Tag Archives: History of the Church

Happy Boxing Day! New Release: History of the Church vol. 3

History of the Church vol. 3 is now available as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg! Obviously, HotC is a big deal, and we’ll just let it stand at that. (Unless you have some strange desire to read only about the 1838-39 window of Church history, you really ought to start with vol. 1, and if you’ve already read vol. 1 and 2 you probably don’t need an introduction to 3, so no further commentary at this time.)

It was proofed and produced by our excellent BYU research assistant Mariah Averett, thanks to donor support for her position.

New Release: “History of the Church”, vol. 2

All you who have already finished volume 1 and have been waiting on pins and needles, rejoice! History of the Church vol. 2 is now available as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg thanks to excellent work by Emma Cahoon, one of our interns last summer, and Mariah Averett, our BYU research assistant. (Mariah’s work is generously supported by a handful of donors, who we also thank.) They’ve put a tremendous amount of work into it; producing a book of this size that maintains the original footnotes, page numbers, index, etc. is quite an achievement.

If you missed vol. 1, that’s available here. More to come in the coming months.

New Release: History of the Church, vol. 1

Our multi-format free e-book of History of the Church, vol. 1 by Joseph Smith (ed. B. H. Roberts) is now available on Project Gutenberg thanks to the work of intern Jared Ure and research assistant Mariah Averett. It takes the history of the Church up to 1834 and includes the original 1902 edition page numbers, footnotes, and index.

A discussion of why we’re producing the History of the Church may be in order. The entire History of the Church is available as a paid Kindle e-book or for free as a webpage or .pdf, and the Joseph Smith Papers are reproducing much of the same material. The Joseph Smith Papers are available for free online (in a format that I find isn’t friendly to through-reading, but is fine for looking up one-off documents) and are superior as a scholarly source, but for whatever reason their e-books are absurdly expensive on Kindle (up to $40/volume, last I checked) and many volumes don’t appear to be available in e-book formats.

So why invest a substantial amount of time in producing our own version? Because best I can tell, this is the first time this material has ever been released for free in Kindle and epub formats. I think there are plenty of readers in the Church who would like to give the History of the Church a try, but don’t want to have to sit at a computer or pay to do so. Now they can.

This fits with our broader philosophy: we want to make it as easy as possible to read Church literature and thus increase the total amount of Church lit that actually gets read. Taking obscure works from unavailable (e.g. hard copies exist in one archive) to free improves availability. Taking well-known books from free+inconvenient (e.g. pdf scans) and/or cheap+convenient (e.g. dubious-quality $0.99 Amazon editions) to free+convenient also improves availability. The obscure work wins “most improved” and goes from having one reader/year to five readers/year. The well-known book goes from having 100 readers/year who are willing to deal with the .pdf or risk their dollar on an e-book to 500 readers/year who are willing to download our free e-book. Both projects are good, and we do work on some more obscure books. However, given our goal to increase the total amount of Church lit reading that goes on in the world, we’ll typically work on better-known books, hence the History of the Church. Anyways, look out for volume 2 in the next month or so.

MTP books in General Conference

Want the gospel knowledge of a general authority? Big surprise: they read classic LDS books, including works we’ve produced and stuff we’re currently working on. Flipping through the citations of April 2014 General Conference talks, I found several familiar books:

  • President Monson, in his talk “Be Strong and of a Good Courage,” quoted the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt (MTP edition here) at length for the story of Joseph Smith rebuking his guards while imprisoned in MIssouri.
  • Elder Hales, in his talk “If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments,” quoted Joseph Fielding Smith’s 1922 Essentials in Church History (MTP edition here) for the story of Martin Harris’ loss of the 116 pages.  
  • Elder Cook, in his talk “Roots and Branches,” cited the History of the Church in his discussion of Moroni’s message to Joseph Smith. MTP interns Jared and Emma are currently working on the first two volumes of History of the Church, and we plan to have the six volumes that are in the public domain done this year.
  • Elder William R. Walker, in his talk “Live True to the Faith,” quoted from Matthias F. Cowley’s book Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors as Recorded in His Daily Journals for the story of how Wilford Woodruff found the United Brethren and baptized most of them. An MTP volunteer was already at work on this book before conference and it’s currently just over half done.
  • Elder Christofferson, in his talk “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” quoted the paragraph from Jesus the Christ (available on PG thanks to Distributed Proofreaders, kindred spirits who beat us to it) where Talmage describes the resurrected Christ’s first interaction with Mary Magdalene.

This just from one scan through the proceedings of one conference, which I doubt was unusual in this regard. So go follow the prophet and read the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt.