Preface

The purpose of this website is to provide brief but substantive summaries of topics related to the history of Mormonism that are balanced and fair-minded. Websites and books that present critical information about the history of the LDS faith often ignore the work of faithful scholars, resulting in one-sided scholarship. As with any history, troublesome events do occur in the history of the Mormon faith, and it is my contention that they should not be ignored or dismissed. However, this is also the history of a people with deeply-held convictions who believed passionately that the miraculous was not only possible, but experienced in their daily lives. The reality of historical inquiry is that not every question can be easily resolved. Ongoing discussions and debates between scholars remains an important component of attempting to understand Mormonism’s past. Reading widely and deeply, seeking a variety of voices and perspectives, is vital to a well-rounded study of history.

“History that neither defames nor hides defects is the kind of history—or at least one kind of history—we need in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” — Davis Bitton, LDS Historian

Many sections contain further reading recommendations related to the topic such as books and articles by award-winning scholars in field of Mormon history. As well, the LDS Church’s Gospel Topics Essays have been integrated throughout, which provide readers with an officially approved response from the LDS Church regarding particularly challenging historical topics. For more information about the Gospel Topics Essays, see this video by LDS Church Historian, Elder Steven E. Snow.

Other short articles by respected historians have been linked to provide further historical context to the broader religious history of America. It is my contention that the field of Mormon history suffers when treated as an isolated social phenomenon, detached from its host environment. Key in understanding the origin and development of the Latter-day Saint movement is exploring how Mormonism has responded to or existed in tension with shifting social and religious trends within American history.