Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Go Ye into All the World -- Early Mormon Missionary Database

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for those interested in their family history, The Church History Library is a valuable resource. But valuable family history information can also be found on many other websites such as and The Joseph Smith Papers. Thanks to a post by my daughter Amy, I learned of one relatively new valuable source called "Go Ye into All the World." This database is described as follows:
Revelations to Joseph Smith echoed Jesus’s call to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel unto every creature” (Mark 16:15; D&C 112:28). During the century that followed the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, almost 40,000 men and women served proselytizing missions. They taught in 36 countries and spoke to millions of people. This database is a record of their service. 
Early Mormon Missionaries is based on two key sources. The first is a set of large ledgers—called the “missionary registers”—housed in the Church History Library. In 1860 a clerk began to record in these ledgers information about the calling of missionaries set apart in Salt Lake City to serve full-time missions. The registers, kept until 1959, are a rich source of biographical data. They contain the missionaries’ birth dates, birthplaces, parents’ names, baptism dates, the names of those who baptized them, residences at the time of their calls, their mission assignments, dates they were set apart, their priesthood offices (when applicable), and in many cases the dates they returned from their mission. The data from these registers was captured with help from the Family History Department, using the same indexing system used to capture data from other genealogical records. 
The second main source used in this database is a roster of missionaries compiled under the direction of assistant Church historian Andrew Jenson in 1925. This roster was, in part, an attempt to reconstruct a list of missions served prior to 1860.
 I knew that several of my ancestors served missions during the early days of the Church and my daughter Amy has written recently about some in both my family and in my wife's family. Here are links to some of her recent articles. Amy always provides more historical background and documents when she writes.

T, Amy. “TheAncestorFiles: Early Mormon Missionaries: John Tanner.” TheAncestorFiles, February 5, 2016.

———. “TheAncestorFiles: Early Mormon Missionaries: John Tanner (2).” TheAncestorFiles, February 5, 2016.

———. “TheAncestorFiles: Early Mormon Missionaries: William John Glade.” TheAncestorFiles, February 6, 2016.

———. “TheAncestorFiles: Missionaries Wearing Fezzes.” TheAncestorFiles, January 10, 2016.

I looked up some of my own (and Amy's) ancestors and found the following information about my Great-great Grandfather, Samuel Linton.

United States And New Brunswick
March 1886–June 1886
Age Called: 57
United States And New Brunswick

Set Apart: 24 March 1886
End Date: 30 June 1886
Priesthood office: Seventy
Quorum: 49th
Priesthood: 49th Seventies
Called From: Nephi, Juab, Utah, United States
Set apart by: F D Richards

Eastern States
October 1897–Unknown
Age Called: 69
Eastern States
Set Apart: 15 October 1897
Priesthood office: High Priest
Priesthood: High Priest
Called From: Nephi, Juab, Utah, United States
Set apart by: J G Kimball

If you focus on how old he was when he went on his missions, you will see a sharp contrast with the 18 year olds that are serving today. 

There is a link at the bottom of the listing for Samuel Linton gives access to copies of all the pertinent documents associated with his mission call and service in The Church History Library. Here is an example:

If you are like me, it is unlikely that you have seen any of these documents before and if any of your own ancestors served missions, whether you know about the missions or not, you just might want to do your own searching. 

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