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Janiece Johnson on the Book of Mormon

By October 11, 2018

There’s been a recent turn in book history. Early historians and scholars of the book looked to the way printed textual media was accomplished. But then scholars began to analyze the life-cycle of the book. Books are, after all, written by authors, printed by printers, sold by colporteurs, and read by readers. This approach to the book as artifact illustrates how each group interacts with books and the book trade. More recently, scholars have looked to the ways each individual involved in the book trade reflects and shapes the culture that produced it. Book history thus has become a study of culture.[1]

Unfortunately, Mormon history rarely attracts historians of the Book. Peter Crawley, David Whittaker, and Paul C. Gutjahr are the major exceptions to a relative anemic output of scholarship relating to the study of Latter-day Saint culture and the printed word it produced. Janiece Johnson’s recent article, “Becoming a People of the Books: Toward an Understanding of Early Mormon Converts and the New Word of the Lord,” published in the latest Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, is a breath of fresh air. Johnson’s article adds a corrective of the Book of Mormon’s place within the church. For those who want to argue that the Book of Mormon was rarely read, cited, or that it was simply a sign of Joseph Smith’s prophetic call, Johnson shows just how quickly and effectively the Book of Mormon seeped into the growing culture of the church.

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Richard L. Anderson, 1926-2018

By August 13, 2018

I received word this morning of the death of Richard Lloyd Anderson. My deepest condolences go out to his family and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this time.

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The Journals of George Q. Cannon

By July 6, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from friend of the blog Bill Smith.

“Suppose that one of the world’s masterpieces were to disappear, leaving no trace behind it, not even a reproduction; even the completest knowledge of its maker’s other works would not enable the next generation to visualize it. All the rest of Leonardo’s oeuvre would not enable us to visualize the Mona Lisa.”— Andre Malraux

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George Q. Cannon on Brigham Young

By July 5, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from Matthew J. Grow, director of publications at the Church History Library.

I’m grateful that Juvenile Instructor is spotlighting the George Q. Cannon journal. Those of us who have worked on the Cannon journal at the Church History Department are excited that the journal is now available to all who would like to read it and use it in their own research and writing.

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George Q. Cannon and the Gilded Age

By July 2, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from Jed Woodworth. Jed currently works at the Church History Library.

The quarter century between the end of Reconstruction and the U.S. presidency of Theodore Roosevelt stands out as a great anomaly. As John Pettegrew has observed, it is the only periodization in American history with a pejorative title. Other periods have been given benign or complementary monikers like “Early National America” or the “Progressive Era.” Not so with the Gilded Age. That historians adopted the name of the satirical 1873 novel written by Charles Dudley Warner and Mark Twain speaks to the problematic character of this period. Excess, tawdriness, and corruption have come to define this time.

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The value to historians of the now-complete online journal of George Q. Cannon

By June 29, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from Richard Rust. Richard, who was a Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, assisted in the work of the George Q. Cannon journals.

As is noted on the website of The Journal of George Q. Cannon,

next to Brigham Young, George Q. Cannon was arguably the best-known Latter-day Saint in the last half of the nineteenth century. His record covers half a century, a period in which he served as an editor and publisher, a businessman, an educator, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a territorial delegate in Congress, and a counselor to church presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow.

The vast majority of Cannon’s journal has never been publicly available before. The online publication of Cannon’s journal includes roughly 2.5 million words and opens up new insight and understanding into the Mormon past. The journal, however, should not be seen just from the vantage point of Mormon history—it ranks as one of the most voluminous and valuable journals in American religious history. Cannon’s broad interests, extensive connections with people both within and outside of the Latter-day Saint faith, and cogent observations will also make his journal of particular interest to scholars and students of western U.S. history and U.S. political history. With journal entries covering the mundane to the miraculous, the interactions of his large family to the dynamics of Congress, and his private religious practices to his leadership in a variety of ecclesiastical settings, Cannon’s record deserves deep study.

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Announcement: George Q. Cannon Journals Blog Series

By June 27, 2018

In 1849, George Q. Cannon began his first known journal documenting his journey to the California gold mines. Fifty years later, his last known journal recounts his final trip to California in hopes of finding a healthier climate. The intervening journals—for a combined total of 52 notebooks, blank books, typescripts, and published day planners—offer an extensive (some might say overwhelming) record of this prominent leader of the LDS Church. This morning, the Church Historian’s Press published the final installment of the Cannon journals, offering a tremendous source for nineteenth-century Mormon history from one of its most influential members and leaders. (Website here and e-book here)

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News from Church Historian’s Press

By June 20, 2018

For those not paying close attention, a fairly important milestone might go unnoticed at the Church Historian’s Press website. The church just announced that last year’s volume, At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women, is now available in Spanish and Portuguese on the Church Historian’s Press website. Later this week the translated volume will also appear in the Gospel Library app. Having published numerous books, this is the first volume from the Church Historian’s Press in a language other than English. Given the international growth in the latter half of the twentieth century—particularly in the Southern Hemisphere—this is a crucial step in reaching members and scholars outside the English-reading wards, branches, and universities.


Clipping Words and Pasting Narratives (or Tweeting the Nineteenth Century)

By February 2, 2018

True to form, the online discussion over differing journalistic approaches to the reporting of the death of President Thomas S. Monson, sixteenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appears to have run its course. Mormons quickly took to Twitter to respond to one particular article perceived as far too negative. In turn, those believing the article portrayed an accurate depiction of the church and its leaders responded. Hundreds debated the nuance of words and those words? implications for the nation?s view of the church and its leaders?all in 280 characters. In other words, it was a typical day on Twitter.

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Restriction-ism Unveiled!

By February 16, 2017

Today’s guest post comes from Keith Erekson. Keith is the Director of the Library division at the LDS Chruch History Library.

One of the most common tropes in Mormon literature asserts that Mormon practices are veiled in secrecy. In the realm of historical practice, the trope has been employed to describe the archival and historical collections of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presently housed in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. What lies in the vaults at the Church History Library? What is restricted, and why? Is it possible to use restricted items in your research? What restrictions influence the intellectual property request process? Are restrictions ever lifted?

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