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From the Archives: Wilford Woodruff Correcting Church History “Mistakes” (Huntington Journal)

By: Guest - September 20, 2012

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…)

1829 Mormon Discovery Brought to you by…Guest Erin Jennings

By: Robin - August 21, 2012

The following post comes from intrepid researcher by Erin Jennings. Erin (BS, Cameron University; MSE, Arkansas State University) is an independent historian and current board member of the John Whitmer Historical Association. Among her areas of focus, Erin has extensively researched Jesse Gause, Charles Anthon, and the Whitmer family. She has published, “The Consequential Counselor: Restoring the Root(s) of Jesse Gause,” in the Journal of Mormon History, and “The Whitmer Family Beliefs and Their Church of Christ,” in the book Scattering of the Saints: Schism Within Mormonism, edited by Newell G. Bringhurst and John C. Hamer. The Juvenile Instructor thanks Erin for kindly sharing an important document she recently found:

A relentless eight-year search has finally come to an end for me. Thanks to an ever-growing trove of digital tools, I’ve finally located an elusive Oliver Cowdery letter that in February 1830 Cornelius Blatchly claimed was reproduced in a New York newspaper in 1829.

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Climbing Up the Child’s Ladder: Catechism for Little Saints

By: Tona H - August 04, 2012

I stumbled on this little gem while looking for something else in the Internet Archive’s collection of Mormon publications [1] and was both charmed and intrigued by it. The pamphlet is a 16-page tract, titled “The Latter-day Saints’ Catechism: Or, Child’s Ladder,” by Elder David Moffat. Subtitle: “Being a Series of Questions Adapted for the Use of the Children of Latter-day Saints.” (more…)

From the Archives: “Wait Till the Clouds Roll by Zion”

By: Tod R. - July 31, 2012

One fascinating document that has been submitted to the Saints of Alberta Project (SAP) is this page of lyrics for a folk hymn composed by “H. Garner” on April 17, 1884, titled “Wait till the clouds roll by Zion”:

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From the Archives: “Who May Bear the Priesthood?”

By: Tod R. - July 21, 2012

I came across an intriguing article not long ago, published in a 1927 issue of the Cumorah Monthly Bulletin. The Bulletin was the official publication of the South African Mission from 1927-1970.[1] I suppose you know what’s coming next based on the title of this post, so I might as well get right to it.

WHO MAY BEAR THE PRIESTHOOD?

This is a subject of frequent inquiry in the South African Mission, where so many good people are unable to declare, with certainty, a genealogy pure from the Hamite or Canaanitish blood.[2] (more…)

From the Archives: Hannah Tapfield King’s Introduction to Polygamy

By: Ben P - April 02, 2012

[If Elder Holland was correct in his General Conference talk from saturday that we are never too far along the path of sin to repent and return to God's fold, then I hope I can make amends for not participating in March's Women's History Month by reproducing a revealing document written by one of my female idols.]

Hannah Tapfield King (1807-1886) was a fascinating woman. Born in Cambridge, England, to Peter Tapfield, a land steward and second son of the 5th Duke of Leeds, and Mary Lawson, daughter of one of the most respected families of Yorkshire, she was married at a young age to Thomas Owen King–an arrangement between the King and Tapfield families that set Hannah for a life of wealth and comfort. While living in Cambridge shortly after her fortieth birthday, she was introduced to the Mormon message and went through a long, complicated, and intense investigation period. (Probably worth its own post.) Finally, on April 17th, 1851, she was “buried in the liquid grave and raised up out of it in the likeness of the burial and resurrection of our Saviour.” Her baptism brought a lot of trouble: it was in the midst of a debate concerning Mormonism in the Cambridge area, and Hannah, before a highly respected member of the community, received much condemnation from her peers. Even worse, her parents strongly disapproved of her decision, and were almost apoplectic when she announced she would be immigrating to Utah. Fortunately, her husband, though he never joined the LDS church, was supportive and even agreed to move with her to the American west two years later. (more…)

From the Archives: A Bickertonite Missionary Among the Lakotas

By: David G. - July 18, 2011

Last week my wife and I spent five days conducting field research for my dissertation in the National Archives, Central Plains Region branch in Kansas City, Missouri. Although I’m not writing on a Mormon topic, we flagged anything that might have a Mormon connection in the Bureau of Indian Affairs files we were examining. On Friday, my wife Hope turned to me with an excited look on her face, and handed me this piece of paper: (more…)

From the Archives: “American Independence Declared Over Again”

By: Ben P - July 04, 2011

John Adams imagined that America would always celebrate July 1776 as the beginning point of American freedom, but he was off a few days. “The Second Day of July 1776,” he wrote, “will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.” If Adams was mistaken on the exact date, he was prescient concerning the celebrations. “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade with shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Witnessing the pompous proceedings that surround Independence day—especially here in Utah County—reminds me that Adams was certainly at least half-right. (more…)

Young ladies, absent missionaries, and the peep stones that bind them (1850s Utah Territory)

By: Stan - March 02, 2011

It seems to be a common assumption that the use of folk magic objects like peep stones and divining rods had pretty well died out by the time the Saints arrived in the Great Basin. At least, we don’t talk much about them being used after that. When we speak of seer stones in a Mormon context Joseph Smith’s early treasure digging days, Book of Mormon translation, and Hiram Page are typically the topic of discussion. Such instruments were used for finding treasure, translating ancient texts, for revelation, and, in a few cases, for locating lost objects.

A while ago I came across a few references to the use of a “peep stone” that surprised me for several reasons. The date was later than I would have expected: 1856. And the peeper was younger than I expected: about 14 or 15. And the object of peeping was rather unusual. (more…)

From the Archives: Wynetta Martin’s autobiography, Black Mormon Tells Her Story

By: David G. - February 17, 2011

In the late 1960s, a black woman named Wynetta Martin joined the church in California, finding in Mormonism a loving God with whom she could identify. Martin moved to Utah at a time when the church was seeking to diversify its public face in response to boycotts of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and BYU. It was therefore a combination of her own tenacity as an individual (she drove all night from Los Angeles to make her audition) and the church’s need to adapt to changing circumstances that allowed Martin to become the first African American member of the Tabernacle Choir and the first black instructor at BYU (she taught classes on “Black Culture” in the Nursing department). (more…)

The LDS Church in the London Times, 1830s and 1840s

By: Ardis S - February 03, 2011

One of the first references to the LDS Church in London’s newspaper The Times occurred on 6 November 1838, when The Times correspondent on Ireland made a passing derogatory remark on a “scene of uproar and confusion that would be sufficient to disgrace an assemblage of Mormonites.” The author also stated that these “Mormonites” were led “by that transatlantic ruffian who styles himself the true prophet of God.” [1] Nearly three years later, another article in the news section stated that “A good deal of curiosity has been excited in this city during the last few days by the departure of great numbers of deluded country people (Mormonites), old and young, for the ‘New Jerusalem’ in America.” The author believed that these “unfortunate dupes” were motivated by the idea “that on their arrival at the American paradise they shall be made young again and shall live for a thousand years.” [2] (more…)

From the Archives: “Mormonism in New York and Utah.”

By: matt b. - January 26, 2011

From Evangelical Christendom 12 (1870), 27.

Evangelical Christendom, published out of London, was the official journal of the World Evangelical Alliance, organized in Britain in 1846 to coordinate and promote evangelical mission work around the globe.  (An American affiliate was organized in New York City in  1847.) The journal was annual, but also comprehensive; routinely hundreds of pages long, containing book reviews, conference reports, missionary dispatches from around the globe, and a section entitled “Foreign Intelligencer,” made up of dispatches from countries around the world on the state of evangelical religion.   “Mormonism in New York and Utah” is one of these.

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The Lamanite “Great Reversal”: A Reception History of 3 Nephi 20:15-16*

By: David G. - January 13, 2011

Last Columbus Day, I wrote a post on Mark Ashurst-McGee’s dissertation and the radical and subversive nature of the Book of Mormon. (more…)

“I did receive and wrote it.”: Wm. E. McLellin and Written Commandments in Early Mormonism

By: David G. - November 18, 2010

Despite being a member of the first Quorum of the Twelve, to most members of the church today William E. McLellin, if he’s known at all, is associated primarily with D&C 67. The revelation was received at the November 1831 conference, where the publication of Joseph Smith’s revelations was discussed in detail. (more…)

Ezra Booth and Commandments in Early Mormonism

By: David G. - November 16, 2010

Ezra Booth, a former Methodist minister, he converted to Mormonism in 1831 after witnessing a miraculous healing performed by Joseph Smith. Booth initially found the Mormon message very compelling, especially the promise of spiritual gifts and the imminent establishment of the New Jerusalem. But as months passed, Booth found the gap between expectation and result to widen, as in his mind the spiritual gifts did not come in the manner he hoped and the site of the New Jerusalem in Missouri (see D&C 57) was not the land of milk and honey he envisioned (as described in D&C 38:18). He also didn’t like the June 1831 (D&C 52) commandment to walk to Missouri for the dedication of the temple site, or the August 1831 commandment to walk back to Ohio (D&C 60), preaching along the way (at 800 miles one way, I wonder how many people actually liked the thought of that), and he became increasingly critical of JS and other Mormon leaders. In early September, the church conference silenced Booth from preaching, and over the next few months he published a series of letters in the local newspaper, the Ohio Star. (more…)

“Such an idea is worse than atheism”: Joseph Smith, Proxy Baptisms, and Sectarianism

By: David G. - September 19, 2009

In preparing my priesthood lesson on baptisms for the dead for tomorrow (lesson 41), I’ve been going through the omissions from the text. As JNS pointed out awhile back, some of these omissions are pretty interesting. Here’s the text of Joseph Smith’s October 1841 speech on baptisms for the dead (more…)

On writing Mormon women’s history

By: Steve Fleming - July 24, 2009

So in my ever-stewing never-ending revisions of my work on Mormonism in the Philadelphia area, I’ve decided that I need to say more about women. This is a challenge since my sources are overwhelmingly written by men. I do have some detailed journals that I can mine better than I have though.

Anyway, up at the archives the other day and I came across another letter from a woman in the area (making a total of 5 letters by women in all). (more…)

Through Missourian Eyes: Remembering the Mormon War in Missouri

By: David G. - April 02, 2009

We recently had a stirring discussion over at BCC concerning the causes of the 1838 conflict in Missouri. Much of the discussion concentrated not on the historical evidence that has survived, but on the role of bias in determining what gets included and what gets left out when individuals narrate the past. (more…)

Gendering the Memory of the Haun’s Mill Massacre

By: David G. - March 27, 2009

So, I am more than a little embarrassed that almost all of Women’s History month has passed and the JI has not published even one post on women and Mormonism. I was hoping to put together a more analytical post on how gender shaped some of the early Mormon narratives and poems written after the expulsion from Missouri, but that’s a project that will have to wait for now. But here is an Eliza R. Snow poem that describes the Haun’s Mill massacre. How does Snow use gender to shape the memory of the massacre? (more…)

Avoiding the “Dupes of the Mormon Delusion”: An Antebellum Unitarian Weighs in on Mormon Success

By: Ben P - February 06, 2009

(I am taking a break from Woodruff for a moment, and thought I would post something related to Unitarianism in honor of Ryan T’s guest-blogging.)

The quick success of early Mormonism came as a shock to many contemporaries. This left religious thinkers scrambling to find a way to account for this “heretical” movement’s growth, attempting to explain why so many people were finding the Mormon message so persuasive. (more…)

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