This week, Utah State University Press released a biography of William H. Smart. Smart was a missionary in Turkey, later the Eastern States Mission President from 1899-1900 and a Stake President in Utah. He was integral in the post-reservation settlement of the Uintah Basin. To be frank, I have only skimmed through the biography; more interested was I in the CD-ROM that came with the book – over 2,500 8.5×11 typescript pages of his diaries and letters.
William B. Smart,Mormonism’s Last Colonizer: The Life and Times of William H. Smart, Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2008. x, 347 pp. Photos, appendices, bibliography, index, CD-ROM. Cloth: $44.95; ISBN 0874217229
Utah State has been doing a bang up job lately. They are producing high quality volumes in high quality formats. The author and editor, William B. Smart, has worked to produce a wonderful resource.
The fifty journals (over 10,000 holograph pages going up to 1937) and Smart’s personal correspondence are housed in the Marriot Library Special Collections of the University of Utah. By suggestion of Ron Esplin, Smart enlisted the help of a score of family members to transcribe the records. He compiled them and included them as a searchable typescript on a CD-ROM with the book. Perhaps some day an annotated critical version of the diaries will be published, though it may be impractical; but this typescript will facilitate access on a scale that is otherwise impossible. Would that all diaries had similar champions!
It is my hope that more researchers include materials in digital formats with their published works. Ed Kimball’s biography of Spencer Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, is another wonderful example. I have used the digital media included with the book more that the hardback, which I read. I have already mined Smart’s digital archive for several hours and have found dozens of diary entries germane to my research interests. Huzzah.
Mormonism’s Last Colonizer is definitely worth its price (note that it is significantly discounted at Amazon) and efforts like this should receive pecuniary support so as to encourage similar works in the future.