The encyclopedia begins with an overview of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—six essays cover the church's history from Joseph Smith's first vision in 1820 to its current global status. This provides a context for subsequent sections of alphabetically organized entries on key events and key figures in Mormon history. A final section looks at important issues such as the church's organization and government, its teachings on family, Mormonism and blacks, Mormonism and women, and Mormonism and Native Americans. Together, these essays and entries, along with revealing primary sources, portray the Mormon experience like no other available reference work.
With a promising discovery of silver at stake, the United States Congress intervened in an effort to shore up Nevada’s mining frontier, while simultaneously addressing both the "Mormon Question" and the "Indian Problem." Even though federal officials redrew the Utah/Nevada/Arizona borders and created a reservation for the Southern Paiutes, the three groups continued to fashion their own space, independent of the new boundaries that attempted to keep them apart.
When the dust on the southern rim of the Great Basin finally settled, a hierarchy of power emerged that disentangled the three groups according to prevailing standards of Americanism. As Reeve sees it, the frontier proved a bewildering mixing ground of peoples, places, and values that forced Mormons, miners, and Southern Paiutes to sort out their own identity and find new meaning in the mess.