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Mexican Mormon history preserved in new museum

PROVO, Utah — "Mormons are brave and industrious men, good citizens, gentlemen in all their treatments, loyal husbands and extraordinary parents who search for their children the most advanced and solid education."

This quote is just a small part of an article published by E. Ramirez, a Mexican journalist who wrote about his experiences after returning from a trip where he visited John Taylor, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1885.

The Museum of Mormon Mexican History, located at 1501 N. Canyon Road in Provo, Utah, displays this and many other articles that are part of a collection of 152 Mexican newspapers, which date from 1880.

These papers of different periods covered topics such as missionary work, temples and Mormon migration to Mexico, including unique details about the Book of Mormon, as well as the life and death of the prophet Joseph Smith, who restored the LDS Church in 1830.

"We found a trunk filled with documents, and we asked ourselves, what to do with this legacy?" said Fernando Gómez, founder of the Museum of Mormon Mexican History. "My aunt Consuelo was a teacher, and she kept record of the church in Mexico. … Everything was perfectly conserved, and that motivated my wife to suggest an exhibition that is now a result of a much bigger thing," he added.

Aside from the newspapers, most of which are no longer in operation, according to Gomez, the trunk was also filled with genealogy information, journals with personal experiences, photos of Mexican pioneers and old letters.

But the most precious items for Gómez's family found in this exhibition are the preservation of two of the 500 original copies of the Book of Mormon that were sent to Mexico.

"What has been shown to us is something that I never dreamed of or thought that could ever exist," said Alfredo Laguna, one of the first visitors of the museum. "I know much of church history, but this exhibition is just fantastic."

The museum inauguration took place last week, where representatives of the Mexican Consulate, as well as city government officials and LDS authorities like Elder Richard Turley, who lived several years in the Aztec territory, were present.

This gallery is just an extension of the first museum located in Mexico City, according to Gómez, which was founded two decades ago. More than 15,000 people — 30 percent of whom are not LDS — visit that museum each year.