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19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts

Ryan K. Lee, Curator of 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts

If you have reference questions relating to this collection or questions for the curator, please e-mail us at ryan_lee@byu.edu.


From the prayerful utterances of an obscure boy in the Sacred Grove near Palmyra, New York, in 1820 to today’s worldwide Church of several million members, the Mormon experience has embraced many peoples and cultures. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized on April 6, 1830. From that time until now, the Church has encouraged its members to keep a record of their life’s activities and accomplishments.

In tandem with a record-keeping and “remembering” people, 19th-Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts seeks to document the experiences and accomplishments of Latter-day Saints from all walks of life by collecting as many of their written records as possible. Hence, the collection of 19th-century manuscripts is composed of virtually every kind of written record, including journals, diaries, letters, minute books, speeches, photographs, drawings, and scrapbooks.

In addition to collecting the records of individuals and families, another major goal embraced by this collection is to enhance our understanding of the beginnings and early development of Mormonism and its interactions with the world. With this goal in mind, we especially seek to document the Mormon role in the settlement of the American West. These materials provide an important context for the Mormon experience in the world of 19th- century America, with a specific focus on the history of the American West. Our collections include such topics as westward migration, American Indian history, mining and related activities, the environment, religion, literature, and other topics that help establish the Mormons in the larger history of the region and nation.

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Last Modified: June 9, 2014

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