Mormon Monuments, 1890-1980

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and individuals who identify as Mormons have been particularly active in erecting pioneer monuments. For Latter-day Saints, mid-19th-century Mormon overland migration to Utah became not only a central part of the national frontier narrative, but also a reminder that the LDS faithful had been led by Brigham Young out of mainstream American society to their promised land. As the LDS Church moved away from independence toward integration with the rest of the United States, Mormon interpretations of Utah’s frontier past shifted, and so did depictions of pioneer men, women and children in LDS-sponsored public monuments.

Commemorating the Mormon migration became one way for Latter-day Saints to negotiate the competing demands for exceptionalism and assimilation that have helped to shape Mormon culture for the last 150 years. Early Mormon monuments emphasized famous white men such as Brigham Young who were founders of both LDS faith and Mormon society in Utah. Over time–but more slowly than in mainstream monuments–that emphasis on famous white men faded in favor of generic pioneer families. Through frontier-themed sculptures, the LDS Church encouraged Mormon audiences to hold fast to LDS religious and cultural traditions, while encouraging non-Mormons to accept Mormons as part of an American nation built on the hard work and sacrifice that Americans associated with white pioneers.

You can view Mormon monuments plotted on a map:

map
This data’s source.