We are excited to announce that Reid L. Neilson and Nathan N. Waite, editors of Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel: The General Epistles of the Mormon First Presidency (published by Oxford University Press), will be here on Wednesday, March 22, to discuss the book. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

The Mormons had just arrived in Utah after their 1,300-mile exodus across the Great Plains and over the Rocky Mountains. Food was scarce, the climate shocking in its extremes, and local Indian bands uneasy. Despite the challenges, Brigham Young and his counselors in the First Presidency sent church members out to establish footholds throughout the Great Basin. But the church leaders felt they had a commission to do more than simply establish Zion in the wilderness; they had to invite the nations to come up to “the mountain of the Lord’s house.” In these critical early years, when survival in Utah was precarious, missionaries were sent to every inhabited continent.

The 14 general epistles, sent out from the First Presidency from 1849 to 1856, provide invaluable perspectives on the events of Mormon history as they unfolded during this complex transitional time. Woven into each epistle are missionary calls and reports from the field, giving the Mormons a glimpse of the wider world far beyond their isolated home. At times, the epistles are a surprising mixture of soaring doctrinal expositions and mundane lists of items needed in Salt Lake City, such as shoe leather and nails.

Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel collects the 14 general epistles, with introductions that provide historical, religious, and environmental contexts for the letters, including how they fit into the Christian epistolary tradition by which they were inspired.

“These epistles from the First Presidency tell far more about life in Utah in the early years than would be expected in letter from church leaders. They talk about crops, migration, weather, building construction, and Native Americans, as well as about missionary work and apostolic assignments. No single set of documents says more about how the Saints fared in the early days than these illuminating accounts.” –Richard Bushman


Reid L. Neilson is Assistant Church Historian and Recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Managing Director of the Church History Department. He completed his PhD in religious studies (American religious history emphasis) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an award-winning author and has published over a dozen books.

Nathan N. Waite is an Associate Editorial Manager for the Joseph Smith Papers Project in Salt Lake City. He received an MA in American studies from the University of Utah and previously published A Zion Canyon Reader.


Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel: The General Epistles of the Mormon First Presidency ed. by Reid L. Neilson and Nathan N. Waite. Oxford University Press, 2017. 430pp. Hardback. $45.00


Other titles by Reid Neilson

The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States. Columbia University Press, 2014.  Hardback. $90.00

Conversations with Mormon Historians. RSC/Deseret Book, 2015. Hardback. $34.99

From the Outside Looking In: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture. Oxford University Press, 2015. Paperback. $35.00

A Historian in Zion: The Autobiography of Andrew Jenson, Assistant Church Historian (rev. enh. ed.). RSC/Deseret Book, 2016. Hardback. $39.99

Joseph Smith Jr.: Reappraisals after Two Centuries. Oxford University Press, 2008. Paperback. Reg. $24.95, SALE $6.99

Exhibiting Mormonism: The Latter-day Saints and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Oxford University Press, 2011. Hardback. Reg. $29.99, SALE $6.99.

The Mormon History Association’s Tanner Lectures: The First Twenty Years. University of Illinois, 2006. Paperback. Reg. $30.00, SALE $4.99

Rediscovering the Sites of the Restoration: The 1888 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson, Edward Stevenson, and Joseph S. Black. RSC/Deseret Book, 2015. Hardback. $31.99

Other Titles by Nathan Waite and Reid Neilson

A Zion Canyon Reader. University of Utah Press, 2014. Paperback. $14.95


Shipping: $4.50 for the first book (inquire for rates on additional books) via USPS–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.
Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax

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