We want to reach out to individuals so that they will have that experience of, 'Wow, this is the church, this is history of the church and I'm able to see these documents' and kind of have that be a part of their lives and have that touch them as it has touched all of us who have worked here. —April Williamsen, Church History Library employee
Records from the LDS Church dating back to an 1830 copy of the Book of Mormon will be a part of the Treasures of the Collections open house at the Church History Library from Thursday, Sept. 27, to Thursday, Oct. 11.
The event occurs around the general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints each October and April. The upcoming theme, "Record Keeping in the Kingdom," encompasses entries from church historians throughout the years, including the actual letter that Willard Richards wrote only hours after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith to the Saints in Nauvoo. The Church History Library will be open Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
April Williamsen, an employee at the Church History Library, has been working on the Treasures of the Collections open houses since they began in 2009. For her, the letter from Richards had the most impact as they were selecting which items to display.
"One of the things that touched me the most," Williamsen said, "was the statement written by Willard Richards and signed by John Taylor that stated: 'June 27, 1844, 8:05 p.m. Joseph and Hyrum are dead. Taylor wounded, not seriously.'
"We've heard the story for years about the martyrdom; I've been to Carthage Jail, I've seen it," Williamsen said. "But to see that statement — it just really struck me. Can you imagine what Willard was feeling at the time? Here it was just several hours after the event had taken place.
"I don't think anyone really stops to think about Willard," Williamsen said. "It just gives you a different perspective to see the actual statement that he wrote and to realize all that had happened. It was just one of those moments that make you think, 'Wow, that's history.' It just brings it all alive to you at that moment."
And this year's collection is full of records that can really help bring Mormon history to life. Some of Joseph Smith's journal entries will also be on display, where he physically wrote the entry himself. This was very unusual because he would usually use a clerk to record that information. But on Dec. 21 and 22, 1835, Joseph wrote his own entry. The journals will be opened to these pages so that his actual handwriting may be viewed.
A rare Book of Mormon will also be on display. This edition was produced by John Taylor in 1852 when a copy of the French and German Book of Mormon were compiled together. Each page is side-by-side — one in French and one in German.
"It's a unique book to look at and see," Williamsen said. "I really love it because I just think it's a beautiful book to see it that way."
Written revelations that are now recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants will also be available to view, such as the 1978 declaration where all worthy males can hold the priesthood. There will also be a profile on a member of the church displaying his life through church records, such as his baptism, mission, marriage, callings and more.
After working at the library, Williamsen said she has had several wonderful opportunities to see these documents and that this open house is now to share that with others.
"We want to reach out to individuals so that they will have that experience of, 'Wow, this is the church, this is history of the church and I'm able to see these documents' and kind of have that be a part of their lives and have that touch them as it has touched all of us who have worked here."