The writing of good history requires a span of time to elapse. But primary sources must be found and preserved intact to allow scholars to properly do their jobs. With the rise of the LDS Church internationally, the proliferation of its membership, and its acceptance into the American mainstream, historians will continue to research and write for new generations. In addition, there are significant areas of LDS Church history that still await serious treatment. It is to this end that the 20th Century Mormon & Western Manuscripts Collection exists.
The collections that support the research of the 20th century LDS Church and American West range from single documents to collections with hundreds of boxes. Political collections include those of Senator/Apostle Reed Smoot, Wallace F. Bennett, Arthur V. Watkins, James E. Talmage, Henry Aldous Dixon, and David M. Kennedy. One treasure trove is the collection of missionary diaries that document the rise of the Church in the 20th century. Also included in the manuscripts are the papers of academic and community leaders, artists and writers, social activists, and environmentalists.