The Church Historian’s Press Announces Two New Publications

The Church Historian’s Press, well known as the imprint for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, has gradually expanded its offerings on several fronts both in print and online, publishing such outstanding offerings as The Journal of George Q. Cannon, At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women, The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, and The Journal of George F. Richards.

The Press has now announced the online publication of two more foundational texts that will be of interest to historians of nineteenth-century Utah and others with religious or academic interests in that period. The two collections are The Discourses of Eliza R. Snow, and The Diaries of Emmeline B. Wells.

Eliza Roxcy Snow’s Discourses

Snow (1804-1887) was a plural wife of Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Ill. and secretary of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo (March 1842),

Relief-Soc-1842-minutes

[Snow’s 1842 Relief Society minute book—a work of fundamental importance to Mormonism]

forerunner of the Relief Societies established in Utah more than two decades later. Snow was appointed by Brigham Young in 1868 to assist wards in organizing local Relief Societies in the territory. Her trademark in doing so was rehearsing the minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society organizational meetings. Her minutes remained with her up until her death and only later came into the possession of the LDS church historian in 1911. She frequently referred to the minutes in her addresses such as in these minutes of the Salt Lake 13th Ward Relief Society:

13th Ward Relief Society Minutes

At a recent meeting the editor of the Snow collection, historian Jennifer Reeder, spoke about gathering Eliza’s addresses. She noted that the team scoured LDS publications for Snow’s discourses as well as her own records and other’s personal reports. There are few verbatim audits in existence and the available records span a wide range in terms of word for word reporting. It is unfortunate that shorthand reports were largely confined to male discourse in the Utah period, yet what remains is extremely valuable in plotting the nature of instruction delivered by President Snow (she became the first “general” President of the Relief Society on July 17, 1880) and the theology and praxis preached to the women of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in pre-manifesto Utah. Her nearly 1200 sermons found in this volume constitute a remarkable work for both the creator and Reeder and her fellow historians.

The Diaries of Emmeline Wells (1828-1921)

Historian Lisa Olsen Tait headed the group working on the Wells volume and Tait noted the extensive task in editing 47 individual diaries, one that began at BYU Special Collections ca 2002 with historians Cherry Bushman Silver and Sheree Maxwell Bench who initially transcribed and annotated the diaries. The volume editors searched for biographical information on every person mentioned in the diaries, a sometimes intense though rewarding task of detective work. The Press’s summary suggests some of fascinating source material: “One can respect the useful, straightforward diaries of other Church leaders. But the EmmelineWells diaries are fascinating in their diversity and complexities. Through her notations we recreate the workings of late 19th- and early 20th-century Salt Lake City society. She interacted with male and female Church leaders, social reformers, political aspirants, artists, and physicians. She lays out family entanglements and generational viewpoints. She documents women’s blessings to each other, their speaking in tongues, responses to plural marriage, the dynamics of women’s board meetings. She records personal feelings and thoughts. She is both practical and passionate in her views.” Wells eventually followed in the footsteps of Snow as general President of the Relief Society.

A few of the entires in the diaries give some flavor of their breadth:

“In the morning I was busy seeing after some business matters pertaining to the [Woman’s Exponent] office, and in the afternoon we had an excellent meeting, Sister Snow was present my husband seemed proud of my literary acquirements for once in his life . . . ” [June 3, 1875]

“I have desired with all my heart to do those things that would advance women in moral and spiritual as well as educational work and tend to the rolling on of the work of God upon the earth.” [August 1, 1895]

“This morning I presided over the General Congress [Chicago Exposition] in the Hall of Columbus—an honor never before accorded to a Mormon woman—if one of our brethren had such a distinguished honor conferred upon them it would have been heralded the country over and thought a great achievement. I succeeded very well.” [Diary, 20 May 1893.]


These two publications represent the best in careful textual scholarship. The casual reader or careful student will be equally benefited. Well done.

Comments

  1. WVS, what about your upcoming publication?

  2. WVS, what about your upcoming publication?

  3. JPV, if you mean the King Follett book, I don’t have an exact timeline but it’s in the process of copyedit and PR stuff. So I assume perhaps first quarter next year?

  4. Looking forward to it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: