Introduction to Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material (Religion 341)

“Introduction to Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material (Religion 341),” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material (2018)

“Introduction,” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material

Introduction to Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material (Religion 341)

Our Purpose

The Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion states:

“Our purpose is to help youth and young adults understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven” (Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion [2012], 1).

To achieve our purpose, we teach students the doctrine and principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures and in the words of the prophets. The doctrine and principles are taught in a way that leads to understanding and edification. We help students fulfill their role in the learning process and prepare them to teach the gospel to others.

To accomplish these aims, you and the students you teach are encouraged to incorporate the following Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning as you study together:

  • “Teach and learn by the Spirit.

  • “Cultivate a learning environment of love, respect, and purpose.

  • “Study the scriptures daily, and read the text for the course.

  • “Understand the context and content of the scriptures and the words of the prophets.

  • “Identify, understand, feel the truth and importance of, and apply gospel doctrine and principles.

  • “Explain, share, and testify of gospel doctrine and principles” (Gospel Teaching and Learning, 10).

These Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning are intended to “encourage students to take an active role in their learning of the gospel and increase students’ ability to live the gospel and teach it to others” (Gospel Teaching and Learning, 10). The teaching suggestions provided in the lessons of this teacher material indicate ways to achieve these outcomes in your teaching.

In addition to incorporating and accomplishing the mentioned outcomes, you are to help students be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn to discern truth from error. Students may have questions about the Church’s doctrine, history, or position on social issues. You can prepare students to address such questions by helping them to apply the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge and to develop doctrinal mastery. (See Doctrinal Mastery Core Document [2018].)

President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided the following counsel to guide teachers as they seek to help students receive answers to their questions:

M. Russell Ballard

“For you to understand the doctrinal and historical content and context of the scriptures and our history, you will need to study from the ‘best books,’ as the Lord directed [see D&C 88:118]. The ‘best books’ include the scriptures, the teachings of modern prophets and apostles, and the best LDS scholarship available. Through your diligent efforts to learn by study and faith, you will be able to help your students learn the skills and attitudes necessary to distinguish between reliable information that will lift them up and the half-truths and incorrect interpretations of doctrine, history, and practices that will bring them down. …

“In teaching your students and in responding to their questions, let me warn you not to pass along faith-promoting or unsubstantiated rumors or outdated understandings and explanations of our doctrine and practices from the past. It is always wise to make it a practice to study the words of the living prophets and apostles; keep updated on current Church issues, policies, and statements through and; and consult the works of recognized, thoughtful, and faithful LDS scholars to ensure you do not teach things that are untrue, out of date, or odd and quirky” (M. Russell Ballard, “The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 26, 2016]).

Unique Aspects of This Course

Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 (Religion 341) is different from other institute courses in several ways. It is not based on the sequential study of a scripture text (such as the Doctrine and Covenants), nor is it based on a thematic study of the Restoration (such as the Cornerstone course Foundations of the Restoration [Religion 225]). Rather, this course is a chronological study of the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, beginning with key events leading up to the organization of the Church in 1830 and concluding with the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple in 1846.

Although this course is designed to help students study and appreciate the history of the Church, it is important to remember that the ultimate purpose of this course is to accomplish the Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. In other words, the intent of this course is not merely to engage students in an academic study of the Church’s history but to help them learn and apply the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and become more like their Heavenly Father.

This teacher material is your primary resource to help you prepare and teach effective lessons. The lessons in the teacher material present historical information as found in Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Volume 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846; The Joseph Smith Papers; and various autobiographies, reminiscences, letters, and other primary sources created by individuals who took part in the early events of the Church’s history. The assigned student readings for this course are derived entirely from Saints: Volume 1.

Each lesson generally addresses the content from the corresponding student readings in Saints: Volume 1. However, in some cases, lessons will not address all events in the corresponding reading in Saints: Volume 1 or may emphasize events that Saints: Volume 1 does not address or only mentions in passing. As students read in Saints: Volume 1 outside of class, they will follow several narrative strands simultaneously through multiple chapters. This will help them come to understand the general story line and breadth of Church history. In class, students will engage more deeply with firsthand historical accounts, scriptures, doctrine, and principles and have the opportunity to share their thoughts, experiences, and testimonies with one another. As students read outside of class and participate in class, they will benefit from both approaches.

Lesson Preparation

The Lord instructed that the truths of His gospel are to be taught as “directed by the Spirit,” which “shall be given … by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:13–14). As you prepare each lesson, prayerfully seek the guidance of the Spirit.

As part of your preparation, study the assigned student readings for each lesson. This will help you become familiar with some of the historical information addressed in each lesson and can also help you anticipate and prepare to answer questions students may have about that information.

Next, carefully review the teacher material provided for each lesson. The teaching suggestions can help you and your students to incorporate many of the Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning into each lesson. For example, the Lord commanded those who teach His gospel to “teach the principles of my gospel” (D&C 42:12). In this course, doctrine and principles are primarily identified from the scriptures and words of latter-day prophets, although illustrated principles are also drawn from various historical sources. In addition to students being able to identify doctrine and principles, it is important that students understand them, feel their truth and importance through the witness of the Holy Ghost, and apply them in their lives.

You may choose to use all or some of the suggestions within a particular lesson, and you may adapt the suggested ideas according to the direction of the Spirit and the needs and circumstances of the students you teach. When adapting teaching suggestions or substituting ideas of your own, be sure to consider which fundamental outcome a particular teaching suggestion is intended to bring about, and select an alternative teaching idea that will bring about that same outcome.

As you plan each lesson, you may discover that you do not have enough time in a class period to use all the teaching suggestions in the teacher material. Seek the direction of the Spirit and prayerfully consider the needs of your students as you determine which portions of the lesson to emphasize in order to help students feel the truth and importance of gospel truths and apply them in their lives. If time is short, you may need to adapt other portions of the lesson by briefly summarizing an event or by guiding students to quickly identify a principle or doctrine before moving on to the next portion of the lesson.

When considering how to adapt lesson materials, be sure to follow this counsel from President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency:

Dallin H. Oaks

“President [Boyd K.] Packer has often taught, in my hearing, that we first adopt, then we adapt. If we are thoroughly grounded in the prescribed lesson that we are to give, then we can follow the Spirit to adapt it” (“A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks” [Seminaries and Institutes of Religion satellite broadcast, Aug. 7, 2012]).

During your lesson preparation, you might choose to use the Notes tool on or in the Gospel Library app for mobile devices. You can use this tool to mark scriptures, conference addresses, Church magazine articles, and lessons. You can also add and save notes for use during your lessons. To learn more about how to use this tool, see the Notes help page on

How This Teacher Material Is Organized

Religion 341 is designed as a one-semester course. This teacher material contains 28 lessons. Each lesson is intended to be taught during a 50-minute class session. If your class meets twice each week, you would teach one lesson for each class session. If your class meets only once each week for 90 to 100 minutes, it is recommended that you teach two lessons for each class session.

The lessons in this teacher material consist of the following features:

Introduction and Timeline

Each lesson begins with a brief introduction to the Church history events that will be studied in that lesson. In addition, each introduction is accompanied by a timeline. The timeline will provide you with a basic overview of Church history events pertinent to the lesson.

Student Readings

With the exception of lesson 1, the assigned student readings for each lesson are listed just after the introduction and timeline. Encourage students to prepare for each class by completing the student readings from Saints: Volume 1 before coming to class. This will help students fulfill their role in the learning process. Many lessons provide suggestions of how you might follow up on the assigned student readings by inviting students to share what they learned. In addition, each lesson (with the exception of lesson 28) concludes with an invitation for students to prepare for the next class by completing the assigned student readings.

Suggestions for Teaching

The main body of each lesson contains guidance and ideas for how you might teach particular Church history events, including historical information, scripture references, questions, quotations, maps, images, diagrams, activities, and handouts. These ideas demonstrate how to incorporate the Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning into your teaching to help students deepen their conversion to the Lord and His gospel.

Contextual Summary

The historical information and teaching ideas presented in each lesson are generally divided into smaller segments. Each segment begins with a heading that provides a contextual summary of the events addressed in that segment of the lesson.

Doctrine and Principles

In the body of each lesson, you will find key doctrine and principles in bold. These doctrine and principles are identified in the curriculum because they are key truths that can help students deepen their relationship with the Lord, or they are particularly applicable to the needs and circumstances of students today. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency has counseled: “As you prepare a lesson, look in it for converting principles. … A converting principle is one that leads to obedience to the will of God” (“Converting Principles” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 2, 1996], 1). Be aware that this teacher material does not attempt to identify all doctrine and principles that might be taught in a study of the Church’s history.

The teaching suggestions in this material provide students with many opportunities to identify doctrine and principles. The lessons may also suggest occasions when you as the teacher may choose to identify a doctrine or principle. As students identify truths that they discover, be careful not to suggest that students’ answers are wrong simply because the words they use to express them differ from those used in the material or because they identify a truth that is not mentioned in the curriculum. However, if a student’s statement could be more accurate or is doctrinally incorrect, kindly clarify or correct his or her understanding while maintaining an atmosphere of love and trust.

Teaching Helps

Teaching helps are included with the teaching suggestions throughout the lessons. These teaching helps explain the Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning and offer guidance on the effective use of various teaching methods, skills, and approaches. As you come to understand the principles contained in the teaching helps, look for ways to apply them consistently in your teaching.

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Supplemental Teaching Ideas appear at the end of some lessons. These provide suggestions for teaching events, doctrine, and principles that may not be identified or emphasized in the main body of the lesson. They may also provide additional resources, such as videos portraying specific Church history events. You should not feel obligated to use these teaching ideas. Rather, you should make decisions about whether to use these suggestions based on the time available, the needs of your students, and the guidance of the Spirit.

Student Expectations for Graduation Credit

To receive credit toward institute graduation, students are required to attend at least 75 percent of classes, read the text for the course (Saints: Volume 1), and complete an Elevate Learning Experience.

Adapting Lessons for Those with Disabilities

As you prepare to teach, be mindful of students who have particular needs. Adjust activities and expectations to help them succeed. Seek ways to help them feel loved, accepted, and included. Foster a relationship of trust.

For more ideas and resources, consult the Disability Resources page at and the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion policy manual section titled “Adapted Classes and Programs for Students with Disabilities.”