An excellent way to learn Church history is to study the lives of people, or biography. Historical figures worth studying include men and women, famous and ordinary.
Men: In the past, students of Church history focused on studying presidents of the Church. That remains important, since Latter-day Saints look to the prophets for direction and leadership. Adults and youth in the Church can generally name the current Church president, as well as the Church’s first two presidents, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. A basic study of Church history through biography should include them.
Women, however, make up at least half the historic membership of the Church and likely much more. If you were to ask an ordinary Church member to name three Latter-day Saint women, they might mention Emma Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, and Eliza R. Snow, whose lives are all worthy of study. But how many more can they name? Students of Church history should study the biographies of these three women and seek to expand their understanding of other women’s contributions as well.
As a start to a lifetime of reading biographies of Church members, read the following short biographical pieces (listed alphabetically by first name) and explore their links.
Sometimes we think that biographies or personal histories are only for others, not ourselves. But that is not true. We each have a responsibility to write particularly the spiritual experiences we have.
In 2 Nephi 26:33, Nephi writes that the Lord “inviteth . . . all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female.” Then in 2 Nephi 29:11, the Lord declares, “For I command all men [and women], both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them.”
Human memory is surprisingly fragile. Unless we write things down, we will forget them, or they may morph in our minds. If we don’t record our spiritual experiences, they may fade into forgetfulness.
Read Alma 37:7–10 and ask yourself how writing down your spiritual experiences may help you or others in the future. Then record your most important spiritual experience.
If the task seems overwhelming, limit yourself to a one-page summary. Store the record where it will be preserved for future use.