The Church Historian's Press

Editorial Method

This website presents transcripts of all known discourses of Eliza R. Snow. These transcripts were prepared largely according to the editorial procedures developed by the Joseph Smith Papers Project.

Over the forty-seven-year period during which Snow spoke publicly, many secretaries and other individuals recorded her words. Those who recorded Snow’s words brought varying clerical abilities and personal perspectives to their task. Some kept precise, nearly exact minutes, while others summarized what they heard Snow say. Editors who published Snow’s discourses also had different approaches to presenting her words.


Most of Snow’s sermons were recorded in various local, stake, and central minute books kept by designated secretaries for the Relief Society and for the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement, Young Men’s Mutual Improvement, and Primary associations. Other discourses were printed in contemporary newspapers, particularly the Woman’s Exponent, Deseret News, and Millennial Star. Snow recorded her discourses to the Polysophical Society and other early organizations in her Nauvoo journal and notebook. A few were copied into the journal of Charles Ora Card, a friend of Snow’s in Logan, Utah.

Version Selection

For some of the discourses included in this publication, multiple versions exist. If there are a limited number of substantive differences between two or more versions, the editors have selected the version that offers the most detail and context; footnotes identify the differences with the other version or versions. However, if multiple versions of the same discourse are dissimilar, all dissimilar versions are transcribed. Full source information is provided to allow readers access to all versions of the discourse.

Discourse Metadata

Three elements of metadata appear with each discourse. At the top of each discourse, the date of the discourse appears in a larger typeface. The date heading is followed by another heading that provides, where known, the name of the organization to which Snow spoke (or the type of gathering at which she spoke) and the place where she spoke. A full citation of the source that was transcribed is given at the end of each discourse; additional sources, if any, for the same discourse are also listed. Source notes also give the name of the person who recorded the discourse, if known. Source notes include links to the entries for the original sources in the Church History Library’s online catalog (or, where applicable, to other online repositories or databases). A number of the minute books have been digitized, in which case the digital copies can be accessed through the catalog entries.

Occasionally, a minute book provides a discourse date that is clearly incorrect, or two or more records of the same discourse provide conflicting dating. In these cases, scholarly judgment is used to determine the most accurate date, which is then given in annotation or supplied in brackets immediately following the incorrect date.

The official names of the church organizations to which Snow spoke are sometimes difficult to determine for this period. For example, when Snow spoke in Eden, Utah, to adult women, did she speak to the “Eden Ward Relief Society,” the “Eden Branch Relief Society,” the “Eden Relief Society,” or something else? Relief Societies, as well as other church organizations (such as organizations for young women, young men, and children), were typically named after the settlement where they were formed or the church unit (ward or branch) with which they were affiliated. But the names of church units are not always easily determined (including whether the units were a ward as compared to a branch), and both settlement and unit names sometimes changed over time. Furthermore, records for the Relief Society and other church organizations were often donated to the church’s archives and cataloged decades after their original creation, meaning that the unit name in the catalog may not match the name at the time of creation. For simplicity, in the heading at the top of the discourse, deference is usually given to the name of the church organization as indicated in the original minutes at the time of Snow’s visit. But for the corresponding source notes, nomenclature in the catalog entry is followed precisely.

Snow gave speeches in a variety of places, including homes, ward buildings, schoolhouses, music halls, and Relief Society halls. When a location is given for a discourse, the names of some meeting places are standardized. Personal residences are listed with first and last names, when possible, based on research of ward members and local minutes. Congregational ward worship buildings, often called by different names in the minutes, such as “ward assembly hall,” have been standardized to “meetinghouse.” More general-purpose buildings that have a specific name, such as Union Hall or Social Hall, are identified as such. In this period, the same building in a community was often used both as a ward meetinghouse and a schoolhouse; as an exception to the practice of standardizing location names, each individual secretary’s usage is followed for labeling the buildings as meetinghouses or schoolhouses.

Snow also spoke at many different kinds of meetings, including religious, social, and political meetings. Standard terms for some meetings and organizations have been adopted by the editors, including the following:

  • Anniversary celebration: a gathering for a birthday, holiday (such as Pioneer Day), annual celebration, or similar purpose

  • Church meeting: any stake or ward congregational meeting, but not a meeting with a formal name (such as Young Ladies)

  • Debate association: a debate meeting held as part of the broader lyceum movement to further the education of adult Americans

  • Grain committee: a meeting specifically devoted to discussing Brigham Young’s call to the women to gather and store grain

  • Literary and Musical Society and Polysophical Society: elite cultural and intellectual organizations that met weekly in 1850s Salt Lake City; members took turns offering literary presentations

  • Public meeting: a public gathering not within a church setting, including the Great Indignation Meeting and other mass meetings

  • Retrenchment Association: a Ladies’ Retrenchment meeting, including Senior and Junior Cooperative Retrenchment meetings, but not Retrenchment meetings for young women (see Young Ladies)

  • Silk association: a meeting to report on, discuss, or teach the practice of sericulture (or silk production)

  • Social event: any private party, not including anniversary celebrations or family reunions

  • Work meeting: an event, usually sponsored by the Relief Society, at which women gathered to sew or make homemade items

  • Young Ladies: a meeting of Junior Retrenchment, Young Ladies’ Retrenchment, or Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations, known today as Young Women

Rules of Transcription

The initial transcripts for this website were usually made from original minute books or from digitized newspapers. In cases in which the original minute books were unavailable, photocopied, microfilmed, or digitized copies of the minutes were used instead. Transcripts were verified at least two times against copies or the original documents.

The overall transcription approach is to reproduce the original, word-for-word. Individual letters or small groups of letters that do not amount to a word, canceled or not, are silently emended. Misspellings are preserved, without sic being employed. Other characteristics of the original sources are reproduced as closely as is possible and practical.

Material evidently added later to some record books—such as underlining words for emphasis and other use marks—is not transcribed.

Cancellations and insertions

Words canceled in the original document have been struck through in this publication. Inserted words are enclosed in <angle brackets>. Insertions above or below a line of text or written in a margin are indicated by <angle brackets> at the apparent intended point of insertion.

Cancellations of illegible material are silently emended. Likewise, insubstantial cancellations and insertions—those used only to correct spelling and punctuation or false starts—are silently emended, and only the final spelling and punctuation are reproduced. Cancellations and insertions are transcribed letter by letter when an original word was changed to a new word simply by canceling or inserting letters at the beginning or end of the word—such as “sparingly” or “attend<ed>”. However, for cases in which an original word was changed to a new word by canceling or inserting letters in the middle of the word, the original word is struck through in its entirety followed by the revised word in its entirety.

Editorial insertions and descriptions

Words, letters, or punctuation marks inserted by the editors to expand, correct, or clarify the text are enclosed in [square brackets]. Incorrect dates, place names, and other factual errors are transcribed as they appear in the original. Correct and complete spellings of personal names are supplied in brackets the first time the name appears in a discourse unless the correct name cannot be determined. Place names that may be hard to identify or are no longer used are also corrected or clarified with present locations in brackets. A question mark is added (within the brackets) to conjectured editorial insertions.

Significant descriptions of the textual medium, especially those inhibiting legibility, are italicized and enclosed in brackets (e.g., [leaf torn] or [blank]).

An illegible (but not canceled) word is represented by the italicized word [illegible] enclosed in brackets. Illegible characters within a partially legible word are represented with diamonds (◊). Repeated diamonds represent the approximate number of illegible characters (for example, sto◊◊◊s).


An ellipsis mark enclosed in square brackets [. . .] is used to indicate text omitted by the editors. In many cases, opening remarks and business items have been omitted, resulting in discourses beginning with the use of an ellipsis. At times, Snow spoke more than once in a meeting, with her remarks separated by organizational business or other speakers. Unless the intervening text is relevant to the content of Snow’s discourse, it is omitted, and the omission is indicated with an ellipsis.

Line ends and hyphenations

Line ends are neither typographically nor symbolically represented. Words hyphenated or otherwise divided at the end of one line and the beginning of another are reproduced as though written on the same line and are hyphenated or not according to modern usage.


Original page numbers, whether printed or handwritten on the source document, are reproduced in square brackets at the end of each transcript page. For discourses recorded in an unpaginated book or on loose sheets of paper, [n.p.] (“no page”) marks the end of each page.


Paragraphs are given in a standard format, with indention regularized and blank lines between paragraphs omitted. In cases in which minutes were recorded as one long block of text, the original is rendered as it appeared, without paragraph breaks being imposed.


Single instances of periods, commas, apostrophes, and dashes are all faithfully rendered without regard to their grammatical correctness. In some cases of repetitive punctuation, only the final mark or final intention is transcribed and other characters are silently omitted. Flourishes and other decorative inscriptions are not reproduced or noted. Dashes are standardized to either em or en lengths. Double underlining is standardized to single underlining.


Record keepers had different approaches to representing superscript characters. These various notations have been standardized to regular-size type, with a period silently added if there was not one in the original.

Policies for Sacred, Private, and Confidential Information

The Church History Department has long-standing policies that govern the publication of sacred, private, or confidential information. In publishing transcripts of Snow’s discourses, we have sought to honor these principles while also making as much information as possible available and clearly indicating any omissions. As such, a few details of the discourses have been withheld, such as information about temple ceremonies. In every instance where the text has been redacted, a notation has been made in the text explaining the reason for and extent of the redaction.

Approach to Annotation

All Snow sermon transcripts will be made available digitally on this website, with selected sermons eventually being published in print format. The digital version includes light annotation, such as a brief general introduction, a calendar of documents, the discourse metadata mentioned previously, maps, selected images of Snow and of some of the places where she spoke, and occasional clarifying footnotes. This text-centric approach allows the press to make these historical records available quickly and economically.

The following abbreviations for repositories are used in the editorial matter:


Church History Library


Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Cite this page

Editorial Method, The Discourses of Eliza R. Snow, accessed July 21, 2024