homepage logo

Utah Valley Historical Society meeting to focus on BYU connection to slavery

By Genelle Pugmire - | Jan 1, 2023

Courtesy Jay Buckley

BYU Slavery Project topic of discussion for January meeting of the Utah Valley Historical Society.

It is well known that when Black converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley with other pioneers, some were slaves.

The Utah Valley Historical Society will explore the connections between slavery and the founding of Brigham Young University at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at its monthly meeting. Free and open to the public, the meeting will be held in room 201 of the Provo Library at Academy Square.

BYU faculty and students will share their findings regarding the relationship between African-American experiences and the early history of BYU.

“The BYU Slavery Project was founded in 2019 by Christopher Jones of BYU’s History Department,” said Jay Buckley, president of the local chapter of the Utah State Historical Society. “The project is dedicated to carefully researching connection between slavery, race and the early history of Brigham Young Academy and Brigham Young University.”

The BYU Slavery Project has led hours of research by dozens of undergraduate students since it launched officially in fall 2020. That research happened in connection with classes offered by Jones and Matthew Mason, along with research assistant opportunities for students across two successive summers.

“A family history discovery by Jones, along with Jones’ and other History faculty’s experiences with universities studying their own history in this way, sparked interest in pursuing the research,” Buckley said.

Another version of the class started the process of determining how best to convey the findings to both public and academic audiences. Jones and Mason will lead the presentation, according to Buckley, while project alumnus Grace Soelberg will discuss her research.

Jones is assistant professor of history at BYU. His research and teaching focus on the intersections of religion, race, and nation in early America and the Atlantic world.

A faculty member since 2003, Mason is a professor of history at BYU. His research and much of his teaching center on the history of slavery, especially its political history, in the United States and Great Britain.

Soelberg is a recent BYU Honors graduate. She majored in history and studies the intersections of race relations and popular media. She recently ended her term as research staff at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)