BYU-Idaho History

On Tuesday, February 7, history was made at BYU-Idaho.  On this date, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the creation of a new world-wide online university, known as Brigham Young University Pathway Worldwide (BYUPW).  This organization will serve students across the world to reach their higher education goals.

The Gilbert family with President Uchtdorf and Elder Oaks. Image Credit

This announcement affected BYU-Idaho in a very personal way.  President Clark G. Gilbert, the current president of BYU-Idaho, was named as the president of BYUPW.  President Gilbert and his family have served BYU-Idaho for nearly two years.  He and his family have become a beloved part of the university, and they will be missed as they move to fulfill this new call.

After the announcement of BYUPW and President Gilbert’s new position, another historic announcement was made at the weekly devotional.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Elder Kim B. Clark, former president of BYU-Idaho and current member of the Quorum of the Seventy came to speak to the students and announced the new president of the university.  Henry J. Eyring, current Academic Vice President of BYU-Idaho, will assume responsibility as president of the university beginning in the Spring semester.  President Eyring and his family have served the university for many years and we are excited to be under his leadership.


Henry J. Eyring will be the 17th president of BYU-Idaho. Image Credit

After the announcement of the new president was made, Elder Oaks, who conducted the devotional, allowed President Eyring, President Gilbert, and Elder Clark time to speak before he addressed the students.  President Eyring spoke about the creation of BYUPW and thanked President Gilbert for his service.  President Gilbert told us how much he and his family love BYU-Idaho and “hopes we have enough Rexburg in all of us.”  He spoke about how he and his family–and hopefully each of us–rise up and do hard things when they are asked.  He said that, “Above all, I want you to know that we have a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”  Elder Clark then told us that he felt impressed to bear witness of Christ and that His hand is in the events of the day.  He told us how the Lord has been preparing President Eyring for this call–and that He has also been preparing each of us.  He told us that we are at this university so that our commitment to serve Christ and become like Him will grow stronger.

BYUI Eyring

Elder Oaks addressed students at BYU-Idaho. Image source

After the three presidents of the university spoke, Elder Oaks took a few minutes to address the students.  He told us that we live in hard times right now, but that the Saints have always lived in hard times.  He told us that the answer is the same as it has always been: to follow Christ, for the power of the Lord can overcome the world.  He told us to trust in God and His promises and to hold fast to hope.  He bore his testimony that Christ makes all things possible.

We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to hear from such inspired men and to have witnessed BYU-Idaho history being made.  We appreciate President Gilbert’s service and will miss him dearly, but are excited to get to know President Eyring.

Thank you, President and Sister Gilbert, for your service. Image source

More information about the creation of BYU Pathway Worldwide can be found here.

A transcription of this devotional will soon be available online.

Why Special Collections and Archives?

“I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself.  Write them down.”   One question that is commonly asked about Special Collections is, “Why do you keep the things you do?”  Our answer is simple: to keep a record.

In 1842, the LDS belief of baptism for the dead was still a new doctrine.  The practice was disorganized as no one was recording the names that had been baptized.  In Doctrine and Covenants 127:9, the Lord states, “And again, let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my holy temple, to be held in remembrance from generation to generation.”  Recording the names of those who had been baptized helped to prevent confusion and even unnecessary work.

The Nephites in the Book of Mormon also knew the importance of records.  Nephi and his brothers were commanded to take a record of the Jews with them into the wilderness.  “Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.”  Here, Nephi explains that we won’t remember God’s laws unless we have a record of them.  This is one of the most important reasons for record keeping–to remember.

President Henry B. Eyring of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and a former president of Ricks College) has explained another reason for record keeping.  “I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family… And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.”   President Eyring wrote down the spiritual experiences that his family had each day for years and then made a copy of this journal for each of his children.  And, just as he predicted, his children did need the journal.  “The years have gone by. My boys are grown men. And now and then one of them will surprise me by saying, ‘Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when …’ and then he will tell me about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day.”  His son, Henry J., said that, “Dad’s family journal,… has helped us feel as though we were telling stories around the dinner table each night.” The strength of those who came before us is something for us to lean on when life gets hard, and that’s another reason we feel that record keeping is important.

We don’t just keep records for religious reasons, though.  The IRS states that record keeping helps to “monitor the progress of your business.”  Medical records “can be of considerable clinical value in relation to the ongoing care of a patient.”  Many of the records kept at BYU-Idaho are historical records.  These records have been used in writing the history of the university and many research papers.

We hope that our collection will help us to never forget the past.  Here’s a few stories we hope Special Collections will help everyone remember:

  • Why did a former president of the school nailed desks to the gym floor in the middle of the night?
  • Why was Starr Wilkenson known as Bigfoot?
  • How did the school survive during World War 2?
  • Why did a recipient of the Medal of Honor mail his award back to the White House?

For the answers to these questions, please come in to Special Collections between 9-5 on Monday-Friday!

MSSI Collection

The Manuscripts of Idaho (MSSI) collection at BYU-I is one of our most diverse and interesting collections.  MSSI covers everything from journals of prominent Eastern Idaho citizens to World War II artifacts.  These items are kept in a humidity-controlled room at approximately 68* Fahrenheit.  Favorites from the collection include photographs, Mayan pottery, Ruth Barrus’ papers, a Nazi sword, and Thomas E. Rick’s hand-carved cane.

Dog in a Baseball Cap

This collection is open to the public with little or no restrictions.  Those interested may feel free to come visit and request materials for personal study.

University Archives Collection

Special Collections and Archives has a particular purpose to archive any information about the University.  This information is locked in a temperature and humidity controlled room in a collection called the “University Archives.”  The University Archives are generally restricted materials due to the sensitive nature of much of the information.  This collection features minutes from the meeting that formally organized the school as the Bannock Stake Academy in 1888.  It includes papers from each president of the school, including President David Bednar and President Kim Clark.  Inside this collection, pictures of the Extravadance dance group and the athletics program are intermingled with thank you notes and registration records.  This information is all stored in acid-free boxes with an alkaline buffer to ensure their longevity.

One row in the University Archives room

While this information may be restricted, there are also boxes that are available to the public.  This fascinating collection would be a great help to anyone writing a history of BYU-Idaho or the Upper Snake River Valley.  To view materials, please come to Special Collections between 9-5 on weekdays.

Winter Semester

Image may contain: snow, tree, table, plant, outdoor and nature

Rexburg has decided to welcome students back with record low temperatures!  With a forecasted high of 9* Farenheight and a low of -15*, and wind chill making it feel like -31* (at 8:31 in the morning), students are walking to class dressed in their winter best.  Social media posts from the university warn students that “Frostbite to exposed skin can occur in minutes” when temperatures drop this low.  However, “the cold never bothered (us) anyway,” and classes go on.  Welcome to Winter Semester–it’s going to be a cold one!


Social media information and picture taken from here.

Weather information from here  and here.

Glen Embree Photograph Collection

Congratulations to all Fall 2016 Graduates!  We hope that these photographs by the talented Glenn Embree will inspire you as you go celebrate!


Glenn Embree, Sr. was one of the top commercial photographers in the U.S. He served as President of the Model T Ford Club of America. Some of his clients included Walt Disney, Jimmy Durante, Judy Garland, John Wayne, Red Skelton, Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby and The Beverly Hillbillies. Embree attended the University of California at Berkeley, pursuing a major in Art, and later, he studied motion picture photography and set direction at USC.


As a set designer at MGM, he developed a passion for photography and from there, he went to work at Paul Hesse Studios in the late 1930s. In 1942, he left to serve in the Air Force as an officer in China during World War II. Upon returning home in 1946, he resumed his career in commercial photography at Hesse’s.


Later, he opened his own studio in Hollywood and quickly became recognized as a color portrait and fashion photographer. His work appears in or on the covers of such fashion magazines as Harper’s Vogue, Mademoiselle and Look. In 1988, he moved to Southeast Idaho where he continued to produce calendar photos until his death in 1995.