New Release: “Mother Stories from the Book of Mormon”

President Hinckley was first introduced to the Book of Mormon by his mother reading him this book (source) by William A. Morton, and treasured it in his old age. Weighing in at 158 pages and using simple language, it could make good reading material for small children today as an intermediate between the Book of Mormon picture books and the real thing. And it’s now available as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg. Enjoy.

New Release: “The Hand of Providence” by J. H. Ward

This 1883 book by J. H. Ward is an early Mormon take on world history; it’s now available on Project Gutenberg, complete with more than thirty original illustrations. You may remember J. H. Ward as the author of Gospel Philosophy, a book on science and the gospel that we released and discussed some time ago.

The Church today has a particular understanding of how world history led up to the Restoration; this book shows Ward’s 19th century understanding of that topic, including discussion of Rome, the Middle East, the Reformation, the Americas, etc. I’m not sure to what extent Ward was popularizing existing theories vs. breaking new ground, but either way this is interesting stuff from a historiographical perspective.

“Mormon Settlement in Arizona” by James H. McClintock

This work, by a non-Mormon historian of Arizona, discusses the titular topic and was produced some time ago by Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders. (As longtime readers know, I think very highly of PGDP.) It touches on the Mormon Battalion, pioneer and Forty Years Among the Indians author Daniel W. Jones, noted missionary Jacob Hamblin, and the ancient history of the area, among other things. Give it a look.

The existence of this e-book somehow escaped our notice up until now, but no longer; now it’s on the Available Texts page. On that note, should anyone know of similar works already available on PG or elsewhere, get in touch–we want to get the word out about them.

2015 Mormon Texts Project Summer Internship Program

The Mormon Texts Project is once again offering a summer internship program this year, in which interns will have the opportunity to learn the e-book production process and produce at least one e-book start to finish. Last year the inaugural internship program was a great success, and this year’s program will build on last year’s to offer an even better experience for interns. The 2015 internship syllabus is available here and includes instructions on how to apply.

The internship is a part-time volunteer opportunity intended for students with interests in electronic publishing and/or Mormon history, doctrine, etc. BYU offers history or editing credit hours to MTP interns, and Utah State offers religious studies credit. We’re willing to work with other universities or departments to offer other relevant academic credit, or interns can participate simply for the prestige of working with the premiere organizations for public domain LDS e-books (MTP) and public domain e-books generally (Project Gutenberg). That and a subway token will get you on the subway, folks.

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!