I recently returned from my vacation to Tahiti. While I was there, I discovered a set of playing cards where each of the cards was a different person from Tahitian history from the reign of Queen Pomare. Iotete, a Tahitian chief who signed a document requesting that the French annex the islands, appears on a blue card wearing a feathered headdress and a red European-style coat. The card also shows him as being heavily tattooed and wearing a grim expression. Another card depicts Constance Gordon-Cumming, a Scottish travel writer who traveled to Tahiti in the 1870s and wrote extensively about her travels. She appears as a young woman, dressed in a stylish red hat and yellow ribbons. Although the Mormon missionaries Addison Pratt, Benjamin F. Grouard, and James Brown had their own corner (complete with facsimiles of their journals) in the Musee de Tahiti, they didn’t make the cut for the playing cards. (more…)
Though the weather refuses to acknowledge it, at least here in New England, spring has arrived. Among other things, this typically means new issues from academic journals. And since we are your trusted friends and colleagues here at the JI, and we hate to see you get bogged down and fall behind the ever-proceeding deluge of Mormon historical scholarship, we have a roundup of recent articles that deserve your attention. (more…)
In my last few posts I have looked at discourse around early female Mormon missionaries. Below is the text of “Lady Missionaries,” published in The Young Woman’s Journal in 1904, six-and-a-half years after the first Sister Missionary was set apart. The author is Joseph W McMurrin, one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy, and thus one of the chief administrators in the Church’s missionary program. Note, however, that only about a third of the 1,500+ words come from McMurrin; the balance are from mission presidents. Since the article quotes four of the six US mission presidents, I think the article gives a reliable snap-shot of the leadership view at the time. (more…)
This week, I am traveling throughout New Zealand and Tahiti, partially as a vacation and partially as an initial foray into two of the countries that I write about in my dissertation. As someone who works on Mormon missionaries in the South Pacific and Great Britain, I spend a lot of time reading the journals, diaries, and letters of Protestant missionaries who have encountered Mormons in their mission stations and among their congregations. Sometimes their comments are unsurprising – the usual vituperative rants about golden plates and polygamy that you would expect to find in the writings of any non-Mormon who had encountered Mormon missionaries for the first time. At other times, the letters and diaries that I read can be surprising in their lack of interest and nonchalance about the appearance of sudden appearance of Mormonism. (more…)
The Digital Public Library of America, a project that has been in development for a few years, is now live on the Internet. The DPLA follows in the footsteps of Europeana, a similar initiative in the EU that brings together diverse collections throughout the European Union’s libraries, archives, and museums. One way of thinking about the DPLA is to see it as a super-catalog of materials spread across the contiguous United States in thousands of local, state, and federal institutions. The current “beta” version of the site already has 2+ million records aggregated from “hubs” such as the Digital Library of Georgia, Kentucky Digital Library, Minnesota Digital Library, ArtStor, Biodiversity Heritage Library, National Archives and Records Administration, New York Public Library, University of Virginia, Mountain West Digital Library, etc. Additional partners are being announced almost daily. So pump yourself up and get searching! (more…)
New Article: “Early Mormon Patriarchy and the Paradoxes of Democratic Religiosity in Jacksonian America”
Desperate times (the expected dearth of posts at the end of the semester) call for desperate measures (narcissistically posting about our own scholarship).
In summer 2009, I participated in the Mormon Scholars Summer Seminar, that year led by Terryl Givens and Matt Grow, where I had the opportunity to study the writings of the Pratt brothers. While my seminar paper was on Parley Pratt’s theology of embodiment, which soon evolved into a larger article on early Mormon theologies of embodiment in general, the topic with which I became particularly transfixed was how Joseph Smith’s teachings were adapted and appropriated during the first few years after his death. At first, I was interested in the very parochial nature of the issue—the specifics of theological development, who said what and when, and what ideas were forgotten, emphasized, or even created anew. But I then became even more interested in broader questions: how were Smith’s ideas interpreted in the first place within a specific cultural environment, and how did Smith’s successors utilize that environment when molding their own theology? And further, what does that process tell us about the development of religious traditions in general, and the progression of religion in antebellum America in particular? (more…)
I make it out to the US most summers, but when I don’t, there is one thing I miss more than absolutely anything: a baseball game. I have many fond memories of exciting baseball games in the heat of summer, cheering on my beloved Oakland A’s or San Francisco Giants (we’re equal opportunity Bay Area supporters at my house). And since April is the month of Opening Day, I thought I’d round up something about Mormons and baseball. (more…)
The first official, female, Mormon missionary was set apart on 1898 March 27. Ten days later, George Q Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke at General Conference. As presented in the conference report, he spent 2 out of 14.5 columns on the decision to call female missionaries. Below I give a five-hundred-word summary for those of you in a hurry and then the unbroken thirteen-hundred-word excerpt. (more…)
Sister Carling’s mission call identifies “faithful, discreet sisters” as candidates for missionary service.  Perhaps I have an idiosyncratic definition, but I think “discreet” is “prudently silent and/or unobtrusive,”  which seems odd as a primary descriptor for go-ye-into-all-the-world missionaries—and doubly so parallel to the “faithful, energetic elders” in males’ mission letters.  Below I will attempt to contextualize the idea of “discreet” female, Mormon missionaries in the Progressive Era.  (more…)
Boycotting General Conference 40 Years Ago: The Lamanite Generation, the American Indian Movement, and Temple Square
A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation at the University of Michigan on what benefits there might be to considering Utah as a settler colonial space. As part of a section on the political implications of adopting such a posture, I included some photos of the Lamanite Generation, a group of BYU students who toured the United States as part of an all-native choir. Afterwards, one of my friends who studies twentieth-century American Indian history came up to me. She was horrified: “That’s when the American Indian Movement was happening. Hadn’t they heard of it?”
I didn’t know the answer. The American Indian Movement (AIM) was a radical movement founded in the late 1960s that protested the poverty and violence that was endemic among native communities in the twentieth century. They staged massive protests that insisted that Americans recognize that its treaties with native tribes were not being honored and that many of the most iconic buildings and monuments in the United States were on land that, by treaty, belonged to American Indians. (more…)
This is the part of the year when posting slows down here at JI, as the end of another semester–and the prospect of final papers, grading, committee duties, etc.–cuts into our precious blogging time.
But scholarship still presses forward! This week, I received a review copy of Matthew Kester’s new and exciting Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the West, just released by Oxford University Press. Kester, a professor and archivist at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, explores a group of Hawaiin converts who joined the Mormon church, immigrated to Utah, established their own community in the middle of Deseret’s desert, yet eventually moved back to their homeland after the Laie Temple was built. I remember first hearing about this story when working on the Church’s Historic Sites Committee, and Benjamin Pykles, who also works on Mormon notions of space and has written an excellent book on Nauvoo, gave a presentation on the topic. Just the image of native Hawaiins building their own oasis in the desert is fascinating, and the story becomes even more interesting as you peel back the layers. (more…)
[The following is a guest post from our good friend and former co-blogger Kris Wright.]
In the first sentence of the introduction to Women and Things 1750-1950: Gendered Material Strategies, editors Maureen Daly Goggin and Beth Fowkes Tobin write
This volume takes as its object of investigation the overlooked and often despised categories of women’s decorative arts and homecraft activities as sites of important cultural and social work.
I will admit that when I read that, I thought it might be a bit of hyperbole – neglected, yes, but despised? That seemed like an exaggeration. However after listening to President Elaine S. Dalton’s Conference address, “We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father” and observing some of the online reaction to it, I am starting to wonder if despised is actually a good descriptor. Such reaction can shed light on why modern historians ignore Mormon women or have a difficult time integrating them into their work. (more…)
Whether for good or ill, blogging has become a public facet of the academy in general, and Mormon studies in particular. We at JI are proud to be the first blog exclusively devoted to the scholarly study of Mormonism, though we are pleased when we are joined by others. Last year, we welcomed Worlds Without End; this year, we welcome Unusual Excitement. While the former is an eclectic group of friends and scholars distributed throughout the nation, the latter and most recent blog is centered in one of the field’s center locations: Claremont’s Mormon Studies Program. (more…)
Since April Fools’ Day was this week and General Conference yesterday emphasized the swelling number of missionaries, I thought I’d collect—without analysis—some lighter instances of what happens when young people are sent off into the world.  (more…)
“A Pink Life Raft in a Blue Ocean”: Feminist Studies of Mormonism– An Interview with Maxine Hanks, Part I
This is Part One of my interview with Maxine Hanks, who edited and published her well-known feminist anthology, Women and Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism, with Signature Books in 1992 here. (more…)
The Mormon Women’s History Initiative Team (here) is pleased to announce an Evening with the Editors and Authors of Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Volume 2, on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at 7:00 p.m., at the 10th Ward Building in Salt Lake City.
Please join us for a thoughtful discussion of Mormon women’s biography, featuring editors Brittany Chapman and Rick Turley, a few featured authors of the biographies (to be announced), a brief program, refreshments, and opportunities to meet, mingle, and purchase books. For an excellent review of Women of Faith, Volume 2, see Tona’s post here, and for a discussion of the complications of using biography in Mormon women’s history, you may reread Janiece’s excellent post here.
Also, look for biographies in Volume 2 by J.I.’s own Jenny R. and Andrea R-M. Come and celebrate this excellent series!
Hope to see you there.
If you haven’t noticed, we have a proliferation of Mormon history journals. So much so, in fact, that it is difficult to keep up. (One way to stay on top of things: the forthcoming Mormon Studies Review!) That’s where your friends at JI come in with our journal recaps.
One journal that unfortunately is often overlooked is Mormon Historical Studies, edited by Alex Baugh. This is unfortunate, because it is often the most “nerdy” and over-specialized of the journals–and I mean that as the highest compliment. When it comes to straight history, this journal often carries strong work, and its pages often smell of archival research. The most recent issue is no exception; in fact, it is perhaps one of the strongest issues they have published to day, partly because it is a combined issue for the entire 2012 year (they often publish two issues a year). Below are the contents, with a little commentary by yours truly. (more…)
On my spring break I took a one-day “staycation” to Day 1 of a local gathering of digital humanities scholars, hosted by the smart folks at Northeastern University’s NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks (http://nulab.neu.edu/, tweeting at @NUlabTMN). It was one of the best conferences I’ve been to – seemed like mainly literary scholars but also historians, librarians, and coders, and it involved a good blend of showcasing completely awesome ongoing initiatives, asking big existential questions about knowledge production, and teaching hands-on skills. Myself, I learned a bit about network analysis using Gephi (no relation to Nephi) and how to georeference a high-resolution historical map image using ArcGIS. I felt like a boss (as my students would say) by the day’s end.
And it got me thinking. (more…)