Finals Fall 2016

Good luck to all students completing their finals!

From the 1982 Rixida

From the 1982 Rixida



As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this year, we invite you to join the #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative.  This initiative is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is a call for people everywhere to serve others over the month of December.  As we follow Christ’s example this year and share His light, the world will become a brighter place.  The initiative suggests ways to share Christ’s light over the month, though these ways are not necessarily the only way to serve others.   Please join us at Special Collections in giving service and reflecting Christ’s light this Christmas season.

Manuscript Collection

“[Bigfoot] was no ordinary man.  He’s a legend now and could be classified as a legend during his very own lifetime.  He terrorized the southwest corner of Idaho, killing innumerable amounts of people.”

"Bigfoot, the Terror of Idaho" 1978 essay by Andy Fujimoto

“Bigfoot, the Terror of Idaho” 1978 essay by Andy Fujimoto

So begins the essay found in MS 381.  The Manuscript Collection contains more than 750 items covering everything from this essay to marriage records; from a life sketch of Samuel Adams to a history of Eastern Idaho.  In order to be entered into the collection, a file need only be historically significant, not related to BYU-Idaho, and file sized.  That makes this collection one of the most diverse and interesting collections found in the library!  This collection is open to the public and contains many original primary sources perfect for research papers.  Come to Special Collections to learn more about the true story of Bigfoot and to get help on that essay you’ve been writing!

WWI Veteran Thomas Neibaur

Happy Veterans Day!  Today we honor all those who have served to protect the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy.  Thank you to all veterans.  We here at Special Collections honor your sacrifice and are grateful for it.  Thank you for your fearless service.

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Following is the story of Thomas Neibaur, the first Idahoan who received the Medal of Honor.  He was also the recipient of the Purple Heart.  His story has deeply touched those at Special Collections and illustrates the sacrifice of our soldiers.

Thomas Croft Neibaur of Sugar City, Idaho, enlisted in the Idaho National Guard shortly before the start of World War I.  This action later placed him “somewhere in France.”  Stating in a letter to his mother on June 10, 1917, Neibaur wrote,

Well dear mother I am not sorry that I joined when I did altho I am very young and have had no experience away from home but still I feel that I am serving my country and I feel as if that was the next thing to serving my God.


Medal of Honor

Neibaur was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic acts during the war.

Neibaur was first stationed in Boise and then Sandpoint, Idaho. He routinely wrote home, encouraging his family while also sharing his love for them. On June 2, 1917, he wrote from Sandpoint,

I sure would like to be back home with you again, but still I realize that I am serving my country in time of need, and I remember the words of Sir William Wallace, ‘God armeth the patriot.’

Neibaur went from Idaho to New York then New Jersey for training. He reached France sometime early in 1918, and was transferred to an existing division made up of individuals from the South. Missing his old company, he remarked of his new comrades on April 18, 1918, “Of course they are good fellows and all that but still they have different ways that seem a bit funny to me.”

Neibaur would also mention briefly “a few pretty exciting times” in the trenches, which surely worried his family as is apparent when he wrote from “somewhere in France” on May 28, 1918:

Now dear mother do not worry because I tell you I have been to the trenches as there is not much danger the worst thing is the gas and we have good gas masks to protect us. The only thing is getting them on in time.

On October 1918, Neibaur wrote home what must have been startling news to his family. He opened the letter mentioning that he hadn’t received any recent correspondence from home, probably because the post was slow and because he had “been on the front for a long time then got wounded and am now in a hospital nursing a leg with three machine gun wounds in it.” Later in the letter, Neibaur briefly described how he got injured:

Say folks I sure had quite an experience I was captured and was in the hands of the Germans for about half an hour but I watched my chance and when they were not looking I recovered my gun and took ten of my captives prisoners after I was wounded three times.

In Còte de Châtillon, Neibaur had volunteered with two others to take out a pocket of German machine guns. After some action where his two companions were killed and he injured, Neibaur, while injured, was able to take out several Germans until his gun jammed. Upon retreating, he was eventually captured, but, as described in his letter home, found an opportunity to make his captors the captives. It was that action that brought him the Medal of Honor, presented by General Pershing himself. On January 3, 1919, after several months of recovery, and what must have followed several less-than-detailed letters home, he wrote,

I suppose you were very much surprised to hear that I received a medal for bravery but you know you never did get me excited about anything and I always had a cool head.


Neibaur came home to much celebration, he being the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–and the first Idahoan–to receive the country’s highest honor.  He married Sarah Shepard, and together they had nine children.  In 1928, he was injured in an accident in a sugar beet factory, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life.  Unfortunately, with this handicap and the small pension given by the military, Neibaur was unable to support his family.  In 1939, he mailed his Medal of Honor to Congress, stating, “I cannot eat them.”  Thomas Neibaur died in 1942 and is buried in the Sugar City cemetery.

BYU-Idaho’s Special Collections and Archives is fortunate to hold several original letters from Neibaur to his family. The passages above are all taken from these letters. To read the letters, visit Special Collections & Archives, room 220 in the McKay Library, and ask for manuscript collection 98 (MSSI 98: Thomas Neibaur Papers). You can view the finding aid online here: Neibaur Papers

This post adapted from a 27 June 2014 post.  View the original post here.,9171,790666,00.html

Image from

Secrets of the Vault

Special Collections is best known for the items stored in the vault.  BYU-Idaho’s vault is a large temperature and humidity controlled safe built into the back of the library.  The vault holds BYU-Idaho’s most prized acquisitions, as well as some surprising items.  Each item housed in the vault is precious to the university, though some item’s worth is more apparent than others.  Here are some of our lesser-known items stored in the vault.



If you have ever been to Special Collections for a class, you are probably aware of our collection of Bibles.  You may not be aware that we have an original 1568 AD Tischreden.  The Tischreden (English: Table Talk) is a compilation of Martin Luther’s sayings.  These sayings were written by his students and table guests, and later compiled by Aurifaber.  1


Milton’s Poems

An example of  fore-edge paintingThe Poetical Works of John Milton is truly one of the vault’s hidden treasures.  Milton is best known for Paradise Lost.  This collection of poetry supports the freedom of the press and opposes falsehoods.  On the edge of the pages are four paintings, representing the story of Adam and Eve.  Because of the fragile nature of this book, it is currently not available to the public.

Kirtland Safety Society Bank Notes

Kirtland Safety Society Bank Notes

In 1836, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded the Kirtland Safety Society.  This Society was a church-owned bank established to help out financially-strapped members.  Because the bank was not backed by the State of Ohio and because of the 1837 bank crisis, the Society failed in 1837.  Special Collections has two bank notes from the Kirtland Safety Society.  2 3 4

Hindi story of the Monkey and the Alligator

Hindi story of the Monkey and the Alligator

Along with leaves from the Qura’an, Torah, and New Testament is stored this 17th century Hindi manuscript.  The manuscript is a rendition of the folk tale “The Monkey and the Crocodile.”  A rendition of the story in English is also available in Special Collections for interested readers.

Mayan Poison Bottle

Mayan Poison Bottle

An original Mayan “Poison Bottle,” perhaps better known as a “snuff bottle,” is also stored inside the vault.  This poison bottle has inscriptions on each side, depicting what is thought to be the Mayan god “Ch’ul May,” the god of tobacco and jaguars.  5


Greek Papyrus

Papyrus was one of the widely used mediums for text in ancient times.  This fragment is from 90 A.D., and is a rare example of papyrus that has lasted throughout the ages.  As a plant-based material, papyrus generally deteriorates relatively quickly.

Special Collections is always happy to open the vault!  Come in between 8-5 M-F to see what other items we have.


  2. “Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual Lesson 121: The Church Moves to Northern Missouri.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016
  3. “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company Note.” Kirtland Temple.  Community of Christ, 2008.  Web. 12 Jan. 2016
  4. Mormon Currency-1837 $5 Kirtland Safety Society Bank Note PMG 20 – AU Capital Management.” AU Capital Management. Web. 13 Jan. 2016.
  5. BYU-Idaho records

Campus Authors Collection

Professors at BYU-Idaho are pretty awesome.  We have professors who have been Army officials, directors of programs at this and other universities, and the president of the university was once the CEO of a major newspaper.  Our professors are also authors!  Special Collections makes it a point to collect any works published by one of the professors at the school.  From dissertations to informative research and from biographies to novels, the Campus Authors collection is sure to interest any student.  Come in to see what your favorite professor wrote!


Roman Military Diplomas

Two Roman bronze plates, known as military diplomas, are on display this semester at Special Collections.

These plates, discovered in 1986 near modern-day Romania, were acquired by Brigham Young University in 2005.  They are significant to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of the fine example of writing on metal plates and their similarities to the Gold Plates discovered by Joseph Smith.

Roman diplomas were used as proof of Roman citizenship.  Pretending to be a Roman citizen was an offense punishable by death, so a diploma was a highly prized possession.  They were issued to soldiers upon release from the army, especially to those who had performed an admirable service.  A diploma granted citizenship to the soldier, his wife, and children.  The diploma on display granted citizenship to “a foot soldier of the First Mountain, under the command of Cornelius Felicior, namely to Marcus Herennius Polymita Berens, son of Marcus, and to his son Januarius and to his son Marcellus and to his daughter Lucana.”  Being a Roman citizen was a coveted position because it granted a person the right to wear a toga, exemption from taxes, the ability to become a government official, and to appeal judgement to the emperor.


Roman Diploma

Diplomas were made from different mediums, such as bronze, wood, or wax.  They consisted of two plates, bound together with two rings, and sealed shut by seven witnesses.  On the outside of the front plate (A), the decree of citizenship is written in portrait form.  The back of the same plate (B) has the same text inscribed in landscape form. carrying onto the second plate (C).  The outside of the second plate (D) has the names of the witnesses and their seals.  When put together, sides A and D are on the outside, and B and C become the inside.  The practice of duplicating writing in sealed documents can be traced to several ancient governments.  Duplicated and sealed writings were thus the most important of any documents, and often used for binding legal acts.  For example, the ancient Babylonians would write on clay cuneiform documents and then seal the document by putting a thin sheet of clay around the document and writing the same information on the outer document.  Witnesses would legalize the document by imprinting their seals into this outer sealing.  The ancient Israelites would likewise seal their documents by writing on a sheet of papyrus and then tightly rolling it together, sealing this portion, and writing the exact same words on the open portion of the scroll.  Evidence of Greek writings sealed this way has also been found.  In the case of the Babylonian, Israelite, Greek, and Roman writings, were the legality of a document ever be disputed, a judge had the authority to break the seals and judge whether the writing on the sealed portion matched that on the open portion.  The Roman diploma on display was additionally “Recorded and posted on a bronze tablet which is affixed in Rome to the wall on the back of the Temple of Minerva built by the Divine Augustus.”  If a judge still had doubts about the authenticity of a soldier’s Roman citizenship, he need only go to the Temple of Minerva to see if a plate were indeed displayed on the wall.  These sealed documents were thus the most legal documents that could be found in the ancient world.

Israelite Doubled Document

Israelite Doubled Document

Evidence of plates and sealed documents has brought new meaning to ancient scripture.  Jeremiah 32:6-16 describes the process of sealing the purchase of a plot of land.  Deuteronomy 19:15 describes the law of witnesses, and 2 Nephi 27:12 describes Nephi’s vision of three witnesses sealing their testimony of the Book of Mormon.  Job 19:24 talks about writing on lead tablets, and 1 Maccabees writes of brass tablets, while Josephus and Pliny talked about how the Hebrews wrote in gold.

On display now are facsimile copies of the original Roman plates, a Babylonian seal, and a copy of an Israelite document, as well as original Roman signet rings.

Mediterranean Silver Scroll

Mediterranean Silver Scroll

All information for this post was taken from BYU Studies 45, no. 2 (2006), an article entitled Two Ancient Roman Plates by John W. Welch and Kelsey D. Lambert.

Images were taken from BYU’s website, which can be found here.

To learn more about these plates, visit BYU’s website or come into Special Collections to read the article.

Historical Literature Collection

A favorite collection at BYU-Idaho, the Historical Literature Collection is known for its diversity.  While the other collections in SPC are very focused, this collection has a wide range of topics.


Titles in the Historical Lit collection include:

  • The Renowned History of Goody Two-Shoes by Charles Welsh (1881 edition)
  • Death and the Good Life by Richard Hugo (published in 2002)
  • The Master of Mary of Burgundy: A Book of Hours (1970 edition)
  • Frozen Dog Tales and Other Things by Colonel William C. Hunter (Copyright 1905)
  • Life of Abraham Lincoln by J. G. Holland (1865 original)

Some of the books in this collection are here because of the generous donations of community members. Whether you are interested in reading these books, Mein Kampf, or National Geographic, this is the collection for you!

Yellowstone Collection

There is evidence of humans in Yellowstone as far back as 11,000 years.  In Special Collections, we house evidence of humans in Yellowstone as far back as the 1800s, when written history of the park began.

European Americans began to explore Yellowstone in the early 1800s, but the first organized expedition of the park didn’t arrive until 1870.  In 1872, Yellowstone became the first National Park in America, even before the National Park Service was created in 1916.


Special Collections houses over 150 books about Yellowstone.  There is also currently an exhibit specifically about Yellowstone and the National Park System on display.  If you’re interested in learning more about Yellowstone, come in to Special Collections and let us tell you about why the National Parks stopped encouraging people to feed bears!



All information for this post from

Upper Snake River Valley Collection

From phone books to the journals of Lewis and Clark, the Upper Snake River Valley collection houses books that have significance in Eastern Idaho.  Titles include “Idaho Chinese Lore,” “Vigilante Days and Ways,” and “Mountain Men of Idaho.”

The Upper Snake River Valley includes Bingham, Bonneville, Jefferson, Madison, Teton, Clark, and Fremont counties in Eastern Idaho.1  The collection does include a few books about other places in the general area, including books about Star Valley, Wyoming, among others.

Interesting facts and stories about the early history of the Snake River Valley:

  • Two of the first towns in Eastern Idaho were Market Lake (now Roberts) and Eagle Rock.2
  • An early settler, Emory Adams, was a very young boy when his family moved to Idaho.  In order to ensure that he wouldn’t run off while his father was working, he would often be tied in a horse stall with a rope.  His father says that when he would come back from work, he would often find several Native Americans in the shed playing with his son.2
  • One of the first jail breaks in Idaho was done when an inmate’s wife and newborn baby came to visit him in the cell.  The wife had hidden a pistol in the baby’s clothes and left it with her husband when she left.  When the guard came in to bring the inmates their breakfast, they held him up and locked him in the cell.2

These facts and stories come from an oral history by Emory Adams.  To read more of his stories, visit this link.  To read even more interesting stories about the cowboys of the west, come to BYU-Idaho and request a book from the Upper Snake River Valley collection!