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A Descriptive Bibliography of Imprints from the Israelite House of David and Mary's City of David, 1902-2010.

A Descriptive Bibliography of Imprints from the Israelite House of David and Mary's City of David, 1902-2010


Clinton, N.Y.: Richard W. Couper Press, 2014. 457 pp.

ISBN 978-1-937370-13-8 ($75.00 paper).

This descriptive annotated bibliography of the Israelite House of David and Mary's City of David imprints is the product of Henry Yaple's multiple-decade census of eleven archives and libraries with public access to their collections. The bibliography "focuses only on Israelite imprints that contain text or meaningful content" (21) and does not include other ephemeral material printed by the Israelites (postcards, train tickets, menus, labels, etc.). The author makes this decision for two reasons. First, when he started this project in 1983, very few ephemera were available in library and archive collections, a situation that he notes has changed over the intervening years. Additionally, he was "neither inclined nor trained to study and evaluate ephemeral paper material" and was "convinced that the ephemeral material from the two Israelite print shops merits its own cataloger/bibliographer" (22).

The author identifies and provides context for 533 known imprints. This is no small accomplishment, as anyone who has perused Israelite publications knows. Title pages are largely absent and dates of publication were rarely recorded. Reprint changes might include a new title, additional text, or a different author. In the last few years before Mary Purnell founded the City of David, the power struggle between the emerging factions at the House of David focused largely on access to the print shop and authorship over important colony publications. Yaple painstakingly ordered many of these editions, using clues such as the chronology of colony mailing addresses and changes in the texts themselves. Yaple's acknowledgement and introduction include information about both the methodology used and the history of the House of David and Mary's City of David. In addition to emphasizing the impressive volume of materials printed by both colonies, Yaple also pays special attention to the importance of the printed word for the members of both. His discussion of the Purnell's hierarchy of information among colony publications is particularly informative (19-21). Yaple correctly identifies the numerous imprints meant for specific audiences (for members only, for members supervising colony industries, for traveling preachers to hand out, etc.) and hints that an analysis of how both the House of David and Mary's City of David communicated with members and nonmembers would be a fruitful area of future research.

The descriptive bibliography is organized into several sections. If the date is known, the section is organized by year and then alphabetically by title. If the date is unknown, the section is organized alphabetically by title. Yaple separates the House of David imprints from the City of David imprints and further separates the dated imprints from those not yet dated. In addition, the court case literature has its own section, as does the single House of David imprint that was not examined (318). Dated 1894, this pamphlet was Mary and Benjamin Purnell's first publication. The text of this pamphlet was reprinted in the September 1924 issue of Shiloh's Messenger of Wisdom, the official monthly newsletter of the House of David (45-49). Even though this pamphlet may no longer exist, Yaple includes it in the bibliography both for its importance and "because inclusion in the bibliography may cause someone to recognize it" (16).

Each entry is numbered consecutively and includes a thorough and specific description of the cover or title page, the imprint itself, the library or archive where the item is located, and Yaple's notes. It is in these notes that the author's knowledge and understanding of the history of both colonies is most evident, as is the thoroughness of his research into these imprints. Some of these notes discuss the specific ways the imprints were dated by the author. For the Brief Pocket Concordance to Extracts and Private Word, Yaple observes that there are two works in this document with separate pagination (64). Additionally, he points out that the texts seem to be written with the aim of converting Israelites from the fifth and sixth churches. For these reasons, "an approximate publication date of 1905 is assigned to this publication because the colony was trying to attract new members in the period 1904-1907" (64). Other notes give details about the important differences between editions, such as noting that the volume 2 of the City of David edition of The Comforter has so many changes from the earlier House of David edition of book II of The Comforter that it should be regarded as another work instead of a later edition (374). Further, Yaple's notes frequently draw attention to themes demonstrated across publications, such as the Purnells' "arresting penchant for secrecy, a strong desire to create an inner circle of believers, a somewhat sensitive paranoia, and a rather amazing faith in the power of the printed word" (33).

Following the 533 annotated entries and 93 color illustrations are more resources for the researcher. These include a select bibliography of articles and monographs about the House of David and City of David, a list of manuscript sources, newspaper articles, and a title index. The three appendices provide chronologies of printing and publishing for each colony, as well as the chronology of City of David post office box numbers. These thoughtful additions make this bibliography an indispensable volume for academics and others interested in the House of David and the City of David.

The importance of this bibliography for those interested in the House of David and City of David, as well as those interested in communal studies in general, is obvious. But the significance and usefulness of this book reaches into religious studies and historiography, and for collectors and archivists struggling to assign publication dates, just to name a few. This substantial bibliography is a significant contribution to these fields and will undoubtedly aid future researchers.


Grand Valley State University
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Author:Van Wormer, Heather
Publication:Communal Societies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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