Items recovered from stone box in temple foundation

The Church Historical Department recently recovered what remains of books, pamphlets, periodicals, and historic coins placed in a stone box in the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple 136 years ago. Each item identified during the recent removal appears on the original inventory, which is found in the Journal History of the Church for Aug. 13, 1857.

On that day, Brigham Young and other Church leaders deposited the items in a stone box that became part of the temple foundation. On Aug. 13, 1993, Historical Department officials removed the contents of the record stone, which had badly deteriorated during the intervening decades.Although the existence of the box had been known for many years, its contents had not been inspected since 1862, when workmen temporarily removed them as they fixed the temple foundation.

As Historical Department officials focused on the 1993 centennial of the temple's dedication, they felt it would be useful to locate the stone and inspect its contents, particularly because recent experience had shown that such boxes of the period were more susceptible to damage from moisture than had once been thought.

Neither historical writings nor architectural drawings from the period pinpointed the exact location of the record stone, however, and so Historical Department personnel relied on temple employees and construction workers involved in the recent refurbishing of the temple exterior to help them locate the box.

An exploratory hole drilled in the temple foundation reached a hollow thought to be the interior of the stone box. A medical scope inserted through the hole confirmed that the box had been located and that its contents had deteriorated. This discovery led to a decision to remove the contents of the box in an effort to preserve whatever of its contents remained.

The record stone's contents were carefully removed and taken to a conservation laboratory in the Historical Department, where they were examined. Although all the items except the coins were in an advanced state of decay, sufficient fragments remained to allow identification of approximately half the items from the stone's original inventory. The items identified include the Book of Mormon in French and Italian and historic periodicals such as the Deseret News, Millennial Star and Times and Seasons.

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