulley Hudson »


James M. Aton
The Art and Life of Jimmie Jones: 
Landscape Painter of the Canyon Country
Evans Handcart Award Winner 

(Books Published in 2015)

Book Cover - The Art and Life of Jimmie Jones

 While this beautiful book showcases the fabulous artwork of renowned Utah landscape artist Jimmie Jones, it also delves into his history, motivation, education, and progression as an artist. Author James Aton, through his meticulous research and writing, weaves an interesting and in-depth narrative of Jones’ life, accented with archival photographs, to accompany the numerous art images, of exquisite canyons, he spent years painting.

Listen to James Aton »

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