`Stitches in history' preserved on paper

In the upstairs room of a replica hotel, in a historic pioneer village, Raya Jones flipped through six books and shared pioneer stories.

Sister Jones of the Sandy Utah Central Stake explained that each story not only represents the work and sacrifice of the Mormon pioneers, but also the work and sacrifice of their descendants who have donated time to This Is the Place State Park on Salt Lake City's east bench.The books were donated to Old Deseret Village as part of the Stitching History Project, chaired by Ardeth Kapp, former Young Women general president.

Sister Kapp called the books the culmination of an incredible experience, which began almost two years ago when she and her committee started to identify pioneer patterns and fabrics. Later, many Church members across Utah spent hundreds of hours making replica dresses, shirts, trousers, vests, bonnets and aprons for the project - organized to produce costumes for the village.

Volunteers who donated money, time or materials for the project were asked to write a one-page history of an ancestor.

"We wanted to stitch history, preserve history, revere history and make history," explained Sister Kapp.

For the past year Sister Jones has been typing, editing and compiling the histories into six books - which were presented to the park on April 25. The books, made with acid-free paper, will eventually be on display at the park's visitors center. The pages of the books include a pioneer's name, birth and death dates, and a fabric swatch of the clothing item made in his or her honor.

Sister Kapp noted each book represents a "living moment" - both of the pioneers they are about and their descendants who took the time to write about them.

"The pioneers of today are as responsive as the pioneer of their day," she said. "Today we don't have to say, What we will put in our wagon?' butWhat will we make time for in our life?' "

From the beginning of the project, Sister Kapp has emphasized that they were doing more than just sewing clothing.

"One man said, `I sent you $100 for your project - then when I wrote the story of my ancestor it became my project,' " recalled Sister Kapp.

Sister Jones called compiling the histories, which took hundreds of hours, a labor of love. She included only one of her own ancestors in the books, but after typing and proofing the stories in the books, the pioneers feel like family to her.

She hopes the park volunteers who wear the dresses will take the time to look in the books and learn some of the remarkable stories of the pioneers they represent. "There are just some real treasures in here," she said.

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