The Church Historian's Press The Church Historian's Press

Project History


The publication of George Q. Cannon’s journal had its beginnings in the mid-twentieth century when Adrian W. Cannon, a grandson of George Q. Cannon, began research for a biography of his ancestor. First gaining permission to access the journals in the 1940s, Adrian worked for decades, taking extensive notes and eventually transcribing most of the volumes, sometimes with the help of other family members.

Before he died in 1991, Adrian agreed to donate his transcripts to the Historical Department (now called the Church History Department) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which would continue the project and eventually publish the journal. Adrian’s transcript was incomplete—both because he began primarily by taking notes and because he omitted portions as a conscious editorial decision. For those reasons, volunteers and staff with the Church History Department transcribed the journal again.

In fulfillment of the agreement with Adrian Cannon, staff members of the Church History Department transcribed and annotated two volumes of Cannon’s journal: The Journals of George Q. Cannon: To California in ’49 and The Journals of George Q. Cannon: Hawaiian Mission, 1850–1854. Special recognition is due the editors of these journals: Richard E. Turley Jr., as general editor of both volumes; and Michael N. Landon and Chad M. Orton as the respective volume editors.

In 2010, a decision was reached to publish the journals more rapidly and efficiently by creating accurate transcripts without extensive annotations. Over the course of many years, a team at the Church History Department has labored to prepare the rest of the journals for publication. Richard Dilworth Rust, a professor emeritus of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has served as a volunteer missionary for several years to prepare the text of the journal for publication. The online publication would not have been possible without his talent for textual editing, his prodigious work ethic, and his dedication to excellence in editing and in keeping alive the memory of George Q. Cannon.

Several other individuals played key roles in the transcription and verification process. Finding time around other important tasks, Dorsey Ford transcribed most of the 2.5 million words of the journal over several years. Glenn N. Rowe carefully examined Ford’s typescript. Rick J. Fish led a team of volunteer missionaries to perform a second verification on much of the journal. David L. Willden assisted early on with project management.

As the work of transcription and verification approached completion, Ben Ellis Godfrey oversaw the development of the Church Historian’s Press website and the tools that would allow the journal’s publication. In addition, he coordinated the efforts to find photographs, have portions of the journal translated from Hawaiian, and prepare the text for online publication. Alicia K. Stanton assisted Godfrey with preparing the text. Matthew McBride consulted on technical and historical questions, and Jeffrey G. Cannon assisted with photographs and intellectual property questions. Robin Scott Jensen and Brandon J. Metcalf assisted in the review of the journal in preparation for publication. Jed Woodworth consulted on various questions and helped write the historical introductions to the eras of Cannon’s life. R. Eric Smith edited the introductory and historical content on the website and consulted on other questions. Adam McLain helped with proofreading. Executives and managers of the Church History Department—especially church historians Marlin K. Jensen and Steven E. Snow, and assistant church historians Richard Turley and Reid L. Neilson—provided support and encouragement throughout the process.

As a prolific writer and publisher, George Q. Cannon was a trusted voice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, both to church members and outsiders. Thanks to the dedicated work of employees, missionaries, and descendants, George Q. Cannon speaks again through his journal—his last, great publication project.

Matthew J. Grow

Director, Publications Division, Church History Department