Essays on Writing Mormon History
George D. Smith, editor
Over the past decade Mormons have debated how their history should be written. New Mormon Historians believe that balanced, unprejudiced approaches produce the most reliable history. Traditionalists contend that no historian can be completely objective, that Mormon history should therefore be written with the “pre-understanding” that Joseph Smith restored the ancient Christian church.
In this compilation, editor George D. Smith has assembled sixteen thought-provoking essays which represent this ongoing discussion. They include “On Being a Mormon Historian” by D. Michael Quinn, “Two Integrities: An Address to the Crisis in Mormon Historiography” by Martin E. Marty, “Objectivity and History” by Kent E. Robson, “The Acids of Modernity and the Crisis in Mormon Historiography” by Louis Midgley, and “Historicity of the Canon” by Edward H. Ashment.
“History, myth, and legend are not always distinguishable,” cautions Smith,”
“but there are some things we can know. The authors of these essays attempt to define the boundaries between objectivity and the biases of belief and unbelief which may color what is written about the past.”
George D. Smith is a graduate of Stanford and New York University. He is the editor of the landmark frontier diaries of one of the most prominent Mormon pioneers, William Clayton (An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton) and, among other books, Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience. He has published on historical and religious topics in Dialogue, Free Inquiry, the Journal of Mormon History, the John Whitmer Historical Journal, Restoration Studies, and Sunstone. He has also served on the boards of the Kenyon Review, the Leakey Foundation, the Library Committee of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and National Public Radio. He is a founder and current publisher of Signature Books.