Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

S. George Ellsworth


S. George Ellsworth


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an evangelical religion. From a beginning in western New York in 1830, it grew into a world-wide organization which numbered more than a million and a half members by 1960. Those largely responsible for this growth have been the Church members who have volunteered two to three years of their time to missionary service. In 1960 there were approximately 7,000 of these missionaries working in different areas of the world. Of this number, almost 1,800 were serving in Europe, where with the exception of the personnel of the United States government groups, they probably constituted the largest single group of organized Americans living abroad. This study will trace the history of Mormon missionary work in France up to 1960. The French Mission encompasses most of the French-speaking areas of western Europe, and at various times during its history included all of France, the Channel Islands, and those parts of SWitzerland and Belgium where French is the predominate language. Also included in this study is a brief description of Mormon proselyting among the French-speaking Waldenses people of northern Italy. This was included because for many years Italy has been, at least nominally, assigned to the French Mission. Though missionaries have not proselyted in Italy for more than 100 years, there are a handful of Mormons living in that country. In this thesis, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is frequently referred to either as "the Church" or "the Mormon Church." This is done to avoid the repetition of its longer official name. Also, the Mormon missionaries are termed simply "the missionaries" or "the elders," the title elder being an office or degree of the Mormon priesthood to which all male missionaries belong. There are two remaining terms which need clarification. They are "branch" and "ward." In Mormon usage the branch is a small congregation of believers presided over by a branch president and two counselors. The ward is a somewhat larger congregation presided over by a bishop and two counselors. In the writing of this thesis a number of people have been instrumental in aiding the author by advice or in research materials. A particular debt of gratitude is owed to Professor S. George Ellsworth, chairman of the writer's graduate committee, for his valuable counsel and assistance. Appreciation is also expressed to the other members of the committee, Professors Leonard J. Arrington and Douglas D. Alder, for their helpful suggestions and encouragement. For their cooperation in allowing access to the historical data and records on the French Mission, the writer owes a special thanks to the staff of the Church Historian's Office of the Mormon Church. The author is also sincerely grateful to those who have read and criticized this thesis, and especially to his wife, Connie, who helped more than words can express by her patient encouragement.



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