Black Members of the Church Research Guide

This research guide provides a brief introduction to selected black Latter-day Saints throughout the Church’s history and identifies significant related historical materials held at the Church History Library. Black Latter-day Saints have numbered among the Church’s membership since 1830, the year of the Church’s organization. In the first half of the 19th century, black members whose ancestry traced to Africa and the African diaspora received the priesthood, served missions, led congregations, crossed the plains (including in the first pioneer company of 1847), and helped establish the Church in Utah Territory. From 1852 through 1978, black men were banned from receiving the priesthood, and black men and women were prohibited from receiving temple ordinances. Today, black men and women participate fully in the blessings and opportunities provided to all Church members.

This research guide provides a brief introduction to individual black members, groups, and events throughout the Church’s history and identifies significant historical materials held by the Church History Library. The guide begins with an introduction to general research resources, followed by four chronological sections: 1830–1851, 1852–1909, 1910–1977, and 1978–present. Within each chronological section, entries are sorted geographically and listed alphabetically. Each individual, group, or event is introduced with a biographical sketch or description and followed by a list of relevant primary sources in our collection as well as significant additional sources in the library’s holdings.

Access to the materials identified in this guide is subject to the library’s access policy, under which certain sources created in recent years may be currently closed to research in order to respect the privacy of living persons. For more information about the library’s holdings or policies, we invite you to explore the online Church History Catalogvisit the library in Salt Lake City, or contact our staff by clicking the Ask Us button anywhere in our catalog or on our website.