Statehood Constitutional Convention (1895) State Constitution
Some records may not be available for research from June 1-11, 2015 due to equipment upgrades. Please consider visiting beforehand or contacting the Research Center for more information.
These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.
In order to preserve the original Constitution, the original document may not be accessed. Researchers will need to use microfilm and digital copies.
An agency history is available.
Scope and Content
This series is the official or "engrossed" copy of the Utah State Constitution adopted by the Constitutional Convention in 1895. Congress passed an Enabling Act in 1894 that set out the requirements for the Utah Territory to achieve statehood. The main requirement was the adoption of an acceptable constitution. The Constitutional Convention met to formulate such a document from 4 March to 8 May1895. Convention delegates debated a variety of issues related to crafting a constitution, including the structure of state government, the separation of church and state, and woman suffrage.
As the convention was considering final changes to the proposed constitution the Committee on Rules and Methods of Procedure recommended that "the Constitution of the State of Utah be carefully engrossed, without blot, erasure or interlineation, on parchment sheets, 11 x 17" and that the document be "signed by the members" (Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, p. 1787). On 6 May 1895 the convention approved the final version of the Constitution and directed the Committee on Enrollment and Engrossment to have the Constitution engrossed by a single clerk, so that the entire document would be in one hand. Engrossing clerk Joseph A. Smith completed the engrossed copy by 8 May, when it was submitted to the convention. The engrossed Constitution was read and adopted by the convention and each member signed as his name was called. The eight absent members were given until 15 October to add their signatures to the document.
The omission of the words "at such times" in the last line of Article IV, Section 9, was brought to the attention of the convention just as it was preparing to adopt and sign the Constitution. It was decided that the omission should be corrected, so the clerk apparently engrossed page 9 of the Constitution again after the document had been adopted and signed.
The new State Constitution was approved by voters in November 1895 and a copy was sent to Washington, D.C., for review. The Constitution met with federal approval and on 4 January 1896 President Grover Cleveland signed a proclamation admitting Utah as the 45th state in the Union.
This series also includes two facsimile copies of the engrossed Constitution. One of these copies is likely the back-up copy created in 1940 when the original was placed on display. One copy is in a leather cover that is likely from the first binding of the original engrossed copy.
This series is arranged with the official engrossed copy first, followed by two facsimile copies.
Records from the Statehood Constitutional Convention (1895), Series 3212, contain documentation of the Constitutional Convention, including the published proceedings of the convention.
Immediately following the signing of the engrossed copy of the Constitution on 8 May 1895, it was placed in the hands of the Secretary of the Territory, who was present at the convention. It later passed to the Secretary of State in 1896. During a period in the first half of the twentieth century the historic value of the document was not widely recognized and it was reportedly misplaced among records stored in the Capitol basement . After it was found again the Secretary of State had a photostatic security copy made and in October 1940 the original was placed in a marble display case in the rotunda of the State Capitol. In 1959 Everett Coolley, Utah's first State Archivist, arranged to have the document removed from the display case and sent to the Illinois State Archives for professional conservation work, after which it was bound in a new leather binding. A facsimile copy replaced the original on display and the original document was placed in the vault of the Secretary of State. At some point in time reponsibility for the Constitution shifted to the State Archives, although it continued to be stored in the Secretary of State/Lieutenant Governor's office, since the Archives had no secure place to keep it. In about 1998, when the Lieutenant Governor's Office was remodeled, State Archivist Jeff Johnson arranged to have the Constitution placed in a vault at Zions Bank. When a new State Archives Building was dedicated in October 2004, the Constitution was transported from the bank and placed in a secure vault in the new building.
This series is available on microfilm.
This series is available online as part of the Utah State Archives Digital Archives.
This series is classified as Public.
Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.
This series was archivally processed in January 2011 by Alan Barnett.