Journal History of the Church
The Historical Department Journal History of the Church (CR 100 137) is a daily history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1830 to 2008. It is a scrapbook-style volume that was compiled mostly from newspaper clippings; information was also gleaned from Church minutes and individuals’ diary entries. As a result, the Journal History contains valuable historical and biographical information. Entries are arranged by date (with page numbers restarting on each new day) and may contain information such as when a pioneer arrived in Utah, when a bishop was called, or when a ward or stake was organized. Entries also include talks from conferences, letters from Church members and leaders, and accounts of various events and programs.
Compilation of the Journal History did not actually begin in 1830. Rather, the project was started in 1906 by Andrew Jenson, an assistant Church historian, who used information from previous Church Historians to retroactively compile the volumes. In the 25 years prior to 1906, Jenson had gathered a variety of sources to publish histories and biographies, including his Church Chronology (available online through the Internet Archive). He reused the sources gathered for these projects to create the Journal History. Some of the other early sources used were Joseph Smith’s histories, the manuscript history of Brigham Young, the Deseret News, and the Church Historian’s Office journal.
By 1913, Jenson had completed the years 1830–1852. By 1918, he was up to 1872, and by his death in 1941, the Journal History had reached 1930. His work was continued by staff working for the Church Historian's Office (now known as the Church History Department). In 2008, an administrative decision was made to cease compilation of the Journal History.
Accessing the Journal History
There are multiple formats—with multiple corresponding indexes—of the Journal History, which can be confusing when trying to search them.
The Journal History of the Church is usually navigated by date:
- 1830–1924: The entries for these years are available online as well as on microfilm in the Church History Library. A photocopied version of the Journal History for 1830 to 1870 is available in the library.
- 1925–1989: These microfilms are found in cabinets near the public bookshelves in the Church History Library. The cabinet drawers are labeled “Journal History.” You can also use Ask Us to request temporary access to digital versions of these years.
- 1990–2008: The Journal History for these years is not currently available for public research. Use Ask Us to request entries from these years.
If you need assistance locating the Journal History in any of these formats, please ask a staff member in the library for help, or use Ask Us if you are unable to visit the library.
Using the Journal History
Since the Journal History is organized chronologically, you can browse it by date in the Church History Catalog. Use the Collection Contents list on the left side of the collection’s Browse Collection tab in the catalog to navigate to the year and month of the desired date. Clicking on headings in the Collection Contents area will filter the results to your selected date range. Once the desired date range is found, click on the “Open in Viewer” button to view the batch of digital images. Advance through the images until you find the specific date you seek.
Using the Journal History Index
If you are looking for an event, location, or person, begin with the library’s index to the Journal History. Due to different projects over the years, the index has three parts, two of which are digitized and available online. The first portion covers the years 1830–1972; the second portion covers 1973–1989. These are both online and on microfilm in the Church History Library. For the third portion of the index, which covers 1990–2008, please ask a library staff member via Ask Us if you are unable to visit the library.
To use one of the first two portions, estimate when your search term will appear—either 1830–1972 or 1973–1989. Click on that date range in the left-hand sidebar. Once a date range is selected, alphabetical ranges will appear beneath it, such as “Aalborg–Eastern States.” Clicking on an alphabetical range will display additional selections beneath it, such as “Bear River Route–Ben Lomond Stake, Pleasant View 3rd Ward.” Select the range where your search term will be found, and either hover over the thumbnails to find the Journal History reference or click on the “Open in Viewer” button near the thumbnails to open the image viewer and click through the range’s index cards.
The information from the index card will refer you to a specific date—or, in some cases, multiple dates—in the Journal History. You can then look up the desired entry for that date in the Journal History collection, as described previously.