Three Types of Records You’ll Find at the Church History Library

Keith A. Erekson, Director
17 March 2017

In a follow-up article, Keith Erekson discusses important categories of records at the Church History Library and how they can be accessed and donated.

Church and Local Records

Church and local records are produced daily as Church leaders, employees, and members carry out their normal activities. For example, as quorums, committees, and leaders meet, they generate minutes, decisions, and plans. Local records from stakes, districts, wards, and branches include sacrament meeting and auxiliary meeting minutes, chapel construction and dedication records, programs, calling lists, and photographs of leaders and events. The Church also publishes scriptures, hymnals, handbooks, and manuals. Membership in the Church produces membership records, ordinance records, patriarchal blessings, records of financial donations, missionary service records, and annual historical reports. Once historical records are no longer needed by their creators, they are transferred to the Church History Library, which serves as the Church’s corporate archive. For more information on using and accessing local and corporate records, check out “Local and Corporate Records of the Church” and “More on Local Records.”

Published Materials

In an effort to preserve everything published by or about the Church, published materials are sought out and purchased. These printed and often rare materials include books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, broadsides, and audiovisual materials (call number prefix AV). In collecting and preserving these types of materials, the Church History Library operates much like the Library of Congress or other national libraries.

Manuscript Materials

Church members and others donate manuscript materials such as journals, personal histories, correspondence, and photographs (call number prefix PH). Most of these manuscripts are rare and unique. The collection also includes materials from an extensive oral history program that began in 1972 and documents the experiences of Latter-day Saints throughout the world. These manuscript materials make the library somewhat like a university’s special collections or a specialized research library, similar to the Huntington Library in California.

Storing and Accessing the Collections

The Church History Library’s collections are stored in secure, climate-controlled facilities in Salt Lake City as well as in approximately two dozen satellite locations throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Like other archives, the library may restrict access to items that contain information that is sacred, confidential, or private in compliance with external statutes and regulations, the desires of record creators or donors, and the best practices of the profession. Items from the collections are made available for public access through the online catalog, at the library and the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, and at Church historic sites and other locations around the world.

Interested in donating documents, diaries, letters, photographs, books, or other artifacts to the Church History Library? Contact our acquisition specialists here.