More on Local Records

Tyson Thorpe, Reference Librarian
17 January 2018

Reference librarian Tyson Thorpe breaks down the categories of local records series and explains how to decipher their call numbers and access them through the Church History Catalog.

In our last post, Jeff Anderson introduced the local and corporate records collected and preserved by the Church History Library. In this post, I’d like to share a bit more on the various kinds of local records and how to access them.

Call Numbers

First, let’s look at the call numbers associated with local records. Call numbers are assigned to all items (such as local records, books, and photographs) at the Church History Library to help you easily find an item. We’ll be using LR 1140 2, LR 13533 11, and LR 6227 as examples of local record call numbers.

You’ll notice that all of the call numbers start with LR, which stands for “local record.” LR is followed by two sets of numbers. The first set of numbers is one that staff members at the Church History Library assigned to a specific branch, ward, stake, or mission (collectively called units). For example, any record beginning with LR 1140 was created by the British Mission, and any record beginning with LR 13533 was created by the Fukui Branch (now Fukui Ward) in Japan. These numbers continue with the unit even if its name changes. For example, LR 6227 began with a unit called the Northwestern States Mission, continued when the name changed to the Northern States Mission, and now belongs to the Illinois Chicago South Mission.

The second set of numbers in the call number corresponds to the series of that collection. For LR 1140 2, the 2 means that the collection is the manuscript history, which was a yearly history kept by the mission. For LR 13533 11, the 11 signifies that the item is general minutes, kept during sacrament and testimony meetings of the branch.

For call number LR 4513 2, for example, the 4513 stands for the Korean Mission, and the 2 indicates that this is the manuscript history.

Series Overview

Here is a breakdown of the different series that are assigned to local records:

  • Series 2 or 3: Manuscript histories and annual histories
  • Series 11: General minutes
  • Series 12: Aaronic Priesthood minutes
  • Series 13: Melchizedek Priesthood minutes
  • Series 14: Relief Society minutes
  • Series 15: Sunday School minutes
  • Series 16: Young Men minutes
  • Series 17: Young Women minutes
  • Series 18: Primary minutes
  • Series 19: Miscellaneous minutes
  • Series 20: Publications
  • Series 21 and up: Unique or later acquisitions

You might occasionally see units that have a series 9 (missionary list) and series 10 (confidential minutes). Due to the large amount of private and confidential information that these include, they are not available for research. Some of the other series also have confidential portions or contain private information that are unavailable for research. You can find additional information on why a record may be closed to research in our access policy.

Please note that the amount of information available in the record depends on how diligent the unit leadership was at keeping the records and ensuring they were submitted to the Church Historian’s Office.

Here is a bit more about each record series:

Series 2 and 3: Manuscript Histories and Annual Histories

Begun by staff members at the Church Historian’s Office in the 1890s, these series are compilations of historical information for a unit. Annual histories may include information on unit events and activities, lists of callings and releases, newspaper clippings, newsletters, programs, photographs, and so on. Manuscript histories (series 2) ended around 1980, when more formal annual reports (series 3) began. Due to privacy issues, the most recent 10 years of annual histories are not available for research.

Series 11 through 19: Meeting Minutes

Clerks were charged with keeping minutes during each unit’s various Church meetings. Minutes of auxiliary organizations were kept through 1973, and minutes of sacrament meetings were kept through 1977. Since 1978, minutes have not been kept or sent to Church headquarters. However, meeting minutes in our collection can provide insight into the experiences, callings, and lives of Church members in units around the world.

Series 20 and Beyond

Series 20 includes any unit publications, such as newsletters, that are submitted to Church headquarters. Other records that don’t fit the description of the other series and that vary widely in their content and type are numbered as series 21 and up. Look at the title and description of each of these to determine whether the series is applicable to your research.

The amount of information you find in each of these series may vary widely, but hopefully this brief overview will help you take full advantage of the local records available at the Church History Library.