Researching the history of BYU

University Archivist Gordon Daines

University Archivist Gordon Daines

One of the most frequent questions that I get as the University Archivist is “Where do I start my research into x topic on the history of Brigham Young University?”  This is an excellent question and there are a number of resources available to help you launch into your research project.  I will highlight three in this post.

The first place that I recommend that everyone begin is the Discovering BYU annotated bibliography.  This bibliography is available on-line and describes over two hundred secondary sources that deal with aspects of Brigham Young University’s history.  Each article or book in the bibliography features a brief annotation as well as publication information.  You can search the bibliography by keyword descriptors, author and periodical title.  It will let you see what has been written about your chosen topic and will help you identify works that you should take a look at it.  The bibliography is updated annually and so if you come across a title related to the university’s history that is not listed, please drop me a note at gordon_daines@byu.edu and I’ll make sure it is added.

The next place to look is the “Popular Search Topics” page on the BYU history site.  Each year I create a “Popular Search Topic” that lists secondary and primary sources about the founder being honored during Homecoming.  Topics covered also include subjects that I receive frequent requests about.  So far the list includes Alice L. Reynolds, Rex E. Lee, Karl G. Maeser, Benjamin Cluff, and Edwin S. Hinckley as well as information on researching campus buildings, university presidents, campus photographs, student life, and general university history.

The final resource I will discuss today is the Guide to Processed Collections.  This Guide aims to be a comprehensive description of all of the primary sources about the university’s history that are available in the University Archives.  It is organized by topic and each entry includes the title of the collection, its call number, whether or not it is available for research, and a brief annotation.  It is updated annually.

These three resources will go a long way to getting you started on your research.  I am also available by appointment to do research consultations.  Please contact me at gordon_daines@byu.edu or 801-422-5821 if you’d like help with your research project.

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