The Journal was the proposal of George D. Watt. Watt had recorded several early sermons in Pitman shorthand, and proposed to the Church that this and other material be published, with printing to be done in England where printing costs were cheaper. The First Presidency immediately approved the idea, and officially granted Watt the privilege of preparing and publishing them. Watt recorded the material in the first four volumes of sermons himself, and he continued to contribute through volume twelve, but at least eleven other stenographers were involved.
After recording the sermons, Watt transcribed them and sent them to the speaker for careful review. By far, Young has the most sermons recorded in the Journal, with 390. For at least the first volume, Young personally edited his own sermons. For future volumes, Young helped to select which sermons should be included in the publication, and he assigned his personal secretary to carefully copy-edit the manuscript pages before publication.
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