Saints, Volume 3: Boldly, Nobly, and Independent, 1893–1955, the latest installment in a four-part narrative history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is available on Friday, April 22. Like the preceding volumes in the series, it offers new details on familiar episodes from Church history and brings the stories of some lesser-known members to light. The digital version of the book is packed with links to primary sources for readers interested in a deeper dig. Most of these journals, letters, and other documents were digitized by the Church History Library.
The Widtsoes Courtship
The story of the courtship and 54-year marriage of Leah Dunford and future university president and apostle John A. Widtsoe is one of the prominent arcs in Saints, vol. 3. Leah's letters to her mother, Susa Young Gates, offer a glimpse of the burgeoning romance (“Mother this is a secret: I think J.A.W. is the loveliest boy I ever knew”), a detailed description of the expenses of living in New York City at the end of the 19th century, and a touching reflection on the sometimes-fraught relationship between mother and daughter. As a bonus, check out a sampling of Leah’s monthly Young Woman’s Journal columns on cooking, interior design, and first aid and basic medical care.
The First Sister Missionaries
Inez Knight Allen was the first single woman to complete a proselytizing mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in England from 1898 to 1899. Her missionary diary is peppered with wry observations: “As I am unable to describe the monotony of a sea voyage I will say no more about the longest 12 days of my life,” she wrote of the Atlantic crossing; later, she explained, “Missionaries always ride 3rd class in Eng. because there is no 4th class.” Knight’s writings also reveal that rules for missionaries were quite different in 1898 than they are now: Two of her brothers, J. William and O. Raymond Knight, served in the mission with her, and her companion was Will’s fiancée, Jennie Brimhall.
President Lorenzo Snow’s Journals
Many Latter-day Saints are familiar with Church president Lorenzo Snow’s 1898 visit to the southern Utah city of St. George, where he exhorted the members to be more faithful in paying tithing. The story of that trip in Saints draws in part from the journals of Arthur Winter, longtime secretary and reporter in the Office of the First Presidency. Included with the journal volumes is a small souvenir notebook, compliments of the railroad company, in which he jotted down notes along the journey. The rest of Winter’s personal history is worth a browse for his exemplary penmanship as well as for the details of life in turn-of-the-century Salt Lake City.
A few years before Snow became Church president in 1898, he got some unexpected advice from his predecessor, Wilford Woodruff. Few of Snow’s journals and letters still exist; his account of that brief 1892 meeting is a rare example of a document in his own handwriting.
The Centennial Celebration of Joseph Smith’s Birth
An early scene in Saints, vol. 3 describes the dedication of a monument in Sharon, Vermont, on the centennial of Joseph Smith’s birth. The Church History Library houses a photo album containing images of the Church founder’s birthplace, the dignitaries who gathered for the dedication, and their subsequent tour of other historic sites.
The Martyrdom of Rafael Monroy and Vicente Morales
One of the most dramatic episodes recounted in this volume is the martyrdom of Mexican Latter-day Saints Rafael Monroy and Vicente Morales. Spanish-speaking readers can explore a full account of the martyrdom, and of the Church’s early days in the town of San Marcos, as told by Guadalupe Monroy, a sister of Rafael.
Saints, Volume 3: Boldly, Nobly, and Independent, 1893–1955 is available now for preorder here. The project homepage features links to topics, videos, downloads, a podcast, and news about Saints.