“It is hard to believe that any group of comparable size, with the possible exception of the Puritans and the Quakers, has been as relentless as the Mormons in writing diaries and autobiographies.” So wrote Davis Bitton, in the Introduction of the 1977 publication Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies, an index of nearly 3,000 published and unpublished works. Bitton, a close friend and colleague of Mormon History Scholar Leonard Arrington worked with Arrington for decades to create “a research program of [God’s] people’s history.” At the heart of that program was and continues to be the diary. Bitton and Arrington used diaries to build their compendious social and religious histories, to craft life histories of prominent and not-so-prominent Latter-day Saints, and to tell their own stories as Arrington noted in his autobiography, Adventures of a Church Historian, “The principal sources for this book are my diaries, letters, and other personal papers….” And so it’s been for diarists and historians through time – creating, keeping, maintaining, preserving and using written records of their own lives and of their contemporaries and antecedents. In this paper, the author looks at a 19th Century Mormon male diary as not only a source of information about a man and his era, but as a text which can reveal a specific kind of literary writing.
Jordan, Sara, "Ordinary Words: Towards a New Understanding of the 19th Century Mormon Male Diary" (2010). Arrington Student Writing Award Winners. Paper 6.