The Future of MormonPlaces

In September 2018, we completed Phase I of the MormonPlaces Project, in which students were collecting as much data as they could about as many pre-1930 wards and branches as we could find, resulting in over 7,000 of them. That is to say, I ran out of money to pay them. In Phase II, the plan is to open the service to the Church history research community and the public. Here are some features I am currently working on, in a rough order of priority:
  1. A book on the evolution of wards, stakes, branches, and their leaders prior to the Priesthood Reorganization of 1877, Brigham Young's last initiative as president, which established standards for these organizations very similar to how they work now. Before that, there were a lot of practices and structures that seem very strange to us. Several students and I have researched most of the wards and stakes up to that time, we just need to wrap things up and get it all written.
  2. A complete (as much as possible) history of boundary changes for the Salt Lake Valley and its dozens of wards. It is a much more complicated and unknown history than I thought, but I am over the hump, as it were, and "only" have a few dozen more questions.
  3. An enhancement of the boundary estimator tool, which automatically shows you an estimate of the jurisdiction of a ward or branch when you click on it. It does fine for simple shapes, but complicated and incomplete boundary descriptions are harder to reason about.
  4. A historic street basemap (of Utah at least), so you can see how the wards lined up with what the cities looked like in 1930. The data is almost complete for Utah, then I need to build and host the basemap service. Released January 26, 2019!
  5. A second basemap of early roads in the core areas of the Church: Kirtland in 1836, Missouri in 1831-1839, Nauvoo in 1845, Iowa/Nebraska in 1851, and the Wasatch Front in 1856.
  6. An editor tool for others to contribute to the database. Beta version released January 23, 2019: If you have good knowledge about a region or era, and are interested in helping me test it and giving feedback, let me know!
  7. A commenting feature, so anyone can post comments or feedback on individual places. This should enable a kind of collaborative scholarship as researchers can discuss individual places.
  8. A system for linking people to places, especially as members or leaders of wards and branches. This depends on a few other projects currently underway to build databases early church members, such as the Nauvoo Community Project.

If you have any suggestions on these or other features I should add, feel free to contact me.