Mapping Mormonism: Award-winning atlas tracks the LDS movement

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3 2013 9:00 a.m. MDT

Map from Mapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History. Sample maps from "Mapping Mormonism" can be viewed online, and the entire book can be purchased at Deseret Book, as well as on Amazon.com.

Screenshot Mapping Mormonism website

With the power of compelling visuals to draw people in, “Mapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History” won the 2013 Best Book Award from the Mormon History Association, as well as best atlas of the year in the Cartography and Geographic Information Society Map Design Competition.

“National Geographic didn’t hog all the categories this year,” said judge Daniel Cole in Brittany Karford Roger’s article in BYU Magazine called “A Geography of Faith.” “We were pretty impressed with the Mormon atlas.”

But "Mapping Mormonism" is more than maps. It also includes timelines, charts and descriptions to document the Mormon movement, according to the "Mapping Mormonism" website.

“From the Restoration to modern day, the atlas covers much more than the physical terrain of Latter-day Saint history,” Roger wrote in her article. “It dissects member demographics, church growth, missionary work, humanitarian aid — you name it. One can learn about congregations in Afghanistan and when the church had a stronghold in the U.S. Bible Belt; one can see the relative footprint of every temple on the planet and various meetinghouse plans. Even church-history experts can learn something.”

BYU geography professor Brandon S. Plewe worked on the atlas, as well as emeritus BYU professors S. Kent Brown, Donald Q. Cannon and Richard H. Jackson. They were assisted by 13 students in their efforts, and also had expert commentary from 60 contributors on the different topics. Originally, the idea was to update the 1994 "Historical Atlas of Mormonism," but the outcome was much larger. According to BYU Magazine, the 1994 atlas had 78 two-color maps on 169 pages, whereas the new atlas has 272 pages with twice as many visuals.

“This impressive atlas … depicts almost two centuries of church history,” wrote Richard Francaviglia, emeritus history professor. “This atlas will, I hope, find a wide readership, as Mormonism is often misunderstood.”

Sample maps from "Mapping Mormonism" can be viewed online, and the entire book can be purchased at Deseret Book, as well as on Amazon.com.

Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact her at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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