LDS Historical Geography

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Historical Geography

Because wards, branches, stakes, and missions were often divided and their names and boundaries changed, you may need to determine previous church units to locate an ancestor’s records. Many wards and branches were dissolved or combined with other wards. Some branches were so small, that their records were kept with a nearby ward.

Ward and Branch Boundary Information

The following sources help identify ward, branch, stake, and mission boundaries:

Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jenson, Andrew. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Publishing, 1941. (Family History Library book 289.309 J453e; film 496776; fiche 6053258 [set of 12]; index on film 928073 item 8; fiche 6051304 [set of 3]). This includes brief histories of early wards and branches. It tells when they were formed and names early priesthood leaders up to 1930. It covers Utah and the mountain West in great detail, and other places in a more general way. This is indexed in the Early Church Information File and included in the LDS Family History Suite 2.

Online version of Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

LDS Place Names Gazetteer.

Ward, Jill Anderson. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: Family History Library, 1986. (Family History Library book 289.3 W213L; film 1059499 item 5). This source identifies many small areas in the western United States, Mexico, and Canada where members lived and names of the wards or branches they attended. Many obsolete ward and branch names are given with their new names. This book includes many references not found in the Encyclopedic History of the Church.

Local Unit History File, [1830s]–1981.

[Salt Lake City, Utah: n.p., 1981?] (Family History Library fiche 6334934 [set of 20]). This source is worldwide in scope. Though it covers some early Utah wards and branches, it is most useful for identifying 20th century church units. For each ward or branch, it lists the dates when it was organized, discontinued, or divided; the ward or branches from which it was created; and, if the unit was discontinued, the name of the church unit(s) where the records were sent.

The Mormon Subject/Locality File.

[Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1981?] This set of drawers contain cards that lists the date a ward or branch was organized, which Church unit it was created from, and the Church units into which it was divided. The file is worldwide in scope.

Alphabetical Index to Ward and Branch Organization.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1967. (Family History Library films 471843–44). This includes dates of organization, name changes, and other information about wards, branches, and missions. The reference numbers on cards are obsolete reference numbers to the Historical Department membership records. However, these numbers still appear on the membership films. Researchers can use this source to see if the membership records in the Family History Library are the same ones available in the Historical Department—Archive Search Room.

For more current ward boundary information, contact local Church leaders. You can find local congregations listed in a local telephone directory under "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Ward Boundary Maps

You may need to use maps along with other sources to determine the ward a Church member lived in. For example if you only have your ancestor’s address, you may be able to use a map to find out which ward he or she attended. For sources that help you find an address see LDS Directories or LDS Census.

Ogden, Utah.

Ellis, D. W. The D. W. Ellis Map of Ogden City, Utah Territory, 1891. Scale 1:6000. N.p., 1891. (Family History Library map 979.228/O1 E7e). Includes boundaries of five wards.

Ogden City, Utah. Engineering Department. Map of Ogden City, Weber County, Utah Showing Names of Streets. Scale 1:1000. Ogden, Utah: Ogden City Corp., 1928. (Family History Library map 979.228/01 E7oc). Shows boundaries of 21 wards.

Provo, Utah.

Map of Provo City, Utah, North of Center Street. Scale 1:3,600. N.p., 1985. (Family History Library map 979.224/P1 E7m). Includes 1884 Church ward boundaries.

Saint George, Utah.

Hardesty, Patricia N. Pioneer Map City of St. George, Washington County, Utah, Index with LDS Wards. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1982. (Family History Library book 979.248/S1 E7p index; fiche 6031575).

Salt Lake City, Utah, and Vicinity.

"General Plan of Great Salt Lake City" in B.H. Roberts’ A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Volume 3. 1930. Reprint, Orem, Utah: Sonos Publishing, 1991. (Family History Library book 289.309 R541c). This map is found between pages 281 and 282. The map shows 20 Salt Lake City wards in 1860. The ward numbers are the numbers in larger type font on the map (not the smaller numbers in the middle of each block). Sugarhouse ward boundaries went east and south of the 1st ward. Since the ward boundaries have not changed much since they were established, this map is useful for over a long period of time. This map is not found in the compact disc version of this book.

Street names were slightly different before 1970. You can mark the old street names on the map as follows. The street (running east and west) at the bottom of the map was Ninth South Street. Heading north the streets went in order from Eighth South Street to First South Street. Continuing north you came to South Temple Street, and then North Temple Street. The next street north was First North Street. The streets continued in this order up to Fifth North Street. The street (running north and south) on the right-hand side of the map was Tenth East Street. Heading west from Tenth East the streets went from Ninth East Street to Second East Street. Continuing west was State Street, then Main Street, and then West Temple Street. To the west of West Temple Street was First West Street, on over to Eighth West Street.

Heading north or south away from South Temple Street, the even numbered addresses are on the right side of the street and odd numbered addresses on the left. Heading east or west away from State Street, the even numbers are on the right, and the odd numbers are on the left side of the street. Most blocks were allotted 100 possible address numbers, so that Ninth South Street was also known as 900 South, and Eighth South Street was also called 800 South, Seventh South was 700 South, and so forth. The address 956 East 800 South would be on the north side of block 1 on the map.

Morgan, Nicholas G. Pioneer Map: Plat "D" and Empire Mill Tract, Great Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. N.p., 1847. (Family History Library map 979.225 E7mn). This source includes an index to land owners and lists the wards where they lived.

Morgan, Nicholas. G. Pioneer Map: Great Salt Lake City, Great Basin, North America. Salt Lake City, Utah N.p., [1851?] (Family History Library map 979.225 E7man; fiche 6051237). This source contains the names of the major land owners in Salt Lake wards in the 1850s. For an index see:

Grundvig, David L. Index to Pioneer Map, Great Salt Lake City, for 1850s. Salt Lake City, Utah Typescript, 1981. (Family History Library book 979.225 E7man index). This map includes an alphabetical list of the landowners. It is indexed in the Early Church Information File.

"Salt Lake City 1885." Deseret News 1985 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News, 1984. (Family History Library book 289.305 D457). Page 317 has a map of the 1885 ward boundaries in Salt Lake City.

Map of Salt Lake City and Vicinity, Utah, 1888. Scale 1: 2,534,400. New York: G. W. and C. B. Colton, 1888. (Family History Library map 979.2258 E7mo; fiche 6017085). This map includes the names of property owners. For an index see:

Grundvig, David L. Index to Map of Salt Lake City and Vicinity, Utah, 1888: Listing Names of Major Landowners and Tentative Ward Areas Outside of S.L.C. Proper. Manuscript, 1981. (Family History Library book 979.2258 E7mo index; fiche 6017085). This is indexed in the Early Church Information File.

Salt Lake City and Southern Suburbs: L.D.S. Wards as of September 1, 1954, Subject to Change. Scale 1: 30,000. Salt Lake City, Utah: Salt Lake Real Estate Board, 1954. (Family History Library map 979.225 E7s 1954). This map shows ward boundaries in the Salt Lake area in 1954.