Monthly Archives: February 2016

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.