Page 88

Back to the Soil: The Jewish Farmers of Clarion, Utah, and Their World. By ROBERT ALAN GOLDBERG. Vol. 2 in the Utah Centennial Series. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986. xxviii + 196 pp. $19.95.) In September 1911 a dozen Jewish immigrants from Philadelphia and New York arrived in Sanpete County, Utah, as the initial settlers of a 6,000acre farm colony. They were the vanguard of a group of 200 Jews who would come to that particular place during the next three years in response to the international Back to Soil movement. During the generation preceding World War I, over forty such colonies were founded in the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Israel. Named Clarion, in the spirit of a special call, the Sanpete County colony has its own unique story. First detailed by Everett Cooley in the spring 1968 issue of Utah Historical Quarterly, its history has now been updated, expanded, and reanalyzed in this new book—volume 2 of the Utah Centennial Series—from the University of Utah Press. It is a production in which the publisher, series editor, and author can take great pride. Robert Goldberg, associate professor of history at the University of Utah, is able to go well beyond the earlier study of Clarion on the basis of his success in obtaining photos, journals, tape recordings, and reminiscences from the colonizing families themselves. His ingenuity, energy, and perseverence in that task constitute a remarkable model of historical method. Equally commendable is his

careful and thorough use of these source materials in reconstituting a story naturally rich in pathos. The aspirations, transitory successes, conflicts, and heartbreaks are recounted with great effect. By nearly any criterion applied, this colonizing experiment must be judged a failure. Four years after its founding, Clarion lay virtually abandoned, its unpainted shacks standing mute and forlorn along its single, unpaved road. In analyzing the causes of failure. Professor Goldberg points to the obvious problems of environmental conditions, especially the churlish soil and inadequate water supply, and to a lack of experience in western farming. But these factors he sees as diminishing in importance after the initial stages of colonization. Two other problems, undercapitalization and declining morale, came to be increasingly important as the Clarion experiment went on. The latter difficulty is developed with particular skill and insight. In addition to poverty and personal discomforts, the Clarion families were further demoralized by a sustained internal dissension. Ideological factionalism rent the community, as anarchists, international socialists, Jewish socialists, nonaligned radicals, and Labor Zionists argued and jockeyed with each other. Religious orthodoxy

Profile for Utah State History

Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, Number 3, 1987  

Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, Number 3, 1987  

Profile for utah10