New release: more romance from Julia Farr!

Let us not be accused of taking half-measures with early 20th century Mormon romance literature–another Julia Farr original, The Great Experienceis now available on Project Gutenberg. (We also just announced the release of her earlier work, Venna Hastings.)

Thanks to Rachel Helps and McKayla Hansen for their work proofreading this book!

New Release: WWI-era flirt-&-convert Mormon romance “Venna Hastings,” by Julia Farr

Are stories of stalwart male missionaries who fall in love with their virtuous female investigators limited to the 1950s onward? Absolutely not. Julia Farr, in her fictional work Venna Hastings, Story of An Eastern Mormon Convert, follows the difficult conversion of Venna Hastings to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the means of a young and valiant male missionary in the 1910s. A native of the Eastern United States, she is encouraged by family, friends, and religious professionals alike to avoid the Mormon church for innumerable reasons. But through faith-based experiences, she gains a testimony and is baptized. She then follows her future husband back to the humble town of Ephraim, Utah and is married to him for time and eternity.

Later, the two serve separately in World War I, Venna as a volunteer for the Red Cross, and her husband as a soldier. The two meet the same fate during the war: death. The conclusion of the story recounts their beautiful reunion in Paradise, having been sealed together by the Priesthood of God in His Holy Temple. This quick read showcases the faith, diligence, and humility of Venna, giving it a role as inspirational literature, and it also provides a window into popular Mormon ideals (particularly of romance) in the early 20th century. Give it a look.

Thanks to Rachel Helps and Steven Fluckiger for proofreading Venna Hastings, and to Steven for contributing to this blog post.

New Release: “Life of David Patten, The First Apostolic Martyr”

This short 1904 book tells of the life and death of David Patten, one of the original apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As the title indicates, he is known for his death at the Battle of Crooked River during the Missouri persecutions; he was also the guy who ran into Cain on the road, creating those bigfoot theories that persist to this day.

It opens with a letter from Lorenzo Snow, praising Patten in the highest terms and recommending the study of his life:

To the Reader:

All the circumstances of my first and last meeting with Apostle David W. Patten are as clear to my mind as if it were an occurrence of but yesterday, and yet it took place some sixty-four years ago. He appeared to me then to be a remarkable man, and that impression has remained with me ever since.

We traveled together on horseback from my father’s home, at Mantua, Ohio, to Kirtland, a distance of perhaps twenty-five miles, he on his return from some missionary labor, I to commence a course of studies at Oberlin College.

On the way our conversation fell upon religion and philosophy, and being young and having enjoyed some scholastic advantages, I was at first disposed to treat his opinions lightly, especially so as they were not always clothed in grammatical language; but as he proceeded in his earnest and humble way to open up before my mind the plan of salvation, I seemed unable to resist the knowledge that he was a man of God and that his testimony was true. I felt pricked in my heart.

This he evidently perceived, for almost the last thing he said to me, after bearing his testimony, was that I should go to the Lord before retiring at night and ask him for myself. This I did with the result that from the day I met this great Apostle, all my aspirations have been enlarged and heightened immeasurably. This was the turning point in my life.

What impressed me most was his absolute sincerity, his earnestness and his spiritual power; and I believe I cannot do better in this connection than to commend a careful study of his life to the honest in heart everywhere.

Lorenzo Snow

Give it a look.

Triple release: Orson F. Whitney, BoM stories, and “Heroines of Mormondom”

Well, the blog has fallen behind on the actual pace of releases, so this is me catching up. Without further ado, the following are now out:

1. Gospel Themes by Elder Orson F. Whitney, originally released in 1914 as a priesthood manual, “made [a] significant contribution to the understanding of doctrine” per the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Whitney was both an Apostle and a major LDS literary figure of his time, perhaps something like the Maxwell of his time–you may know him as the author of “The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close.”

2. Heroines of Mormondom is an 1884 compilation from the Juvenile Instructor Office, in the vein of the Faith Promoting Series. It tells of Hyrum Smith’s widow Mary Fielding and her pioneer journey; Mary Chittenden, a British-Australian convert; and Amanda Smith, a survivor of the Haun’s Mill Massacre. It is the second book in the Noble Women’s Lives series; the first was Lydia Knight’s History, and best I can tell there are only the two.

3. Book of Mormon Stories is an early (1892) effort at adapting the Book of Mormon for children, specifically stories of Lehi and Nephi. It is complete with the original illustrations.

Happy reading!

New release: Orson Pratt debates polygamy with the Senate Chaplain

This is the all-star game of polygamy debates, folks. Orson Pratt was Brigham Young’s point man for explaining and defending polygamy, and the Rev. Dr. J. P. Newman, Chaplain of the U. S. Senate, sounds like a worthy opponent. In 1870 they publicly debated the question “Does the Bible sanction Polygamy?” for three days, and that debate is reproduced in The Bible and Polygamy, now available free on Project Gutenberg. It also includes discourses on polygamy by George A. Smith, George Q. Cannon, and Pratt himself. It’s thus a cross-section of both Mormon and non-Mormon thought on polygamy in the middle of the pre-Manifesto Utah period. Have a look.

“The Mormons: A Discourse…” by Thomas L. Kane

In this unique discourse originally delivered to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Thomas L. Kane, a non-Mormon, offers a sympathetic account of the exodus from Nauvoo and early settlement of Utah. We have lots of documents from Mormon pioneers, and lots of anti-Mormon stuff, but this type of thing–by a non-Mormon, for non-Mormons, without being negative–is relatively uncommon, making it particularly interesting. As he met with the saints on the plains, saw Nauvoo, etc. he can narrate first-hand.

Kane, who depending on your households’s Mormon history buff quotient may or may not be a household name, is famous for using his political connections in support of the Church. During the exodus he pulled strings to create the Mormon Battalion and gain permission for the saints to temporarily occupy Indian territory. Later, he was offered the first governorship of the Utah territory (he declined and recommended Brigham Young), played a mediation role in the Utah War, and served as the executor of Brigham Young’s will. So beyond being an interesting observer, he’s significant in his own right.

At a bit under 100 pages, this should be a quick read. Have a look.

New release: “Representative Women of Deseret”

“Representative” might be a stretch for a list of women including Emmeline B. Wells, Eliza R. Snow, etc., but in any case Representative Women of Deseret by Augusta Joyce Crocheron offers biographical sketches of variety of early Utah saints. First published 1884, it’s a window into the lives of women in the early Church, including many in polygamous relationships. Leaders of the Relief Society, Primary, and Y.L.M.I.A. are represented, as are authors, poets, and doctors. Much of the material is autobiographical.

This collection is obviously a great resource for understanding the role of women in the early Church, and it’s one of several books in this vein that we will release over the next year. I’m interested in these books because I feel such early primary sources will help people better navigate the controversies about women’s role in the Church. They will hopefully show that faithful women have found fulfillment, opportunities for meaningful service, and ultimately happiness throughout the history of the Church, but in any case they contain perspectives that deserve to be explored.

So there you go. Literature about Mormon women. More on the way.