In the quiet confines of the David O. McKay Library, a remarkable piece of religious history is carefully preserved — the first edition of the Book of Mormon.

Braden Chancellor, a curator at the Special Collections & Archives on campus, showcase a rare 1830 first edition Book of Mormon to Scroll, offering insights into its unique features and historical significance.

This particular copy, one of three first editions owned by the library, stands out for its relatively good condition despite its age and the journeys it endured.

Chancellor noted that while the book bears water stains, its binding remains impressively intact. These stains are not just blemishes, but they tell a tale of the book’s past.

“The water stains were caused by rains while crossing the plains in covered wagons,” Chancellor said.

Library curator Braden Chancellor showing the water damage on the first edition Book of Mormon

Library curator Braden Chancellor pointed out the markings that trace back to the book's original owner, a pioneer who traveled across the plains. Photo credit: Chester Chan

Published and printed in 1830, this edition differs significantly from later versions.

“It’s printed like an actual chapter book,” Chancellor said.

He highlights that it contains chapters but no verses. This formatting presented a challenge for readers seeking specific passages. The original owner circumvented this by keeping a sheet listing the page numbers and content of notable passages, a practice likely common among early readers.

Despite the wear, the copy’s resilience is noteworthy.

“The leather is still pretty sound,” Chancellor said.

Of the three first editions in the library’s possession, this is the only one regularly shown to students and visitors. The other two are in a state of disrepair and are kept away from public view.

The existence of this first edition in the library’s collection is not widely known, even among department members, Chancellor mentioned. Its presence at the library offers a unique opportunity to connect with a pivotal moment in religious history and provides a tangible link to the past.