Foreword and Introduction, in Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), xi–xvii.
This volume constitutes the inaugural work of a second series of publications from the Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center. Heretofore, most of the volumes produced by the Center were generated as a direct result of special symposia sponsored by the directors. Papers from future symposia will continue to be published in the original series; however, there has been a recognized need for a more versatile publication which would allow the presentation of a greater diversity of materials in the respective areas of study embraced by the Center. It is felt that this first volume in the second series typifies the expressed need for such an outlet and is representative of the excellence of scholarship which is the trademark of the Religious Studies Center.
In their masterful work, Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons, Donald Q. Cannon and David J. Whittaker have amassed not only a corps of uniquely capable historians and writers, but they have also been particularly careful in their selection of those individuals possessing an expertise on the lives of Saints who biographies represented the primary theme “Supporting Saints.” The Saints so categorized in this volume were, for the most part, in the second echelon. This stylization has placed them in the position of those Latter-day Saints who gave of their energies at a Church level once removed from certain of their contemporaries who, because of their assigned stations, have often received the greater recognition through the years. The figures identified as “Supporting Saints” are drawn from the sometimes nameless ranks of those individuals who were very literally the spokes which made the greater wheel of Zion go around. Though capable leaders themselves, they followed the direction of their leaders and in the process distinguished themselves within their particular spheres of influence.
A study of the intricacies of the combined lives of the individuals named herein will provide an invaluable index to many historical elements of the past and at the same time introduce the reader to an important dimension of the faith exhibited by these Saints as they helped facilitate the building of the kingdom.
Larry C. Porter