History of the Church

The Printing of the Book of Mormon
June 5, 2019
History of the Church
The Printing of the Book of Mormon
Author BYU Studies Staff

gutenberg.press.jpgLouis E. Crandall created the Crandall Historical Printing Museum in Provo, Utah, with his collection of historical printing presses. Crandall had a replica Gutenberg press and an exact duplicate of the Acorn Press on which E. B. Grandin and John Gilbert printed the first edition of the Book of Mormon. We’re happy to hear the news that the Crandall Printing Museum will be preserved! We’re pleased that Royal Skousen, author of the Critical Test of the Book of Mormon project, was helpful in its preservation. Thanks to the Johnson family for funding this important endeavor; the museum will be moving to Alpine, Utah. At BYU Studies, we love old press machines! Fans of Book of Mormon printing history will want to read about this museum and visit it. 

“Alpine Family Saves Historic Printing Museum”, Daily Herald, June 1, 2019
“The Crandall Historic Printing Museum, a mainstay of Provo for 21 years, is officially moving to Alpine under new ownership after a years-long struggle to stay afloat...Royal Skousen is a linguistics professor at BYU and sometimes would take groups of students to the printing museum for a tour. He had previously worked with Crandall to help repair a broken Linotype machine, a repair that cost $1,200 to fix. At first, Crandall thought the machine would just have to stay broken, until Skousen and an unknown mystery student donated the funds to have it fixed.”

Read more about the history of the printing press and the Book of Mormon:

“From Gutenberg to Grandin: Tracing the Development of the Printing Press”, by Keith J. Wilson, Religious Studies Center
“Late in March 1830, a notice in the Palmyra, New York, newspaper appeared announcing the recent publication of the Book of Mormon. It was the culmination of a three-year translating and printing process that would ultimately stamp Palmyra as the birthplace of Mormonism. Producing this book in the small town along the Erie Canal was an event of unusual proportion as well as portent. In many ways this physical event occurred because of a stream of individuals and inventions that stretched over a four-hundred-year period. The result of this quiet process was an available printing press and competent personnel who in 1830 delivered a book that was anciently described as “a marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14). The story of the physical printing developments that culminated that memorable day of March 26, 1830, in Palmyra, New York, is a fascinating one.”

“The Book of Mormon Goes to Press”, by Gayle Goble Ord, Ensign, December 1972
Ord outlines the history of Joesph Smith’s search for a publisher who would accept his “unusual” proposition – 5,000 copies of a book. The article states that in 1830, most book publishers were not producing books in large editions: “When we understand the circumstances surrounding mass publication in that era, the somewhat overwhelming nature of Joseph Smith’s request for 5,000 copies becomes more readily apparent”. It goes on to discuss the many refusals and opposition they faced from some of the newspapers. Finally Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and Egbert B. Grandin found the editor of the Wayne Sentinel willing to bring the Book of Mormon to press. Ord also details the physical labor and processes of printing and binding so many copies.