Guide to the Martin Harris Pageant records,
1983-1997

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Martin Harris Pageant
Title: Martin Harris Pageant records
Dates: 1983-1997 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 7 linear ft.
Collection Number: USU_COLL MSS 243
Summary: Contains various documents relating to the Martin Harris Pageant, a production of the Mormon musical play "Martin Harris: the man who knew", held annually in Clarkston, Utah. Includes minutes, agendas, reports, budgets, correspondence, missionary efforts, ticket requests, programs, publicity, scripts, and music.
Repository: Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives
Manuscript Collection

Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
3000 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3000
Phone: 435 797-1663
Fax: 435 797-2880
Email: scweb@usu.edu

Languages: Collection materials are in English. 
Sponsor: Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Historical Note

In 1982, Valdo Benson, a regional representative of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, asked Rhett S. James, a teacher at the Logan LDS Institute of Religion, to write a historical musical play representing the life of Martin Harris. Martin Harris was one of the three witnesses of the gold plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. Harris died on July 10, 1875 in his son's Cache Valley home in Clarkston, Utah. Benson told James that Denzel Clark, the Mayor of Clarkston, and the Clarkston citizens were building the Martin Harris Memorial Amphitheater in the small town for cultural and civic activities for communities throughout the valley in Utah and Idaho. Clark gained the support of both Governor Matheson from Utah and Governor Evans from Idaho, as well as L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Ezra Taft Benson, president of the quorum. Both Perry and Benson were Cache Valley natives. The Martin Harris Pageant was just one of the many events that would be held at the amphitheater.

In 1982, Rhett James wrote the script and lyrics, Norma and Frank Dupree composed the music accompanying the prose in 1982. By August of 1983, the pageant was performed for its first season. The audience totalled 35,000. Copyrights for the script and music were retained by James and the Duprees. Donations from both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the community were used to finance the production. Rhett James's Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew was also published at this time in its script form with endnotes. The proceeds from sale of the books were donated to finance the pageant's first three productions.

Support for the production exchanged hands between LDS church sponsored regional and area events for the next few years. Concerned about the longevity of the pageant, Denzel Clark was eager to transfer responsibility for the event over to the LDS church. On May 17, 1990, Robert L. Backman, Director of the Missionary Department, assumed responsibility for the production and placed it under the direction of the department's exhibits committee.

The LDS church asked the pageant's original committee leadership to serve as the presidency. Denzel Clark became the president; Rhett James and Dwayne Huff, the pageant's director, were asked to serve as his counselors. Almost two years later, on February 21, 1992, Clark was set apart by Marlin K. Jensen, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. His counselors were later set apart by Alexander Morrison from the Area Presidency.

Initially, the pageant was organized as a community project for Cache Valley, though members of the church were involved in its planning. Now, under the direction of the LDS church, the pageant serves as an education tool for its members. It is also used for missionary work for the LDS church.

Content Description

Minutes, agendas, reports, budgets, correspondence, missionary efforts, ticket requests, programs, publicity, research, scripts, music, and production reproductions relating directly to the Martin Harris Pageant administrative concerns. (1983-1997).

Committee minutes, agendas, and notes are placed together and organized by year. They cover the period between 1984 and 1997. The pageant's budget including the years 1988 to 1995 is included in the collection. a financial report for 1990 is also enclosed in the collection.

The collection also includes samples of the programs and broadsides representing each year of the production except for its first year in 1983. These samples include programs, tickets, broadsides, and advertisements for other related events. Newspaper advertisements and feature articles are included in the publicity for the event. Publicity since 1994 is not included in the records. Advertisements and articles appear in many of the Cache Valley, northern Utah, and Idaho publications. Some also appear in publications throughout the country.

The pageant made a great push for missionary service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The pageant kept careful records detailing nonmembers and inactive members attending the pageant each year. Experiences of the audience members were kept as well as requests for tickets from people throughout Utah and the country. Policies and guides for missionary work are also kept in the series.

Correspondence to the pageant presidency and other members of the committee is found within the records. Letters from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including Presidents Ezra Taft Benson and Gordon B. Hinckley and Apostles David B. Haight, Neal A. Maxwell, and Boyd K. Packer, mark the importance of this local event. General files found within the collection include research, invitations, book copy orders, and information on the setting of the pageant are included. Files containing information on the Martin Harris family reunion, the Larry Cantwell accident, and "The Witness Series" of Bill L. Hill are included.

The original 1983 script and changes to the script after the first production are included in the records. Pageant scripts and changes also appear for 1984 and 1988. Text and stage directions are exhibited as well. In addition to the pageant's script, its original music is represented in the collection. Video tapes and cassette tapes of the pageant conclude the collection.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  Restrictions

Open to public research.

Restrictions on Use :  Copyright

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Utah State University Libraries, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Permission to publish material from the Martin Harris Pageant records must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation :  

Martin Harris Pageant records, 1983-1997. (COLL MSS 243). Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Department.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Collection is organized into 12 series:

  • Pageant committee agendas, minutes, and notes. 1984-1997
  • Pageant budget and financial reports. 1988, 1990-1995
  • Programs and broadsides. 1984-1996
  • Publicity. 1983-1994.
  • Ticket Information and missionary work. 1984-1997
  • Missionary work-ticket requests. 1989-August 1997
  • Correspondence. 1984-1997
  • General subjects
  • Script and changes. 1983, 1984, 1988
  • Pageant music
  • Videos of productions
  • Cassette tapes of productions

Acquisition Information :  

Unknown.

Processing Note :  

Collection Processed by: Julia Kenyon. Register Prepared by: Julia Kenyon.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Pageant committee agendas, minutes, and notes, 1984-1997
14 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
1 1 Pageant Committees 1984
1 2 Pageant Committees 1985
1 3 Pageant Committees 1986
1 4 Pageant Committees 1987
1 5 Pageant Committees 1988
1 6 Pageant Committees 1989
1 7 Pageant Committees 1990
1 8 Pageant Committees 1991
1 9 Pageant Committees 1992
1 10 Pageant Committees 1993
1 11 Pageant Committees 1994
1 12 Pageant Committees 1995
1 13 Pageant Committees 1996
1 14 Pageant Committees 1997

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Pageant budget and financial reports, 1988, 1990-1995
8 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
1 15 Budget 1988
1 16 Budget 1990
1 17 Budget 1991
1 18 Budget 1992
1 19 Budget 1993
1 20 Budget 1994
1 21 Budget 1995
1 22 Report 1990-1991

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Programs and broadsides, 1984-1996
13 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
2 1 Programs and broadsides 1984
2 2 Programs and broadsides 1985
2 3 Programs and broadsides 1986
2 4 Programs and broadsides 1987
2 5 Programs and broadsides 1988
2 6 Programs and broadsides 1989
2 7 Programs and broadsides 1990
2 8 Programs and broadsides 1991
2 9 Programs and broadsides 1992
2 10 Programs and broadsides 1993
2 11 Programs and broadsides 1994
2 12 Programs and broadsides 1995
2 13 Programs and broadsides 1996

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Publicity, 1983-1994
12 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
2 14 Publicity 1983
2 15 Publicity 1984
2 16 Publicity 1985
2 17 Publicity 1986
2 18 Publicity 1987
2 19 Publicity 1988
2 20 Publicity 1989
2 21 Publicity 1990
2 22 Publicity 1991
2 23 Publicity 1992
2 24 Publicity 1994
2 25 Publicity general

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Ticket Information and missionary work, 1984-1997
11 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
3 1 Ticket information 1984
3 2 Ticket information 1985
3 3 Missionary efforts and success 1984
3 4 Missionary efforts and success 1985
3 5 Missionary efforts and success 1990
3 6 Missionary efforts and success 1992
3 7 Missionary efforts and success 1993
3 8 Missionary efforts and success 1994
3 9 Missionary efforts and success 1995
3 10 Missionary efforts and success 1996
3 11 Missionary efforts and success 1997

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Missionary work-ticket requests, 1989-August 1997
17 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
4 1 Missionary work ticket requests 1989
4 2 Missionary work ticket requests 1993
4 3 Missionary work ticket requests 1994
4 4 Missionary work ticket requests 1995 (undated)
4 5 Missionary work ticket requests 1995 January
4 6 Missionary work ticket requests 1995 February
4 7 Missionary work ticket requests 1995 March
4 8 Missionary work ticket requests 1995 April-August
4 9 Missionary work ticket requests 1996 (undated)
4 10 Missionary work ticket requests 1996 January
4 11 Missionary work ticket requests 1996 February
4 12 Missionary work ticket requests 1996 March
4 13 Missionary work ticket requests 1996 April-November
4 14 Missionary work ticket requests 1997 (undated)
4 15 Missionary work ticket requests 1997 January-February
4 16 Missionary work ticket requests 1997 March-April
4 17 Missionary work ticket requests 1997 May-August

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Correspondence, 1984-1997.
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
5 1 Correspondence 1984
5 2 Correspondence 1985
5 3 Correspondence 1986
5 4 Correspondence 1987
5 5 Correspondence 1988
5 6 Correspondence 1989
5 7 Correspondence 1990
5 8 Correspondence 1991
5 9 Correspondence 1992
6 1 Correspondence 1993
6 2 Correspondence 1994
6 3 Correspondence 1995
6 4 Correspondence 1997

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General subjects
15 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
7 1 Research
7 2 Research 1986
7 3 Research 1988
7 4 Research 1989
7 5 Book Orders 1984
7 6 Book Orders 1985
7 7 Gravesite and amphitheater 1983
7 8 Play Adoption and Recommendation submission 1985
7 9 General Authorities pageant mailing 1990
7 10 Invitations 1984
7 11 Printings: programs, letterheads, advertisement
7 12 Supplemental program and lectures
7 13 The Witness Series and Bill L. Hill 1992
7 14 Martin Harris Family Reunion 1994
7 15 Larry Cantwell accident

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Script and changes, 1983, 1984, 1988
10 folders
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
8 1 Script
8 2 Script
8 3 Script original 1983
8 4 Script book copy early draft 1983
8 5 Script and book copy on diskettes 1983
8 6 Script changes 1983
8 7 Script original 1984 July
8 8 Script changes 1984 September
8 9 Script 1988
8 10 Text and stage directions

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Pageant music
Container(s)
Description
Box
9-12 Pageant sheet music

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Videos of productions
Container(s)
Description
Box
13 Pageant videos

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Cassette tapes of productions
Container(s)
Description
Box
14 Pageant cassette tapes

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Subjects

    • Personal Names :
    • Harris, Martin, 1783-1875--Drama.
    • James, Rhett S. Martin Harris : the man who knew.
    • Smith, Joseph, 1805-1844--Drama.
    • Corporate Names :
    • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--History--Drama.
    • Martin Harris Pageant--Records and correspondence.
    • Subject Terms :
    • Book of Mormon--Pageants.
    • Mormon Church--History--Pageants.
    • Mormons--Biography.
    • Mormons--Biography.
    • Mormons--Drama.
    • Geographical Names :
    • Clarkson (Utah)--History.

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