Marriott Library Gains Rare Collection of Historical Mormon Documents

A rare collection of documents about early Mormon history was donated to the Special Collections Department at the J. Willard Marriott Library.

These papers will be made available to the public and include the writing and signatures from prominent figures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such as Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith and Brigham Young.

Heidi Brett, spokesperson for the Marriott Library, said a couple living in Arizona had owned the 13 manuscripts as part of their private collection. Brett said they donated the collection to the library because they knew it had “a rich collection of documents on the history of Mormonism and the pioneers.”

nauvoo paper

Elizabeth Rogers, curator of manuscripts for special collections, said most of the documents are from places outside of Utah, such as Nauvoo, Ill. Rogers said even though there aren’t many pages and they don’t necessarily relate to each other, it does connect Mormonism between the two places.

The collection includes sale of property documents signed by Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum Smith, in 1839, as well as a letter autographed by Brigham Young. There is also a tithing check from 1896 written by one of the richest men in Utah, Jesse Knight.

Another rare document is a letter written by Lorenzo Snow regarding supplies of temple clothes. In 1894 Snow was the President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles as well as the president of the Salt Lake Temple. The fact this document survived is rare, because “he usually signed things with a blue pencil” and this document was written in ink, Brett said.

Even though the Marriott Library already has a collection of Mormon history manuscripts, such as the John Taylor papers, Brett said this set provides a different experience.

“It’s a great benefit for students to be able to see primary source materials,” Brett said.

The library is still organizing the collection, and a full catalog description is not yet available. However, Brett said students can visit Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Marriott Library and request to view them.

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