Home Photo Come enjoy BYU-I's Special Collection of copies of the Book of Mormon

Come enjoy BYU-I’s Special Collection of copies of the Book of Mormon

The David O. Mckay Library holds quite the collection. Located on the second floor in the Special Collections and Archives room there are all sorts of different books and artifacts that date back to Joseph Smith’s time as prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Most notable from these archives is the collection of copies of the Book of Mormon. These books were obtained by the school from a few different means.

“Either people have donated them, or we purchased them,” said Adam Luke, a Special Collections archivist.

Obtaining these books comes with a cost. Luckily, BYU-Idaho received several donations to build this collection.

A few of the different copies of the Book of Mormon
A few of the different copies of the Book of Mormon Photo credit: Brittanie Smith

Along with Book of Mormon collections at BYU and other universities located in Utah, this Book of Mormon collection is open to the public. The Special Collections and Archives room see students and visitors every day. It is used by many BYU-I professors as a learning opportunity for their students, and many classes have come through for the chance to look at the first edition that was ever printed.

The first edition came about in Palmyra, New York in 1830. Following that came a long line of new editions. 1837 brought about a new edition — these ones were printed in more parts of the United States and were used for the missionaries. Then in 1849, they began to be printed in England. Along with this, translated books became available.

1849's second edition came about in other parts of the U.S. including Kirtland, Ohio.
The inside of this edition shows who printed it and the year it was printed (1849.) Photo credit: Brittanie Smith

Danish was the first non-English Book of Mormon to be translated. Other languages that followed suit were Italian, French, Hawaiian and Welsh.

According to The church’s website, in 2015, the Book of Mormon had been translated into 110 languages. Six years later, the Book of Mormon now stands at 115 different languages.

One of the first non-English languages printed by the Church was Italian.
One of the first non-English languages printed by the Church was Italian. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith

While the Book of Mormon has gone through different editions published by the Church, independent publishers have also come out with their own versions. Comic books and illustrated versions have made recent appearances.

Interestingly enough, as of 2009, BYU-I has had an actively working printing press, located in the Iron Acorn Pressroom right across the hall from the Special Collections room. The replicated press looks and functions similarly to the presses used to make the original publishing of the 1830 Book of Mormon.

“The printing press used when first printing the Book of Mormon took about seven months to print out the full Book of Mormon,” said Sam Nielson, a reference/instruction librarian at BYU-I.

Book of Mormon copy made at BYU-I printing press.
Printed off of a regular printer, BYU-I's Sam Nielson bound the pages together similar to the original. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith

While the printing press on BYU-I’s campus has not yet printed out their own copy of the Book of Mormon, it would take about the same time as it would back in the 1800s since the process is the same.

BYU-I may not have the largest Book of Mormon collection, but it will continue to grow and provide opportunities for individuals to see and learn more about the origins of the book and as a background of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The second edition printed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The second edition printed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith
This copy relating to the original cover can be purchased in BYU-I's university bookstore
This copy relating to the original cover can be purchased in BYU-I's university bookstore Photo credit: Brittanie Smith
This Book of Mormon cover resembles the golden plates the scriptures were originally scribed on.
This Book of Mormon cover resembles the golden plates the scriptures were originally scribed on. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith
Michael Mercer's book bridges the gap between modern life and ancient scripture.
Michael Mercer's book bridges the gap between modern life and ancient scripture. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith
The pages of the original 1830 copy are worn and faded.
The pages of the original 1830 copy are worn and faded. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith
This edition is in the Navajo language.
This edition is in the Navajo language. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith
The first edition printed in Palmyra New York, in 1830.
The first edition printed in Palmyra New York, in 1830. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith
Pages of the first and second editions of the Book of Mormon appear yellowed and worn.
Pages of the first and second editions of the Book of Mormon appear yellowed and worn. Photo credit: Brittanie Smith

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