Greg Sievers, Returning Thanks

About the Pioneer Data in the Biographical Database


About thirty years ago, Church History Library researchers began collecting the data about the Latter-day Saint pioneers featured in the Biographical Database. They generated the data by examining and analyzing primary sources such as company rosters, trail diaries, autobiographies, newspaper articles, local Church records, and other then-contemporary sources. This research yielded many Latter-day Saint pioneers’ names, but, based on the total number of pioneers who ultimately came to the Utah Territory between 1847 and 1868, only about 35 percent of those individuals were identified.

Next, to fill the gaps in the data, our researchers systematically added database profiles for Latter-day Saint pioneers who came to the Utah Territory in a specific, identifiable year but whose pioneer company was unknown. Then, in cases where researchers were unable to narrow a pioneer’s travel to a specific year, they added the pioneer's profile to the miscellaneous “Unknown Companies (1847-1868)” dataset.

In 1998, the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travels database was introduced as a digital resource available to visitors to the Historical Department, which at the time was located in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. In 2004, this popular research tool became available online to users around the world. The database was renamed the Pioneer Database in 2018.

The Biographical Database now contains approximately 60,000 pioneer profiles. Given that an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Latter-day Saint pioneers immigrated to the Utah Territory between 1847 and 1868, about 10,000 to 20,000 individuals still need to be identified and included in the database. Our researchers are hard at work trying to identify them.

If you have information about a Latter-day Saint pioneer or pioneer company that can enhance the Biographical Database, we welcome your comments. Please contact us using the Submit Additional Information button located at the bottom of any individual, mission, or pioneer company page.