Church History Library Opens in Salt Lake City – June 12th & 13th

After 15 years of planning, four years of construction and a million artifacts moved, Elder Marlin K. Jensen from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placed the last historical item on the shelf in the new Church History Library in front of local media.

Jensen, the historian and recorder of the Church, explained that this last item was one of the 100 scrapbooks kept by President David O. McKay. “It is a personal record filled with photos, letters and journal entries that documented his travels as an apostle in 1921 to the far corners of the earth.” Elder McKay’s world tour took him 55,000 miles to such countries as Australia, France, England, Italy, Switzerland, Samoa, Palestine, India and Egypt to survey the Church’s missions. One photograph captured a moment in Egypt with Elder McKay and his traveling companion, Hugh J. Cannon, both sitting on camels in front of the famous Sphinx. Elder Jensen was joined by President McKay’s grandson, Alan Ashton, when the journal was placed in one of the many vaults of the Church History Library.

The scrapbook was the last item but certainly not the least of the priceless artifacts and records Elder Jensen and assistant Church historian Richard E. Turley presented to news reporters as part of a media tour on June 11, 2009. Assistant executive director Elder Paul K. Sybrowsky and managing director of the Church History Department, Steve Olsen, were also in attendance and shared their knowledge of Church history with members of the media.

The group was given a first glimpse of what the public can expect to see during the upcoming open house at the Church History Library on June 12 and 13.

In addition to a media presentation and tour of the library, journalists were given a rare look at dozens of one-of-a-kind and intriguing pieces of Church history treasures on display. Perhaps one of the most unique items was an early edition of the Book of Mormon that was printed in French and German — on alternating pages. This early edition, the only one in existence, was translated through the supervision of John Taylor, an apostle and the eventual third president of the Church, while he was serving a mission in Europe in 1852.

In keeping with the Church History Department’s efforts to collect modern and current history, Elder Jensen spoke of the significance of the newly published LDS first edition Spanish language Bible. Another important undertaking on display was the Joseph Smith Papers project; the second volume is due out later this year.

In an extraordinary operation, thousands of similarly valued documents, books, photos, diaries, microfiche and film were

moved from their old home at the Church Office Building across the street to the Church History Library. It took just 19 days to physically accomplish the move, but it took hundreds of volunteers a year and a half to tag and categorize each piece slated for the move. One project leader compared the mammoth undertaking to moving the Library of Congress.

The most priceless and sacred records and documents were the last to make the move, under heightened security measures. They now join more than 600,000 other historic records housed and preserved on nearly 50 miles of shelving in temperature-controlled vaults with fire and seismic protection. Items such as film will even be kept in sub zero chambers. Brent Thompson from the Church History Department says the new temperature-controlled vaults will ensure that “not only will the artifacts be available in 100 years but they will look good 100 years from now.”

The Church History Library not only houses priceless documents and artifacts but also provides the latest methods in

conservation, collection development and research. Conservators repair, restore and stabilize books, documents and photographs with a state-of-the-art Conservation Lab. The lab includes a darkroom, where conservators are able to turn acetate negatives into useable photographs, and a document cleaning room that enables them to wash historical records and apply age-slowing chemical treatments.

That state-of-the-art spirit is also found in the innovation of the Church History Library’s design. Great care was taken to make sure the building not only met, but surpassed building code and energy efficiency standards. That attention to a “green” building design is found in such areas as the filtering system, which eliminates allergens.

The paper, plastic and metal products used in the Church History Library will be recycled, and the heating and cooling systems have the highest efficiency ratings. The landscaping and plumbing will use less water, and the windows, blinds and insulation will preserve temperatures. These careful implementations have put the Church History Library on track for the prestigious Silver Design certificate given through the acclaimed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

But perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the new library is that it is designed for public accessibility. The Church History Department’s previous accommodations were designed to be more of an internal archive, said Steve Olsen, managing director over Church history. “The Church in its foundational documents has a huge commitment to preserving history and to making history useful for members and others interested in learning about its history,” said Olsen. “It is the first time in the Church’s 179-year history that we have had a dedicated public building for this purpose. … It’s really quite significant.”

More Birth, Marriage & Death Records Go Online


Volunteers working at FamilySearchLabs are digitizing microfilm and original vital records and putting them online. (Photo, courtesy: Newsroom.lds.org)

Today I see that they have added records for:

MICHIGAN
Michigan Birth Records 1867-1902 – Complete – includes digital images of the original documents

Michigan Death Records 1867 to 1897 – Complete – includes digital images of the original documents

WEST VIRGINIA
West Virginia Births 1853-1930 – 36% complete – includes digital images of the original documents
West Virginia Marriages 1853-1970 – 36% complete – includes digital images of the original documents
West Virginia Deaths 1853-1970 – 50% complete – includes digital images of the original documents

GERMANY and MEXICO
In addition to that FamilySearchLabs has put up German & Mexican baptismal & marriage registers for 1700-1900. These two resources are text only and give the citation for the original document but not the digital page images.

This is great news!

FamilySearchLabs is keeping up a brisk pace of uploading genealogical records and images.
GenealogyBank adds 4 million articles and records each month. To see what has been added this month click here.

GenealogyBank now has over 227 million records and documents – that’s over 1 billion names. Give it a try now – search and see what GenealogyBank has on your ancestors.

James L. Sorenson – DNA Pioneer Dies at 86

James L. Sorenson, a pioneer in DNA research has died. A self-made billionaire, he used his wealth in many causes.


Genealogists in particular are aware of his efforts with DNA and genealogy. In 1999 he started the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. The group has collected more than 70,000 DNA samples, together with four-generation pedigree charts, from volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.

His lengthy obituary and related newspaper articles appear in today’s Deseret News (UT) – you can read them in

GenealogyBank.

Here is the article (used by permission):
Deceased Name: Inventor, philanthropist James Sorenson, Utah’s richest man, dies at 86
James LeVoy Sorenson, whose success as an entrepreneur, real estate magnate and inventor of numerous medical devices made him Utah’s richest man, died Sunday, Jan. 20, at a Salt Lake hospital.

Besides his wealth and business acumen, Sorenson was renowned as a philanthropist.
Sorenson, whose wealth was estimated to be $4.5 Billion last year by Forbes magazine, was 86 years old. He was listed as the 68th-richest American in September 2007.
He was the owner of Sorenson Cos., a parent company to 32 corporations in industries including medicine, bioscience, investment/development and manufacturing.
Sorenson held more than 40 medical patents during his lifetime and is perhaps best known for co-developing the first real-time computerized heart monitor. He also invented the disposable paper surgical mask, the plastic venous catheter and a blood recycling system for trauma and surgical procedures, as well as many other medical innovations.
“I think success in his mind was someone that had ideas, that had a strong work ethic and a tenacity,” son James Lee Sorenson told the Deseret Morning News. “As you look at examples in the world today, those are important attributes. I think Dad was a calculated-risk-taker, and successful people generally are.”

The younger Sorenson said his father’s legacy will be as “a great American inventor, a man with a tremendous amount of innovation.”

Among his philanthropic endeavors is Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which is creating a worldwide, correlated genetic and genealogical database used in ancestry research. His donations have helped a Washington, D.C., university for the deaf and hearing impaired and assisted in establishment of an outdoor performing arts pavilion in Herriman. He gave more than $30 million for restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ temple in Nauvoo, Ill.

After the tsunami of 2004 hit Thailand, he donated DNA testing kits to assist in identifying the dead, and Sorenson Genomics — one of his companies — analyzed their DNA, matching some victims with their relatives.

He donated land and money to help build the Sorenson Unity Center at California Avenue and 900 West, next door to the Sorenson Multicultural Center. The YMCA’s Camp Rogers in the Uinta Mountains also benefited from his generosity.
He and James Lee Sorenson reached out to help Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.; together they donated $5 million to the country’s largest university for the deaf and hearing impaired.

In April 2007, he gave $6 million to the new Intermountain Medical Center, raising his contributions to Intermountain Healthcare to $22 million. He pledged $500,000 during a fund-raiser for Primary Children’s Medical Center in June 2007. In September 2007, the nonprofit Sorenson Legacy Foundation donated $6 million to the University of Utah, toward the James LeVoy Sorenson Center, which will be dedicated to encourage innovation and discovery among students across Utah.

A crisis concerning the Legislature’s refusal to fund some items in the state Medicaid program was averted in 2006 when Sorenson and Intermountain Healthcare donated $1 million each. The next year, the Legislature picked up the tab.

Sorenson also was a poet and composer of LDS hymns, publishing some of them in a book titled, “Just Love the People, the World Is our Family.”

After beginning his career selling pharmaceuticals to physicians for Upjohn Co. in Salt Lake City, Sorenson started buying real estate in the Salt Lake area. In 1957 he co-founded Deseret Pharmaceutical, and the company became the foundation for the establishment of Becton Dickinson Vascular Access. In 1962, he founded Sorenson Research, which was sold to Abbott Laboratories, a Fortune 100 company, in 1980.

He founded LeVoy’s, a company that made lingerie for modest women and used Tupperware-style marketing with parties hosted in homes. He also owned and developed thousands of acres of commercial, residential and agricultural properties throughout Utah.

Sorenson, who was born in Rexburg, Idaho, and grew up in central California, is survived by Beverley Taylor Sorenson, his wife of 60 years, and two sons, six daughters, 47 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.