Maritime museum features story of European pioneers

HULL, England — An exhibit at the Hull Maritime Museum features the city's role in the migration of thousands of members of the Church from Europe to the United States in the 19th century.

Located a short distance up the River Humber from the east coast of England, Hull was a stopping off point for pioneers sailing from Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. From there, they would travel by train across the country to Liverpool before making the trans-Atlantic crossing aboard tall ships to America.

The museum exhibit, "European Pioneers," opened on July 30 with displays of original documents of Jewish migrants, emigrants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others making up a group of 2.5 million. It coincides with Sea Trek 2001, launched on Aug. 7 in Scandinavia. The museum presentation will be one of the points of interest in Hull as the city hosts thousands of visitors during the Sea Trek 2001 celebration on Aug. 23.

Professor Aubrey Newman, Honorable Director of the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies, spoke during opening ceremonies. Among his comments, he stated that the Mormons were the best organized of any group that was emigrating. It took other people decades to reach the level of organization attained by the Latter-day Saints in the 1860s, he said, adding, "Strong conviction and almost desperation to get to their new homeland" were apparent with almost all emigrants.

Elder Jeremy Larsen, left, and Elder Alerander Muller check out the "European Pioneers" exhibit in the Hull Maritime Museum.
Elder Jeremy Larsen, left, and Elder Alerander Muller check out the “European Pioneers” exhibit in the Hull Maritime Museum.

Nick Evans, a fellow of the Maritime Historical Studies Centre at Hull University, did the original three-year study and research for the exhibit. He also supplied the facts for a new Church pamphlet entitled "Exploring Your Heritage," the 10th in a series of brochures reviewing prominent Church historical sites in England, produced by the Europe West Area public affairs office.

He said, "I hope the publication of this leaflet and the exhibition will help to raise awareness of Hull's important role in the peopling of America, at the same time explaining to family and regional historians the role of many of Hull's surviving buildings that would have been used by millions of transmigrants during the 19th century."

When asked what the event means to local members of the Church, Bryan Skelton, a counselor in the Hull England Stake, said, "Brilliant. It is nice to have local Church landmarks and memorabilia identified that are part of an important era of Mormon and world history."