Danish Apostle


Danish Apostle: The Diaries of Anthon H. Lund, 1890-1921

from the Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 10

An honest and personable account of church history, political intrigue, and changing social norms from an apostle, counselor to the prophet, temple president, and Church Historian.

November 2005


By the time Anthon Lund was born in Denmark in 1844, Søren Kierkegaard was already producing his ideas on existentialism and Hans Christian Andersen had just penned the tales that would make him world-famous. In this environment, Anthon—who was raised by his father and grandmother after his mother’s death—became a voracious reader by the age of six.

Lund converted to Mormonism, immigrated to the United States, and became an apostle and later counselor to the LDS church president—also Salt Lake temple president and Church Historian. His diaries cover the tensions between Apostle Moses Thatcher and his colleagues; the rejection by the U.S. House of Representatives of Utah’s Congressman, B. H. Roberts; the stormy hearings over whether to seat LDS apostle Reed Smoot in the U.S. Senate; and publication of The History of the Church. Lund’s accounts of the inner workings of the church hierarchy are at times formal but otherwise chatty, the latter quality making him a favorite diarist among historians.

John P. Hatch is a past managing editor of Sunstone magazine and coordinator of the annual Sunstone Theological Symposium, now continuing his education in history at the University of Utah. At the moment, he is also researching the life of LDS President George Albert Smith. He and his wife live in Salt Lake City and are raising two children. John teaches the Gospel Doctrine class in his Sunday school. He is a former assistant manager at Deseret Book.

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3 reviews for Danish Apostle

  1. Davis Bitton, Utah Historical Quarterly

    Diaries attract our interest on the basis of the articulateness of the writer and his or her social roles. Although the humdrum of daily living has its importance for exhuming the social history of the past, it is usually the placement of the person that invites the attention of readers outside of the family. Was he or she in a position to observe significant persons and events?

    A Danish convert to Mormonism, Anthon H. Lund became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October 1889. He became president of the Manti temple, president of the European Mission, Church Historian, president of the Utah Genealogical Society, president of the Salt Lake Temple, and from 1901 to his death in 1921 counselor in the First Presidency.

    In business, Lund was president of Utah National Bank, Nevada Land and Stock Company, Amalgamated Sugar Company, Consolidated Salt Company, and Utah Savings and Trust Company. He was vice president of Utah Sulfur Company and Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI). He served on the board of directors of Knitting Works Company, Knight Sugar Company, Inland Crystal Salt Company, Saltair Beach Company, Utah Light and Railway Company, and Hotel Utah. Such participation of church general authorities in business enterprises continued until January 1996 when President Gordon B. Hinckley announced they would no longer be authorized to sit on boards of directors of companies.

    In education, Lund was superintendent of Church Education, president of Snow Academy, board member and president of LDS University, and member of the University of Utah Board of Regents. To appreciate Lund’s importance, readers may wish to peruse, in addition to Hatch’s useful introductory essay, Jennifer L. Lund, “Out of the Swan’s Nest: The Ministry of Anthon H. Lund, Scandinavian Apostle,” Journal of Mormon History 29 (Fall 2003): 77-105.

    With all his responsibilities, Lund naturally attended many meetings. How detailed are the entries about these meetings? Often we long for more, some indication of the give-and-take. Yet he fully describes the Twelve Apostles’ meetings on April 16-20, 1893, March 30-31, 1897, January 9-10, 1900, January 8-10, 1901, April 3-4, 1901, July 10-11, 1901, and October 1, 1901. For these and other meetings Lund’s diary becomes an unofficial minute book, preserving much information. For certain events his is the sole record available.

    The complete diaries, housed in the LDS Church Archives, are not published here. “Most entries detailing Anthon’s private and family life,” the editor explains, “have not been included; with a handful of exceptions, entries recorded while traveling as a missionary or on business were excluded for the sake of space” (xxxvii).

    The diary entries here published recall concerns of the time. Richard T. Ely, noted economist, calls (Sept. 16, 1902). President Theodore Roosevelt visits Utah (May 29, 1903). An explosion rocks the Hotel Utah (Apr. 18, 1910). Evan Stephens is released as director of the Tabernacle Choir (July 20, 24, 1916). B. H. Roberts declines the opportunity to serve as Utah’s official state historian (Feb. 5, 1919). “It is very important,” Lund writes, “that we get one of our Church to occupy that place” (729).

    In June 1913, we follow Lund into meetings of the Capitol Commission discussing the choice of stone and the heating system for the magnificent new building. A meeting of church leaders takes up the cost of supporting missionaries. “The expenses of the missions were discussed. It was thought they should be more equalized” (July 3, 1913).

    From time to time, morals infractions are mentioned, including one involving Lund’s brother-in-law. This is the kind of subject matter that, in the view of some, requires diaries to be regarded as private or at least that, when published, the names be shielded on grounds that the writer probably had no desire to broadcast sensitive information to the world, and children and grandchildren are grieved by now “going public.” Disciplinary actions of church councils have been likened to the files of doctors and lawyers whose professional code forbids divulging privileged personal information of patients or clients. Editor Hatch publishes the specifics as Lund recorded them, letting the chips fall where they may.

    At a few points I found myself wondering about the selectivity of the footnote references. On Oliver Cowdery as a “rodsman” in Vermont (131), the editor refers the reader to the work of Michael Quinn but not to the focused study by Larry E. Morris. When the Book of Abraham facsimiles are mentioned (497), footnote mention should be made, it seems to me, of studies by Egyptologists John Gee and Michael Rhodes, who understand the language and the textual issues better than anyone writing at the beginning of the twentieth century.

    But such nitpicking should not obscure the overall achievement. Because of Anthon H. Lund’s participation as an important decision-maker, his record is of more than usual interest. Editor John Hatch and the publisher have done a workmanlike job in making these diaries available. The work will be mined by historians for many years to come.

  2. Richard L. Jensen, John Whitmer Historical Journal

    When eighteen-year-old Anthon H. Lund left his native Denmark for Utah in 1862, he had already served a as missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than four years, proselytizing, giving English language instruction to prospective emigrants, and presiding over a number of church congregations. Eventually he became an apostle and a member of the First Presidency of his church—the only person before 2008 to serve in either position whose native language was not English. He also kept forty-one volumes of journals. The work here reviewed was compiled from journals he kept from May 1890 to February 1921, two weeks before he died.

    Lund’s thirty-one-year apostleship, 1889-1921, including nineteen years in the First Presidency, spanned an era of major transitions in his church. Lund’s journals, and those of several of his colleagues in church leadership during that period, have been mined by editors for material that provides insight into the inner workings of the LDS Church. The focus is largely on reports of meetings. The resulting publications provide a rich montage of details regarding headquarters deliberations, involvements, and operations—of challenges, human frailties, and accomplishments. They also provide fascinating glimpses of the personalities who were involved, although the original sources from which they were compiled provide fuller biographical insights. Overlapping and supplementing each other, they constitute a valuable resource, and Signature Books and the Smith-Pettit Foundation have performed a leading role in making personal writings from that era accessible through publication.

    Lund’s journal entries are relatively succinct, often with pithy one-sentence summaries of decisions and of his own statements and opinions. Editor John Hatch provides thrifty annotation, with relatively few footnotes, completing the names of individuals and the location of places with the use of brackets within the featured text. Where Lund used shorthand or any of several non-English languages to record snippets of potentially sensitive information, translations have been provided.

    The journals appear to be relatively candid, with some exceptions. Hatch has identified a few instances in which Lund omitted information about his own performance of plural marriages in the late 1890s. Lund was a member of the First Presidency by the time the members of the Quorum of the Twelve unanimously agreed in 1904 “that the brethren should not write in their journals that which took place in the Council meetings.” (7). Lund’s journals include detailed notes from a few of the council meetings before the 1904 agreement. For some such meetings before and after 1904, Lund’s journals note only that the council met; his concise summaries for others focus on topics covered and decisions rendered more than on deliberations. Still, Lund provides numerous glimpses of many developments including the frustration of church leaders for a decade and a half after Joseph F. Smith’s 1904 Second Manifesto as plural marriage took on a life of its own largely beyond their knowledge or control.

    A man of relatively few words, Lund appears to have been astute and straightforward in expressing his opinions and recommendations. He noted that Church President Joseph F. Smith “was ever ready to hear his counselors’ opinion, and if better than what he had advanced he was ready to accept it” (716). The recommendations Lund made were followed more often than not.

    Lund brought to church leadership a more cosmopolitan perspective than many of his peers. Both devout and pragmatic, he recommended the production of a separate series of proselytizing materials for the non-Christian Japanese and the acceptance of cremation where appropriate. His discourses benefited form his knowledge of Greek and other languages and he translated correspondence in several languages to church headquarters.

    Because of the numerous and widely varied administrative responsibilities Lund occupied, the journals illuminate many facets of the inner workings of educational institutions and businesses in which his church held an interest. As a member of the board of regents of the University of Utah, he sought to help the institution find its way through clashes between its president and faculty and students. Lund served a president of Salt lake City’s Latter-day Saint University in 1901 and the church’s Sanpete Stake Academy. He sought—unsuccessfully—to prevent the Utah Agricultural College in Logan, which as a state legislator he had earlier helped to found—from offering a “normal school” curriculum. And as one of those most involved in education in his church, he dealt with a variety of opinions, like that of Joseph F. smith who once complained to Lund that Utah was overemphasizing education. Meanwhile Lund served for many years as superintendent of his church’s “religion classes,” for children in primary schools.

    After Church President Lorenzo Snow led a revitalization of tithe paying in the church, Lund noted substantial increases in its revenues that enabled the church to respond favorably to requests for assistance with buildings, roads, dams, and other projects in various localities, many of which are noted in the journals. Lund, in behalf of the church, played a role in many businesses. With his leading role in sugar companies in which the church was involved—eventually as president of Amalgamated Sugar Company—his journal provides much information about the machinations of various sugar interests in the Intermountain West, some of which embroiled the church and its leaders in legal controversy. His journals chronicle the waxing and waning of the church’s involvements in banking, salt manufacturing, the production of electrical power, and entertainment and hospitality enterprises, primarily Saltair resort at the Great Salt Lake. Lund’s membership on the boards of numerous other enterprises also provided material for insights in journal entries.

    Lund’s enthusiasm for politics is evident in his journals, especially on election days. He provided counsel to would-be candidates, successfully resisted attempts to enlist himself as a major political candidate, and played a role in church political influence that extended beyond Utah to Idaho. In the latter case, he noted the need to avoid making the influence obvious. Of U.S. Senator Reed Smoot, the apostle who became a lightning rod for widespread attacks on his church before he was finally seated in 1907, Lund wished that the senator “would quit using his put[-]on twang in speaking” (485).

    The Smoot hearings at the national level and the rise of the anti-Mormon American Party locally posed major quandaries for Latter-day Saint leaders. Lund’s counsel on these matters seems likely to have been a significant factor in formulating their strategies as they worked their way through what Lund called “the dense fog around us.” But while the journals reveal the landscape of the problems, they disclose little about the discussions in which Lund was involved. In September 1906, Lund acknowledged pessimistically the hazards of church political influence: “I, myself, am convinced we are in a very serious dilemma and by doing nothing we will get the American party into power and by doing something we will have half our people opposed to us” (342). At a critical juncture in January 1906, both Smoot and church president Joseph F. Smith urged Lund to go to Washington, D.C., to assist Smoot. Lund does not explain why Apostle John Henry Smith and later Church Attorney Franklin S. Richards went instead, without Lund, while the latter continued to work behind the scenes, providing Richards with necessary documents.

    As church historian from 1900 to his death, Lund presided over a handful of able assistant historians and provided careful review of much of their work, including Brigham H. Roberts’s edition of Joseph Smith’s church history. The journals mention long discussions with assertive Assistant Historian Andrew Jenson, whose interaction with others at the historian’s office Lund mediated.

    Lund’s journal records a few encounters with officials of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as the Community of Christ) and of the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), or Hedrickites. In February 1900, Lorenzo Snow in Salt Lake City responded negatively to a proposal from a Hedrickite delegation that the three denominations join efforts to construct a temple in Independence.

    Hatch provides helpful context and excellent biographical material in his introduction to the volume. This compensates to a degree for the fact that Lund’s journals as a missionary and as president of the Scandinavian mission and the European mission fall outside the scope of this volume, as does most information in the journals about his personal and family affairs.

    A few of the editor’s identifications are incorrect. He confuses Brigham Young College in Logan, Utah, with Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah [after 1903, Brigham Young University] (127). The Benson Stake in northern Utah is incorrectly placed in Arizona (130) and the Bingham Stake in Idaho is misidentified as the “Brigham Stake” in Utah (265).

    Lund seems a likely candidate for a biography.

  3. Richard D. Quellette, Journal of Mormon History

    Hatch provides a sturdy scholarly scaffolding for Danish Apostle. The introductory essay is outstanding; it gives the reader a firm grasp of Anthon H. Lund’s life, family, and contributions, as well as a sense of what to expect from the diaries. My one criticism here is that Hatch doesn’t say enough about his own labors with the diaries. Did he work with the original Lund diaries at the LDS Church Archives, with D. Michael Quinn’s transcription at Yale’s Beinecke Library, or with a private copy provided by the Lund family? If he completed the bulk of his labors at the LDS Church Archives, did he work with the original diaries, the microfilm copy, or the typescript? Who translated the shorthand and foreign language entries? And from whom did he obtain permission to publish the diaries? Besides the introduction, Hatch also provides a chronology of Lund’s life and biographical sketches of prominent figures mentioned in the diaries, both of which are quite helpful, though the latter could have been more detailed. The index, while generally adequate, has more than a few oversights. I found references to John M. Cannon on some pages (224, 243, 344) unlisted in the index. Finally, Hatch supplies first-rate explanatory footnotes to help the reader understand certain diary entries. He renders complicated subjects comprehensible and addresses historiographical questions with skill. I found the footnotes so useful I wished there were more. On average of about twice per chapter I found myself wishing for a footnote to help me better understand Lund’s comments.

    The presentation of the diaries is impressive. We’ve grown accustomed to Ray Morales’s handsome design for the Significant Mormon Diaries Series. Connie Disney’s Baskerville font is a pleasure to read. I sat with the book for long periods at a time and never experienced eye-strain. The collection of photographs, not a standard feature of the series, is a wonderful addition. They enable us to visualize Lund, his family, and the First Presidency as we read along, although I think photographs of the Quorum of the Twelve certainly, and perhaps Lund’s most important political and business associates as well, should have been included. Finally, I found remarkably few typographical errors for a book of this size and a text of this complexity.

    John P. Hatch, Signature Books, and the Smith-Pettit Foundation are to be commended for this work. Short of reading Anthon Lund’s unabridged diaries in the LDS Archives, anyone studying the end of pioneer Utah and the beginnings of modern Mormonism should read Danish Apostle.

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