Tag Archives: B. H. Roberts

All 6 volumes of “History of the Church” now free on Project Gutenberg

You can now get all six volumes of the original Joseph Smith/B. H. Roberts History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for Kindle, for free, on Project Gutenberg.

For academics the Joseph Smith Papers, which have superior editorial standards and more comprehensively cover their scope, have rightly gone a long way towards supplanting HotC. Any general reader ought to start with Saints vol. 1, which is just better–it covers the same time period, more readably, in fewer pages, to a higher standard of the historian’s craft. But HotC was the definitive Church history for generations, and now it’s at your fingerprints if you’d like to dive deeper. Have a look: Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4Volume 5Volume 6.

Thanks to all those who did the OCR proofreading/transcription for these volumes–I know that was a ton of work. (Anyone who looks carefully at the posting dates will see we got Vol. 1 released on PG in October 2014, and Vol. 6 was in November 2019. An embarrassing proportion of that gap relates to lag in my post-processing backlog, but there really was a whole bunch of proofreading done in there too.)

New Release: “Scrap Book of Mormon Literature” vol. 1

Are you pathetically ignorant of early Church pamphlets? Or, getting past pathetic ignorance into more of an ashamed, repentant ignorance, maybe you have thought “Hmmm, based on the importance of pamphlets in early Church history, I wish there was a selection of them that I could read. Ideally it would be chosen by someone early enough in Church history to be close to the pamphlet tradition, but who lived late enough to have a broad selection to choose from. I’d also want the person choosing them to have a boots-on-the-ground perspective on real missionary pamphlet usage and which pamphlets were effective or worth reading. Basically I really wish I could get a mission president in perhaps the early 1900s to select a few dozen pamphlets for me to read, and get them on my Kindle.”

Well, President Ben E. Rich of the Eastern States Mission has got you covered, and the first volume of his Scrap Book of Mormon Literature (first published 1911) is now available on Project Gutenberg. It contains 38 pamphlets by the likes of B. H. Roberts, Orson Pratt, Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon, Orson Hyde, Charles W. Penrose, John Morgan, etc. etc. Volume 2 has been available for a while too (e-book, post on its contents).

Thanks to Renah Holmes for proofreading this one.

New Release: B. H. Roberts’ “Seventy’s Course in Theology” (5 vols.)

Back in the days when there were many more Seventies spread throughout the Church (146 quorums in 1904!), B. H. Roberts of History of the Church fame wrote five years of manuals for quorum meetings, collectively the Seventy’s Course in Theology. First published 1907-1912, they are now available on Project Gutenberg for your reading pleasure.

The manuals are broken out into lessons, most beginning with an outline and references, followed by a series of notes. Many of the notes are quotations from other commentators or Roberts’ other work.

It seems clear that Roberts wanted to radically improve his typical student’s intellectual stature, and that’s inspiring to see in action. In one lesson, he identifies the works of thirteen different philosophers as references, and since those works may “only be available to those within reach of reference libraries,” he also recommends eight “one-volume works that would be of great service in studying this lesson.” In several locations he comments of his lesson notes that “They make difficult reading, but—well, master them.”

Each year has an overarching topic, as follows:

Year 1 – Outline History of the Seventy and a Survey of the Books of Holy Scripture

Year 2 – Outline History of the Dispensations of the Gospel

Year 3 – The Doctrine of Deity

Year 4 – The Atonement

Year 5 – Divine Immanence and the Holy Ghost

I’d suggest starting with the topic that is the most interesting to you rather than reading in sequence, as the different years don’t seem particularly cumulative. Year 3 seems to have some overlap with Mormon Doctrine of Deity.

Thanks to Renah Holmes for proofing two volumes, and BYU Transcribe as coordinated by Rachel Helps for proofing the other three!

The Mormon Battalion vs. the stray dogs of L.A.

Things I have learned from reading pioneer James S. Brown’s autobiography: the Mormon Battalion executed a military order to exterminate the stray dogs of Los Angeles. Brown recounts:

Another event about this period was an order by Colonel Cooke for a detail of good marksmen and trusty men to go through the town and shoot or bayonet all the dogs to be found in the streets. The colonel had notified the town authorities of his intention. Accordingly the detail was made and ammunition issued. The writer was one of the trusted marksmen. We sallied forth in the town of Los Angeles, where the dogs were more numerous than human beings, and commenced our disagreeable and deadly work. Muskets rattled in every street and byway, dogs barked and howled in every direction, and women and children wept to have the animals spared. But military orders had to be obeyed, for the dog nuisance had become intolerable. After that, there were sanitary orders sent forth, and the streets were cleared of the dogs and a great amount of bones and other rubbish.

I will admit that after my mission experiences with stray dogs, I read this with some enthusiasm. But the Battalion’s exploits against animals don’t stop there; they also fought a battle with a herd of wild cattle, with casualties of one mule for the Battalion and 20-25 for the cattle:

In a very brief space of time we found ourselves plunged into a warm climate, where we could not see any plant or shrub that we had been acquainted with before. There was some small, scrubby ash, sycamore and black walnut, but everything, even to the rocks, had a strange appearance. We also had entered the land of wild horses and cattle, which roamed the hills by thousands. The wild cattle became excited at the rumbling wagons, and gathered thickly along our way.

At last the muskets commenced to rattle, partly through fear, and partly because we wanted beef. Finally a herd of wild cattle charged our line, tossed some men into the air, pierced others with their horns, knocking some down, and ran over others, attacking one light wagon, the hind end of which was lifted clear from the road. One large bull plunged into a six-mule team, ran his head under the off-swing mule, throwing him entirely over the near one and thrusting his horn into the mule’s vitals, injuring our animal so it had to be left on the ground, where it expired in a few minutes. There were several men and mules roughly used and bruised, just the number I do not now recall. The attacking party lost twenty or twenty-five of their number killed, with many others badly or slightly wounded.

B. H. Roberts also recounts the battle with the cattle in his book The Mormon Battalion. And of course all this helped fulfill a prophecy from Brigham Young (quoting Brown, emphasis added):

…the words of President Brigham Young, in his farewell address to the battalion, in which he said: “You are now going into an enemy’s land at your country’s call. If you will live your religion, obey and respect your officers, and hold sacred the property of the people among whom you travel, and never take anything but what you pay for, I promise you in the name of Israel’s God that not one of you shall fall by the hand of an enemy. Though there will be battles fought in your front and in your rear, on your right hand and on your left, you will not have any fighting to do except with wild beasts.”

This is good stuff, guys. Read the book.

Now releasing…all the pamphlets!

Not quite all the pamphlets, but Scrap Book of Mormon Literature vol. 2, now on PG, contains an embarrassment of riches. It includes about 45 selections from authors including:

  • Brigham Young
  • Joseph Fielding Smith
  • Heber J. Grant
  • B. H. Roberts
  • Parley P. Pratt
  • George Q. Cannon
  • Orson Pratt
  • Orson Hyde
  • Orson F. Whitney

Obviously that’s a pretty good cross section from the first century of Church writing, thanks to mission president and compiler Ben E. Rich. He included materials originally published everywhere from the Liverpool to Japan.

And if you’re wondering…you didn’t miss the release of volume 1; it’s just still in progress. Stay tuned. Fortunately the volumes work independently of each other.

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.