About the Saints by Sea Website
About 90,000 Latter-day Saint converts crossed the oceans during the 19th century, heeding a call to come to Zion, to "be gathered in unto one place" (D&C 29:7). The first company of Saints gathered to Zion in 1840, followed by a continual flow of immigrants over the next decades. Immigration, after conversion, was considered the fruit of a faithful Saint. Church leaders de-emphasized convert immigration to America at the close of the 19th century, and during the 20th century The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints constructed chapels and encouraged converts to build Zion in their homelands.
The Saints by Sea website offers inspiring first person accounts of international converts who turned their faces toward Zion from 1840-1932. The autobiographies, journals, diaries, reminiscences, and letters link to hundreds of known LDS immigrant voyages and they provide a composite history of those who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific, traveling by land and water to gather to Zion. Immigrants from 1840-46 gathered to Nauvoo, Illinois. Beginning in 1847, the Saints, driven west, gathered in the Salt Lake Valley. The immigrant accounts of their travels to the Great Basin describe not only their experiences crossing the oceans, but also their trek to frontier outfitting posts, and entry into the Salt Lake Valley.
The Saints by Sea website complements the Mormon Pioneer Overland Trail Database, which covers crossing the plains. While the Saints by Sea site emphasizes the inspiring story of the Saints gathering to Zion before crossing the plains, the accounts include those of the immigrants who gathered by rail from 1869-1932, not solely those who came by wagon, handcart or walking, thus adding to the complete immigration story from international ports of departure to entry by train into the Salt Lake Valley. In addition, patrons should see globalmormonism.byu.edu, which provides a broad overview of the global movement of the LDS Church following the call to immigrate to America.
The Saints by Sea website presents information from the Mormon Immigration Index CD, published in 2000, by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Department that documents valuable immigration information for most LDS immigrants. It provides names, ages, origins, ports of departure and arrival, as well as the known number of Saints and their company leaders on each voyage. Major sources for passenger lists include: European Emigration Card Index, British Mission Emigration Register, Scandinavian Mission Emigration Register, Swiss German Mission Emigration Register, Deseret News (including the Semi-Weekly, Weekly and Evening) and the Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star. The European Emigration Card Index has been reproduced in electronic format in its entirety, but registers have not. The registers provide passenger information from many voyages, and documentation for further research by patrons has been provided in the source field for each voyage. The Balch Institute in Philadelphia (directed by Dr. Ira Glazier) graciously permitted examination of the original U.S. Customs lists. Information about Mormon immigrants to America from these lists have been analyzed and entered in the data base.
Researchers gathered immigrant accounts mostly from the LDS Church Family History Library and the Church History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Other accounts came from Special Collections & Manuscripts, Brigham Young University, (hereafter cited as BYU Special Collections & Manuscripts), Utah State University, Merrill Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Marriott Library Special Collections, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers in Salt Lake City, Utah State Historical Society, Huntington Library (San Marino, CA), Yale University (Beineke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts), Bancroft Library, University of Berkeley. Private donors have also made significant contributions. Researchers studied the Library of Congress collection of Mormon diaries and a variety of secondary sources, all available at the LDS Church History Library.
Notable secondary sources which have been especially useful are the Deseret News 1997–98 Church Almanac and "Mormons on the High Seas Ocean Voyage Narratives," 6th revised printing 1997, (compiled by Melvin L. Bashore and Linda L. Haslam). The Church Almanac provided a start for identifying LDS immigrant voyages, and the "Mormons on the High Seas Ocean Voyage Narratives" was used for collecting immigrant voyage accounts. The writings of Andrew Jenson provided a synopsis of most voyages and journeys to Zion, especially for Scandinavian immigrants. I am grateful for receiving access to these valuable primary and secondary sources.
I express gratitude to the Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) Family History Center, directed by emeritus faculty member Blaine R. Bake (now deceased), for supporting this project. Blaine, while assistant editor in the late 1990s, checked each passenger list and prepared it for publication in the Mormon Immigration Index CD. He directed library faculty, staff, missionaries and students who provided countless hours gathering information for this database. The combined effort of many volunteers has demonstrated the same dedication as the Perpetual Emigration Fund inspired when the Saints first gathered to Zion. I thank Ricks College for an extended sabbatical, and resources for this project in 1997–1998 and both funding and resources from the Church History Library. I also thank Brigham Young University Religious Education for providing funds and opportunities to do additional interpretive research during the two decades. I appreciate both students and volunteers at these universities who assisted in this continuing project. I extend gratitude to Linda Hunter Adams, emeritus BYU professor in the Humanities Department (now deceased), for her assistance in establishing electronic editorial procedures for the Mormon Immigration Index CD. I express appreciation to the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy which assisted with some funding for phase two of the Saints by Sea database. In addition, gratitude is extended to Dr. Shauna C. Anderson, Dr. Ruth Ellen Maness, and Dr. Susan Easton Black who graciously permitted their work, Passport to Paradise: The Copenhagen "Mormon" Passenger Lists, vol. 1, 1872-1887 and vol. 2, 1888-1894 (West Jordan, Utah: Genealogical Services, 2000) to be added to the Saints by Sea database which is also part of phase two. I must also acknowledge the dedicated work and wonderful contribution Elder Darrell Nichols has provided in transcribing additional voyage accounts he has uncovered. He and his wife Sister Lola have served for a number of years as senior missionaries at the Church History Library. Finally, I express gratitude to the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library for their willingness to host this website. I am grateful to BYU software engineer Geoff Groberg who built the bulk of the website and added important dimensions to facilitate academic research. Gratitude is also expressed to BYU Family History consultants Howard Bybee, Terry Dahlin, and now Joe Everett for providing support to this project as well as Brian Rennick, BYU Associate University Librarian for Library Information Technology.
— Dr. Fred E. Woods, Editor and Compiler, Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University.