The second volume of the church history series Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days dropped last Wednesday, February 12th. No Unhallowed Hand covers the second half of the 19th century, from the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple in 1846 to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893. One of my favorite aspects of the Saints project is the publication of accompanying Church History Topic essays going more in-depth on topics and individuals mentioned in the story. I’ve been looking forward to this new batch of topic essays ever since listening to Matthew McBride’s 2019 FairMormon address, “Answering Historical Questions with Church History Topics.”
Church History Topics essays are different than those in the Gospel Topics section as well as the more notorious Gospel Topic Essays. For more on the origin of these different collections, see my post from last February. The historical essays are meant to be a level deeper than the introduction offered in Saints, but not over the heads of the general membership. They often include video interviews with church leaders and members of the Church History Department. Other reading materials are listed at the end of these essays for those wanting to go deeper into either church or scholarly resources.
The first batch of Church History Topics essays was released with the publication of Saints Volume 1 The Standard of Truth in 2018. There were 118 essays in this collection as of last February. One Church History Topic essay was added last June, Young Women Organizations, but no other entries were released until last week.
So far, I’ve identified at least 62 new Church History Topics essays accessible via the Church’s website and on the Gospel Library app. Church History Topics are found in the app under both the “Topics” and the “Church History” sections listed on the home page. A complete list of all 62 new topics (with links) are at the end of this post.
Many topics are those traditionally found in discussions of United States History (American Civil War, California Gold Rush, Mexican-American War, etc.), Utah history (Utah, Utah War, Thomas L. and Elizabeth Kane), and church history (Brigham Young, Crickets and Seagulls, Handcart Companies, etc.). I wanted to highlight some of the newer Church History Topics that we often don’t find in a traditional retelling of church history.
New topics on controversial issues: Mountain Meadows Massacre, Plural Marriage in Utah, and the Priesthood and Temple Restriction. I thought it was notable that the priesthood ban entry lists Quincy D. Newell’s 2019 book, Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon, as a resource for more information. These new essays add to previous unusual entries on Mormon violence (Danites), plural marriage (Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage, Fanny Alger), and an early black priesthood holder (Elijah Able).
New topics relating to women and women’s history: Eliza R. Snow, Emmeline B. Wells, Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, Ida Hunt Udall, Louisa Barnes Pratt, Pioneer Women and Medicine, Plural Marriage in Utah, Primary, Relief Society, Susa Young Gates, Women’s Suffrage, Zina D. H. Jacobs Young. Related is the newer topic entry on Young Women Organizations released last summer. Older entries on women from the first volume include Amanda Barnes Smith, Emma Hale Smith, Fanny Alger, Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Healing (mentions female healing blessings), Jane Elizabeth Manning James, Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage, Lucy Mack Smith, and Mother in Heaven.
New topics relating to Native American history: Indian Slavery and Indentured Servitude and Sagwitch. Sagwitch’s entry includes his experiences with the Bear River Massacre and the involvement of Shoshone church members in building the Logan temple. These are a great addition to the older Church History Topic entries on American Indians and Lamanite Identity released with the first volume of Saints.
New topics highlighting the growth of the church and church members outside the continental United States: Colonies in Mexico, Growth of Missionary Work, Jonathan Napela (Hawaiian member), Mischa Markow (Eastern European member), and the Turkish Mission. Several new entries refer readers to global histories written by employees of the Church History Department: Denmark, Hawaii, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, and South Africa. These add to older Church History Topic entries on Canada, Dedication of the Holy Land, England, and French Polynesia.
- Have you read any of the Church History Topics?
- If so, are there any entries in the Church History Topics section that you find particularly useful or see cited more often?
- Are there any topic essays you’d like to see added relating to the history of the Church up to 1893 (the end of the second volume)?
Complete list of new Church History Topic essays: American Civil War; Antipolygamy Legislation; Brigham Young; California Gold Rush; Colonies in Mexico; Cooperative Movement; Crickets and Seagulls; Denmark; Deseret Alphabet; Eliza R. Snow; Emigration; Emmeline B. Wells; Endowment House; George Q. Cannon; Growth of Missionary Work; Handcart Companies; Hawaii; Heber J. Grant; Helen Mar Kimball Whitney; Ida Hunt Udall; Indian Slavery and Indentured Servitude; John Taylor; Jonathan Napela; Joseph F. Smith; Lorenzo Snow; Louisa Barnes Pratt; Manifesto; Mexican-American War; Mexico; Mischa Markow; Mormon Battalion; Mountain Meadows Massacre; New Zealand; Norway; Parley P. Pratt; Pioneer Settlements; Pioneer Trek; Pioneer Women and Medicine; Plural Marriage in Utah; Priesthood and Temple Restriction; Primary; Railroad; Relief Society; Retrenchment; Sagwitch; Salt Lake Valley; Samuel Brannan; Settlement of Joseph Smith’s Estate; South Africa; Sunday School; Susa Young Gates; Temple Building; Thomas L. and Elizabeth Kane; Turkish Mission; United Orders; Utah; Utah War; Wilford Woodruff; Winter Quarters; Women’s Suffrage; Young Men Organizations; Zina D. H. Jacobs Young.
Lead image of Saints volume 2 from Church Newsroom.