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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database


[Today's posting is late, courtesy of Comcast related computer problems.]

If you are interested in family history/genealogy you ought to be aware of the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database. It's been around for over thirty years. Currently it is available on the Church history web site although http://www.mormontrail.lds.org works too.

Previously unaware of it, a Deseret News article entitled, "Pioneer database thriving and growing" caught my attention. It later migrated onto Mormon Times.

Here's a description of the database from the web site:
Between 1847 and 1868, Mormon emigrants traveled on the pioneer trail in more than 250 companies departing from various outfitting places. These companies in which about 60,000 LDS Church members traveled include freight trains, independent companies, handcart companies, and various types of other Church companies. . . .The database is a compilation of names obtained from rosters and other reliable sources of individuals that traveled on the pioneer trail during this 22 year time period. It does not focus on railroad travel, but rather trail travel. It identifies the companies in which approximately two-thirds of the Mormon emigrants traveled on the trail. . . 
A Church history librarian created it by personal initiative.  It was not part of his official duties. As a convert he does not directly benefit from it either. Later, Church employees and volunteers have expanded it. From the news article:
As the database information progressed, so did technology — to the point that the LDS Church was ready to create an online site for the initial 40,000 names. Balshore [Church history librarian creator] and others rushed to get the first 3,000 journals transcribed to accompany the names.
"We had two dozen church service missionaries transcribe 3,000 journals in just two years — that blows me away," he said "That's a lot of work, and those things are hard to read. Many of them are trail journals, written after a full day of walking, written as they sit down in the dirt near the campfire with mosquitoes biting them."
Unlike other databases, individuals can submit their own information to this resource. The database grows by about 75 names every week. See this link form more information on how to search it.

Researching pioneer information can be fascinating. Don't neglect resources compiled by higher education which can certainly complement the Church's offerings. Brigham Young University and the University of Utah are both excellent resources.


Oops! Should have pointed to this article too, "Pioneer trail database: Historian honored for online compilation" published November 27, 2010 in the Church News.

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