These are exciting times at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Three new developments this week include the release of a chapter from the upcoming second volume of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, a new Church History Topics entry on Young Women Organizations (with accompanying video), and the translation of At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women into Spanish and Portuguese.

Just as with it’s first volume, chapters of Saints Volume 2 are being released in church magazines, on the Saints website, and in the Gospel Library app several months ahead of the book’s debut. The full volume, subtitled No Unhallowed Hand, will be released in both digital and print format in February 2020.[1]

A portion of the first chapter of volume two, “Gather Up a Company,” is in the print version of the July issues of the Ensign and Liahona (you must go to the digital version of the articles online in the app or at the Church’s Saints website to read the full chapter). The partial version in the printed issues has perspectives by Lucy Mack Smith (who opts to stay behind in Nauvoo with her family) and Brigham Young. The full version of the chapter online and in the app has more from Brigham Young and also perspectives by Wilford Woodruff in England and Samuel Brannan in New York City (who then leaves with a group of saints on the ship Brooklyn, planning to settle in California).

With the new release, I was curious if there were any new Church History Topics entries available. I only found one, Young Women Organizations,[2] but footnotes in that essay reference two other Church History Topics that will likely be coming soon: Retrenchment and Young Men Organizations.

Church History Topics are given as further resources in footnotes for Saints, but the Church doesn’t typically put much media attention on them. I was interested to see that the video made by the Church History Department for the “Young Women Organizations” topic was shared by the Church in its new Facebook Group on June 19th a day before the first chapter of Saints Volume 2 was officially released. However, the post did not mention that this was part of the new Church History Topic section. The accompanying text was,

“This is an important moment in history. … If you want a culture to change, you need to invite the youth. And the young women have a vital role in that part of changing culture.” ––Bonnie H. Cordon

Learn how and why the Young Women organization was needed to be established to change the culture of the Church.

June 19th post by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its Facebook group The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–Inspiration and News

The 6-minute video has interviews with historians Lisa Olsen Tait and Jenny Reeder of the Church History Department as well as current Young Women General President Sister Bonnie H. Cordon. Interestingly, Lisa Olsen Tait shared on that Facebook post that the Church History Department is currently working on a book documenting the history of the Young Women Organizations.

I love that the Church shared this video, a great Church History resource in its own right, but I’m a little bugged that they didn’t mention the accompanying Church History Topic entry. Also, I can’t see that the Church advertised this Young Women Organizations video anywhere else besides the private Facebook group (not on its public Facebook page, Twitter feeds, Newsroom, etc.). In contrast, and something to be lauded, the release of the first chapter of Saints Volume 2 was advertised extensively in social media, the Newsroom, and even on the Church’s home page.

While I was looking around for publicity on that Young Women’s video, I came across the June 20th Church Historian’s Press announcement for the new Spanish and Portuguese translations of At the Pulpit. According to their news release, this is the first time the Church Historian’s Press has published anything in a language other than English. (Even though Saints was written by members of the Church History Department, it’s not considered a publication of the more scholarly Church Historian’s Press.) At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women (in English, Spanish, and Portuguese) is available to read for free online and in the Church History section of the Gospel Library app.

What do you think of these new developments?

[1] Sorry, can’t use the new Saints book for ultra-cheap Christmas gifts this year.

[2] Apparently a Reddit user posted about the new Young Women Organizations topic almost a week ago, saying it’s been up for a month or so.