Hinckley Family Donates Five Rare Books of Scripture to BYU

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer


Copy of the Doctrine and Covenants purchased by young Gordon B. Hinckley during his missionary service in England includes an inscription and signature from the future Church President. This book is on display at BYU’s Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors’ Center.  Photo by Meagan Larsen/BYU.

Article Highlights

  • The Hinckley family donated five books of scripture to BYU’s Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors’ Center.
  • The five rare and valuable books are currently on display at the visitors’ center.

In his October 1993 general conference address, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of the pleasure he had realized in reading the Book of Mormon’s sacred words.

“I speak as one who has read it again and again and tasted of its beauty and depth and power,” he said. “I have read much of English literature. In my university days, I tasted the beauty and richness of the whole field from ancient to modern times. … But withal, I have not received from any of these the inspiration, the knowledge of things sublime and eternal that have come to me from the writings of the prophets found in this volume.”

A visual reminder of President Hinckley’s well-known love for the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, and the written word is on display at Brigham Young University’s Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors’ Center.

President Hinckley’s five children recently donated to BYU five books of scriptures—four rare editions of the Book of Mormon and a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants—that belonged to their father’s personal library. The five books anchor an exhibition on display, in full, through May 2016 on the main floor of the BYU facility named for the Church’s 15th President.

President Hinckley’s son Elder Richard G. Hinckley, an emeritus General Authority, told the Church News his father kept the five books for many years in a small safe in his office. When President Hinckley died in 2008, the younger Elder Hinckley moved the books to his own office.

After receiving emeritus status in 2011, Elder Hinckley and his four siblings discussed what to do with their father’s five books. They knew the books could fetch a nice price on the open market.

“But we agreed the best thing to do would be to give them to the Church in some way—and we decided on the Alumni and Visitors’ Center at BYU,” he said.

The donated Book of Mormon copies date back to 1840 and include a Nauvoo edition and a Liverpool edition. The Doctrine and Covenants was purchased in England by young Gordon Hinckley when he was serving his mission there.

Included in the margins of a few of the books are brief notes scribbled by President Hinckley. One note found in the 1854 Liverpool edition simply states, “This is a valuable book.”

Representatives at the Church-owned school were grateful and thrilled with the Hinckley family’s book donation.

The exhibition “is very much a reflection of the things President Hinckley loved—the scriptures, books, and Church history,” said BYU university relations director Jim Kasen.

The display also includes photos of President Hinckley and a replica of the familiar wooden cane he used in the latter years of his life. School officials commissioned a replica of the cane when they learned from the family that the original could not be found.

Orrin Olsen and Ottis Willoughby, who made the original cane, crafted the replica from wood from the walnut tree that grew in President Hinckley’s yard. A replica was also made for the Hinckley family.

Brother Kasen said tens of thousands of people visit BYU each year. The book donation will allow generations of visitors to celebrate the life of President Hinckley and his love for the scriptures.

Located on BYU’s main campus, the Hinckley Center is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

President Gordon B. Hinckley's rare copy of an 1840 Nauvoo edition of the Book of Mormon is on display at BYU's Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors’ Center. Photo by Meagan Larsen/BYU.

Exhibition on display at BYU's Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors’ Center includes five rare books of scripture from President Hinckley's personal library. The books were donated to the school by the Hinckley family. Photo by Meagan Larsen/BYU.