of the Collection

    Learn about the many historical treasures in the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Joseph Smith: Prophet and City Leader

    Museum Treasures

    The sign that once labeled Joseph Smith’s office in Nauvoo’s Red Brick Store draws attention to his position as prophet, yet it hung in a place where he filled many additional roles. 

    David W. Patten’s Rifle, Watch, and Powder Horn

    Museum Treasures

    Before sunrise on October 25, 1838, David W. Patten donned this watch and carried his rifle and powder horn, intending to rescue three Latter-day Saint hostages from renegade Missouri militiamen.

    Brigham Young’s Thimble

    Museum Treasures

    This particular sewing aid is known as a tailor’s thimble, and it belonged to a skilled carpenter, community builder, and latter-day prophet—a man some now call an American Moses.

    Sally Phelps’s Hymnal

    Museum Treasures

    In July 1830, Joseph Smith received a revelation directed to his wife, Emma, that would bring greater harmony to congregations and homes for generations to come. The Lord called Emma to “make a selection of sacred hymns” (D&C 25:11), thus confirming divine approval of worshipful music in church services and solidifying what would become a longstanding tradition of reverent hymnody among the Latter-day Saints.

    Mary Whitmer and Maria Louise Cowdery Samplers

    Museum Treasures

    Mary Whitmer and Maria Louise Cowdery belonged to families who played vital roles in the Restoration of the gospel from its earliest days.

    Samuel Smith: Missionary to Prophets

    Museum Treasures

    Samuel H. Smith, though not as well known as his older brothers Joseph and Hyrum Smith, played an influential role in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    The Book of Mormon from Manuscript to Press

    Museum Treasures

    The original manuscript of the Book of Mormon contains few punctuation marks or paragraph breaks. Though the Book of Mormon text has since been updated with corrections, the precious truths it contains have remained unchanged through the centuries.

    Joseph Smith’s Heritage

    Museum Treasures

    Both of Joseph’s grandfathers had experiences and beliefs that influenced the Smith family and prepared Joseph to be the Prophet of the Restoration.

    A True Treasure Chest

    Museum Treasures

    This simple wooden box may not be an impressive sight on its own, but what it held—even briefly—is one of the greatest treasures of our time.

    Lucy Mack Smith’s Gold Bead

    Museum Treasures

    This tiny gold bead is easy to overlook among all the larger pieces in the museum, but it carries a story that gives us important insight into the faith and character of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s parents.

    Foundations of Faith Exhibit

    Treasures from the Church's Historical Collections

    This new exhibit, available online and at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City, tells the story of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ through some of its most treasured documents.

    Hyrum Smith: A Man of Mildness and Integrity

    Museum Treasures

    These artifacts are perhaps the most intimate remembrance of the martyrdom of Hyrum Smith: they are the clothes Hyrum was wearing when he was killed, the watch he carried in his pocket that day, and a pair of sunglasses he owned.

    The Articles and Covenants of the Church

    Museum Treasures

    This document is one of several known handwritten copies of the Articles and Covenants of the Church, which would later become section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

    “A Day of God’s Power”

    Museum Treasures

    This red silk handkerchief is a vivid reminder of both Joseph Smith’s compassion and the power of God to heal the sick. 

    Jesus the Christ: The Story behind the Story

    In the century since its publication, Jesus the Christ has become a classic work among Latter-day Saints. Celebrate the book's 100th anniversary, learn the story behind its creation, and glimpse Talmage's original manuscript.

    The Nauvoo Temple: Built by Faith and Community

    Museum Treasures

    When the Prophet Joseph Smith proposed that the temple in Nauvoo be built by tithing Church members, the Saints responded with energy.

    Sermons of a Palmyra Preacher

    Museum Treasures

    Joseph Smith likely heard from many preachers in the years preceding the First Vision. Two he may have encountered in his search for the true Church were Reverend Jesse Townsend and Reverend George Lane.

    Martin Harris, the Great Benefactor

    Museum Treasures

    This simple leather wallet belonged to Martin Harris, who is arguably one of the more complicated figures in early Church history.

    Mourning the Prophet

    Museum Treasures

    Thirteen-year-old Mary Ann Broomhead stitched this sampler as a tribute to Joseph and Hyrum Smith shortly after their martyrdom.

    “Something Extraordinary”: The Beginnings of the Relief Society

    Museum Treasures

    This chandelier hung in the upper room of the Red Brick Store, where the Relief Society was organized.

    Who Killed Joseph Smith?

    Museum Treasures

    While we do not know the name of the man who owned this powder horn, we do know the names of several men who helped organize and carry out the plan to kill the Prophet Joseph.

    John Taylor’s Miracle

    Museum Treasures

    This watch was in John Taylor’s vest pocket during the martyrdom at Carthage Jail, and Brother Taylor, who later became President of the Church, believed that it saved his life.

    Stephen Markham’s Cane

    Museum Treasures

    Stephen Markham's hickory “rascal beater” was made famous when it helped defend Joseph Smith from attackers at Carthage Jail.

    William Weeks: Architect of the Nauvoo Temple

    Museum Treasures

    The original Nauvoo Temple was an inspired masterpiece of architecture and craftsmanship. The Prophet Joseph Smith directed the work, but architect William Weeks translated those directions into workable plans.

    Newel K. Whitney: A Man of Faith and Service

    Museum Treasures

    Even the most unremarkable item becomes a treasure when it is connected to someone we care about. What makes this particular lap desk a treasure is that it was owned and used by Newel K. Whitney, an early member of the Church and a friend and support to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    John Taylor, October 10, 1852

    Reflections on Government and War

    Shortly after his return from missionary labors in France, Germany, and Great Britain, John Taylor gave this sermon in the five-year-old city of Salt Lake. The sermon gives insight into the climate of the times and the sense of possibility Latter-day Saints felt as they began to create their own communities in the Rocky Mountain region.

    Brigham Young the Carpenter

    Museum Treasures

    Many who know of Brigham Young know little of his life before he became a prophet. This wood lathe from Brigham Young’s carpentry shop in Mendon, New York, sheds light on a lesser-known chapter in the life of this great man.

    Blessings amidst Tragedy

    Museum Treasures

    This piece of cast-iron machinery is one of the few remaining pieces of the gristmill owned by Jacob Hawn. This mill was the site of what is now known as the Hawn’s Mill massacre.

    A Window of Heaven

    Museum Treasures

    Built by brothers Brigham and Joseph Young, this gothic-arched window originally hung in the main floor assembly room of the Kirtland Temple, a silent witness to the devotion of early Latter-day Saints and the outpouring of spiritual knowledge and manifestations they received.

    David Whitmer’s Trunk

    Museum Treasures

    This hide-covered traveling case belonged to David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Although it is unclear when or where David may have used this case, it is a tangible link to a key figure in early Latter-day Saint history.

    Nauvoo: A Temporary Refuge

    Museum Treasures

    This map of Nauvoo was first printed in 1842 by Gustavus Hills, a recently converted member of the Church, and it illustrates the Saints’ optimistic expectations for their city. Members of the Church thought they had finally found a permanent home in Illinois. This is where they would build Zion.

    Lewis A. Ramsey’s Painting of the Angel Moroni

    Museum Treasures

    Church leaders commissioned this painting from artist Lewis A. Ramsey in 1923 for the centennial of Moroni’s first visit to Joseph Smith. It was perhaps the first depiction of this sacred event in Church history by a trained artist, and for many years it was included in the large-print edition of the Book of Mormon.

    The Grandin Press: A Vital Tool of the Restoration

    Museum Treasures

    This printing press is from the shop of Egbert B. Grandin in Palmyra, New York. Modern for its time, the Smith Patented Improved Press greatly simplified the printing process and allowed the pressman to make an impression with one pull of a lever. It was this very printing press that issued the first copies of the Book of Mormon in 1830.

    Nauvoo Temple Sunstones

    Museum Treasures

    To early Church members, the sun breaking through clouds symbolized the dawning of the Restoration and the coming of gospel light to illuminate a dark earth. It is little wonder, then, that sunstones were featured prominently on the Nauvoo Temple.

    Heber C. Kimball’s Tool Chest

    Museum Treasures

    When we speak of building the kingdom of God today, most of the time we mean it in a figurative sense: we serve in the Church, share the gospel with others, and follow the counsel of the living prophet. Heber C. Kimball did all of these things, but as a blacksmith and potter, he also built the kingdom in a literal sense.

    The Nauvoo Temple: Destruction and Rebirth

    Museum Treasures

    By the time London–trained artist Frederick Piercy traveled through Nauvoo in 1853, the crumbling facade was all that remained of the Nauvoo Temple.

    The First Vision Stained Glass

    Museum Treasures

    Although stained glass is no longer popular in Latter-day Saint meetinghouses, this window is a beautiful reminder of the First Vision, a pivotal moment in history and a cornerstone of Latter-day Saint faith.

    Joseph and Hyrum Death Masks

    Museum Treasures

    June 27, 1844, was a dark day in Nauvoo, Illinois, as Church members received word that their beloved Prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum had been killed at Carthage Jail. Friends guarded their bodies in Carthage until the next day, when they were brought home to Nauvoo.

    A Man of Courage and Refinement: Willard Richards’s Grooming Kit

    Museum Treasures

    This grooming kit, owned by Dr. Willard Richards, shows the refined side of a faithful and courageous man of God. Richards was trained as a doctor of herbal medicine and cultivated an air of respectability and refinement appropriate to his profession. He shaved his face clean until his death in 1854 and regularly had his hair cut, combed, and curled.

    Remembering Nauvoo

    Museum Treasures

    A young English girl named Ann Eckford created this cross-stitch sampler of the Nauvoo Temple sometime between 1846 and 1849, probably as part of her formal education. The sampler represents some of the “growing pains” in Latter-day Saint history, when policy and procedure were still unestablished.

    Brigham Young's Travel Case

    Museum Treasures

    If you were forging a trail across unfamiliar territory in a covered wagon, what would you bring with you? How would you carry it?

    Hymns of the Trail

    Museum Treasures

    In their journals and reminiscences, many Mormon pioneers write of singing while crossing the plains, often ending the day with music. In the 19th century, most hymnals included only the words to the hymns, not the music. Hymns and other songs were sung to familiar tunes and could often be sung to more than one tune.

    The Gift of Music

    Museum Treasures

    When George Wardle played music, people listened. Music was part of his very being. One of his granddaughters recalled, “He would play any and every musical instrument.”

    Levi Hancock Journal: “All the Good I Can”

    Museum Treasures

    In January 1847, the Mormon Battalion staggered into San Diego, California, having just completed a grueling march from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

    Mormon Battalion Bullet Pouch

    Museum Treasures

    Captain Daniel C. Davis of the Mormon Battalion carried this bullet pouch the entire way from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to California, but he never fired a shot in combat. None of the battalion members did. Although the battalion was formed in a time of war, its legacy is one of peace.

    This Leg Walked to Zion

    Museum Treasures

    Imagine the faith and perseverance needed to pull a handcart more than 1,000 miles across the plains. Now imagine the faith and determination you’d need to pull a handcart while walking on a peg leg. Thomas David Evans had that kind of faith, wearing this leg as he crossed the plains from June 23 to October 2, 1856. 

    The Center of the City

    Museum Treasures

    Have you ever wondered why Salt Lake City addresses sound like math coordinates? It’s because they are. Salt Lake City is laid out in a grid, with a center point at the intersection of a base line (running east-west) and a meridian (running north-south). But how did that center point get decided?

    Brigham Young’s Spyglass

    Museum Treasures

    Brigham Young used this collapsible brass and leather spyglass on the first trip to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Members of the company used spyglasses like this to scout the trail, search for game, and watch for danger.

    One Tool That Built the West: Orson Pratt’s Odometer

    Museum Treasures

    When you’re traveling an unfamiliar road in the wilderness, how do you accurately measure the distance between landmarks? How do you record the route to help the people who follow?

    Brigham Young, September 1864

    Sermons during a Trip to the Southern Settlements

    Extracts from sermons given by Brigham Young at various settlements in Utah during a trip south in 1864. 

    Deciphering Shorthand

    Shorthand Specialist Unlocks a Trove of Early Sermons

    Watch this brief video to learn more about George Watt, shorthand, and the Lost Sermons project.

    Milo Andrus, July 17, 1853

    Including His Testimony of the First Vision

    Erastus Snow, February 20, 1853

    Recollections of the Danish Mission and Teachings on Zion

    Excerpts from an address by Erastus Snow on February 20, 1853, in Salt Lake City, recorded by George D. Watt.

    Lorenzo Snow, April 4, 1866

    Sermon on Our Divine Potential

    Excerpts from an address Lorenzo Snow, delivered April 4, 1866, in Salt Lake City, recorded by George D. Watt.

    Brigham Young, October 6, 1867

    Address and Prayer at the First Meeting in the Tabernacle

    Address and prayer of dedication at the first meeting held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, given by Brigham Young on October 6, 1867, in Salt Lake City, recorded by George D. Watt.

    A Bit of Old String

    Mary Whitmer’s Unheralded Contributions

    The string that bound the Book of Mormon manuscript reminds us to celebrate the unsung contributions of early Saints such as Mary Whitmer.

    John Taylor, October 30, 1859

    Sermon on the Gospel of Jesus Christ

    Excerpts from two sermons delivered by John Taylor on October 30, 1859, in the Old Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, recorded by George D. Watt.

    Brigham Young, September 23, 1852

    Sermon at the Funeral of Mary Fielding Smith

    Excerpts from an address given at the funeral of Mary Fielding Smith, September 23, 1852, at the home of Heber C. Kimball,

    Lost Sermons Introduction and Explanation

    Where They Came From, What They Are

    The Lost Sermons series recaptures early teachings of Church leaders, publishing excerpts of sermons recorded by George D. Watt and others beginning in 1852.

    Wilford Woodruff, January 9, 1864

    Sermon to the Saints in Farmington

    Address given by Wilford Woodruff on January 9, 1864 in Farmington, Utah, recorded by George D. Watt.

    Parley P. Pratt, October 31, 1852

    Report of His Mission to Chile

    Excerpts from an address by Parley P. Pratt on October 31, 1852, in Salt Lake City, recorded by George D. Watt.

    Orson Pratt, June 20, 1852

    Two Sermons on the Sacrament

    Excerpts from two sermons delivered by Orson Pratt on June 20, 1852, in the Old Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, recorded by George D. Watt.

    Heber C. Kimball, October 7, 1853

    Sermon on the Trials of the Pioneers

    Excerpts from an address by Heber C. Kimball on October 7, 1853, in Salt Lake City, recorded by George D. Watt.

    Joseph Smith’s First Journal

    Prophet’s Record Keeping Began with Simple Volume

    Joseph Smith began keeping a personal record a month before he turned 27. He kept his first journal only sporadically, but the little book opens a window into the Prophet’s personality.