Complete 17 Book Faith-Promoting Series Now Available Free

The seventeen books of the Faith-Promoting Series, published between 1879 and 1915 by George Q. Cannon and George C. Lambert and “Designed for the Instruction and Encouragement of Young Latter-day Saints,” are now all available as free e-books on Project Gutenberg. They are easy reads, mostly at about 100 pages each, that are mostly organized as collections of short accounts. Collectively, they form a whole library of short nonfiction on the early church.

They discuss missionary work, the early days of the Church, the pioneer experience, early Utah, apologetic themes, faith-promoting incidents, and so forth. For missionary work alone, they contain accounts of early efforts in Hawaii (#1), the American west (#2, #5), England (#7, #8, #12, #13), New Zealand (#14), and Switzerland (#10), to name a few. Much of the content is autobiographical, including material by John Taylor (#2), Newel Knight (#10), Wilford Woodruff (#3), George Q. Cannon (#1), and Heber C. Kimball (#7). Doesn’t take a PhD to realize that these are big names and big events, and that’s just a random sampling of surface-scratching.

We’ve already published some commentary on several of these books if you’re wondering where to start, but anywhere is good. Without further ado, the list:

  1. My First Mission by George Q. Cannon
  2. A String of Pearls
  3. Leaves from My Journal by Wilford Woodruff
  4. Gems for the Young Folk
  5. Jacob Hamblin by James A. Little
  6. Fragments of Experience
  7. President Heber C. Kimball’s Journal
  8. Early Scenes in Church History
  9. The Life of Nephi by George Q. Cannon
  10. Scraps of Biography
  11. The Myth of the “Manuscript Found” by George Reynolds
  12. Labors in the Vineyard
  13. Eventful Narratives
  14. Helpful Visions
  15. Treasures in Heaven
  16. Precious Memories
  17. Gems of Reminiscence

Thanks again to the many MTP interns and volunteers who have worked on these books! Allie Bowen and Margaret Willden, MTP interns, finished the set with their work on #6 and #15 respectively.


New Release: “Gems of Reminiscence”

Gems of Reminiscence, as the seventeenth and final book in the Faith Promoting Series, is a 1915 compilation of accounts from early Latter-Day Saints, each as unique as the next. From personal testimonies and accounts of missionary work in the early days of the Church to experiences with cannibals and volcanoes, Gems of Reminiscence offers insight on a wide variety of topics, “to interest most of those into whose hands it may come.” Recently released as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg, it is an uplifting and enlightening book filled with stories of strength, faith and wisdom.

If anyone’s keeping score, they will have noticed we’ve now released fifteen of the seventeen books in the Faith-Promoting Series. Expect the remaining two soon.

Lauren McGuinness, MTP summer intern 2015, proofread and produced Gems of Reminiscence and contributed to this post. Our thanks to her!

From the Salt Lake Temple capstone: “Compendium”

You know the granite sphere that the Salt Lake Temple Moroni stands on? It’s hollow, and inside there’s something of a time capsule that includes a handful of key Church books. A Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel by apostle Franklin D. Richards and co-author James A. Little, published in 1882 and now available free on Project Gutenberg, is one such book. It was sufficiently authoritative that James E. Talmage, listing it among the capstone’s contents, can refer to it as just Compendium. It’s also one of only seven works from the 19th century that makes the Encyclopedia of Mormonism’s list of doctrinally significant books.

So what’s the big deal? Compendium is the first reasonably comprehensive, topically organized doctrinal exposition the Church ever produced. It took 74 key gospel topics and provided a succinct statement regarding each, along with key scriptural and other references establishing the stated doctrine. Think the Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, Index, and True to the Faith all rolled into one, released for the first time ever.

Today, anyone who wants to know the Church’s doctrine on baptism or spiritual gifts or the second coming can Google it, look it up in any number of books, check the various study helps in the scriptures, etc. But lest we forget, the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary date back only to 1979. The Book of Mormon itself first received an index in Talmage’s 1920 edition, and Reynolds’ Complete Concordance of the Book of Mormon was only published in 1900. In the earliest days of the Church, you had the text of the scriptures (if you were lucky enough to have access to the Pearl of Great Price or its constituent works) and some periodicals or pamphlets.

So if, in 1881, you asked “what is the Church’s doctrine on [insert basic topic], and what are the key scripture reference, talks, etc. establishing that doctrine?” you were courting a substantial research project. But with the 1882 publication of Compendium, for the first time in Church history, that information was at any reader’s fingertips.

As a default source of such information for decades, with reprints as late as 1925, the importance of Compendium as a doctrinal standard can hardly be overstated (although it may seem I’m doing my best). It’s one of those books I can hardly believe no one’s heard of. So go read it. And someone please publish a brilliant paper on its doctrinal impact, and let me know when you do.

Katie Liston, one of our summer 2015 interns, proofread and produced Compendium–many thanks to her!

New Release: “The Myth of the Manuscript Found”

Recently released on PG, The Myth of the Manuscript Found, published in 1883 as the eleventh book of the Faith-Promoting Series, was written to combat the theory that the Book of Mormon was based on a book called The Manuscript Found. This unpublished work was written around 1812 by Solomon Spaulding, a Congregationalist preacher. It was supposedly translated from a Latin parchment found in a cave and gives a history of the first settlers of America, using the names Mormon, Moroni, Nephi and Lamanite. Many anti-Mormon publications and lecturers in the mid-19th century claimed that the Manuscript Found was the foundation for the Book of Mormon. Author George Reynolds combats this claim through accounts of the discovery and translation of the plates from Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. He also discusses the Book of Mormon’s historical accuracy and fulfilled prophecies, and exposes the discrepancies between the content of the Manuscript Found and the Book of Mormon. At a little over 100 pages, it is a fairly quick but highly interesting read, demonstrating once again how well the Book of Mormon stands up to criticism.

A statement from Orson Pratt toward the end of the book sums up the Book of Mormon’s own evidences of its truthfulness:

“If we compare the historical, prophetical and doctrinal parts of the Book of Mormon with the great truths of science and nature, we find no contradictions, no absurdities, nothing unreasonable. The most perfect harmony therefore exists between the great truths revealed in the Book of Mormon and all known truths, whether religious, historical, or scientific.”

McKayla Hansen, one of our 2015 BYU history summer interns, proofread and produced Myth of the Manuscript Found and contributed to this blog post.

New Release: “The Life of Nephi”

“The age in which we live is one of doubt and unbelief. Skepticism is spreading. All faith in divine things, as taught by the ancient servants of God, is being unsettled,” writes author George Q. Cannon in The Life of Nephi, the ninth book in the Juvenile Instructor Office’s Faith-Promoting Series. This work, written in 1888 and just released as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg, offers a deeply thoughtful look at the life of a central figure in The Book of Mormon. Born circa 615 B.C. in Jerusalem, Nephi was a man of deep faith and devotion to God and his family:

“The Prophet Nephi, whose life we here present, was one of the greatest and most advanced of these teachers of heavenly truths. There have been but few men, so far as we know, who comprehended, and spoke, and wrote about them as plainly as did he. He had a personal knowledge of the doctrines, principles and facts respecting which men now dispute. He has written fully upon them.”

Nephi’s father Lehi foresees the destruction of Jerusalem, a result of the wickedness of the people. His family is instructed by God to flee into the wilderness to avoid impending destruction, and the family consequently spends years wandering in the wilderness, encountering various calamities and trials of faith. Cannon details the challenges, triumphs, joys, and heartaches seen by Nephi and his family as they seek to act in accordance with the will of God.

While Nephi’s story is familiar to many of the LDS faith, Cannon’s book offers deeper insights on Nephi’s unfailing devotion to his faith. Cannon details the lineage of Nephi and his family and provides detailed context to the age in which Nephi and his family lived. These details become enlightening as we learn that acting on one’s faith had far more life-endangering consequences than in present times, thus demonstrating Nephi’s unwavering character and spiritual strength.

This book will provide historical as well as spiritual insights to both LDS and non-LDS individuals alike and will inspire, strengthen, and lift.

Margaret Willden, one of our summer 2015 BYU editing interns, proofread and produced The Life of Nephi and contributed to this post.

New Release: “Sketches of Missionary Life”

Sketches of Missionary Life, by Edwin L. Parry, is full of brief narratives illustrating both the difficulties and the miracles associated with missionary life in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s now available as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg.

The text was originally produced to provide “fresh reading matter of a wholesome character to the youth of Zion; and it is issued with the hope that its contents may stimulate faith in the heart of the reader, and assist him in his efforts to become more useful in the Kingdom of God.” Many of the stories presented were related to the author or collected by observation during his own missionary endeavors, and they include experiences from the lives Parley P. Pratt and Brigham Young. Despite the book’s age, the faith-promoting events it recounts are similar to the miracles missionaries experience today.

Though brief, Sketches of Missionary Life will build one’s faith in reality of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and will remind those who have served missions of their own miraculous experiences.

MTP editing intern Allie Bowen of BYU proofread and produced Sketches of Missionary Life and contributed to this post.