The History of the Mormons in Photographs and Text: 1830 to the Present

The History of the Mormons in Photographs and Text: 1830 to the Present
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The History of the Mormons in Photographs and Text: 1830 to the Present
Author Douglas F. Tobler Author Nelson B. Wadsworth
New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989

The History of the Mormons in Photographs and Text: 1830 to the Present

Reviewer Richard N. Holzapfel

Tobler and Wadsworth's The History of the Mormons in Photographs and Texts: 1830 to the Present is certainly the most important collection of historic Mormon photographs available to date. Although published in 1989, the sesquicentennial of the invention of photography, the book is essentially a translation of their 1987 volume, Der Weg zum Licht. We were pleased to see an English version of this book.

The book borrows heavily from an earlier work by Wadsworth, Through Camera Eyes (1975), the first major attempt to publish the photographic history of the Church and in many ways superior to the Tobler-Wadsworth effort, though the latter offers many more photographs. The similarities are especially notable in the chapter "Freezing Moments of Time." However, the two works do contain inconsistencies. For example, in Through Camera Eyes the photograph of George Edward Anderson (91) is reversed from its appearance in the History of the Mormons (38).

Wadsworth provided the majority of the photographs for History of the Mormons from his twenty years of research. Historians have only recently come to share Wadsworth's vision that photographs are historical "documents" that help illuminate the past. "My philosophy," Wadsworth writes, "has been to get them preserved and protected before someone decides to throw them away" (8). His preservation of these treasures has been invaluable.

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