February, 28, 2014

Housing Brigham Young Academy

BY-Academy-ca.-1892-page-3Brigham Young Academy (BYA), predecessor of Brigham Young University, was housed in a variety of buildings during its foundational years.  The initial location, the Lewis Building in Provo, served the academy well. While the building itself was not very grand, it played an important role in BYA’s legacy, for it was there that Maeser set out to establish fundamental programs that would shape not only BYA, but ultimately all other Church academies.

BYA grew over the years, and by 1882 the Lewis Building was too small. Funds were raised to help expand the building, but only six months later tragedy struck: the newly renovated Lewis Building caught fire and burned down.  Many worried that the academy would not be able to recover, but Maeser and Smoot were determined to keep the academy going. Smoot made arrangements to house the academy on his business property, and the school only lost one day of study following the fire! [1]

After the fair, arrangements were made to build a new permanent home for the academy. LDS Church President John Taylor selected a site, and a campaign began to raise money for the new school. George Q. Cannon was among one of the private donors and many wards in Provo were generous in their support. [2] Plans were made to lay the foundation of the new facility. The academy was moved to a local Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) warehouse in the meantime. Yet, due to nationwide economy problems, the academy collected very few donations. The foundation was laid, but the building progressed little in the next seven years.

The building was finally completed in 1892 when George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency dedicated it as the official location for Brigham Young Academy. This building, which is now the Provo Library, housed the school until the early 1900s when University President George Brimhall began expansion to Temple Hill.


*Information taken from Education in Zion Gallery text


[1] Wilkinson, Ernest L. Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1976), 128.

[2] Wilkinson, Ernest L. Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1976), 130.

February, 28, 2014

The Spirit of the Gallery

photoI love the experiences the gallery holds for individuals of all majors, backgrounds, and faiths. The gallery is a wonderful place that invites the Spirit to teach us and allows for deep reflection.

The first time I had a tour from one of the gallery educators, I was blown away. I knew education was important, but I didn’t realize how much Church leaders have always focused on education and the progression toward a Zion-like community. After a forty-minute tour, I came away with a lot of new knowledge and felt an abundance of peace.

Now I work at the gallery and am blessed to see the lessons I learned months earlier being passed on to others. This in itself is one of the greatest blessings to me because I now have the chance to help uplif others. For these reasons, I love the Education in Zion Gallery.

December, 12, 2013

Printing, a Crucial Instrument of the Restoration

During the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg converted a wooden wine press into a printing press. Arguably the most important invention in human history, this press was like daybreak after millennia of darkness. It is said that Gutenberg’s idea of a press with movable type came to him “like a ray of light.” (1) Gutenberg eventually prepared the Bible for widespread circulation, so that common citizens could study the word of God.


Years later, William Tyndale used Gutenberg’s press to produce an English translation of the Bible to be had among all people—an act that led to his execution, but not before famously stating to a clergyman, “If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!” (2)

Benjamin Franklin used the same press hundreds of years later to produce such documents as the Federalist Papers. The world owes much to Gutenberg and his press—but like all inventions his was eventually upgraded. In 1804, Lord Charles Stanhope devised an all-metal press that required less physical strength to operate, which increased printing speed and reduced cost.

The press was continually upgraded until some were small enough for owners of small printing shops to buy. One such owner was a man named Egbert B. Grandin, who was hired by Joseph Smith to print the first copies of The Book of Mormon.

The permanent exhibition at the Education in Zion Gallery features a beautiful room dedicated solely to printing, and the miracle that it has been for the world, especially for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From the fifteenth century until now, printing has truly been a crucial instrument of the Restoration.


1. Burke, James (1985). The Day the Universe Changed. Boston, Toronto: Little, Brown and Company.

2. Foxe, John (1563). Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, touching Matters of the Church (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs). England: John Day

December, 9, 2013

James E. Talmage

James-E.-Talmage-ca.-1882James E. Talmage was born September 21st, 1862, in Hungerford, Berkshire, England. Talmage was dedicated to education and to the Lord’s work. After his years of education in schools such as Oxford, Brigham Young Academy, Lehigh University, and John Hopkins University, Talmage Returned to Provo in 1884 to teach geology and chemistry at BYA. One writer said of Talmage, “To the classroom he brought such personality, such lucidity of explanation, such an energizing influence that students made unusual progress under his direction.”1

Talmage was ordained an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by President Joseph F. Smith in 1911.  Under this calling, Talmage served as President of the European Mission of the Church, which was headquartered in Liverpool, England. As a mission president, he traveled across the European continent meeting with Church members and missionaries, directing their work, teaching the gospel, and providing inspiration. Talmage dedicated his life to both temporal and spiritual education. His ecclesiastical and professional works include: First Book of Nature (1888), The Great Salt Lake, Present and Past (1900), The Articles of Faith (1899), The Great Apostasy (1909), The House of the Lord (1912), and Jesus the Christ (1915). Elder Talmage also separated The Pearl of Great Price into verse form, and added scriptural references in preparation for a new edition. James E. Talmage died in July, 1933, leaving behind a legacy of education and the building up of the kingdom of God.

1. James E. Talmage, The Parables of James E. Talmage, comp. Albert L. Zobell, Jr. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1973), 65-66

December, 9, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 1.30.07 PMWith lights, poinsettias and carols beginning to appear all over campus, it is so thrilling that the Christmas season is here! While I love that this is the most socially acceptable time to spontaneously burst into song, I think the best part is the atmosphere of good will and charity that abides wherever you go. Christmastime unites us in a unique way.

The Christmas season is more than sales and presents, it is a season of service and hope. The season begins with Thanksgiving, a holiday devoted to gratitude. Thanksgiving is the perfect springboard into Christmastime as it directs our thoughts to be happy and to give thanks for all we have.

We had a sign in our home while I was growing up that said, “Christmas is not about the presents, but His presence.” I love that sign because it reminds me that Christmas is not a once-a-year celebration; it is a spirit that can continue into the spring, summer, and fall. It is a mindset of looking outside yourself and finding others to uplift. Christ truly is the “reason for the season,” but not just the winter season. As we keep a Christ-centered life, the “Christmas spirit” can always stay with us.

One of the things I love about the Education in Zion Gallery is that it teaches us how to keep Christ at the center of our learning and our lives.

December, 5, 2013

To Those Who Made This Possible

The gallery is a place where students and friends can come to feel the influence of the Spirit of God. It features stories and images of our pioneer heritage that have touched my life and caused deep reflection. The lengths our forefathers went through to ensure their children could receive educations speaks volumes of the importance of learning and increasing in knowledge. Many of these were educated people; they were people who read books, attended the theater, and studied at school. Then, due to devastating persecution, they were stripped from their books, theaters, and schools. They missed it, and they wanted their progeny to be edified as they had been before all the tumult of harassment overwhelmed their lives.

FHE greats_blue_cropped copy

They came west and settled here in Utah. They scratched a meager living from a barren desert until they were able to make it blossom, and—all the while—they made the time to teach and learn. They opened schools, they started programs, and they worked incredibly hard to make sure they stayed educated when it would have been so easy to justify not doing so. I am thankful for the opportunity I have had to benefit from the conventional Latter-day Saint view that education matters. I am thankful to be attending Brigham Young University, the center of the Church Education System. And I am thankful for the Education in Zion Gallery, which reminds me what my education has cost.

December, 5, 2013

Never Look Back

river crossing

The Education in Zion Gallery stimulates introspection about the quality of one’s testimony.  As you read the stories and see the pictures of these “beginner saints,” you come to realize that the word “quit” was not in their vocabularies. The Saints were intimately acquainted with the words they sang: “No toil, nor labor fear,”and “should we die before our journey’s through.”1 In those days, toil, labor, and early death were familiar to many who were trying to live the gospel with integrity; quitting never was familiar to them. They suffered grinding poverty, violent ejections from homes, and destruction of property vital to sustain life. I sometimes wonder if I would remain unflagging in my search for divine truth. If so, would I uphold my right and responsibility to live and share that truth? I hope so; I hope I would be able to say, with boldness, “yes!”

As a convert seeking deeper conversion, I admit that these thoughts “[let] the solemnities of eternity rest upon my mind.”2 My Church membership and calling have in no way taxed or endangered my livelihood as they did my forebears. That time may come, but so far my only trials have been those of belittlement from family, strangers, and even other Church members.  The comments made by those who are also in the, “household of God.”3 have been the hardest to bear, but no matter; the truth is what it is despite belittlement and insult. Perhaps that recognition kept the early Saints going too. Once we are blessed and enlightened by truth, there is no going back. I have never even wanted to, and, come what may, I never will.

1.       William Clayton, 1814-1879, Come, Come, Ye Saints, LDS Hymnal

2.       Doctrine and Covenants 43:34

3.       Ephesians 2:19, KJV

December, 2, 2013

Line Upon Line

kirtland mural IMGP2167

The south wall of the Education in Zion Gallery bears an amazing 10 x18 foot mural of the Kirtland Temple. In the forefront of the mural is verdant farmland with a gently flowing river; behind the temple is a gigantic mid-western storm, which overwhelms the horizon. The overall feeling of the mural is one of perfect peace in the midst of an approaching tempest. The final light in the sky, shining on the temple, is symbolic of our Heavenly Father’s never-ending love and attentive concern for each of us. It also symbolizes that we may prepare ourselves to enter the temple to receive even more exact instruction for our particular circumstances—no matter how ominous those circumstances may be.

But there is more symbolism at work here that I only recently realized. Unlike the temples we build today, the Kirtland Temple had no baptismal font, nor alters for the sealing of husband and wife for eternity. The Kirtland Temple was built primarily for the restoration of Priesthood keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith. There could be no furthering of the work of the Kingdom of God on the earth until these keys were restored in their fullness. Moses, Elias, and Elijah all returned to this temple to restore their particular keys to Joseph. Even in temple work, the beginning of this last dispensation was taught to the Saints line upon line.

December, 1, 2013

Brigham Young’s Foresight

Melinda Blog Image Brigham Young

Church President Brigham Young saw the growth of secularism in public education during the 1860s and 1870s as a threat to the youth of the Church and the future of Zion. Early in that period, he began mentoring individuals and setting aside resources that the Church would need, including property for schools. Early during this period, President Young quietly and providentially began transferring Church property to family members and trusted Church leaders, including Provo Stake President Abraham O. Smoot.

Later, the federal government passed the Morrill Act of 1862, which called for the confiscation of property owned by churches that practiced polygamy. Fortunately, President Young’s transferal of property to individuals preserved resources that those members were able to return to Church education, including Brigham Young Academy.

In order to continue teaching their religion, the Church and other religious groups were forced to consider founding schools of their own, so as state legislatures nationwide were bringing community schools under public control, President Young was putting Church schools in place. In 1888, Wilford Woodruff launched a system of stake academies patterned after Brigham Young Academy. The educational program needed for a Church wide school system had been developed and tested by the time the Church needed it.


Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Chicago; University of Illinois Press, 2005), 257-58.

Joseph J. Cannon, “George Q. Cannon: Relations with Brigham Young,” Juvenile Instructor 80, no. 6 (June 1945); 259-260.

December, 1, 2013

The Evolution of Salt Lake Academy

The Salt Lake Academy was the legacy of William B. Dougall. In the mid-1880s, Dougall was inspired by the success and growth of Brigham Young Academy and sought aid from Karl G. Maesar (BYA’s principal) to begin an academy in Salt Lake City that could offer similar services to the youth in that area.

On November 15, 1886, the Salt Lake Academy was opened and filled to capacity. Some applicants were even turned away because the school could not house them all. Over the next few years, many changes were made, including the newly founded Salt Lake Stake Board of Education’s decision to change the name to Salt Lake Stake Academy.


For decades following the school’s opening, the school was quite successful, and even had the potential to become a full-service university. But, along with many of the stake academies at the time, the school suffered great financial turmoil and was under threat of closure by the late 1920s. Finally, the school was closed in 1931 due to the Great Depression. Despite the closing, two departments continued on independently: The McCune School of Music and LDS Business College. While the McCune School of Music was closed in the 1950s, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began sponsoring the LDS Business College.

The LDS Business College now services over 2,000 students from all over the United States and the world. The Church continues to sponsor the school and it is truly fulfilling Karl G. Maesar’s prophecy that “its future will be more glorious than its past!”

*Information from Gallery Text and The LDS Business College website: