Smith family donates historical artifacts and documents to BYU

A large collection of artifacts and documents pertaining to early Church history was presented to BYU July 12 by Elder Eldred G. Smith, emeritus General Authority. He presented the collection on the 222nd anniversary of the birth of his great-great-great-grandfather, Joseph Smith Sr.

The collection, which was formally presented during a luncheon attended by BYU Pres. Rex E. Lee and Smith family members, includes manuscripts from Hyrum Smith and from Hyrum's son, John.Hyrum was a brother to Joseph Smith Jr., and was killed with him at Carthage Jail in Illinois in 1844. John Smith later migrated with Brigham Young and Mormon pioneers to Utah.

Also contributing to the collection was Elder Smith's sister, Cleone Smith Isom, who offered family photograph albums, correspondence and legal documents.

David J. Whittaker, curator of the Archives of the Mormon Experience in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU, said, "We at the BYU library see this donation as the beginning of what we hope will be a long relationship with the Smith family."

He explained that the donated items have been named the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Collection and will be placed in the Harold B. Lee Library's Department of Special Collections and Manuscripts.

"We chose Joseph Smith Sr., to name this collection after because we wanted to reach our arms wide to all members of the Smith family - descendants of Joseph Smith Sr.," Brother Whittaker told the Church News. "We wanted the Smith family to identify the BYU library as a secure place to deposit their written records and photographs."

The collection's documents contain a rich history of the origin of the Church. Included are diaries and letters from Hyrum Smith between 1832 and 1844, and diaries by John Smith and his correspondence with others from 1848 to 1909. The first-known painting of Hyrum is also included, along with a painting of his first wife, Jerusha.

The Hyrum and John Smith manuscripts should be available for study in September, after organizing and cataloging are complete. The other manuscripts should be available for study sometime in 1994.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed