Continuing a series of posts over the last month or so, this thread aims to give a broad list of important documentary sources in Mormon history. By “thread,” I mean that I mostly want this to be more of a discussion with most suggestions coming from readers as opposed to me presenting my own canonical list.
And by “documentary sources,” I mean edited volumes printed in previous decades. Thus, it excludes things like entire books ( for instance, Parley Pratt’s Autobiography or John Taylor’s Mediation and Atonement), single sermons, letters, or editorials (like Joseph Smith’s “Try the Spirits” or the Oliver Cowdery and William Phelps correspondence), or even archive sources (say, for instance, the Council of 50 minutes…); these are extremely important, and deserve their own list (for a rudimentary list, see here), but I wanted to narrow this topic to something more manageable. However, any of these documents have been recently annotated and republished in a scholarly work or as part of an anthology, then the larger work is fair game. For instance, though Lucy Mack Smith’s Biographical Sketches is not eligible, Lavina Fielding Anderson’s awesome Lucy’s Book is.
(Coincidentally, we really need to do a “What would you include in your own Mormon document compilation?” post.)
This is definitely a field where Mormon history has flourished—we love our sources. These types of volumes have been the bread and butter of publishers like Signature Books (perhaps the “king” of Mormon documentary sources over the past three decades), BYU Studies, and even Deseret Book (at least in the past, anyway). And now the JSP and the Church Historian’s Press is taking it to another level, so we should be even more excited. But this also means that there are a plethora of editions to choose from, making such a list extraordinarily difficult. And some documentary series (like Signature’s Significant Mormon Diaries Series, USU’s Life Writings of Frontier Women Series, or Arthur Clark’s Kingdom of the West Series) should have their own hallowed position due to a string of spectacular volumes.
Transforming the task from difficult to impossible is the inability to choose between different document editions; while things like editorial skill, introductory and annotative remarks, and overall quality can be deduced, most decisions depend on your own field of study and interest. And, as always the case with Mormon history, only perhaps it is even more of a problem in this category, there is a dearth of 20th century and international Mormon documentary sources. Lots of work still to do!
But enough chat. Here is my preliminary list of important source compilations that come to mind, but that has no claim to being exhaustive or authoritative. As you can tell, my knowledge mostly remains in the early period, so I’ll rely on others to fill in most of everything else.
Devery S. Anderson and Gary J. Bergera, eds., Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History and The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005); Devery S. Anderson, Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011).
Lavina Fielding Anderson, Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001).
Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow (Logan, UT: USU Press, 2000).
Peter L. Crawley, intro., The Essential Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990).
Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson, eds., Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2009).
Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980).
Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989).
Donald G. Godfrey and Kenneth W. Godfrey, eds., The Diaries of Charles Ora Card: The Utah Years, 1871-1886 (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2006).
B. Carmen Hardy, ed., Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy: Its Origin, Practice, and Demise (Oklahoma: Arthur H. Clark Company, 2007).
Charles M. Hatch and Todd Compton, eds., A Widow’s Tale: 1884-1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney (Logan, UT: USU Press, 2003).
Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers, 3 volumes to date (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009-).
Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith, 2 volumes (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989–92).
Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898, 9 vols. (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983-85).
Edward Leo Lyman, ed., Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: the Diaries of Abraham H. Cannon, 1889-1895 (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2010).
William P. Mackinnon, At Sword’s Point: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858 (Oklahoma: Arthur H. Clark Company, 2008).
Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, The Journals of William E. McLellin (University of Illinois and BYU Studies, 1994).
Donna Toland Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1999).
George D. Smith, ed., An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in Association with Smith Research Associates, 1995).
Richard E. Turley and Ronald W. Walker, Mountain Meadows Massacre: the Andrew Jenson and David H. Morris Collection (Provo: Brigham Young University Press and Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2009).
Richard E. Turley, ed., Selected Collections from the Archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, 2 vols., DVD (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, [Dec. 2002]).
Richard S. Van Wagoner, ed., The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, 5 volumes (Salt Lake City: The Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2009).
Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 5 volumes (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996-2003).