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 https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/historyculture/park-history.htm

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!

  1. http://www.rexburghistoricalsociety.com/
  2. http://abish.byui.edu/specialCollections/manuscripts/Collections/PDFs/Emory%20Gilbert%20Adams.pdf

Scripture Collection

Brigham Young University-Idaho is an association affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As such, one of the purposes of the university is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who strive to be leaders in their homes, communities, and in the Church.1  This mission is accomplished by providing a quality education in many fields of interest, preparing students to become lifelong learners, maintaining a wholesome environment, and by building testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In order to assist the building of testimonies, Special Collections provides students with access to a Scriptural Collection.  This collection houses multiple copies of Sacred Works, including various editions of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, as well as the Pearl of Great Price.  We are also home to 19 different languages of the Book of Mormon.


Although this collection is similar in its mission to the Mormon History Collection, the Scripture Collection differs in that it is specifically dedicated to copies of the Sacred Works and histories of the Bible.


1: http://www.byui.edu/about/our-mission

Welcome to BYU-Idaho!

Welcome to Rexburg, Fall 2016 students!

This semester, the David O. McKay Special Collections and Archives will be hosting open houses.  Feel free to come in during these open houses (dates and times to be announced) or any other time to find out what we have, to study, or to receive help on a research project!  Our student employees are more than happy to help with any of your needs.

A few previews of what will be happening this semester:

  • History of Writing/Research classes
  • History of the Bible classes and forums
  • Medieval Art classes
  • Family Home Evenings (available by request)
  • Opportunity to handle an original King James Bible
  • Chances to see an Egyptian Sarcophagus panel

Good luck this semester, and make sure to stop by McKay 220 to ensure you don’t miss out on any of these opportunities!

Mormon History Collection

In the Ontario County of New York in the early 1800’s, a great Religious uprising occurred.  During this time of the Great Awakening, multiple sects of Christianity appeared in the area.  Preachers contended for followers, and people began to divide into the different churches.

Joseph Smith, Jr. and his parents and siblings found themselves caught in this wave of religion.  After attending meetings of the various churches, the family began to attach themselves to the sects they felt most comfortable with.  Although Joseph’s mother and three siblings joined the Presbyterian faith, Joseph was more hesitant.  He was concerned with the way the different sects conflicted, stating that:

“In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?  If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”

One day Joseph was reading in the Bible and came upon James 1:5, which reads,

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Joseph reflected on this verse, feeling that,

“Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.  It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart.  I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know…”

He decided to put the verse to the test: to ask God, believing that he would receive an answer.  One spring morning in 1820, when Joseph was 14 years old, he went into the woods near his home and knelt down to pray.  His prayer was answered in a remarkable way.  In Joseph’s own words,

“I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.  When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, ‘This is my beloved Son.  Hear Him!'”

Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ on a spring morning in 1820. Image source: https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/category/joseph-smith?lang=eng

Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ on a spring morning in 1820.
Image source: https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/category/joseph-smith?lang=eng

Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  He asked his question: which of all the churches was correct, and which he should join.  He was answered that he was not to join any of the churches: in the period between Christ’s earthly ministry and Joseph’s inquiry, many plain and precious truths had been taken from the churches.  Rather, God was going to work a great and marvelous work and restore the complete Gospel of Christ, with all of the authority necessary to be in Christ’s Church.1

On April 6, 1830, ten years after Joseph’s first vision, this came to pass when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.  In the years between the vision and the organization of the Church, many important events occurred: Christ’s authority, or Priesthood, was conferred upon Joseph Smith and his associate, Oliver Cowdrey.  The Book of Mormon, another testament of Christ, was translated.  This book is the proof that everything that Joseph said happened actually occurred: he claimed that the book was given to him and translated under the authority of God.  If the book is true, then Joseph was telling the truth and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church with Christ’s authority and approval.  For this reason, we invite all to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder it’s message in their hearts, and to ask God in faith if it is true.  Those who follow this pattern will gain a testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”2


Brigham Young University-Idaho is a private university that was founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  One of the purposes of the university is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in the community, the Church, and their homes.3  We accomplish this mission through many ways, one of them being developing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Special Collections assists in this by providing access to information about Mormon History.  We have an extensive “Mormon Collection,” which includes books and pamphlets from the very beginning of the Church to books published this year.

All are invited to come learn more about Mormon History at Special Collections.  We are open from 9-5, Monday through Friday.

1. Joseph Smith History, The Pearl of Great Price.
2. The Book of Mormon. (Moroni 10:4-5)
3. http://www.byui.edu/about/our-mission

Archivist Spotlight


Brother Haderlie is our Chair of Technical Services in the McKay library. He did not aspire to be a librarian, but happened upon it. Haderlie studied history in college then served a mission in Germany. After his mission, he decided to become a German instructor, but due to low demand, majored in microbiology. Before coming to work at BYU-Idaho, Haderlie worked at a database company as an information scientist for 14 years. When Haderlie isn’t slaving away over the library database, he’s meticulously cultivating his germ farm in petri dishes that he hides under his desk.

What is Technical Services? Though some people get confused, Technical Services is not where your computer questions are answered. They are the behind the scenes crew at the library. They are called Technical Services because, once upon a time, they were the only library department that had a typewriter. Get it? Technical?


Archivist Spotlight

Adam Luke is our Archivist at BYU-Idaho Special Collections & Archives. You may ask, “What is an archivist?” An archivist is someone that acquires, arranges, and describes historical materials. (i.e. videos, photos, documents, etc.). Brother Luke did not always know he wanted to become an archivist. In his younger years, he ranged from wanting to be a college football player to an astronaut. Too small for football, he studied history at BYU, and through research in special collections his interest was piqued. Brother Luke continued his education at USU, obtaining his MS in history. He later went on to library school at the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with his MSIS. He now lives in Idaho with his wife, Nadine, waiting for NASA to request the first Mars-chivist.


The Rixida

The Rixida

The Rixida, BYU-Idaho’s yearbook, was first published in 1912 as The Student Rays.  This was not the yearbook that we commonly think of today; rather, it was a precursor to today’s BYU-Idaho newspaper, The Scroll.  However, in 1912 it began to publish information about graduates in a similar manner to today’s yearbooks.  In 1917, Ricks Academy developed a new look for the yearbooks and renamed it The Rixida.  This yearbook was printed until 1999, after which the university made the change to a digital version.  Any publication of The Rixida was discontinued in 2009.

The Rixida contains staff and student photos, activities, clubs, fraternities and sororities, and sport photos and schedules.  If you have a relative who attended Ricks, you may be able to find their photo in a copy!  Copies of The Rixida are available in both Special Collections and the General Collection of the McKay Library.


Hubert Bancroft Collection

Book-keeper, publisher, and historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft was one of the prolific figures of the United States’ history.  His influence would help shape the identity and destiny of the American West.  Bancroft’s works stand as testament of his passion for life, love of mankind, and his desire to positively impact the world in which he lived.  Like many of the West’s figures, Bancroft came from the humblest of circumstances which would prove pivotal to his future success.

Hubert Howe Bancroft was born May 5, 1832 in the Puritan community of Granville, Ohio.  His parents, Lucky Howe and Azariah Ashley Bancroft, were steadfast abolitionists and, like most Puritans, valued hard work as one of life’s greatest virtues.  Long hours on the plow, strict observance of the Sabgath, and a respect for God’s children molded young Hubert’s character and laid a foundation from which Bancroft could build his career.

As adolescence faded into adulthood, Bancroft left the farm and took up work in a bookstore and publishing house that belonged to his brother-in-law, George Derby, in Buffalo, New York.  Bancroft met little satisfaction with his fist posts in the business and eagerly accepted the opportunity to transport and sell a large supply of his brother-in-law’s stock of books in California.  Arriving in San Francisco in 1852, Bancroft immediately sold his wares and took to finding work wherever it  could be found.

After dabbling in several unsuccessful business ventures, Bancroft eventually established his own printing house and bookstore.  Using a loan from his sister (Derby’s wife) and many lines of credit, Bancroft purchased $10,000 worth of books from several East Coast publishing houses and transported them back to California.  With his newly purchased inventories, H.H.Bancroft & Company opened for business in December 1856.  A resourceful businessman, Bancroft immediately found success in his newly established enterprise.  His business quickly expanded, making him a wealthy man.


As the years passed by, Bancroft developed a keen interest in history.  Inspired by the American West of old, Bancroft left his company in the hands of his brother, A.L. Bancroft in 1868 and devoted himself entirely to the publication of an extensive history of the pacific Coast, covering the history of the tropics of Central America to the icy shores of Alaska.  His plan would include the publication of 39 volumes, requiring the help of dozens of collaborators, and span several decades.  Critics of the publication challenged Bancroft’s validity in the facts presented, since he did not acknowledge all those who helped in the collaboration of the 39 volumes.  Many claim that Bancroft was the editor instead of the actual author.

Bancroft’s works, found in the Reading Room of Special Collections, represent a convenient and conventional breakdown of western North American into geo-political units.  He was acting, of course, under the assumption that there would be a better market for the books if the residents of California, Utah, British Columbia, and so on, could clearly see that the history of their particular region was individually covered.  This also allowed the authors to reduce the vast amount of subject matter into workable unites.


Bancroft’s publication eventually became a success, selling more than 6,000 sets–234,000 volumes as a whole, with a gross return of more than $1,000,000.  He miraculously managed to recoup on his great investment and did not sustain a loss.

Concerning the success of Bancroft’s collection, Biographer John Walton Caughey wrote, “What is more important, this large sale gave the Works excellent availability.  Ever since publication, the set has been easily accessible to readers, students, and researchers.  No library need be without it, and in the book markets today, it may be had to prices ranging sometimes below a dollar a volume.  This current availability is, in a direct way, a tribute to the success of the sales program initiated by Bancroft, elaborated by Stone, and carried out by their enthusiastic cohorts.


Caughey, John Walton. Hubert HOwe Bancroft, historian of  the West.  Berkley: U of California P, 1946, Print.

Templeton, Tegan.  “The Book of Wealth.”  The Book of Wealth.  http://www.bookofwealth.info/hubert-howe-bancroft-author-or-editor/ (accessed May 8, 2014)