I am a PhD. candidate at Texas Christian University, studying Native American and Western history. I received my BA and MA from BYU, both in American history. My publications have appeared in BYU Studies and Mormon Historical Studies and I have presented scholarly papers at annual conferences of the Mormon History Association, the John Whitmer Historical Association, the Utah State Historical Society, as well as at the 2007 Bushman Summer Symposium.
Editor, Joseph Smith Papers Project-Church History Department
ID# 106611, Type: Full-Time – Regular
USA – UT – Salt Lake City (more…)
Filed away in the Brigham Young Papers at the Church History Library, there is a document that records the vision of a nineteenth-century prophet. That visionary, however, was not Brigham Young. Rather, it was Arapeen, a leading Ute chief during the Mormons’ first two decades in the Great Basin. That the Saints believed that Arapeen had received a legitimate revelation is revealed in the language they used to categorize the document. John Lowry, Jr., the Manti resident who interpreted for Arapeen, and George Peacock, who acted as scribe, entitled the document “Vision of Arapine on the night of the 4th of Feb 1855.” Later, after it had been sent to Young’s office in Salt Lake City, an unidentified clerk scrawled “The Lord to Arrowpin” in the margins. Arapeen’s vision provides a fascinating window into the Utes’ hybrid religious culture that was in the process of formation in the years following the Mormons’ arrival in 1847. (more…)
By Laura Allred Hurtado, with David G. Note: This represents preliminary and ongoing research for the Armitage painting.
In 1890, British born painter and founder of the Utah Art Association William Armitage created the massive historic painting, Joseph Smith Preaching to the Indians. The artwork, which once hung with prominence in the Salt Lake Temple, now fills the wall leading up to the 2nd floor of the Church History Museum. The scale itself means that it demands the attention of the entire room, standing almost as a sentinel within the space. The painting depicts, as the title suggests, a well-dressed Smith preaching to a crowd of nearly forty American Indians which surround the frame. Smith’s outstretched right arm gestures heavenward while his left hand holds the Book of Mormon, a book that according to historian Ronald W. Walker was “not just a record of the ‘Lamanite’ or Native American people, but a highly unusual manifesto of their destiny.” Smith stands triumphantly and confidently among this crowd of mostly male Indians whose expressions vary from guarded, taken aback, distrusting, perhaps even provoked but in all instances, they are engaged, looking toward Joseph and his distinct message regarding the destiny of North America’s Indigenous peoples. (more…)
Since the JI’s founding in 2007, our permas and guests have spent a lot of time thinking about Mormonism’s encounters with indigenous peoples. Here’s a “blogliography” (ht: Blair) of our past posts on the subject, through October 2013:
Welcome to the Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup! Let’s get down to business.
The ever-insightful Jana Reiss recently published an article with Publishers Weekly, where she attempts to quantify the extent of Mormon Studies publishing. In a teaser posted on her blog, she reports that, while many presses struggle just to break even on most academic books, Mormon tomes tend to outpace expectations. An average (non-Mormon) book has to sell more than 1,500 copies just to stay out of the red. John Turner’s award-winning biography of Brigham Young, put out by Harvard University Press, sold an eye-popping 10,000 copies during its first year in print. Oxford University Press told Jana that the Mormon Studies category in its catalog is easily in the top three in terms of sales, with Massacre at Mountain Meadows ranking in the press’s top ten best sellers in the overall Religion category over the last two decades. Jana doesn’t provide a number for copies sold, but knowledgeable observers associated with the JI suggest that it exceeds 65,000. Although Jana doesn’t address it in her blog post, the number of mid-tier presses trying to get into the Mormon Studies market is also increasing (I’ll defer to Ben, the JI’s resident Mormon Studies watcher, to provide a list in the comments section). This week’s announcement of Fairleigh Dickenson University’s new Mormon Studies series demonstrates this. (more…)
With Andrea R-M
Earlier this month, the Western History Association met in Tucson, Arizona. As always, there was great scholarship, great conversation, and even great Mormon history, with papers by JIers.
The International Church:
Mormonism as a Global Religion
BYU CHURCH HISTORY SYMPOSIUM
March 6–7, 2014
Jointly Sponsored by
The Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, and
The Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
On Wednesday, September 4, 2013, the Joseph Smith Papers Project hosted a launch party for journalists and bloggers to introduce the Documents Series, which will serve as the chronological backbone of the project. Previously, the project has released volumes from Journals Series (2), the Revelations and Translations Series (2, plus an oversized facsimile volume), and the Histories Series (2). The first volume of the Documents Series reproduces in chronological order all of Joseph Smith’s papers from July 1828 to June 1831, beginning with the earliest extant recorded revelation (D&C 3) and concluding with the historic church conference where the high priesthood (that is, the office of high priest) was restored. This was a foundational period in Mormon history, tracking the translation of the Book of Mormon, the recording of the first revelations, the organization of the church, the mission to the “Lamanites,” the beginning of Joseph Smith’s revisions of the Bible, and the beginnings of the first two gathering places of the church–Kirtland and Independence. The editors–Mike Mackay, Gerrit Dirkmaat, Grant Underwood, Bob Woodford, and Bill Hartley, along with other smart people at the JSPP who also contributed–contextualized these issues in commendable fashion. Although images and transcriptions of these documents have been available on the JSPP website for some time, the “value added” of the JSPP editors’ introductions and annotations is well worth paying for the print volume. (more…)
“Do you think President Kimball approves of your action?” This question, asked by an unnamed general authority of the soon-to-be excommunicated Elder George P. Lee of the First Quorum of the 70, captured the lingering tensions over the rapid decline of the “Day of the Lamanite” that had marked Mormon views of Native Americans in the second half of the twentieth century. Lee, the first general authority of Native descent, was himself the product of several of the programs instituted under the direction of Apostle Spencer W. Kimball designed to educate American Indians and aid their acculturation into the dominant society. Even at the time of Lee’s call to the 70 in 1975, the church had begun reallocating resources away from the so-called “Lamanite programs,” but the full implications of these decisions were not apparent until the mid-1980s. Lee responded to the question posed above by laying out a distinct interpretation of 3 Nephi 21:22-23, an interpretation that he argued Kimball had shared and that the General Authorities in the 1980s had abandoned. The 1980s, known as the decade when Church President Ezra Taft Benson challenged the Saints to increase and improve their devotional usage of the Book of Mormon—a challenge that saw marked results, at least as measured by the significant increase of citations to the work in General Conference talks—was also a decade of debate over the meaning of the book’s intended audience and purpose. (more…)
The Historic Sites Division within the Church History Department seeks qualified applicants for the following positions:
Position: Historic Sites Curator – Building Conservator (more…)
Every four years, the Sunday School curriculum cycle hits D&C/Church History. It’s during this time that we’re reminded of the story of Thomas B. Marsh, first President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who left the church in 1838. According to Apostle George A. Smith, whose 1856 telling of this story became the basis of subsequent renditions, in 1838 Elizabeth Marsh got into a dispute with Lucinda Harris over a pint of milk skimmings . Believing that his wife’s good name was at stake, Marsh defended Elizabeth in a series of investigations held, according to Smith, by the Teachers Quorum, the Bishopric, the High Council, and the First Presidency. Smith indicated that, humiliated by each quorum’s decision against Elizabeth, Marsh left the church and swore in an affidavit that the Saints were “hostile towards the State of Missouri.” In Smith’s account, “That affidavit brought from the government of Missouri an exterminating order, which drove some 15,000 Saints from their homes and habitations, and some thousands perished through suffering the exposure consequent on this state of affairs.” (more…)
Position: Church History Web Content Editor/Writer
Purposes: The Church History Department seeks a full-time Web Content Editor/Writer who will be responsible for the research, writing, and editing of a wide range of projects for publication on the Church History Department website (http://history.lds.org/). The Church History Department is seeking to expand its Internet presence through the development of new and unique historical content that will serve Church members and interested outsiders, including researchers and academics. (more…)
ABC-Clio, one of the leading publishers of academic encyclopedias, has announced a new reference volume: Miracles: An Encyclopedia of People, Places and Supernatural Events from Antiquity to the Present. The editor has issued a call for contributors, which makes this a prime opportunity for experts in Mormon history to submit proposals for articles on such subjects at Joseph Smith’s Visions, the Translation of the Book of Mormon, glossalia and healing in early Mormonism, etc. (more…)
John Turner assumed a tall task when he decided to write a biography of Brigham Young, a larger than life personality who, after Joseph Smith, was the defining figure in nineteenth-century Mormonism. Young was a key participant in the church’s founding years and was the driving force behind the Mormon settlement of the Great Basin. As Amanda noted in her contribution to this roundtable, the sheer scope of Young’s life required Turner to not only familiarize himself with a mountain of primary sources, but also the extensive and growing secondary literature on various facets of the second Mormon prophet’s life and environment. She also fairly notes that no biographer (except, perhaps, Richard Bushman) can be reasonably expected to competently cover all parts of a subject’s life equally, which will doubtless leave some readers disappointed. Brigham Young’s engagement with and impact on the Natives of the Great Basin was one area that Turner sought to contextualize within a broader secondary literature and, for the most part, he was highly successful. (more…)
When Larry Echo Hawk was sustained as a Seventy earlier this month, he became just the second self-identifying North American indigenous person to serve as a General Authority. His call came over two decades following the excommunication of his predecessor, George P. Lee, and three decades following the church’s decision to discontinue its programs aimed at American indigenes: the Indian Student Placement Program, the Indian Seminary, and BYU’s Indian programs. Echo Hawk’s experience therefore presents a window into how at least one Mormon Native reared during the twentieth-century’s “Day of the Lamanite” continues to appropriate and utilize a Lamanite identity, at least for a predominantly white audience. Since the early 1990s, Echo Hawk has commented on this subject in talks given at BYU, LDS Church News interviews, and his recent conference talk . (more…)
The Juvenile Instructor is pleased to announce a round table discussion of one of the most important works to appear on Mormon history in recent memory–John G. Turner‘s Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. Turner’s biography, published by Harvard University Press, represents perhaps the apex of what I’ve called elsewhere a “Brigham Young Revival,” as historians have revisited the second Mormon prophet with renewed vigor after a long period of scholarly neglect. In the early twentieth century, historians found Brigham Young to be a far more interesting figure than Joseph Smith, since the former embodied scholars’ fascination with the frontier as the source of American culture and distinctiveness. Smith, by contrast, was usually cast as a womanizing deceiver who preyed upon credulous dupes, whose achievements paled in comparison to those of his successor. By the 1940s, however, scholars began to see Smith in a more positive light, producing several important studies and biographies, while the interest in Young waned. In the post-Civil Rights era, Young’s primary importance for historians lay in his racial policies and controversial theological teachings. Only Leonard Arrington published a major work on Young during this period, whose 1985 Brigham Young: American Moses reflected an earlier era of frontier historiography. (more…)
Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith, and Richard Lloyd Anderson, eds., Journals, Volume 2: December 1841-April 1843 in The Joseph Smith Papers, gen. eds. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011). xl, 558 pp. Cloth: $54.95; ISBN: 978-1-60908-737-1.
On October 2, 1841, Joseph Smith deposited in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, a first edition Doctrine and Covenants, a Bible, and other items deemed sufficiently important to preserve for future generations. Among these was a memorial to the U.S. Senate describing the Latter-day Saints’ persecutions in Missouri and a history of the persecutions published in the Times and Seasons. The addition of these two histories to a repository that included sacred writ demonstrated the degree to which the Latter-day Saints were committed to writing about their persecutions and preserving their writings for subsequent readers. As sociologist Jeffrey K. Olick has noted, “collective memory” is not a single or monolithic “thing,” but a “wide variety of mnemonic products and practices,” which only “gain reality by being used, interpreted, and reproduced or changed.” Early Mormon writings on persecution, then, are best understood as mnemonic products that were gradually “used, interpreted, and reproduced” as they shaped how Mormons and others remembered the past. (more…)
Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860, by Anne F. Hyde. History of the American West Series. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011. xiii-xv, 628 pp.
The great project of turning the West into part of the United States, initiated in 1803 and begun in earnest in the 1840s, had made little progress in many places. Much remained flexible and contingent about life on its complex border into the second half of the nineteenth century. Residents of the West seemed quite ambivalent about nationality, easily claiming new citizenship when it served personal or business needs. During a time when no one knew which nation or empire would finally impose control, effective trade was the sole source of power. And it continued to be a world defined by personal connections. (30)
So argues Anne Hyde, Professor of History at Colorado College, in Empires, Nations, and Families, winner of the prestigious Bancroft Prize earlier this year. (more…)
At 6 a.m. on July 24, 1947, the centennial of the Mormon Pioneers’ entrance into the Salt Lake Valley, the first spectators arrived at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, Utah. By mid-morning, perhaps ten thousand cars were parked over several square miles, with as many as fifty thousand attendees waiting for the festivities to begin. They had gathered to witness the dedication of the sixty-foot tall “This is the Place” Monument, which would honor not only the Latter-day Saint Pioneers, but also the Spanish, British, and American forerunners who had laid a foundation for the Mormon settlement of the Great Basin. At 9:30, the Boy Scouts raised the American and Utah state flags, while the U.S. Marines band from San Diego, California, began playing “America.” Church President George Albert Smith, as master of ceremonies, introduced the program and delivered the dedicatory prayer. Speakers included J. Rueben Clark and David O. McKay, Smith’s counselors in the First Presidency; the Most Rev. Duane G. Hunt, bishop of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese; Rt. Rev. Arthur W. Moulton, retired Episcopalian bishop of Utah; and Rabbi Alvin S. Luchs of Temple B’Nai Israel, all of whom were members of the monument commission. The dedication marked an important occasion in what Laurie Maffly-Kipp has called the “Long Approach to the Mormon Moment,”as Latter-day Saints sought to claim a prominent place both in the present and the past of the American nation. (more…)
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In recent years, historians have looked beyond Utah’s borders to Arizona as a fruitful place to explore the dynamics of race, gender, and class among Mormons in the American West. Two works that have appeared of late include Mormons as prominent actors in Arizona’s history, Daniel J. Herman’s Hell on the Range: A Story of Honor, Conscience, and the American West (2010) and Katherine Benton-Cohen’s Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (2011). Herman examines the Rim County War of the 1880s, which violently drew together Mormons, cowboys, New Mexican sheepherders, Jewish merchants, mixed-blood ranchers, and eastern corporations. Many Mormons, with their “code of conscience,” stood opposed to Southern whites’ “culture of honor” (although Herman is careful to note that these categories were always porous). Benton-Cohen analyzes interracial interactions in Cochise County between Mormons, Mexicans and Mexican Americans, Apaches, Chinese merchants, white Midwestern transplants, white female reformers, Serbian miners, and New York mine managers. She asks how racial categories developed along with national identities in the borderlands. In both works, the authors use Mormons to complicate facile notions of “whiteness.” (more…)