Deseret Alphabet Portal

The Deseret Alphabet

Deseret Alphabet



The Deseret Alphabet came about on January 19, 1854 when the Board of Regents of the University of Deseret, now the University of Utah, announced that they had adopted a new phonetic alphabet. The new alphabet consisted of 38 to 40 characters and was developed mostly by George D. Watt. George D. Watt was on a committe called by President Brigham Young, second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as part of a project to help simplify spelling in the English Language.

Gold CoinFour books were published in the late 1860s using the Deseret Alphabet, Deseret First and Second Book Readers, the Book of Nephi Part 1 (1st Nephi through the Words of Mormon), and then the entire Book of Mormon. Various articles were also published in the Deseret News using the alphabet during that time. Even a gold coin (Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions) minted in Utah in 1860, included some lettering in the Deseret Alphabet.

Despite being heavily published by the Deseret News and promoted by President Brigham Young, the Deseret Alphabet never gained wide acceptance. Soon after Brigham Young's death in 1877, resources and funding of the project came to an end.

The Deseret Alphabet is now used mostly by hobbyists and studied by historians as it preserves the way the English language was spoken in the 1860s in Utah.  For anyone wanting to learn to read and write in the Deseret Alphabet, "A Complete Guide to Reading and Writing the Deseret Alphabet," by Neil Alexander Walker is a good place to start.

Scanned images of the Deseret First Book, Deseret Second Book, and The Book of Mormon Part 1 are available here,

Deseret First Book Deseret Second Book Book of Mormon Part 1

courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Internet Archive also has very nice scans of these books, plus some other interesting documents.

The Church History Library and the Internet Archive recently made available a complete scanned copy of the 1869 Deseret Alphabet edition of the Book of Mormon here.

The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Perl of Great Price (Triple Combination) in the Deseret Alphabet is available here Triple.pdf, in PDF form, courtesy of John H. Jenkins.

The Huneybee font, a freeware True Type Deseret Alphabet font used by this site and many others, is available at Huneybee.ttf, courtesy of Central Hub.

A lot of us that are interested in the Deseret Alphabet are now hanging out on Facebook at Facebook Deseret Alphabet Group or the Deseret_AB group over at Yahoo! GroupsCome join us!

-- M. Scott Reynolds