Birth of a Product
What began as cultural briefs for leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown into a thriving educational product line used by K–12 educators, corporations, government, and the military. Coined by Elder O. Leslie Stone, Assistant to the Twelve, in 1974, Brazil and Argentina Culturgrams were prepared by LDS Translation Services with information provided by the BYU Language Research Center. They were used to prepare visiting authorities for Area Conferences in those countries in February 1975. A statement of purpose on each two-page, double-sided Culturgram read: “CULTURGRAMS briefings to aid understanding of, feeling for, and communication with other people. CULTURGRAMS are condensations of the best information available.”
By March 1975, an additional fifty-seven country-cultures slated for addition to the Culturgrams format and completed by June 1977, with V. Lynn Tyler, now retired, as general editor, Lynn B. Jensen, coordinator, main writers: Gail (Newbold) Andersen, Steven Graham, Pamela Jackson, and in-country natives. Church statistics and a map were included with concise text covering cultural norms and protocol under these general headings: customs and courtesies, the people, lifestyle, the nation, suggestions for visitors, and suggested reading. Soon their value extended to curriculum for Relief Society, when Culturgrams’ content was used in Cultural Refinement lessons from 1978–82. Tyler noted that hundreds of people had assisted with the research and development of Culturgrams.