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Paul R. Cheesman papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2049

Scope and Contents

Contains manuscripts (personal and professional papers), publisher's gallery prints, color transparencies (including 35 mm slides), negatives, color separations, photographs, personal literary materials, research and reference files, audio and visual materials, and historical books, covering over 30 years of research in the ancient Americas, other ancient civilizations, and history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A vast majority of the materials in this collection involve archaeology and The Book of Mormon. Also includes materials that do not necessarily fall within the Latter-day Saint tradition, such as photographic documentation of hundreds of archaeological sites across the Americas and in the Near and Middle East, personal photographs, personal records and correspondence, films, and various archaeological artifact documentation.


  • approximately 1945-1991


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research. Some photographic materials are located in cold storage and may require 24-hours notice to retrieve.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to use material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical History

Paul R. Cheesman was an influential businessman, educator, and religious leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who did extensive research on the archaeology of the Book of Mormon.

Born on May 31, 1921, in Brigham City, Utah, Cheesman was an influential businessman, educator, and religious leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After losing both his parents at a young age, he oversaw his own schooling until he enrolled at San Diego State University, eventually graduating with a degree in education. He served as a university professor, military chaplain during the Korean War, and as president of the Foster Corporation. This last position required Cheesman to be heavily involved in Central America, where he discovered a love for archaeology, thereafter amassing a sizable collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. Combining this interest with his religious convictions, he became a leading authority on the archaeology of The Book of Mormon. From 1963-1986, he was a professor in Brigham Young University's Religion Department. He married Millie Foster in 1944 and was the father of six children. He died in 1991 after a heart attack.


159 boxes (78.5 linear feet)

3 folders (0.3 linear ft.)

11 film reels (9 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in 12 series: 1. Personal Files, spans almost the entire life of Dr. Cheesman. 2. U.S. Naval Chaplain Years, ca. 1952-1954. 3. General Reference Files, includes files made up of materials listed in alphabetical order. 4. Book of Mormon Reference files, magazine articles, correspondence letters, and published and unpublished papers written by Cheesman and colleagues. 5. Class Preparation Files, includes teaching aids, course outlines, transparencies, and other class preparation materials. 6. Ancient American Writing Research Files, includes information on various stones, inscriptions, stele, tablets, and styles of writing found in the ancient Americas. 7. Research Papers and General Reference Files, includes a section that is devoted entirely to his research trips throughout the world. 8. General Index for Research Files, is devoted to an alphabetically filed set of folders that includes a separate General Index used by Cheesman for research. 9. Personal Manuscripts Files, ca. 1976-1991, the file includes original works, galley sheets, photographs, and reference materials. 10. Audio and Visual Materials, ca. 1965-1986, includes various film projects Cheesman was involved in throughout his tenure at BYU. 11. Church Related Files, includes a xeroxed copy of a hand-written copy of the Book of Mormon, written histories of the early Church, and anti-Mormon literature. 12. Photographic Related materials, includes a vast collection of slides that had accumulated throughout Cheesman's life.

Other Finding Aids

Register to the Paul R. Cheesman Papers can be found in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Reading Room (HBLL 1130). Hard copy register includes the Museum of Peoples and Cultures' catalog of artifacts.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

Donated by Millie Cheesman, wife of the late Paul Cheesman, to Brigham Young University in three separate installments from February to December, 1992.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Millie Cheesman; 1992.


Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007).

Register of Paul R. Cheesman papers
Garrett Schroath
2011 April 20
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Revision Statements

  • 2011 July 11: 3 folders added to collection, and finding aid revised to reflect the addition; Elizabeth Ballif.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States