Center for Hancock County History

Black and white photograph from the Mormon collection - Click to enlarge

The Mormon Collection

A part of the Center for Hancock County History, the Mormon Collection contains a wide variety of materials relating to the Mormon era in Nauvoo (1839-1846). Because of the interest in this period in Hancock County's history and the scholarship that has been done on it, this collection has grown to a substantial size.

Mormon Collection at WIU!

Newspapers and Periodicals

Newspapers and periodicals in the Archives and Special Collections Unit include area papers and writings which focus on the Mormon period in Nauvoo, as well as other related titles and dates. All of the newspapers in the collection are on microfilm, with the exception of a paper reprint of the June 7, 1844 issue of the Nauvoo Expositor. This first issue of the Expositor contained such controversial writings about the Mormons in Nauvoo that the newspaper publishing office was destroyed before a second issue of the paper could be printed.


The photograph collection is comprised of both present-day and historic photos of Nauvoo. Some of these images show the city of Nauvoo as it looked during the Mormon period, including the original temple and the Expositor newspaper office. Also included in the collection are images of key Mormon figures in Nauvoo, such as Jonathan Browning, founder of the Browning Arms Company, Thomas Sharp, publisher of the highly critical Warsaw newspaper The Wasp, Brigham Young, Joseph and Emma Smith, and various notable females.

Manuscripts and Other Documents

The manuscript collection includes letters, diaries, scrapbooks, typescripts of unpublished documents, scattered government documents on microfilm, and other types of original and one-of-a-kind items pertaining for the most part to the Mormon period in Nauvoo.

Oral Histories

The oral histories in the collection are taped interviews which include recollections passed down from generation to generation about life in Hancock County during the Mormon period. Also a part of the collection is the tape of a program on the Mormons presented to the McDonough County Historical Society by Dr. John Hallwas.


The book collection housed in the Archives and Special Collections Unit is comprised of a wide variety of publications that deal with the Mormon religion, the life of the Mormon people while they were in Nauvoo, and their exodus to Salt Lake City in 1846. Included in the collection are early imprints, such as an 1842 edition of the Book of Mormon, revised and translated by Joseph Smith.

Illinois Regional Archives Depository

The Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at WIU is one of seven such offices in the state of Illinois. The depository contains inactive government documents which have been transferred to the site from various county offices in a sixteen-county region in west-central Illinois. Included in the IRAD collection is a large number of documents from Hancock County, some of which cover the Mormon period in Nauvoo. While these items do not deal with the Mormon religion, they do record the vital statistics of individuals who lived in Nauvoo and Hancock County during the Mormon period.

A complete listing of the IRAD records for Hancock County is available on the Web or in paper at the WIU Archives.