"REDISCOVERING THE SITES OF THE RESTORATION: The 1888 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson, Edward Stevenson and Joseph S. Black," edited by Reid L. Neilson, Justin R. Bray and Alan D. Johnson, Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, $31.99, 294 pages (nf)
In 1888, three members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were called to serve as church history missionaries. Andrew Jenson, Edward Stevenson and Joseph S. Black accepted this assignment and found themselves traveling to the locations of sites that were significant to the early church members.
While serving their mission they sent “lengthy correspondence to the Deseret News,” which were published. Many member of the LDS Church were now second-generation members and were appreciative of the correspondence connecting them to the history of their predecessors. Eventually, when the three men returned home, they compiled their writings into a pamphlet titled, “Infancy of the Church.”
Reid L. Neilson, Justin R. Bray and Alan D. Johnson have taken this correspondence and carefully edited and presented it in the book, “Rediscovering the Sites of the Restoration: The 1888 Writings of Mormon Historians Andrew Jensen, Edward Stevenson, and Joseph S. Black.” Staying true to the original authors’ purpose, this book makes the assumptions that the reader is familiar with church history, key people of the restoration and locals of significance during the infancy of the LDS Church.
Carefully crafted and researched footnotes add to the original writings, furthering the understanding and providing additional information. There are also several vintage photographs that complement the text. In addition, "The Editor’s Preface" carefully explains the level of integrity that was maintained during the editing process. There are also three introductory essays providing a rich background on Jensen.
The travel narratives explore numerous places that were of great significance during the foundational years of the church. Some of the places mentioned include the Hill Cumorah and Palmyra, New York; Liberty Jail, Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri.
“Their travel narrative remains of great ‘benefit to the Saints,'" according to the introduction. "Their exploring experiences help us remember and appreciate the remarkable stories surrounding ‘the infancy of the church' during the Joseph Smith era."
Neilson has served as the managing director of the LDS Church History Department since 2010. He became an assistant church historian and recorder for the LDS Church in January 2015 but maintains his duties as managing director. Bray works in the Church History Department of the LDS Church. Johnson is currently the director of the Church History Museum.
Christie Betzer can be contacted at [email protected].