19th Century 21st Century Latter-day Saint History Scriptures Theology

Let’s Talk about the Law of Consecration

Many believe that the Lord gave the Law of Tithing as a lesser commandment after pioneer Latter-day Saints failed to live the Law of Consecration. However, early church history reveals a different story. In this interview, historian Steven C. Harper explains that tithing is part of consecration—and that living both laws is a necessary prerequisite to building Zion.

19th Century General Authorities Joseph Smith Latter-day Saint History

‘The Work and the Glory’ Story

The Work and the Glory is a nine-volume historical fiction series about Joseph Smith and the beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The successful books also led to three Work and the Glory movies. In this interview, author Gerald Lund looks back on the series more than 30 years later—and reveals that it almost never got written.

19th Century American West Brigham Young Latter-day Saint History

What Was Brigham Young’s Swift Pony Express?

One of many little-known facts about Brigham Young is that he established a pioneer mail system. It was called the Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company, and included a “swift pony express” that predated the legendary Pony Express by several years. In this interview, Devan Jensen explains that the company was a contributing factor to the Utah War—and that it could have transformed the American West if not stopped by the federal government.

19th Century 20th Century Ancient history Latter-day Saint History

What Did It Mean to “Shake Off the Dust of Thy Feet”?

The Prophet Joseph Smith revealed a form of ritual cursing similar to the New Testament practice of shaking off the dust of one’s feet. It was primarily practiced by missionaries in the wake of rejection and persecution. The ritual was rarely reported to have resulted in immediate effect, and it was commonly seen as a designation of destruction at the Second Coming. In this interview, author Samuel Weber says that the practice was basically extinct by the early 1900s.

19th Century Brigham Young Latter-day Saint History

What’s Really in the Journal of Discourses?

The Journal of Discourses is a 26-volume series of sermons by Latter-day Saint pioneers like Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Orson Pratt. However, the accuracy of the published transcriptions is questionable. Bruce R. McConkie even attempted to publish a shorter 10-volume edition that removed what he viewed as false doctrines. In this interview, LaJean Purcell Carruth says that most of the discourses contain significant unauthorized changes—and rarely represent what was actually said.

19th Century 20th Century 21st Century Joseph Smith Latter-day Saint History

What’s in the Relief Society General Board Minutes?

The Church History Department and Relief Society General Presidency recently published Relief Society general board minutes covering the years 1842–2007. The minutes include notes from the first meeting of the Nauvoo Relief Society, preparations for World War II, and the impact of global events. Anne Berryhill explains that the Relief Society minutes also contain accounts of prominent Latter-day Saints such as Emma Smith, Eliza Snow, and Zina D. H. Young.

19th Century Joseph Smith Latter-day Saint History

What Did Joseph Smith’s Family Know about the First Vision?

Joseph Smith is known for telling his family very little about the First Vision. The Prophet’s history in the Pearl of Great Price records that he simply told his mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” Historian Kyle Walker discusses newly discovered sources from the Smith family, lending weight to Steven C. Harper’s assertion that no one knows how many First Vision accounts Joseph Smith gave.