Andrew Jenson's global tour was instrumental in broadening the scope of Latter-day Saint history. Leaving behind his wives and children for two years, he pursued the goal of gathering records and writing the history of the Church with a rare passion. Through his own hard work and the hand of Providence, Andrew Jenson helped the Church Historian's Office transition from a provincial worldview to a global one.
Writing the history of the Saints was not merely a scholarly or professional pursuit for him—the untiring Danish-American believed it was a spiritual labor with eternal ramifications. He devoted his adult life to enlarging the institutional memory of the Church and protecting what he considered to the sacred records of the final dispensation.
In 1895, an ambitious part-time employee of the Church Historian's Office named Andrew Jenson set off on an unprecedented global fact-finding mission. With the blessing of Church leaders, he visited nearly every non-North American branch of the Church over the course of two years, gathering records and standardizing local record-keeping practices.
As he circumnavigated the globe, Jenson recorded his travels in letters sent home and published in the Deseret News. Saints back home in Utah could follow his adventures and read about the Church's growth in the Pacific, Asia, and Europe. He wrote not only about the missionary work and membership of the Church around the globe, but also about the people, places, and cultures he met in his travels, from the Polynesians of the Pacific to the birthplace of Christianity in Palestine to his own native home of Denmark.
Jenson's tour also helped launched his successful full-time career in the Church Historian's Office, and he spent the rest of his life writing the history of the Saints. Months before his death, he wrote, "I have done my best to contribute to the history of the Church, covering the first century of its existence, but a greater work will be done by future historians as the Church grows."
- Size: 8 x 10
- Pages: 480
- Published: 08/2012
About the Authors
REID L. NEILSON is managing director of the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is the author of two monographs and two family biographies, as well as the editor of nearly twenty books. A native of Southern California, Dr. Neilson earned a BA in international relations, and MA in history, and an MBA from Brigham Young University. He also holds a PhD in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Riley M. Moffat is the head of Reference and the Pacific Islands Collections at the Brigham Young University-Hawaii Library. He also teaches geography and retired as the university’s surfing instructor. Riley has degrees fro Church College of Hawaii, the University of Hawaii, and Brigham Young University-Provo and has published books and articles in the fields of population history, the history of cartography, and Pacific Church history. A native of Arizona, he has worked in the Pacific for over forty years.