New Release: “The Women of Mormondom”

“The night before he died, Brigham Young said he would like 1000 of this book distributed at the east.” These are the words scribbled on the first page of the Bancroft Library’s copy of Edward Tullidge’s The Women of Mormondom. Regardless of the accuracy of this quote, Tullidge’s 1877 book, now available on Project Gutenberg, is doubtlessly one of the precious treasures of Mormon history. Tullidge compiled several accounts of women living in the Joseph Smith and Brigham Young eras of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and laid them before the world in this work. He valiantly defended them in their practice of plural marriage and their campaign for women’s suffrage.

Due to its rich collection of first-person accounts and biographical sketches, this book has been quoted several times by modern-day church leaders. Indeed, this book has been quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley in the general conferences of the church. This has all been done despite the fact that Tullidge at the time of the book’s publication was excommunicated for apostasy and strong beliefs in mysticism that plagued the church during the mid-eighteen hundreds. Even with his apostate viewpoints glossing the pages of this book occasionally, the historical sources and narratives of this book truly testify of the faithfulness of these early women of the Latter-day Saint Church.

For more information on Tullidge and his relationship with the church during his publication of this book, see Ronald W. Walker’s “Edward Tullidge: Historian of the Mormon Commonwealth” in Journal of Mormon History Vol. 3 (1976), pages 55-72.

Thanks to Steven Fluckiger for proofreading this work and contributing this blog post.

New Release: “What Jesus Taught” by Osborne Widtsoe

Is it still nepotism when you look into a dead guy’s book because his brother* was cool? We’re somewhere in that vicinity…Elder John A. Widtsoe’s brother Osborne Widtsoe wrote this 1918 book for the Deseret Sunday School Union, for use as a youth Sunday School course, and I will admit I initially found it through the family name. But the proofreader tells me What Jesus Taught does stand on its own merits.

It includes 40 lessons, each with references and discussion questions. The discussion questions get pretty intense–I’d like to have a youth class today discuss the significance of Napoleon Bonaparte’s testimony of Christ, or the “particular value [of Christ’s] testimony to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.” The book definitely makes for an interesting time capsule of what youth were seeing back in the day.

In Widtsoe’s words:

This little book is an attempt modestly to present in popular form the teachings of Jesus. It is intended for boys and girls of high-school age. It is to be understood, then, that there is here no exhaustive treatise of the teachings of Jesus; nor is there conducted a study and investigation of profound scholarship. Such a work from the Mormon point of view must be deferred, if desirable at all. But it is hoped that what Jesus taught—in part at least—is here presented simply and plainly and truly, so that anyone who reads may understand. It is further hoped that the writing of these lessons has been “moved by the Holy Ghost,” so that those who read them may learn to love the teachings of Jesus, and to know and to love God, and His Son, Jesus, whom He sent to redeem the world. “Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

So there you go. Happy reading.

*On Elder John A. Widtsoe being cool: his book Rational Theology is my favorite non-scriptural Mormon work and is the reason I got involved in MTP–I read the PG version of Rational Theology, saw the credit line, and wanted more.

New Release: “Sinners and Saints,” an outside look at 1882 Utah

Phil Robinson’s Sinners and Saints: A Tour Across the States, and Round Them, with Three Months among the Mormons is now available on Project Gutenberg. Robinson, a travel correspondent, spent time in Utah in 1882 and later published his impressions, including an account of a General Conference; comments on communities including Salt Lake City, Logan, Provo, and Orderville; and discussions of Indian relations, polygamy, and even “their sobriety (to my great inconvenience).”

This book was brought to my attention by B. H. Roberts, who quotes it in The Life of John Taylor and comments that  “Mr. Robinson is one of the few writers who have endeavored to tell the truth about the Mormons.” Much of the literature on the Mormon pre-statehood Utah experience, whether “for” or “against” the Church, is polemical. As a more-or-less disinterested observer, accepted as honest by a Mormon authority while being published by and for the world at large, Robinson provides a primary source from an uncommon perspective. Hopefully readers will find it valuable.

As always, thanks to all those who proofread and made this work available!

Triple New Release: B. H. Roberts and Joseph Fielding Smith (& Project Update!)

Well folks, it’s been a while, but we’ve got some good stuff for you.

Releases

The second volume of B. H. Roberts’ Defense of the Faith and the Saints is now available on Project Gutenberg. (See also vol. 1 here.) These together constitute a scrapbook of Roberts’ writing compiled from various national publications.

Roberts’ Outlines of Ecclesiastical History has also been posted. This work discusses the ancient church, the apostasy, the reformation, and the restoration of the gospel, while explicitly aiming to teach the principles of the gospel in the same treatment.

Finally, Salvation Universala pamphlet on salvation for the dead by Joseph Fielding Smith, is up. Remarkably, Smith, who was President of the Church 1970-1972, published this work in 1920 and had already been an Apostle for 10 years at that time.

Project Update

With that, a word of explanation is in order for the recent lag in releases. Since taking over the Mormon Texts Project, I have been blessed in many ways, including with a son, a house, admission to a part-time MBA program, a call to serve as ward clerk, and so on. Naturally, my time available for MTP is not what it once was. With this in mind, I’ve been cutting back on new project starts and focusing on completing our existing backlog of ~25 in-progress books.

I’m trying to prioritize completion of the backlog in a way that respects volunteers’ work (in some cases at the expense of our research assistants’ work and secondary intern projects), but if you’re wondering where your book you once worked on ended up, get in touch and I’ll see what I can do to hurry it along.

At this point, the project’s proofreading needs center on those few brave souls who are willing to tackle lengthier works and be extremely patient about final posting schedules. My greatest need is actually for help with post-production tasks (currently a bottleneck) including HTML generation and mildly technical text quality checks, so anyone skilled in such things is invited to get in touch.

In sum, don’t expect a terrific pace of new releases in 2017, but we do hope to keep pecking away at the backlog every so often.

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.