Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930, 3rd ed.


By Thomas G. Alexander

1988 Best Book Award, Mormon History Association

  •  “Will be required reading for all historians of Mormonism for some time to come.”  — Journal of American History
  • “This is by far the most important book on this crucial period in LDS history.”  — Jan Shipps

Available in ebook for KindleNookApple, Google Play, and Kobo.

Also available through Amazon and Deseret Book.

Book Description:

More than two decades after its original publication, Thomas G. Alexander’s Mormonism in Transition still engages audiences with its insightful study of the pivotal, early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Serving as a vital read for both students and scholars of American religious and social history, Alexander’s book explains and charts the Church’s transformation over this 40-year period of both religious and American history.
     For those familiar with the LDS Church in modern times, it is impossible to study Mormonism in Transition without pondering the enormous amount of changes the Church has been through since 1890. For those new to the study of Mormonism, this book will give them a clear understanding the challenges the Church went through to go from a persecuted and scorned society to the rapidly growing, respected community it is today.
     From the Second Edition Foreword by Stephen J. Stein:

“Thomas Alexander confronts the reality of change and does not try to disguise it or hide it in the shadow of earlier traditions. Rather, he acknowledges that Mormonism in 1930 was radically different from what it was in 1890 or at the time of its origins. He catalogues change without apology. In fact, Alexander celebrates change as the basis for the continuing success the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enjoys.”

Comprehensive Table of Contents:


Preface to Third Edition
Preface to Second Edition

1. The 1890s and the Challenge to the Mormon World View
2. The Search for a Pluralistic Political System, 1900–1911
3. The Politics of Change and Reconciliation, 1912–30
4. Recurrent Encounters with Plural Marriage
5. The Temporal Kingdom
6. Administrative Modernization, 1900–1918
7. New Directions in Church Administration, 1918–30
8. The Church Auxiliary Organizations
9. Definition of a Role for the Church Educational System
10. Cooperation and Individualism in Mormon Society
11. The Church and Its Missions
12. Reshaping the Latter-day Saint Image
13. The Adoption of a New Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom
14. Definition and Explication of Church Doctrine



Members of the First Presidency
Members of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, 1890–1930
Members of the First Council of the Seventy, 1890–1930
Members of the Presiding Bishopric of 1890–1930
General Presidency of the Relief Society, 1890–1930
General Superintendents of the Deseret Sunday School Union
General Presidencies of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, 1890–1930
General Superintendency of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, 1890–1930
General Presidency of the Primary Association, 1890–1930





Praise for Mormonism in Transition:

“A classic study of an influential American religion. . . . Provides both the specialist in religion and the general reader with a thoughtful history of this complex religion.” — Colleen McDannell, University of Utah

“A must read for any serious student of this ‘peculiar people’ and Western history.”  — Stanley B. Kimball, Journal of the West

“Thoughtful. . . . An objective examination of the church’s changing position on political involvement, plural marriage, business relations, administrative reorganization, doctrinal redefinition, missionary work, and education.” — N. J. Bender, Choice

“Will be required reading for all historians of Mormonism for some time to come.” — William D. Russell, Journal of American History

“This is by far the most important book on this crucial period in LDS history.” — Jan Shipps, author of Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition

“A work of careful and prodigious scholarship.” — Leonard J. Arrington, author of Brigham Young: American Moses

“Clearly fills a tremendous void in the history of Mormonism.” — Klaus J. Hansen, author of Mormonism and the American Experience

Competent readers of American religious history will find Alexander’s recent treatise an invaluable addition to the ever-growing academic study of Mormonism. — Tyler Andersen, Worlds Without End

About the Author:

Thomas G. Alexander taught at Brigham Young University for four decades, where he was the Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Professor of Western American History and director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet and Utah: The Right Place.

More Information:

410 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58958-188-3 (Paperback)
Published June 2012

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