New Release: “Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow”

Eliza R. Snow Smith, the sister of Lorenzo Snow, wrote this exciting biography, recently released on PG, that gives an account of Lorenzo Snow’s life and family. Lorenzo Snow was the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This book starts with information about Lorenzo’s early life, including some of the characteristics he had as a young boy. Being the eldest child, Lorenzo was often left in charge. He gained a sense of responsibility at a young age and Eliza believed that this prepared him “for the position in life he was destined to occupy.”

Later in Lorenzo’s life he served a mission in England. In a letter recorded in this biography, Lorenzo answered the question pertaining to the reason he life on this mission: “I am here because God has spoken, and raised up a Prophet, through whom He has restored the fullness of the everlasting Gospel.”

At the close of his mission, Lorenzo led a company of 250 Saints from England to Nauvoo. On their journey overseas, the steward became very ill. The captain gave up hope and provided a ceremony where all the crewmembers could say goodbye to the steward. Although many thought that it was too late for this man to be healed, Lorenzo gave him a blessing. Eliza writes, “to the joy and astonishment of all, [the steward] was seen walking the deck, praising and glorifying God for his restoration.” After this experience, several of the officers and sailors were baptized.

Throughout this biography, Eliza recites many stories pertaining to Lorenzo’s life. Each of the events recorded all contributed to Lorenzo’s success as a Prophet for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The book (and blog post) were produced by MTP research assistant Mariah Averett, thanks to donor support for her position. 

Alfred Lambourne’s “The Pioneer Trail” Just Released by PGDP

Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders (PGDP) recently released a free ebook of The Pioneer Trail by Alfred Lambourne, who crossed the plains in the 1860. He’s also notable for being the first artist to paint Zion Canyon and for that sweet painting of the Hill Cumorah in the Salt Lake Temple. In this book (which, full disclosure, I haven’t yet read) he describes the experience of crossing the plains.

I can tell you, though, that PGDP is awesome. They’re responsible for a bunch of the Mormon books on Project Gutenberg, including Jesus the Christ, along with most of the other books, period. The quality of their work is generally excellent, and this is no exception. Give it a look.

Year in Review: 44 E-Books Released Thanks to Volunteers, Donors

During 2014, the Mormon Texts Project released 44 e-books on Project Gutenberg. That’s a lot of books. To give it some scale, on Jan. 1, 2014, there were only 21 LDS e-books on Project Gutenberg. This progress is all thanks to volunteers and donors, and I’d like to thank all those who have contributed.

Volunteers have put in hundreds of hours of work to make this year’s production possible. Most had no prior personal connection to the project or anyone involved, but found out about it online, volunteered to help, and proofread an entire book over the course of a few months. Our first-ever class of summer interns played a large role by putting in a combined total of over 750 hours. Faculty and staff at Brigham Young University and Utah State University facilitated this through their support for the internship program. Many thanks to all those who have contributed their time.

Donors have also played a key role in the year’s success. Post-production of formatting-intensive works (such as the History of the Church) requires a somewhat rare skill-set and could be a limit on the project. Donor support for hundreds of hours of work by Mariah Averett, our BYU research assistant has eased this limit  and substantially increased our production. Once again, various BYU personnel (especially Dr. Alonzo Gaskill, who sponsors the position) deserve our thanks for facilitating the research assistant position.

This year’s production has included works by B. H. Roberts, Orson Pratt, James E. Talmage, Joseph Smith, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff, as well as seven books in the “Faith-Promoting Series” and various lesser-known classics like Forty Years Among the Indians and Spencer’s Letters. The “Available Texts” page shows that the most painful availability holes in the canon of classic Church lit are rapidly being filled in.

All the same, there’s still a long way to go. In the coming year, focus areas will include the History of the Church, the rest of the “Faith-Promoting Series,” and the works of B. H. Roberts. We’re already working on a couple of non-member perspectives on the early Mormon experience, including a piece by Thomas L. Kane. Mission reports, works related to early Mormon women, tracts, and more philosophical material should also get some attention.

We plan to offer the internship program again this coming summer, and we’re always looking for volunteers or donors. If the same outpouring of support we’ve seen this year continues, next year we ought to see even higher production.

Once again, thanks to all who have done so much!

Happy Boxing Day! New Release: History of the Church vol. 3

History of the Church vol. 3 is now available as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg! Obviously, HotC is a big deal, and we’ll just let it stand at that. (Unless you have some strange desire to read only about the 1838-39 window of Church history, you really ought to start with vol. 1, and if you’ve already read vol. 1 and 2 you probably don’t need an introduction to 3, so no further commentary at this time.)

It was proofed and produced by our excellent BYU research assistant Mariah Averett, thanks to donor support for her position.

New Release: “Wilford Woodruff,” a biography written from his journals

If you’ve always wanted to read Wilford Woodruff’s journal but can’t afford ~$4k for the out of print nine-volume typescript edition, this is your best bet. Wilford Woodruff: History of his Life and Labors as Recorded in his Daily Journals, was written by Elder Matthias F. Cowley of the Twelve based on, and excerpting heavily from, Woodruff’s famous journals. It’s awesome. Get the free e-book on Project Gutenberg.

If you’re not sold yet, here’s the pitch: Wilford Woodruff’s life would be eminently worth reading about on its own account, and he also happened to be present for most of the important Church history events during his lifetime. This book thus reads like a combination biography/general history of the Church to 1890, and we get to read about much of that period in Wilford Woodruff’s own words. We hear about everything from baptizing hundreds to near-death experiences to the original pioneer journey to the Salt Lake Valley.

If that doesn’t sound interesting, I’m not sure what would. It would take a week of daily posting to do justice to my stack of excerpts, and they may get just that. But for now, go to Project Gutenberg, read the Preface, and try not to be intrigued.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Our gift to you–three new (free) book releases!

Thanks to some great work by our volunteers, President Heber C. Kimball’s Journal (Faith-Promoting Series book #7), Precious Memories (Faith-Promoting Series book #16), and Cowley’s Talks on Doctrine by Matthias F. Cowley are now up on Project Gutenberg.

Heber C. Kimball was a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve, member of Brigham Young’s First Presidency, President of the British Mission, etc., so his journal is naturally of interest. Precious Memories, like various other books in the Faith-Promoting Series, is an anthology of missionary and other stories targeted at the youth of the Church; anyone who’s read anything in the series will probably understand our enthusiasm for it. Finally, Matthias F. Cowley was a member of the Twelve, and Ben E. Rich, the noted mission president and publisher, liked his talks so much that he published the just-released compilation for use in a missionary context.

As you can see, although December’s been slow for the blog, the project’s work has been moving along well. Several big projects are right on the brink of completion; keep your eyes out for more holiday surprises and an annual report.

Merry Christmas and happy reading!

New Release: B. H. Roberts’ “New Witnesses for God”, vol. 2 of 3

In A New Witness for God, originally published as a stand-alone work in 1895 and previously released, Roberts made his case for Joseph Smith. Volumes 2 and 3, published in 1909, make his case for The Book of Mormon. This, not his devil’s advocate “Studies” that sometimes attract more attention (both apologetic and critical), should be considered Roberts’ key treatment of the Book of Mormon. Vol. 2 is now available as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg thanks to the dedication of Diane Evans, who also proofread vol. 1 and is now working on (wait for it…) vol. 3.

Volumes 2 and 3 discuss four topics:

I.—The Value of the Book of Mormon as a Witness for the Authenticity and Integrity of the Bible; and the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

II.—The Discovery of the Book of Mormon and its Translation, Migrations, Lands, Intercontinental Movements, Civilizations, Governments, and the Religions of its Peoples.

III.—Evidences of the Truth of the Book of Mormon.

IV.—Objections to the Book of Mormon Considered.

Vol. 2 treats the first three, with Part III forming the bulk of the text. Among other evidences, Roberts discusses at length the testimony of the Eight, Three, and other witnesses, as well as then-current knowledge of the ancient Americas as it relates to The Book of Mormon. It’s a must-read for understanding B. H. Roberts’ thought on the founding scripture of the Restoration. Expect volume 3 to be released sometime next year.