Arts and Humanities | History of Religions of Western Origin | Other Religion | Religion
When I first began work on Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling in 1996, I realized that reconstructing the cultural environment of the Prophet would be one of my largest tasks. I could scarcely conceive how to go about probing the huge quantities of sermons, newspapers, journals, pamphlets, books, artworks, and private diaries that possibly bore on the restoration of the gospel in the 1820s through the 1840s. Yet the culture of that period bore directly on the success of the young church under Joseph Smith’s leadership. People would never be able to grasp theological ideas that were entirely foreign to them. They would need a basic preparation for the Prophet’s revelations, making the cultural environment crucial to understanding how the Restoration came about.
Faced with this apparently insuperable difficulty, it occurred to me that my problem was the problem of every historian interested in early history of the Church. We all need information about the sources as they relate to the distinctive doctrines of the Restoration. I would deal with many of the issues in my biography, but subsequent researchers would think of new questions about Joseph’s times. All of these historians would benefit from a collection of materials from the world in which Joseph Smith flourished.
So was born the concept of “The Archive of Restoration Culture,” an assemblage of source materials illuminating contemporaneous thought about the prominent principles of the Restoration. I am pleased now, a decade later, that this massive research database is now available on the BYU Studies website.
© 2006 Brigham Young University Press
Bushman, Richard L. “The Archive of Restoration Culture, 1997-2002” BYU Studies, 45, no. 4 (2006), 99-106.