The Church History Department collects and preserves published materials, manuscripts, art, artifacts, and other records to document the history of the Church and its people. It is also the official repository for the institutional archives of the Church, including records created by Church departments and the ecclesiastical units of the Church worldwide.
The Church History Department stores its collections in facilities located around the world and is committed to making its collections available to the public through physical and electronic means without compromising information that is sacred, confidential, private, or otherwise in need of protection for legal, ethical, or religious reasons. Protections may be placed on items and collections by statutes or regulations, the creators or donors of the records, the Church’s ecclesiastical leaders, and Church History staff after careful review. The online Church History Catalog indicates protections for specific items and collections.
In administering access, the Church History Department follows these general definitions:
- Sacred: Items that provide specific information about temple rites and ceremonies or other sacred matters that have not been officially approved for release. Sacred items may in some instances include privately produced records, published items, art, and artifacts.
- Private: Items containing information that is protected by applicable privacy laws.
- Confidential: Records produced in the course of Church business that takes place in non-public settings. Confidential records are primarily found in official Church records and in privately created papers of General Authorities, Church officers, Church employees, ecclesiastical leaders, clerks, and others holding positions of trust.
- Creator or donor defined: Limitations imposed by item creators and/or donors during the accession or acquisition process. May also apply to archival materials that are on loan or duplicates of original materials held by other institutions.
- Intellectual property: Items containing information owned by external parties and governed by national and international copyright laws. Copyright may place limitations on reproduction or publication of items in our collections.
- Defamation: Items containing information known to defame a person as defined by law.
- Cultural sensitivities: Limitations may be placed on items or collections deemed sensitive by diverse cultures or that contain harmful or traumatizing content.
- Physical characteristics: Items in need of special handling or conservation, items stored on obsolete media, and items of significant monetary value may be protected temporarily or indefinitely. Reasonable efforts will be made to prepare publicly accessible copies of these items.
- Work in process: Items or collections that are being processed after acquisition or have been removed from storage for conservation, digitization, or display will not be accessible to researchers until the work process is completed.