A professor from the University of Utah has partnered with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to develop a database which shares the history of African-American members of their faith.
“Century of Black Mormons” is a digital history database. It documents and recovers the identities and voices of African-American Latter-Day Saints during the faith’s first 100-years.
Paul Reeve, head of the project and a history professor at the University of Utah, hopes the information in the database will help people understand what it meant to be a minority in a minority religion.
Andrew Pineres, a college student who viewed the database, said it has been eye-opening.
“The thing I love about this website is that it not only gives information about this not being a White religion, but it also is so much more than that. It gives stories and backgrounds about different people and what it was like back in that time to be a minority,” said Pineres.
The exhibit contains digital records of original documents, photographs, and biological essays.
It also shares statistics pertaining to gender, slavery, and locations of their conversion.
However, the most compelling aspect of the database is the rich stories of African-American members like Jane Manning James, who participated in early church women’s organizations, and Elijah Able, who served three missions for the church.
Ron Weaver III, a BYU student, has enjoyed reading and exploring the various stories in the digital exhibit.
“I like the things I have been able to read with Elijah Able and other Black Mormon pioneers. Personally not my ancestors, but the other culture of Black people and other pioneers that have been out there,” said Weaver.
The exhibit’s archive contains nearly 40 biographies with the plan to add 200 more.
The hope is for the project to help historians tell a more complete story during the faith’s first century, one which includes members of color.