Published from November 1854 to December 1855, the St. Louis Luminary was started by Apostle Erastus Snow, the Latter-day Saint leader over the region. The newspaper maintained contact among the members, helped emigrating Saints stay focused on their ultimate destination in the West, and played a significant role in the national discussion of polygamy, which had been publicly announced in 1852.
Snow's goal was to produce a paper "devoted to the exposition of the favorable side of Mormonism," something the "honest inquirer" had longed to read. The newspaper also consisted of a composite of exchanges from other periodicals, and a variety of local businesses--regardless of whether they were owned by Mormons--advertised in it.
Furthermore, hundreds of names published in the columns yield a valuable genealogical database. Its forty-two missionary-agents traveled throughout most of the Midwest soliciting subscribers.