Established in 1849 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Perpetual Emigration Fund distributed loans that enabled more than 30,000 Mormons to settle in the American West. Supported by church donations, private contributions, and repayments that were then distributed again on a revolving basis, the loans made it possible for converts from across the world to relocate themselves into the company of fellow believers in the burgeoning LDS heartland in Utah. Many of these immigrants came from the Midwest, the previous center of the Mormon diaspora, while others arrived from overseas, with transportation for many being organized out of Liverpool, England.
Once relocated, those assisted by the PEF would begin paying back their loans, thus enabling the settlement of yet more church members. In this way, a nascent church was able to consolidate and expand its embryonic and oft-threatened community despite very limited finances. In 1880, on the occasion of the LDS Church’s fiftieth anniversary, a Jubilee Year was declared and half of all debts to the PEF, totaling $337,000, were forgiven.