(Introductory note: Elder Jensen also agreed to give a fireside Sunday night. This was given at the beautiful 19030s Berkeley building and we as a ward looked at it as a chance to really show off our building. We gave it a deep clean, flew in an emeritus member with particularly good organ chops, the works. Elder Jensen looked at this fireside more as an opportunity to function in his role as Church Historian and Recorder. He told us he had thought of just making the whole meeting Q&A but the Spirit recommended against that. Instead, he spoke on various topics then took questions as pertaining to those topics.)
(Postintroductory note: As a reminder, my notes are fallible and nothing I write should be construed as being Exactly What Elder Jensen Said. It is entirely possible that I botched up his meaning or intent at some point and so please proceed with caution and assume attempted accuracy on my part. Thanks.)
When called as Church Historian/Recorder, the position had been vacant for several years (about seven). He did not ask President Hinckley why that long hiatus and it's too late now.
Jensen: What are your expectations for me as the Historian.
Hinckley: Read the scriptures and do your duty.
Jensen: What are your expectations of me as Recorder.
Hinckley: I haven't given that a bit of thought. But you better.
The Church is about to begin a big project turning Harmony, Pennsylvania into a Church History site. Upon completion of that, turning US sites into historical attractions will cease and the Church History Department will turn more to the internationalizing of Church History. This has already begun in a small way in Britain and will soon begin in earnest in Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines and other nations.
Each area of the church is working on calling area historians and 50 are already working worldwide to collect the stories of History Happening Now throughout the world.
Minutes for the Council of Fifty and Nauvoo's Relief Society will soon be online, neither of which have ever fully been available before. This is exciting. [That's both a sorta quote and an editorial comment.]
Speaking of Relief Society and history, the History Department is actively soliciting women's writings throughout the Church's history. They're even advertising for such records in the Mormon Times.
Incidentally, this is part of the rehabilitation of Emma.
A new Comprehensive History of the Church is being planned for the bicentennial (2030). The expectation is that it will be four volumes with a massive web component.
History should flow from the individual to the family to the ward to the stake to the area to the Church.
The Church is beginning to digitize the gazillions [my word, not his] of records in Granite Mountain and hopes to have them online by [. . . 2015?].
The Joseph Smith Papers is selling like gangbusters in its first two volumes, 65,000 and 15,000[?] copies respectively. In addition to the books to be published in hardcopy, everything will eventually end up online. [Incidentally, Elder Jensen recently published an article about the second-published volume and Irreantum had a nice review of it, if you are a subscriber.]
The Church no longer needs to apologize for itself or its history. We are in the era of transparency. But we will still always have critics.
Church History Library: The Story Lives Here
Church History Museum: Come Live The Story