A biography is a history of a person’s life. In a biography you may find the individual’s birth, marriage, and death information, and the names of his parents, children, or other family members. Biographies often include photographs, family traditions, stories, clues about an ancestor’s place of origin, places where he has lived, church positions held, professional accomplishments, military service, and activities within the community. The information must be used carefully, however, because there may be inaccuracies.
For additional biographical sources that mention Latter-day Saints see the Utah Research Outline (31081).
Important indexes of Latter-day Saint biographies are:
Early Church Information File. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1991. (FHL films 1750655–729). Over 1 million cards index the names of Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in more than 1,200 sources. It covers from 1830 to about 1914. These sources include membership records, ward histories, family histories, local histories, journals, collective biographies, priesthood records, missionary records, periodicals, cemetery records, immigration records, and civil marriage records from selected counties in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and California. This card index on microfilm gives a person’s name, the date of the event, and a reference to the source. The original source often provides additional biographical information. For further instructions see:
Early Church Information File Resource Guide (34544). Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1993. (FHL book 929.1 F21rg LDS; fiche 6105233).
LDS Family History Suite 2. Provo, Utah: Infobases, 1999. (FHL compact disc no. 205 pt. 1.) Select one of the two following databases you would like to search for LDS families. Each database is word searchable. When you find a name, you see the actual entry in the context of the book. The two databases are:
The Pioneer Heritage Library includes over 10,000 photographs. It also has many biographical sketches, stories, diaries and autobiographies, histories, early LDS newspapers and periodicals, doctrinal works, emigration sources, and the Utah Historical Quarterly. It includes major sources such as Wiggins’ Mormons and Their Neighbors, Black’s Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1830–1848, and Bitton’s Guide Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies. It also includes sources like the published series of pioneer histories by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Jenson’s Encyclopedic History of the Church, and Joseph Smith’s History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the sources in this library are not available elsewhere.
The LDS Vital Records Library includes 12 reference works about the pioneers that must be searched separately. The majority of the books in this section were compiled by Harvey and Susan Easton Black. It also includes an index to Utah deaths from 1898 to 1905 excluding Salt Lake County. These 12 sources are now available on the Internet at WorldVitalRecords.com.
These sources in these databases are also available for a subscription fee at the Ancestry.com Internet site discussed in the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline.
Wiggins, Marvin E. Mormons and Their Neighbors: An Index of Over 75,000 Biographical Sketches from 1820 to the Present. [Provo, Utah]: Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, 1984. (FHL book 978 D32w). This is a name index to biographies in 194 published sources. It includes Church members from the western United States, southwestern Canada, and Northern Mexico. This is indexed in the Early Church Information File, is included in the LDS Family History Suite 2, and is available on the Internet at http://www.lib.byu.edu/Ancestry/
Bitton, Davis. Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1977. (FHL book 016.2893 B549g; film 1059488 item 2; fiche 6053254). This book provides a brief synopsis of each diary or autobiography and lists the names of libraries where the originals or copies may be found. It lists 2,894 works alphabetically by author. It is indexed in the Early Church Information File and included in the LDS Family History Suite 2.
Thousands of brief biographies of Church members have been gathered and published:
Black, Susan Ward Easton. Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1830–1848. 50 Volumes [Provo, Utah]: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1984–1988. (FHL book 289.3 Ea85m; fiche 6031596). This was compiled from more than 200 sources. It may list a person’s name, gender, birth date and place, parents, marriage date and place, spouse, children, death date and place, temple ordinances, comments, and sources for each piece of information. Verify information before trusting it. See the Membership of the Church 1830–1848 Resource Guide (39432) for more information. This source is indexed in the Early Church Information File, in LDS Family History Suite 2, and on the Internet in WorldVitalRecords.com.
Black, Susan Easton. Early Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 6 Volumes. [Provo, Utah]: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1993. (FHL book 973 K2bs). This lists thousands of members of the Reorganization born before 1849. It shows birth, marriage, and death information, relatives, and sometimes a biographical sketch as well as sources for each piece of information. It is included in the LDS Family History Suite 2, and on the Internet in WorldVitalRecords.com.
International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude. Four volumes. Salt Lake City, Utah: ISDUP, 1998. (FHL book 979 D36p.) Usually lists birth, marriage, and death dates and places, parents, Salt Lake arrival date and company, spouse and his death date, children and their birth dates, and a half-page biography, including a photo. Alphabetical by married name (usually of the last husband).
Jakeman, James T. Album "Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and Their Mothers." Salt Lake City, Utah: Western Album, 192-?] (FHL book 979.2 D2j; film 1421989 item 2). [Indexed in the Early Church Information File.] This excellent volume includes the pictures and biographies many early Latter-day Saint women who came to Utah. Also in LDS Family History Suite 2.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia. Four Volumes. 1901–1936. Reprint, Salt Lake City, Utah: Western Epics, 1971. (FHL book 920.0792 J453L; films 410869–72; fiche 6053252. 1971 ed.). These volumes contain biographies of many early or prominent Church members up to 1936. These are indexed in the Early Church Information File and included in the LDS Family History Suite 2, and on the Internet at BYU Harold B. Lee Library Miscellaneous Books.
Library of Congress Collection of Mormon Diaries. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress Photoduplication Service, 1950. (FHL films 485332–44). The names of the diarists and the people they mention in their diaries are partially indexed in the Early Church Information File. Using the ECIF index saves the inconvenience of using the following index:
Name Index to the Library of Congress Collection of Mormon Diaries. Western Text Society Series, Volume 1, number 2. Logan, Utah: Utah State Univ. Press, 1971. (FHL book 289.3016 M552n; film 1059488 item 3; fiche 6051303 [set of 5]).
- Step 1. Find the name you are searching for in pages 12 to 391.
- Step 2. Once the name is found, record the name of the journal , the name of the volume, and the page designation, for example, SMITH, Cordeliap.1 PetersonM.
- Step 3. Turn to page 1 through 11 and find the journal listing, the reel, and the item number, for example, M. Peterson = Matilda Peterson, Sketch (7 p.) Reel 10:5 (Reel 10:5 = Reel 10 item 5).
- Step 4. Use the following list to identify the Family History Library microfilm number: Reel 1= 485332, Reel 2= 485333, Reel 3= 485334, Reel 4= 485335, Reel 5= 485336, Reel 6= 485337, Reel 7= 485338 and 485339, Reel 8= 485339, Reel 9= 485340, Reel 10= 485341, Reel 11= 485342, Reel 12= 485343, Reel 13= 4853444.
- Step 5. On the listed reel look for the item, volume, and page to find the desired work.
Kenison, David. "Dave Kenison’s Church History Stories Collection." In Dave Kenison’s Homepage [Internet site]. Orem, Utah: David Kenison, 5 February 1998 [cited 17 September 1999]. Available at www.xmission.com/~dkenison/lds/ch_hist/. This site has over 500 biographies of early members and a search engine for any word or phrase in the stories.
For information about oral histories of Latter-day Saints who lived in Utah see the "Biography" section of the Utah Research Outline (31081).
Other Sources of Latter-day Saint Biographies
The "Genealogical Surveys" portion of the "Genealogy" section of this outline describes records that include biographical information. You can also find biographies, journals or diaries, and oral histories in the Family History Library Catalog in several ways:
- In the Surnames Search look for the individual’s name.
- In the Subject Search look under:
- In the Locality Search look for biographies from a specific place under the state, county, or town, for example:
[STATE], [COUNTY]— BIOGRAPHY
[STATE], [COUNTY], [TOWN]— BIOGRAPHY