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A New Approach to Church History — A Conversation with Dr. Lisa Olsen Tait
A New Approach to Church History — A Conversation with Dr. Lisa Olsen Tait

Faith Matters

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The third volume of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, was published this week by the Church.

The Saints project has gained widespread popularity because of its accessibility—it’s written in a narrative format—as well as its assiduous adherence to documented history. It is an enormous endeavor led by a very able group of scholars. We invited one of the leaders of this project, Dr. Lisa Olsen Tait, to come on our podcast to tell us what’s in this volume and how it came together. It was a very engaging conversation.

We know that some Latter-day Saints have had a complicated relationship with Church history. It can be alternately incredibly inspiring, confusing, uplifting and at times disturbing.  And as Lisa put it, “There’s a history to the Church’s relationship with its history.” For those who have longed for an official history that is more open and accurate than what the Church has published before, Saints seems a huge step in the right direction.

This volume of Saints is titled Boldly, Nobly, and Independent, and covers the time period 1893 to 1955. It’s a really fascinating period, one in which the Church underwent extensive transformation. In many ways, this is the period during which the Church transformed from the “pioneer Church” into the beginnings of the Church we would recognize today.

The digital version of this volume of Saints is available for free on the Church website and in the Church History section of the Gospel Library app. Print copies will be available in coming weeks in the Church’s online store and at retail outlets.

Lisa Olsen Tait is a historian, writer, and specialist in women’s history at the Church History Department. She is a general editor on the Saints series and, on volume 3, contributed subject-matter expertise in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and on many aspects of women’s history. She is also a co-chair of the Mormon Women’s History Initiative Team (MWHIT), an independent group that fosters scholarship and networking in the field. Lisa earned a PhD from the University of Houston, studying American Literature and Women’s Studies, and she taught religion classes at BYU Provo for three years before joining the Church History Department in 2013.

For more perspectives on important and challenging topics in Church history, check out these other resources from Faith Matters:

Making Sense of the Church’s History on Race

The Restored Church or the “Restoring” Church?

Can Prophets Make Errors On Important Doctrines?

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