Preface

The purpose of this website is to provide brief-but-substantive summaries of topics related to the history of Mormonism. Websites and literature aimed at exposing troubling aspects of Mormonism’s past often do little to contextualize Mormonism into the larger historical landscape of American religion; and generally offer little insight into the ongoing historical debates among the variety of scholars of Mormonism. As with any history, troublesome events do occur in the history of the Mormon religion; and it is my contention that they should not be ignored or dismissed. However, the field of Mormon history suffers when treated as an isolated social phenomenon detached from its host environment, and when the body of available scholarship is not considered.

“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

Each section provides a brief historical overview that attempts to contextualize historical topics into the broader religious landscape, as well as a discussion of published articles and books by scholars who offer a variety of perspectives and interpretations of Mormonism’s past. Many sections also contain further reading recommendations such as the LDS Church’s Gospel Topics Essays, 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. The reality of historical inquiry is that not every question can be easily resolved. Ongoing research and scholarship remains vital in attempting to understand the history of Mormonism.

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