Rare LDS artifacts on display

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled a collection that features some of the faith’s most treasured artifacts, including a page from the original Book of Mormon manuscript written by Joseph Smith Jr.

The “Foundations of Faith” exhibit opens to the public this week in the church history library in Salt Lake City and also includes 26 other books, manuscripts, and other documents that go back to the early days of the faith.

The exhibit, unveiled by church historians at a recent conference, marks the latest example of them being more open and transparent about its history.

A year ago, the church began releasing books containing documents that shed light on how Smith formed the church in upstate New York more than 180 years ago, some of it being very controversial and long held secret. The religion also issued a series of in-depth articles that explain or expand on some of the more sensitive parts of its history and doctrine that it once whitewashed or ignored. Articles have addressed the past ban on black men in the lay clergy and the history of polygamy, among other things.

“These four display cases comprise our most precious documents,” Steven E. Snow, church historian and recorder, said to media outlets at the exhibit. “They go to the foundation of our faith. These are our spiritual roots.”

Some of the earliest records in the collection were maintained as church moved from New York to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Missouri and Illinois, and finally to Utah in 1847 after a journey across country by church members under Brigham Young.