Mexico’s Rich History Preserved at Newly Dedicated Records Center

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 25 April 2017

Elder Rafael E. Pino views artifacts stored in the Mexico City Records Preservation Center.  Photo courtesy of Mexico Area.

Article Highlights

  • A newly dedicated records center in Mexico will help preserve the history and memories of those who advanced the gospel there.

“The concept of preserving historical records and artifacts is to light in the hearts and minds of people a remembrance that God has helped people like them to act in faith and receive blessings.” —Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

The 142-year-old history of the Church in Mexico is rich with heroes, martyrs, beloved leaders, and legions of humble disciples who sacrificed much to help further the gospel in their homeland.

The records, journals, letters, and artifacts they left behind stand as lasting symbols of their faith. They remain living testaments that can teach and inspire people today—and for generations to come.

Now Latter-day Saints in Mexico have a repository of their own to collect, preserve, and share their most sacred and beloved historical treasures.

The Church’s Mexico City Records Preservation Center was recently dedicated in this sprawling capital city. Located in a multistake center just a few steps from the Mexico City Mexico Temple, the newly opened center is being called one of the “largest and finest” records preservation centers in the worldwide Church.

“The development of the Mexico RPC represents the next step in preserving and telling the story of the development of the Church in Mexico, a story that is full of faith and sacrifice,” said Elder Paul B. Pieper, a General Authority Seventy who presides over the Mexico Area.

Historical repository at the Mexico City Records Preservation Center. Photo courtesy of Mexico Area.

The newly dedicated Mexico City Records Preservation Center is located in a multistake center near the Mexico City Mexico Temple. Photo courtesy of Mexico Area.

Elder Paul B. Pieper, center, and Sister Melissa Pieper, left, tour the Mexico City Records Preservation Center. Photo courtesy of Mexico Area.

“Now the Saints will have a place in Mexico to send their histories, artifacts, and historical materials so that these things can be properly preserved and protected.”

The recently dedicated center, he added, is also a priceless resource for those studying and researching the history of the Church in Mexico from anywhere in the world.

Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela, First Counselor in the Mexico Area Presidency and a native of Mexico, dedicated the Mexico City RPC. Speakers at the March 12 dedicatory event included Elder Pieper, Elder J. Devn Cornish, a General Authority Seventy and Assistant Executive Director of the Church History Department, and Brother Matthew Geilman of the Church History Department.

In a Church News interview, Elder Cornish said the new center is both expertly managed and environmentally controlled to best protect and preserve all types of historical items. Would-be donors can know their beloved family heirlooms will be secure and well-cared for.

“The center not only increases our capacity to collect and preserve records, but it also increases the confidence and interest of the [Mexican] members,” said Elder Cornish. “We’ve seen a significant increased interest in members donating historically significant items to the center.”

Items found at the new center include documents from the early days of the Church in Mexico, journals from Mexican pioneers, local Mormon artifacts, and photo collections.

Elder Cornish said the center has already received a significant donation from the family of Agricol Lozano Herrera, a Latter-day Saint who served as the Church’s general counsel in Mexico and was an influential ecclesiastical leader. The donation included more than a dozen boxes of documents that Brother Herrera compiled during his vast historical research of the Church in Mexico.

It’s hoped that others who own historical items will make similar donations to the Mexico City facility to ensure such items are protected, preserved, and made widely available via the Church’s online resources.

Brother Geilman said the Church began establishing branches of the Church History Library in other areas of the world about seven years ago. The newly dedicated Mexico City center doubles as a repository to store historically significant items and an inviting gathering place where people can conduct their own research.

“It operates just as we do in Salt Lake City,” he said.

The new facility’s reach stretches far beyond Mexico. Images of items being stored at the Mexico City center will become part of the historical department’s online catalog.

For example, someone in Asia who wants to know about history in Mexico could go online and have access to the images, said Elder Cornish.

The Church operates more than 20 records centers around the world, including a major facility in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said Brother Geilman. The centers operate almost entirely by devoted teams of well-trained volunteers.

“The concept of preserving historical records and artifacts is to light in the hearts and minds of people a remembrance that God has helped people like them to act in faith and receive blessings,” said Elder Cornish. “They too can have faith and hope that they can be helped in their circumstances today.”

Elder Paul B. Pieper, who presides over the Mexico Area, speaks at the March 12 dedication of the Mexico City Records Preservation Center. Photo courtesy of Mexico Area.

The recently dedicated Mexico City Records Preservation Center includes work spaces for visitors to conduct historical research. Photo courtesy of Mexico Area.