Researching Latter-day Saint Pioneers: It’s Not All Done!
This July 24 marks the 172nd anniversary of the arrival of the first Pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salt Lake Valley! If you have ancestors who were early members of the Church, you’ve probably wondered what else you can find on those ancestors. You may have heard people say or even thought yourself, “All of the research on my Pioneer ancestors is done.” That’s not true! Many families have researched their Pioneer lines, but there are plenty of rich resources that you can use to learn new things.
Nauvoo Community Project
While I was a student at Brigham Young University, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant on the Nauvoo Community Project. The goal of this project is to identify all of the residents of Nauvoo, Illinois from 1839-1846 from birth to death. So far, over 18,000 people are in the database and more are added regularly! As the researchers find information and sources, they enter it in the Nauvoo Community Project database. The database is free, easy to use, and includes citations for all sources.
Try searching for one of your Nauvoo ancestors and see if you find any new information!
Utah Digital Newspapers
Another wonderful resource is the Utah Digital Newspapers collection. The library at the University of Utah has an extensive collection of historical Utah newspapers and is working to digitize all of their papers, and so far two million pages have been added to their online collection! You can search the name of your ancestor or browse papers by name or location. The project is ongoing, so check back if what you’re looking for isn’t available yet.
Newspapers are a great resource for genealogy because they can really give you a sense of what life was like for your ancestors. In newspapers, you can find obituaries, marriage announcements, criminal activity, business advertisements, and more! Since newspapers aren’t completely indexed, it can take some digging to find what you are looking for. The end result is worth it because you will likely find exciting details about the lives of your ancestors that can’t be found anywhere else.
Early Latter-day Saint Missionary Database
Missionaries have been serving in the Church since the 1830s. The Church History Department has created the Early Latter-day Saint Missionary database and has documented over 40,000 missionaries that served between 1830 and 1930. There are photographs, links to original sources, mission histories, and more. This video explains how to use the database and what kinds of information you can find.
I found my husband’s great-great grandmother in this database! He thought it was inspiring to learn that he had ancestors who were early missionaries of the Church.
I hope that you learn something new about your Pioneer ancestors this month. Researching and sharing what you find to your family will strengthen the connection that you have to each other and to your ancestors. Good luck researching!