|Author||B. H. Roberts|
|Publisher||The LDS Church and Deseret News Press|
|April 6, 1930 |
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Pages||3,459 (6 volumes) |
|Preceded by||The History of the Mormon Church|
|Followed by||Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days|
A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Century I is a six-volume history published in 1930 by B.H. Roberts, a general authority and Assistant Church Historian of the LDS Church. It should not be confused with the seven-volume History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed Documentary History of the Church), which was also edited by Roberts in the early 20th-century but focuses on the history of Joseph Smith.
After the American Historical Magazine, owned by the American Historical Society, published articles on the Spalding-Rigdon theory of Book of Mormon authorship, Roberts requested the magazine also allow him to publish a rebuttal. After his four-part response, the editor was so pleased that he invited Roberts to next write a detailed history of the LDS Church. The magazine was willing to change its frequency and format to accommodate the size of this task. From July 1909 to July 1915 Roberts wrote "The History of the Mormon Church" in forty-two-page installments for each issue of the newly named Americana magazine (sometimes called Americana Illustrated).
After the final article appeared, the First Presidency wanted to publish the work in six volumes, but this was dropped due to the cost, despite Roberts' willingness. He even considered condensing the material into a single volume after Joseph Fielding Smith's one-volume Essentials in Church History was authorized for publication. In 1928 Apostle George Albert Smith asked Roberts to revisit and update his work for publication in commemoration of the church's 1930 centennial.
The Comprehensive History has been called "Roberts's most important historical labor" and "his magnum opus." It is seen as the "high-water mark" of historical studies before the academics of the New Mormon History and was "far superior to any history of Mormonism which had yet appeared." It was the first to publish some major portions of recent history and to chronicle so wide a period of the Mormon past in one work. It referenced copious primary and secondary sources and sought to reject historical myths, "the untruth, the spectacular, the bizarre" that was "based on worthless testimony". However, the work has been criticized for manifesting a strong Mormon bias and using Romantic, "rhapsodic prose that sometimes overshoots the mark."