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Kingdom of the West (Part 8 of 9)

Historian Will Bagley has contributed to several volumes of western History called Kingdom of the West.  He’ll introduce us to the set.

Will:  Let me introduce the series first. This is the Kingdom in the West series[1]. It began in 1997 with publication of the original journal, The official journal of the Brigham Young company, which had sat in LDS archives for 150 years, until I asked to edit it. Much to my surprise, they let me do it. It sold quite well and Bob Clark, who ran the Arthur H. Clark company at the time, knew how to promote books and did a bang-up job. The first 10 volumes of the series were published in Spokane, Washington, and they had a promo that Bob was so brilliant at writing and he can always predict, to about a copy of how many books he can sell.

GT:  Wow.

Will:  Then in 2007 or so, when we had eight or nine volumes already completed, Bob sold the company to the University of Oklahoma Press. The series essentially lost its bearings. But I don’t claim to be a marketing manager, but it was probably that I had taken too long and I had wasted too much time. But I did get, eventually, over 22 years, all of the 16 volumes, I hope, not all of them, but a lot of them. I’d always hoped to end the series with a book on Utah’s Indians.

[1] The first 12 volumes can be purchased at

And we will learn more about Native Americans in Utah.  Will also thinks he helped open up Church Archives to research.  He also gives a surprising quote that Mormons shouldn’t be afraid of Church history.

Will: This is Washakie, the great leader of the Shoshones, who lived almost 50 years longer, and it’s the youngest picture we have of Wakara, no…

GT:  Washakie.

Will:  It’s the earliest picture we have of Washakie, and since Washakie lived into the 1890s, we have a lot of pictures of Washakie.

Will:  This character is named Parishort. You’ll notice he’s clutching a piece of paper in his hand, because Indians all wanted to figure out how to make paper talk which is how they referred to writing. Then we have a buffalo robe with pictures of a fight between Indians and soldiers. But one thing I wanted to do with this book, was give Utah’s Indians voices. I was amazed at how eloquent those voices turned out to be. I had several advantages in compiling this selection from Mormon archives. Ardis Parshall, who’s quite a talented journalist and historian, did a transcription of several hundred letters for Floyd O’Neil, who collaborated on the book and I was able to search those.

Will:  But then Church archives had been quite tightly locked up for most of the time I was working on Kingdom in the West. I think I can credit Kingdom in the West, at least partly, getting the LDS Church to open up its archives, because history is not a threat to Mormons. Mormons are Mormons for many, many reasons. But history, I don’t think is one of them. Now, the trouble for me when they open up the archives, and this was done, largely I think, at the insistence of Rick Turley and Marlin Jensen–it was both liberating and time consuming. Because I now had to go back and compare the transcripts I’d done and the partial type scripts to what I could see on the PDF files. So that took years and years and years. The main treasure I found was way, way back probably 25 years ago. It’s where I got this magnificent title, “The Whites Want Everything.”

Check out our conversation…

Will Bagley has written several volumes of the “Kingdom of the West” series.
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