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!


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