“Saints:” new comprehensive Church history being published on-line

The first chapter is now available.  Believe it or not, it all starts with a volcano in Indonesia.

Check it out.

More information on this four-volume Church history here.

A new, four-volume comprehensive history of the Church to be published beginning next year was detailed by Elder Steven E. Snow, the Church Historian and Recorder, in his luncheon address Saturday, June 3, to attendees at the 52nd annual Mormon History Association Conference.

“It has been almost 90 years since B. H. Roberts published the last comprehensive history of the Church,” said Elder Snow, General Authority Seventy. “Obviously much has happened since 1930. We have a team in our department working very hard to complete a four-volume history of the Church entitled Saints. It will be written in a style similar to James Michener or David McCullough.”

Elder Snow gave the information during his address titled “‘A Greater Work Will be Done’: The Evolution of the LDS Church History Department.”

The new history will have many narratives woven into it from before Joseph Smith’s First Vision to the present day, Elder Snow explained.

The first volume will cover the history of the Church up to the Nauvoo Temple dedication. The second will cover the western exodus of the Latter-day Saints and conclude with the Salt Lake Temple dedication. The third will cover the first half of the 20th century and conclude with the dedication of the Swiss Temple.

“The fourth and final volume will bring us to today and will cover some of the many temples which are being dedicated around the world,” Elder Snow said.

The plan is to publish the volumes at the rate of one per year from 2018 to 2021.


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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

3 thoughts on ““Saints:” new comprehensive Church history being published on-line

  1. I enjoyed reading the first installment a day or two ago. I appreciated the accessible style and how this narrative explains the situation in a manner that lets people understand why some criticisms are not correct.

    For example, the discussion of the volcanic eruption explains why the Smith family was forced to leave Vermont and the subsequent economic hardship they experienced (e.g., why Joseph and his brothers had to hire out to earn money). Also, the prior great awakening is discussed, but then the narrative history explains the Methodist revival a short distance from the Smith home which caused the “tumult of words” that immediately preceded Joseph’s prayer in the grove near their home.

    I appreciated the note (derived from William B. Smith’s memoir) that explains why Joseph was focused on James 1:5 – it had been discussed by one of the preachers (versus Joseph doing a thorough read of the New Testament and simply being struck by that one passage).

    I also like the discussion about Lucy Mack and Joseph Sr. both being seekers after the true Church, but depicting Lucy as one willing to attend a Church even if it wasn’t the correct Church while Joseph Sr. didn’t want to affiliate with wrong churches while waiting to find the correct Church.

    The narrative history glosses over some notable points, such as Lucy’s desire to be mistress of a fine home (which further created economic hardship when there was a failed season and foreclosure – a point I believe Bushman includes in Rough Stone Rolling). Also, those wishing to find out if it’s true that Joseph Sr. liked the occasional alcoholic beverage won’t find it mentioned here. To me, Joseph Jr.s honor for his father in his father’s weakness shows mercy and love.

    I’m looking forward to the larger “Saints” compendium as it rolls out.

  2. This is what was expected to have happened in the late 60s to early 80s when the “New Mormon History” first started. I can’t remember the details, but a few General Authorities and possibly Prophet were not satisfied with its secular focus. We did get some excellent works from it along with terrible ones. We will have to see if those first criticisms have been put aside or taken care of for this multi-volume work.

    For those interested, a few of the books that came out of the first attempt that are worth reading are: Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, The Angel and the Beehive, and The Story of the Saints. I am sure there were a few more, but can’t think of them off the top of my head.

  3. I believe anyone interested in the early history of the Church should read Lucy Mack Smith’s own account. The style is quaint but it includes details that the editors of ‘Saints’ chose to exclude. For example, one of my favorite stories about Joseph’s early life so touched me that I made a pastel painting of what I call ‘The Rescue’ which occurred during the journey to Palmyra. The driver hired by Lucy forced the crippled child Joseph from the wagon with some violence and he lay bloodied and abandoned in the snow. A stranger discovered him and carried him to safety. It is often the case that popular versions exclude details while including other information that caught the interest of the modern writer such as the extensive account of Tambora’s devastation on the world economy which affected the Smith’s particularly because they had taken out a mortgage on their farm in Vermont and lost their land in the ‘year without a summer’. I welcome the addition of a short and handy version of the history but I hope that people won’t use it as the final word.

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