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The Brigham Young University Archives preserves records documenting the history of the university and it’s people as well as their impact on the LDS Church and society. The records cover the years from 1875 to the present and include letters; memoranda; minutes; reports; personal journals; surveys; financial and legal documents; speeches; audio and video recordings; motion pictures; artists’ sketches; photographs; research, field, lecture, and class notes; syllabi and examinations; drafts of writing and musical compositions; scientific data; maps; architectural sketches, drawings, blueprints, and specifications; theses, dissertations, and faculty and university publications; and machine-readable records.
This rich array documents every era of BYU’s development, from the academy years of Karl G. Maeser, James E. Talmage, and Reed Smoot to the late twentieth century and BYU’s status as the largest church-related university in the nation, with distinguished administrators, faculty, and alumni numbering in the thousands.
The first formal university record generated was the institutional charter in 1875. A steady stream of documentation followed, beginning with a tiny trickle as the first twenty-nine students of Brigham Young Academy began their recitations in the Lewis Building the following year. During the next eight decades the stream of information grew into a torrent, with some permanently valuable records being lost forever in the flood of information.
In an attempt to forestall further losses, the University Archives was established in 1956. Early facilities were barely adequate, beginning with a 4′ x 250′ storage room in the Maeser Building exposed to extremes of weather, dust, and insects; moving to a storage and workroom in the balcony area of the present Coray Lecture Hall, also in the Maeser Building; enduring unheated quarters in both the ZCMI Warehouse and the Utah Wholesale Grocery Warehouse; finding a more appropriate home in the Grant and Clark libraries; and finally enjoying the present facilities in the Harold B. Lee Library.