The most extensive collection of writings about the Book of Mormon published between 1829 and 1844 has been made available as an online database. The collection, 19th-Century Publications about the Book of Mormon (1829—1844), includes nearly 600 publications and close to one million words of text. It is intended to comprise, insofar as possible, everything published during Joseph Smith's lifetime relating to the Book of Mormon. Under the auspices of Digital Collections at Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library, this ambitious project can be accessed at lib.byu.edu/dlib/bompublications.
For more than 10 years Matthew Roper, research scholar at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and head of the project, has been collecting this literature. The collection builds upon the early efforts of Francis W. Kirkham, an educator for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to Roper, during the 1930s Kirkham began collecting rare newspapers relating to early Latter-day Saint history. Subsequent researchers and historians have discovered many additional items, all of which are included in this new collection.
This valuable resource includes works by detractors as well as defenders and contains references to the Book of Mormon published in newspapers, books, pamphlets, hymns, broadsides, and early reference works, much of it formerly inaccessible to the public.
"We've done several things to make this collection valuable and easy to use," says Roper. "First, we gathered all of the publications relating specifically to the Book of Mormon into one collection, saving researchers the considerable time involved in identifying articles, tracking them down, and obtaining microfilm of rare books. Second, the database includes transcripts as well as images of these publications. The collection is also fully searchable, allowing scholars to more easily identify and access those publications relating to their area of interest." The electronic database will also be updated as more sources come to light.