John Turner wraps up the JI’s roundtable discussion of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet.
Four-and-a-half years ago, during my initial research trip to Utah, I ventured down to Provo and had lunch with Spencer Fluhman and several of his students. Among them were David Grua and Chris Jones (and Stan Thayne, I think). The Juvenile Instructor was a newborn blog at the time. So it’s a bit surreal for me to have read the topical reviews of Pioneer Prophet over the past six weeks at this blog.
I love the field of Mormon history for many reasons. The rich sources. The voluminous scholarship. Most of all, I love the fact that so many people care about the Mormon past. This has some downsides. It makes the field contentious and testy. One need only read the “letters” section of the most recent Journal of Mormon History. Such contention, however, is more than outbalanced by the passion that so many individuals bring to their writing and to conversations about Mormon history. That passion is contagious.
[JI's good friend Joey Stuart shares some reflections on reading David Haglund's article on D. Michael Quinn.]
David Haglund’s excellent article on Slate yesterday provoked pity and some personal soul-searching on my part. Haglund highlights the rise and fall of D. Michael Quinn, one of the most important figures in the study of Mormon History. Quinn’s relationship with President Boyd K. Packer, from his interview with President Packer to be hired at BYU to President Packer’s alleged involvement in the Church disciplinary council that cost Quinn his membership in the LDS Church. Rather than placing Quinn with the 5 other members of the “September Six,” my thoughts turned to Asher Lev, from the protagonist of My Name is Asher Lev.[i] (more…)
Connell O’Donovan is an independent researcher, genealogist, and historian of early Mormonism. He has generously shared the following material related to his volume of Augusta Adams Cobb Young’s life writings, forthcoming with the University of Utah Press.
In transcribing the scores of letters and drafts in the Augusta Adams Cobb files, archived in the Theodore Schroeder Collection on Mormonism at the Wisconsin Historical Society, I found an undated draft of a letter (PDF of the holograph document here), which may be the earliest written account of the massacre at Mountain Meadows in September 1857.[i] (more…)
We recently invited Jared Farmer, associate professor of history at Stony Brook University and author of On Zion’s Mount, to answer some questions about his latest project, Mormons in the Media, 1830–2012.
What was the genesis of this (e-book) project? Did it start as a casual interest that only later became a serious project? Was it an outgrowth of teaching?
All of the above. The past couple of years I spent a lot of time creating a personal archive of historic images for use in my lecture courses. In the process I got quite good at finding images online—using familiar search engines (e.g., Google Images, Flickr), as well as some obscure sites, and many educational databases that are inaccessible to non-academics because of paywalls. This past spring, once Romney cinched the GOP nomination, I decided it would be worthwhile—and fun—to put my image-finding skills to public use. What began as a diversion from my book manuscript (Trees in Paradise: A California History, due out next year) became a minor obsession; what was supposed to be a little online illustrated essay on portrayals of Mormon facial hair became Mormons in the Media. I ended up spending far more time than I budgeted, and I used up my professorial tithing on eBay buying LDS ephemera. (more…)
By friend of the JI Joseph Stuart
Whilst transcribing portions of the Oliver Huntington journals for a paper to be presented at the Utah State Historical Society, I stumbled upon this gem in Oliver’s stake conference notes. The conference’s visiting authority was apostle and Church Historian Wilford Woodruff, who made considerable efforts to address certain rumors/falsehoods circulating about LDS Church History in his address. (more…)
MARK ASHURST-MCGEE is a historian and documentary editor with the Joseph Smith Papers Project, where he specializes in document analysis and documentary editing methodology. He holds a PhD in history from Arizona State University and has trained at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents. He is a coeditor of the first volume in the Journals series and of the first volume of the Histories series of the Joseph Smith Papers. He is an author of peer-reviewed articles on Joseph Smith and early Mormon history. The following selection is taken from his 2008 dissertation: “Zion Rising: Joseph Smith’s Early Social and Political Thought.” Other works growing out of his dissertation are published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Mormon History (“Zion in America: The Origins of Mormon Constitutionalism” [vol. 38, no. 3 - Summer 2012]: 90-101) and in the just recently released anthology War and Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives (Kofford Books, 2012). Selections from his dissertation have also appeared here at the Juvenile Instructor, here and here. Ashurst-McGee is currently working on articles on political restorationism and Zion nationalism along the path of turning the dissertation into a monograph.
Joseph Smith’s Enoch expansion built on that for Enoch’s grandfather Enos, the grandson of Adam. Due to the “secret works of darkness” that had pervaded the land, Enos led “the residue of the people of God . . . out from the land which was called Shulon and dwelt in a land of promise, which he called after his own son whom he had named Cainan.” (more…)
Edward Blum is associate professor of history at San Diego State University. He is the author of Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898 (2005), W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet (2007), and most recently, co-author (with Paul Harvey) of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America (2012), which will be available next month. He is the co-editor (with Paul Harvey) of The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History (2012), (with Jason R. Young) The Souls of W. E. B. Du Bois: New Essays and Reflections (2009), and (with W. Scott Poole) Vale of Tears: New Essays on Religion and Reconstruction (2005). Ed also blogs at Religion in American History and Teaching United States History.
By Pete Wosnik
Last fall I took a class from Dr. Philip Barlow at USU called Religion, Evil, and Human Suffering. This was really big class, not in terms of the amount of students who took it, but rather in its subject matter as well as its breadth. Mormonism was only allotted a few precious class hours, but the class gave me an added appreciation for Mormon theological contributions to the larger world. Something I quickly learned in the course was that all religious traditions have grappled with the problems of pain, suffering, and evil; indeed, most religions are born in such conditions. (more…)
Joseph Stuart is a BA student in American Studies at Brigham Young University, entering his last semester. He recently “rocked the GRE” in the words of his fiancee, and is planning on going to grad school in history or religious studies. He has worked on several fascinating projects, one of which examines the social history of the Woodruff Manifesto, from which the following document is taken. Let’s give a warm welcome to Joseph.
This summer I have had the good fortune to work for the Charles Redd Center at BYU, attempting to examine responses to the 1890 Woodruff Manifesto. By canvasing nearly 1000 journals, diaries and autobiographies, I found a veritable cornucopia of results, from the bemused to the belligerent. (more…)
By Pete Wosnik
This week I’ve been reading through primary sources of converts to Mormonism who lived in Kirtland- and the surrounding counties- in 1830. In my initial research, I have used boap.org and saintswithouthalos.com to examine narratives by Levi Hancock, Lyman Wight, and Josiah Jones. Saintswithouthalos.com also has the Ohio 1830 census uploaded which has proven to be very helpful. I’ve also consulted Staker’s Hearken O Ye People, Givens and Grow’s Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism, and Van Wagoner’s Sidney Rigdon: Portrait of Religious Excess. These resources have laid a groundwork for my thesis; however, I plan to consult original documents and other sources in the archives at BYU, U of U, and the CHL. (more…)
[This is the first guest post from Saskia Tielens.]
Last spring, I taught a course called The Book of Mormon and American Culture at the TU Dortmund University in Dortmund, Germany. It was an elective class and meant for undergraduate students.
The first thing my students asked me last spring was whether I was Mormon.
Actually, that’s not true. The first thing they asked me was something incomprehensible in German. Since I prefer my German the American way (slowly and loudly), I stared at them for a moment before letting them know that however much I appreciated being addressed as Frau Tielens (it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?), Ms. Tielens would do for now. (more…)
By Pete Wosnik
I have long been interested in the cultural influences that helped shape Mormonism. This fascination led me to ask questions about conversion: what accounts for Mormonism’s success, and why did early converts find it so appealing? Delving into the subject I quickly realized that there is a rich historiography full of brilliant scholars grappling with these questions. Whitney Cross and Mario DePillis were some of the earliest scholars to debate these topics. And while they used very limited data, they were in agreement that early Mormons were generally poor coming from the fringes of society. These author’s ideas were rooted in a socioeconomic theory that those unhappy with their current situation are more likely to join radical movements. (more…)
Christopher Rich’s response to Nate Ricks’ review of “The True Policy for Utah: Servitude; Slavery; and ‘An Act in Relation to Service,’” Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 80, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 54-74.
I was very happy to learn of this forum for discussing LDS History, and jumped at Nate’s invitation to have lunch and discuss the history of servitude in Utah. I found his master’s thesis to be invaluable when I first began to research this area, and thoroughly enjoyed speaking with him about this nuanced and highly interesting topic. (more…)
Nate Ricks’ response to Christopher Rich Jr.’s article “The True Policy for Utah: Servitude; Slavery; and ‘An Act in Relation to Service,’” Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 80, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 54-74.
When JI introduced the “Responses” series a few weeks ago, Amy T. suggested that someone review Chris’s fascinating article. David G. invited me to give it a go, since I examined the same topic in my master’s thesis in 2007. When I looked up Chris’s contact info, I was delighted to find that we currently live in the same city. We arranged a lunch date and had a great time discussing slavery in Utah while devouring Mexican food. (more…)
Thanks to J. Stapley for his post contributing to Women’s History Month here at the Juvenile Instructor.
It has been a year or so since the article on female ritual healing that Kristine and I wrote was published (available here). In that time I have continued to gather sources relating to the topic as I come across them. Without looking particularly hard (once you start looking, references are ubiquitous), I have gathered seventy-four more examples and added them to the database. In the last couple weeks, however, I have found two that are fairly unique.
These two texts were both written by non-Mormon women for popular audiences. (more…)
Continued from part 1
The Saints soon shifted the focus of their attention to government at the state level. Acting on perceived signals from the governor’s office of his willingness to provide them with a militia escort to reoccupy their lands—but not to protect them once there—Joseph Smith raised a security force. In the summer of 1834, over two hundred Mormon men gathered from Kirtland and other eastern congregations to march to Missouri. However, news of the Mormon army reached Missouri before the army itself. Seized with war hysteria, the Jackson citizenry prepared to hold the county or die fighting. Smith aborted the venture when his army reached Zion’s exiles in neighboring Clay County and learned that state support for the reoccupation had evaporated. Several months later, however, the state legislature found a new solution to the “Mormon problem” in the creation of Caldwell County. It was commonly understood that Caldwell had been set aside for Mormon settlement. (more…)
Friend of the blog Mark Ashurst-McGee has agreed to share with us his 2010 AHA paper, which provides an overview of the arguments in Mark’s award-winning dissertation on Joseph Smith’s political thought. For those who don’t know Mark’s work, you should stop what you’re doing and start catching up now. He’s currently working as an editor on the Joseph Smith Papers. I’ve broken the paper into two parts. For full documentation, see the dissertation, “Zion Rising: Joseph Smith’s Early Social and Political Thought” (ASU, 2008) –DG
I would like to speak to the fundamental impulse within Mormonism to withdraw from the wider society into a sectarian “Zion”—as Joseph Smith called it—as well as the paradoxical necessity of political involvement to protect this separatist project. (more…)
Nate R. teaches American History to 8th graders and community college students in Colorado Springs. His MA Thesis on slavery in Utah won the MHA’s Best Thesis prize in 2008. His transcription of Joseph F. Smith’s Hawaiian diaries, titled “‘My Candid Opinion’: The Sandwich Islands Diaries of Joseph F. Smith,” is coming out in June.
In summer 2005 I was working as a researcher/writer for the Education in Zion Exhibit at BYU when the exhibit director, philosopher C. Terry Warner, called me into his office. He had been putting a lot of thought into it, he told me, and had decided to assign me to do the background research for one of the permanent Exhibit features: an overview of the life of Joseph F. Smith (EiZ is housed in the Joseph F. Smith Building). (more…)
Todd Compton’s name should be familiar to most serious students of Mormon history. For those unfamiliar with his work, see here.
While my book In Sacred Loneliness: the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Signature 1997) looks carefully at Joseph Smith’s plural wives in Nauvoo, most of the book deals with their lives before and after their marriage to Joseph. Many themes emerged as I wrote those biographies—the experience of living in polygamy in Utah, feminine sisterhood, feminine ritual administration (a theme recently treated in Jonathan Stapley and Kristine Wright’s magnificent paper in the latest Journal of Mormon History), widowhood, mother-daughter relationships, mother-son relationships. In this post I would like to look at one theme from In Sacred Loneliness that really haunted me: loss of a child or children. (more…)
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I live a little over 4000 km from Jonathan Stapley which brings some unique challenges to researching and writing together. Once we had compiled hundreds of healing accounts, they were arranged in a document chronologically. We read through them separately, made notes and then had a couple of marathon phone calls to discuss our findings. During one phone conversation, we discovered multiple appearances of two healers who seemed to work together. Several references to a Sister Piper/Pyper and a Brother Patison/Patterson piqued our interest and led to deeper research into their stories. No familial connection was obvious – Christiana was married to Alexander Pyper and the mother of George D. Pyper who among other things managed the Salt Lake Theatre, was the leading tenor in the Salt Lake Opera Company and the editor of The Juvenile Instructor. Alvus Patterson had four wives, however he did have a daughter named Christiana. They received their patriarchal blessings from the same patriarch on the same day in February 1888.
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