During my last year of graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin I developed an interest in documenting the Mormon history of the area. With sponsorship from Dr. Howard Miller, a History professor, I was given access to video production equipment from Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services. Accompanied by a few talented friends, I set out to interview the Mormon pioneers in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Austin (which, at one time, were all one “stake” or ecclesiastical unit). Over a period of six months, I interviewed 30 people and video-taped the 50th anniversary fireside of the San Antonio Stake.
After several months of video editing and building a demo website (with the help of my cousin, Brian), I made a presentation about the project at the LDS Church Historical Department in November 2008. My major insight was that everyone assumes all Mormons live in Utah, which creates misunderstanding about the Church and makes Mormons outside Utah feel some level of resentment. I recommended that future media/branding projects focus on the rich history/culture of the international church population, rather than portray a generic church population that would be mistaken for Utah. This would educate non-Mormons about the size and growth of the Church (‘we’ve been in your community for decades!’) and build pride among local Church members. The presentation was well-received.
Recently, I was informed that interview clips from the project are being used as a show-and-tell of ‘what interviews can be like’ in the LDS Church Media Services Department. Also, the story about glass from the Bailey Street Chapel windows being used in the construction of the San Antonio Temple was cited by Chad Hawkins in his book, Temples of the New Millennium (Deseret Book, 2016).