A fundamental principle and practice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is preserving a historical record. Scriptural admonitions are found in the Book of Mormon and continued into the modern era in the Doctrine and Covenants. The instructions in D&C 85:1–2 related to record keeping are applicable to historians: “It is the duty of the Lord's clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion. . . . And also their manner of life, their faith, and works.”1

The church evolved in North America and was eventually established in the western United States. The presence of customs and practices emanating from U.S. and western culture are important features in the evolution of the church. Most historians who write about the church are from similar cultural backgrounds. Their research methods and writings are influenced by...

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