Some have argued that Mormonism began with a book, the Book of Mormon. This printed beginning quickly spawned a prolific amount of published material both expounding and defending early doctrines of the Latter-day Saints.
Between 1836 and 1860 about ninety Church members authored a variety of written works. Although many publications were based on the writings of Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt, some represented original ideas. Most pamphlets grew from missionary efforts, but others countered anti-Mormon literature then in circulation. In promoting truth, Mormons found the press to be a powerful weapon.
These early pamphlets developed from the interactions of Church members with themselves, their message, and their neighbors. "As Mormonism grew," David Whittaker explains, "the press became a key element in providing the institutional glue for helping to hold together this dynamic social and religious movement." Whittaker's dissertation explores the rise and development of pamphlet literature during the Church's formative years.