Few recent publications contain as much original research as does this volume of papers delivered a symposium held in Des Moines, Iowa, in May 1996. The purpose of the symposium was to “identify, mark, map, and celebrate the historic Mormon Pioneer Trail in southern Iowa.” Interestingly, participants included both Mormon and non-Mormon scholars and experienced as well as novice historians, including eighth-grade students. These students, supported by grants from the Iowa Department of Education, spent two summers interviewing longtime residents for oral histories about the Mormons in Iowa and reconnoitering the terrain around Mt. Pisgah on what turned out to be a successful search for signs of the Mormon Trail.
The symposium also included reports from local historians along the Mormon Trail. These reports demonstrate extensive research into pioneer diaries and county and cemetery records, including findings from exploration of the terrain, such as the “footprints” of fence posts indicating boundaries of camps and burial sites, as well as the correct site of the Chariton River Camp. (The straightening and realigning of the river in 1906 had led to the original erroneous identification of the campsite.)