Built over a lifetime of research and writing Mormon history, Dr. Gregory A. Prince’s library is widely recognized as one of the finest private collections and, in terms of its holdings in twentieth century materials, it is unique. The Mormon Studies program is in the process of receiving this collection. Once curated and available to the public, it will be a defining moment for UVA’s Mormon Studies program, and it places the program second only to Salt Lake City as the spot to do research in Mormonism.
To the extent that they have collections on Mormonism, most libraries (and historians, it must be admitted) have focused on Mormonism’s dramatic nineteenth-century history. What sets this Collection apart in terms of its character, not just its size, is that it follows Dr. Prince’s publication history into a focus on Mormonism’s twentieth-century experience. While the nineteenth-century will never cease to animate the historiography of Mormonism, it is nonetheless true that today scholars have begun to turn their attention to Mormonism’s more recent past. With the Prince Collection, the UVA Mormon Studies program is poised to provide the leadership needed for a new generation.
In total, the Prince Collection is comprised of 11,000 items, some pre-dating the formal founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It includes such rich original sources as the official diaries of David O. MacKay and extensive interviews of late twentieth-century leaders, such as Chieko Okazaki. Among its periodicals is a complete collection of manuals and periodicals ever published by the LDS Church. Scholars and independent researchers will find especially useful Dr. Prince’s research notes for his prize-winning scholarly articles and books covering two centuries of Mormon history.
There is quite simply no collection like it outside of the LDS Church History Library in Salt Lake City, either in the quantity or the nature of the materials for the study of Mormonism:
- 700 biographical/autobiographical books
- 1,500 historical books
- 1,100 theological books
- 250 books of Mormon fiction
- 140 series of periodicals, including a complete series of most periodicals ever published by the LDS Church
- Over 100 books specifically on the subject of Joseph Smith
- Over 200 books and pamphlets on the American Temperance Movement, which relate to the LDS “Word of Wisdom” in 1833
- A bound photocopy (100 volumes) of the official diaries of David O. McKay
- Over 4,000 pamphlets
It is no exaggeration to say that once these materials are curated for public use, the UVA Mormon Studies program will become instantly a unique center for research in Mormonism. No library east of the Rockies can approach the strength of the Prince Collection. It is worth noting also that the majority of religious studies faculties are in the East and are Virginia’s neighbors to the north and south. This will be a working, not a decorative library.
Curating this collection is a major commitment of the University and we seek private assistance to subsidize that effort in the amount of $100,000. Once this has been accomplished, we will be inviting those persons who wish to memorialize their family or other individual to endow research fellowships which will enable use of the collection by academics and independent researchers alike.