After receiving a grant from a private donor, Utah State University Libraries created a guide to ensure the accessibility of the Mormon History collection housed in Special Collections and Archives (SCA).
“This guide was organized to provide a look at specific aspects of what is available in Special Collections and Archives,” Megan Fairbanks, history graduate student and USU Libraries staff member, said. “It lists resources available to students through SCA, including journals and autobiographies, government records, non-LDS publications and more.”
Without the guide, many documents rich with insight about Mormon History were hard to find. The library’s collections include materials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other related churches from the Restoration tradition. Scholars refer collectively to the many branches of the religious tradition as Mormonism, although no single church claims that as its proper name.
“The guide provides information about Mormon content available in Special Collections that might not have been widely accessible previously,” Fairbanks said. “I hope this guide can serve as a starting point for anyone hoping to learn more about the history of Mormonism.”
Fairbanks was hired using funds from the grant after she spent two years working for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a copywriter.
Patrick Mason, the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture and an associate professor of religious studies and history, helped secure the donation and then hired Fairbanks.
“Megan’s terrific work is going to be an enormously useful resource for both scholars and students for many years to come,” Mason said. “I’m especially excited about the ways that this guide will help undergraduate and graduate students at USU have the unique experience of working with original historical sources.”
Fairbanks became interested in working in the archives after taking a course from Patrick Mason that detailed how Mormonism fit into history and religious studies.
“I am currently studying ancient languages and cultures,” Fairbanks said. “The dual opportunity to learn more about Special Collections and about Mormonism through the lens of religious studies is one that has and will continue to enrich my academic experience for years to come. Not only that, but working with both Patrick and Special Collections Head Jennifer Duncan was a wonderful experience.”
The guide can be found at https://libguides.usu.edu/MormonismGuide.