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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Mormon sun stone, 1844Mormon sun stone, 1844

Drawn from a dream vision of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, sun stones and other celestial carvings adorned the Mormon Temple built at Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1844. But the elaborate temple was destroyed soon after by people opposed to Mormons and their religious beliefs. To escape further persecution, the Mormon community moved west and settled in Utah. This sun stone, salvaged from the ruined Nauvoo temple and preserved by a local historical society since 1913, was offered to the Smithsonian in 1989. To Richard Ahlborn, the Smithsonian's religious history curator, it represented a chance to explore "the complexity of our nation's spiritual origins."

See also: Religious History, Intriguing Objects

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