Exhibition Highlights

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

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:


Brother Delbert Brigham Brown

Delbert Brown

Brother Brown was promised in his patriarchal blessing, “Thou wilt be blessed with wisdom and many will seek thee for counsel.” Throughout his career at BYU, which involved close associations with many student employees under his supervision, this blessing was realized.

A student custodian once brought Delbert a lost billfold that contained a risqué picture torn from a magazine. When the owner, a fifteen-year-old boy, came to the office to claim it, Delbert took out his own wallet and showed him photographs of his own family, saying, “They are pictures any man or boy would be glad to show to anybody.” Reminding the boy of how it would hurt his mother to learn what he had been carrying, Delbert counseled, “I want you to do away with those pictures and get your mother’s and sister’s pictures and put them in your billfold.” The boy promptly tore up the page and said tearfully, “Thanks, Mr. Brown. Nobody has ever talked to me like that before. I don’t think I’ll get into trouble now.”

Brother Brown’s love for the students of BYU was legendary. Perhaps the faculty and staff today are as motivated as he was by the Spirit of the Lord. Brother Brown said, “The sacrifice some of the students make to come to BYU sometimes makes me wonder if the spirit of those who founded doesn’t still remain with it.”

Karl G. Maeser: A Character Technician



Brigham Young Academy was presided over by a German educator named Karl G. Maeser, who was called to serve as the academy’s first principal by President Brigham Young in 1875. Brother Maeser was very disciplined, and many of his students called him “a harsh teacher” (2), which made other students reluctant to enroll in the academy.

However, these students immediately learned to love Brother Maeser. This was because of his faith and his work at providing “a complete education” (2) for his students. He went to great lengths to educate his pupils “morally, religiously, and intellectually.” (1) Brother Maeser also focused on the building of character. According to Bryant S. Hinckley, Maeser “was a character technician.” Brother Maeser believed by educating men and woman, they could “lift the world out of its socially, politically, and religiously degraded condition” (3). Brother Maeser was much more than just the first president of Brigham Young Academy or a teacher; he worked to build foundations of character and knowledge. He worked to build Zion.

  1. Karl G. Maeser, “The Principal of the Brigham Young Academy,” Utah Enquirer, December 1890, 3.
  2. Karl G. Maeser, “The Principal of the Brigham Young Academy,” Utah Enquirer, December 1890, 3.
  3. Karl G. Maeser, quoted in Alma P. Burton, Karl G. Maeser: Mormon Educator (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1953), 54-55.

The Chartered Course in Education

clip_image002Joseph Smith taught, “We are all responsible to God for the manner we improve the light and wisdom given by our Lord to enable us to save ourselves.To fulfill this solemn obligation, we must continue throughout our lives to learn truths of every kind: truths grounded in evidence and reason, truths gained from experience, and truths revealed from heaven.

President Brigham Young told Karl G. Maeser, “I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Good-bye.”1 In this admonition by President Young, we have the overview of what “education for the whole soul” andtrue freedom of the mind” looks like. Generations of professors had followed this guidance as they taught thousands of students.

In the 1938 summer school training for teachers in Aspen Grove, J. Reuben Clark, First Counselor in the First Presidency, reminded professors about the founding principles of the school and restated the charted course for Church education with clarity: its inalterable component was teaching the divine mission of Jesus Christ and the prophetic work of Joseph Smith. He simply declared that, “to teach religion in the Church system, one must have a testimony of these truths and the courage to declare and live by them.”3

  1. Reinhard Maeser, Karl G. Maeser: A Biography by His Son (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1928), 79.
  2. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. Rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 4:606
  3. J. Reuben Clark Jr. Address given to Church seminary and institute leaders on August 8, 1938, at the BYU Summer School in Aspen Grove.