Digital Mormon Studies

I feign Mormon Studies erudition. That said, I am working on about 5 different research projects that I hope to publish in various journals (and a book). While I have made the pilgrimage to the LDS Church Archives, and will do so repeatedly, it is now easier than ever before to be a student of Mormon Studies from afar. Much of this has to do with the recent explosion in digitization. In celebration of purchasing the recently released Journal of Mormon History DVD archives, I thought I would review some of the essential and esoteric e-tools for the enthusiast.

Journal of Mormon History DVD archive: $40
The Journal of Mormon History is very poorly circulated but of very high quality. The archives are replete with seminal articles on myriad subjects from the best scholars. Unless you were at the MHA conference in Casper, you will have to wait until the beginning of July to purchase it from the MHA website.

As a bonus, the University of Utah Library will also be hosting the archives for free, albeit in a less search friendly format.

LDS Library 2006: $99
Available on their website, LDS Library includes a vast amount of texts essential for any research in Mormonism. It also contains a bunch of junk that you will never use. Still, having things like the Words of Joseph Smith (a $300 value in the bookstore), the Journal of Discourses, Collected Discourses, Messages of the First Presidency, Conference Reports and periodical archives are a tremendous resource.

I am still using GospeLink 2001, which has most of the same titles and all the important ones. For those that prefer an online service has subscription plans for $4 a month or $40 a year.

New Mormon Studies: A Resource Library (CD-ROM): $126
The cheapest place to get this is at, though it says there is only one left. While the LDS Library or GospeLink has some great essentials, the rest is mostly stuff from Deseret Book. The New Mormon Studies CD-ROM has the stuff from Signature Press and the University of Illinois. The CD is a tremendous value, with some items, like Heber C. Kimball’s journal costing $800 at a used book store. Sure the interface is crappy, but it is worth it.

Get it while you can. Word on the street is that they made no money on it and so it won’t be re-released.

Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought DVD archive: $40
Dialogue is, with BYU Studies, the most circulated Mormon Studies journal. It has a mix of research articles, personal essays and poetry. There are very many important and path breaking articles. It can be purchased at the Dialogue website. The UU is also hosting a free version of the Archive.

The Utah History Suite, CD-ROM archive: $40
The Utah History Suite contains 71 volumes of the Utah Historical Quarterly (volume 1, 1928 to volume 71 2003), 29 Centennial County Histories, and 28 volumes of Beehive History. I just ordered my copy, and if you are aware of Justin Butterfield, you will know that there is some very good stuff in these periodicals.

It can be purchased at the Utah State Historical Society, 300 Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, or by mailing a check to the Utah State Historical Society, 300 Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, or e-mailing with either a MasterCard or Visa credit card number.

Free Online archives
BYU has been doing a great job in digitizing resources. By the end of the year, they will have added the Woman’s Exponent and the Young Woman’s Journal to their ever expanding archive that includes many items such as BYU Studies (though I wish they would come out with a DVD), the Millennial Star, theses and dissertations, journals and other publications.

The University of Utah also has an excellent digital archive. As mentioned, this will be the future home the JMH. Here you will find an excellent archive of Utah’s newspapers, journals and other important documents.

My advice for those on a budget is to get the New Mormon Studies CD-ROM and either the LDS Library or GospeLink to start with. They are the most expensive, but also the most comprehensive. The free archives, while less user friendly and less searchable, are a workable substitute.

It is a great time to be a researcher.


  1. I should also note that Selected Collections from the Archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a DVD archive of very important primary documents, is also available for the price of $999 at BYU. My understanding is that you can get a bit of a discount if you buy it at MHA. When I have a spare grand, I’ll be buying this. An index of it is available here.

  2. Wow, you’re really serious about this stuff, J. At least now I know who to call when I need to find an obscure paper or document.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I wasn’t going to get the JMH disk if they were going to put it up for free at the University of Utah. But at Casper no one seemed to know what the plans were, so I went ahead and bought one. The disk works really well, but you can’t copy from it, and if you try to save a file to your computer for e-mailing purposes it saves the whole journal, not a single article, which is a huge file, too big to e-mail. This is probably just my technilogical naivete, but I can’t figure out how to share articles with intereted friends.

  4. The biggest problem is that many of the above are based on Folio and don’t work on Macs.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    I use the Dialogue archive at the University of Utah quite a bit. The searching feature on all of these online archives absolutely sucks. Here’s how I get around that: I use google as a search engine to find the citation of the article I want, then I go to the archive and use the “browse” feature to go to the specific issue the article is in. I find that this works much better than trying to search within the archive.

  6. I believe that you need to have Acrobat, not just Acrobat Reader, to excise certain pages. It is $300 or $90 for the student edition.

  7. I believe all the DVD-archives work on Macs, just not the New Mormon Studies. Agreed Kevin, it would be very nice to have improved search capability on those archives. It really is terrible.

  8. I always thought it was meant to be terrible in an effort to encourage you to actually buy the journal.

  9. Whoa! I just noticed that the link was busted and updated it. It looks as if the first 11 issues of the JMH are up at the UU.

  10. J., do you need any of these CD-ROMS?

  11. Nice post, J. And thanks for the update on the JMH digitization at the U.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m glad to finally get access to the older JMH volumes. I started to subscribe in the 90s some time, when I was teaching an institute class on LDS Church history and decided I’d better do some boning up. Even though I got the journal, I never went to the conferences until four years ago when it was in Kirtland, which was within driving distance. I was hooked, and have been back every year since.

  13. Let me clarify the use of the Dialogue DVD for everyone since I was heavily involved in the production.

    #1 You don’t need the fancier Acrobat reader to copy individual pages or articles on the Dialogue DVD. I would be surprised if that were true for JMH one since the same company who did theirs-did ours. I can check on that later. One can search easily on it by article, word, author, or volume number. 40 years of every issue of Dialogue is included up to vol. 3804. Each year it is updated with the latest 4 issues.
    #2 I like the idea of the plot to get one to buy the journal and/or the DVD that Ronan suggests, but sadly it’s the program the U uses on their site that is the cause of the irritation. It’s called Content DM. Libraries use it because it has many advantages.
    #3 Kevin has a great way to get around the searching problem. Thank you Kevin for that brilliant scheme-I will pass it on at our end.

    #4 The best reason to have the Dialogue DVD is because it is updated yearly and it works better for research. The online archive only goes up to volume 36…and that is a plot! Watch for specials posted on our website to get the DVD at a discounted price. The latest one is: for only $60 -get one year print and one year subscription.

    #5 The new Mormon Studies cd-rom is also difficult to navigate due to the older software available at the time and it’s not up to date. If I’m not mistaken, it includes Dialogue Journals and other journals only up to 1990 or shortly after.

    #6 The JMH DVD is not distributed well yet because they just barely finished it in time for MHA.

    Thanks Jonathan for the informative post.

  14. I made a mistake in #4 above – it’s one year print and the DVD for $60. Savings of $17.

  15. oh, and Clark….the Dialogue DVD works on Mac. I made sure of that.

  16. Kevin- Your problem may be because you haven’t updated your Adobe Acrobat to 7.0. Free downloads are available. If that doesn’t work-call me and I will help you.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks, Lori, I’ll have to give that a shot.

  18. I realize that for many people Mormon Studies means history, but let’s not forget the following literary resources (although they are all bibliographies — sadly, there isn’t much in the way of actual content beyond what you can find in Dialogue and BYU Studies):

    Mormon speculative fiction bibliography (Marny Parkin)

    Mormon Literature Database (BYU)

    Mormons in Popular Literature (Michael Austin)

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Lori, I updated to Acrobat 7.0, but I still can’t figure out how to save a single article as opposed to an entire issue. If you see this, please send me your phone number, to klbarney at

  20. Kevin, I’m pretty sure you need acrobat for the way JMH is set up.