LDS scholar and researcher Greg Prince has donated his ten thousand volume collection of Mormon books, documents, and artifacts to the University of Virginia. And you thought you had a lot of Mormon books! Details in this story from “How this university became top site for study of Mormonism outside of Utah.” I own four books that Greg has authored. I have read them all and they are outstanding. I invite any readers who have read one of his books to chime in with a comment below.

This UVA collection will be a marvelous resource for anyone on the East Coast studying Mormonism. It also gives a real boost to UVA’s Mormon Studies program. You may recall that Thomas Jefferson was the founder of the University of Virginia. Jefferson also established the Library of Congress by donating his private library of books to get it started. Prince’s generous act does the same thing for Mormonism. We now have a Library of Mormonism — and one that lets you see all the books, not just some of them.

Here are a few random thoughts before I turn you loose in the comments:

  • I have a hard time giving up one or two of my books, even old ones. I’m just amazed someone could part with such a large and treasured collection. I stand in awe of Dr. Prince.
  • I hope every reader will give him a big shout out in the comments. Blogs, boards, and social media are a form of Mormon discussion for the common folk like you and I, but much of what you and I can read and talk about comes from the upper echelon of Mormon studies, scholars like Prince who research and publish.
  • With this excellent collection (which will no doubt be added to over the years by the program), grad students in the program, and visiting scholars, I expect UVA will become a site for Mormon scholarly conferences. We need more conferences, which are always quite welcoming to visitors.
  • I hope this large donation gets enough publicity that others who hold rare LDS books, documents, and artifacts, will look to UVA as a possible donation recipient.

Let me just throw in the first comment right here. The first Prince book I read was Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood (Signature Books, 1995). It was the first book I read that made sense of LDS history as pertaining to the priesthood. Which is to say it jettisoned the LDS textbook version and used source documents to show the actual chronological development, with the various twists and turns in the development and evolution of LDS priesthood. It makes early LDS history and the D&C more comprehensible, as far as the priesthood enters into the story. Development is still happening. Just a couple of years ago the venerable office of high priest was more or less abolished; everyone’s an elder now, although anyone called to higher leadership still gets an honorary “high priest” promotion. And the ages for young men to receive the Aaronic Priesthood offices were juggled a bit. They were always rather arbitrary anyway.

So: Three cheers for Greg Prince. Good news for the UVA Mormon Studies program. And good news for students of LDS doctrine and history back East, who will soon have a very accessible resource for their work.