The Church in the Early Twentieth Century

Church History in the Fulness of Times Teacher Manual, (2001), 69


  1. 1.

    National attention was focused on the Church because of the election of Elder B. H. Roberts to the United States House of Representatives and the subsequent election of Reed Smoot to the Senate.

  2. 2.

    During the first ten years of the twentieth century, the Church and its leaders suffered intense persecution.

  3. 3.

    The Church, in an effort to change the feelings against it and tell its own story, opened a visitors’ center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, purchased historic sites, and published the history of the Church.

    Student Manual and Scripture Sources

  • Student manual, chapter 36, pp. 465–79.

    Suggested Approaches

  • Discuss the elections of Elder B. H. Roberts to the United States House of Representatives and the election of Reed Smoot to the Senate. The misunderstandings about the Church in America were addressed by statements from the First Presidency, as well as a statement from the former president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, given on 15 April 1911, praising the virtues and high standards of the Mormon people.

  • Discuss the origin of the visitors’ center on Temple Square and the mission that visitors’ centers perform in helping to correct the distorted views people may have about the Church. If there is a visitors’ center in your area, ask several of the students to visit it and report their experience.

    Theme Sources

  • Comprehensive History of the Church, 6:386–434.

  • Readings in LDS Church History, 3:161–204.

    Additional Sources

  • R. Davis Bitton, “The B. H. Roberts Case of 1898–1900,” Utah Historical Quarterly, Jan. 1957, pp. 27–46.

    A comprehensive account of the issues that led to the exclusion of Elder Roberts from the United State House of Representatives.

  • Truman G. Madsen, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980).

    Provides details regarding Elder Roberts’s speaking tour and his attempt to obtain his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Milton R. Merrill, Reed Smoot, Apostle in Politics (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1990).

    A study of Reed Smoot, the Smoot hearings, and the political career of the man who has been called “Utah’s most influential citizen.”

  • Davis Bitton and Gary L. Bunker, “Mischievous Puck and the Mormons, 1904–1907,” Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1978, pp. 504–19.

    A look at the Latter-day Saints as portrayed in political cartoons in Puck magazine.

  • Rand Hugh Packer, “History of Four Mormon Landmarks in Western New York: The Joseph Smith Farm, Hill Cumorah, the Martin Harris Farm, and the Peter Whitmer, Sr., Farm,” master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1975.

    The history of the Church’s acquisition of four Church landmarks.

  • Francis M. Gibbons, Joseph F. Smith: Patriarch and Preacher, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), pp. 212–331.

    The administration of Joseph F. Smith as President of the Church.

  • Vicki Bean Zimmerman, “Willard Bean: Palmyra’s ‘Fighting Parson,’” Ensign, June 1985, pp. 26–29.

    Willard and Rebecca Bean were called as caretakers of the Smith family farm near Palmyra, New York. Describes the hostility the Beans encountered and how they overcame it.