Category Archives: Release Announcements

Posts announcing book releases.

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.

Book of Mormon fiction: “Cities of the Sun”

Elizabeth Rachel Cannon’s The Cities of the Suna collection of short stories “founded on historical incidents in the Book of Mormon,” has just been released on Project Gutenberg. It represents an early attempt at Book of Mormon fiction, along the lines of B. H. Roberts’ earlier Corianton. It’s of interest both as early Mormon fiction and as a time capsule of how the Book of Mormon was then understood–for example, odd references to Lamanite or Nephite “phalanxes” are common. A romantic element is added to most of the stories, which include those of Captain Moroni, Ammon, and Alma/Abinadi. The e-book is based on the 1911 enlarged second edition, and includes the original illustrations. Weighing in at 147 pages, it’s an easy read.


Thanks to Allie Bowen and Mariah Averett for their work on this book!

Joseph Fielding Smith New Release Double Feature

That’s right, two new releases: Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, and Origin of the “Reorganized” Church and the Question of SuccessionBoth are pamphlets by a young Joseph Fielding Smith related to controversies with the Reorganized Church.

The first (what a title–maybe that’s why it gets so many downloads…) was a pamphlet coming in at just under 100 pages, in which there is given:

Correspondence between ELDER JOSEPH F. SMITH, (JR.,) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and MR. RICHARD C. EVANS, second counselor (1905) in the Presidency of the “Reorganized” Church. A conclusive refutation of the false charges persistently made by ministers of the “Reorganized” Church against the Latter-day Saints and their belief. Also a supplement containing a number of affidavits and other matters bearing on the subjects.

The second pamphlet, of a little more than 100 pages, was prompted by “Reorganite” missionary efforts in Utah. It discusses succession and the Reorganized Church as follows:

Part one of this book contains the discourse delivered in Ogden on the “Origin of the ‘Reorganized’ Church;” part two contains the discourse on the “Succession in the Presidency,” and part three deals with the most prominent differences existing between the Church and the “Reorganization,” wherein they accuse us of departing from the doctrines of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This matter in part three is added by request of a number of parties who have had to meet the sophistry of the Reorganite missionaries.

We may post some more discussion of  these later, but I’ve held their release up far too long already. Both were proofread and produced by Tyler Garrett, one of our BYU interns. Our thanks to him!

New Release: “Biographical Sketch of Orville Southerland Cox, Pioneer of 1847”

“Nearing his 24th birthday, he was a thorough frontiersman, forester, lumberman, a splendid blacksmith, a natural born engineer; in short a genius and an all around good fellow. He was six feet in his socks and heavy proportionately.”

These are the words that describe Orville Southerland Cox, the subject of Adelia B. Cox Sidwell’s “Biographical Sketch of Orville Southerland Cox, Pioneer of 1847.” This pamphlet, written for the “Daughters of the Pioneers” and interspersed with poetry from poets of the time, is now available free on Project Gutenberg. In it, Sidwell fondly recalls experiences from Cox’s life, detailing both the joys and challenges of life as a pioneer on the American frontier.

Though he experienced abusive treatment as a child, Cox overcame such challenges to go on and become a successful tradesman, self-disciplined and hard-working. He would later marry Elvira P. Mills upon moving to Missouri. It was also here that he would meet “the Mormons” and soon became a baptized member of the Church. Readers will also learn of the skills he gained that would aid him in becoming such a successful individual in many arenas of his life.

Read the adventurous anecdotes from Cox’s life that demonstrate his faith, devotion, and love for God and his family.

Margaret Willden, one of our past BYU interns, proofread and produced this pamphlet, and contributed to this blog post. Our thanks to her!

Utah War fiction by Susa Young Gates: “John Stevens’ Courtship”

Recently released on PG, John Stevens’ Courtship: A Story of the Echo Canyon War was published in 1909 and written by Susa Young Gates. Gates was the daughter of Brigham Young, wrote nine books, and was an advocate for women’s rights. Her novel is set in Salt Lake City during the years 1857-1858 and follows several young Mormon characters as they deal with the excitement and hardships surrounding the Echo Canyon War—more commonly known today as the Utah War. Although there were no major battles and very few casualties, the war disrupted life in Salt Lake City considerably, particularly in the transfer of governorship from Brigham Young to the non-Mormon Alfred Cumming, the evacuation of the Saints from Salt Lake City and the entrance of the U.S. Army into the Utah territory.

In the preface, Gates states her goal in writing John Stevens’ Courtship: “An avowed purpose of this book is to show that there is plenty of romance and color in every-day life—if the eye be not life-colorblind. . . . The pioneer days were days of beauty and rich emotions. That their memory should be perpetuated is the author’s chief justification for the writing of this book.”

John Stevens’ Courtship offers an interesting glimpse at pioneer life in Salt Lake City during the late 1850s and recounts an important episode in Mormon history from a unique perspective.

Thanks to McKayla Hansen, one of our past MTP interns, for proofing and producing John Stevens’ Courtship and contributing to this blog post. Renah Holmes, one of our volunteers, also deserves thanks for doing the first round of proofreading.