The New LDS First Presidency: Historical Notes and Contexts

By January 16, 2018


Thanks to Brother X for this post!

As expected, Russell M. Nelson was set apart as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His counselors are Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring were selected as First and Second Counselors, respectively.

I am a historian. I do not predict the future. Latter-day Saints view every calling as from the Mouth of God. I do not disparage that. As an active LDS I believe in that. I am merely pointing out lines of thought. So please no comments about this being political.

With that in mind, there are some interesting things to think about with this new First Presidency:

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LDS Church President Obits in the NYT (PDF to Full Articles at Bottom of Post)

By January 10, 2018


For no reason at all, here are the headlines, as they currently stand, for each LDS Church President who had an obituary published in the New York Times:

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Succession in the LDS Presidency: Past and Present

By January 3, 2018


President Thomas S. Monson, sixteenth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away last night surrounded by family in his Salt Lake City home from effects related to aging. We share our sympathy and support for his family and all those affected by his death, notably sixteen million or so Latter-day Saints.

There will be time for historical retrospectives at a later date. At this time, I thought it would be helpful to review how an LDS Church President is called and sustained by the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. This section is taken from the Mormon newsroom, I would encourage you to read the rest here. At the bottom of this post, I’ll share some helpful links on the historical development of succession in the LDS Church.

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Happy New Year! Here Are a Few Things We Are Going to do This Year

By January 1, 2018


Happy New Year from all of us at Juvenile Instructor! We enjoyed bringing you historical argument, book reviews, announcements, and our summer book club in 2017. We have several more exciting plans for 2018.

  • New authors with historiographical expertise in areas we have neglected
  • Roundtables on new books in Mormon history (including J. Stapley’s and Colleen McDannell’s new books)
  • A series of posts on beginning to write a dissertation
  • A series of posts on turning dissertations into books
  • Q&As with scholars that teach Mormon history, from that that identify as Mormon historians and those that do not
  • A March Madness-style bracket on the best articles in Mormon history

Be sure to follow us on social media or via email for updates! Following us on social media helps other to find us and helps us spread the word of news and notes from the world of Mormon history.

LINK TO SIGN UP FOR EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS OF POSTS

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SUMMER BOOK CLUB


Postdoc at the University of Virginia

By December 27, 2017


2018-2019 Postdoctoral Fellowship

We invite applications from those whose work bears on American religious history, thought or practice and, ideally, in relation to law and politics. Preference will be given to applicants with interest in marginal religious movements, especially Mormonism.

The University of Virginia’s Religious Studies Department invites applications for one full-time Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer for the 2018-2019 academic year. The anticipated start date is July 25, 2018. Applications are welcome from any whose work bears on American religious history, thought or practice. Preference will be given to those applicants with interest in marginal or newer religious movements, especially Mormonism. Preference will be given to applicants interested in adding Mormon Studies to their portfolio. Expertise in Mormonism is not required. Rather, the Fellowship is designed to provide training for persons who wish to add such expertise to an existing disciplinary specialty.

Duties include, but are not limited to, teaching three courses over the two-semester term of the fellowship. Specifically, the Fellow will teach two seminars in his or her discipline and on topics of his or her choice. In addition, the Fellow will team-teach, with the Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies, an introductory survey on Mormonism in relation to American culture. Applicants should evidence experience in and commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching in a liberal arts framework, and be prepared to participate in both a large team-taught introductory-level class and smaller upper-level courses.

Additional duties include assistance with UVA’s Forum on Religion and American Democracy. The Forum sponsors interdisciplinary research and other academic and public activity on the ways American religion and democracy shape one another. It also includes study of how the evolving relationship between American religion and democracy have affected, and continue to affect, other nations.

Compensation for this appointment will be in the form of a competitive salary with full-time benefits and includes a $3,000 research fund. For full consideration apply by February 15, 2018; however, the position will remain open until filled.

Applicants for the fellowship must have attained their PhD by the appointment start date.

To apply, please complete a Candidate Profile online through Jobs@UVA (search on posting 0622269), and electronically attach the following: a cover letter, a current CV including the names and contact information for three references, and a statement describing, in no more than 300 words, your qualifications for and philosophy of teaching with attention to your disciplinary approach.

Questions regarding the position should be directed to Kathleen Flake, Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies: kathleen.flake@virginia.edu.

Questions regarding the application process or Jobs@UVA should be directed to Mick Watson, Administrator, Department of Religious Studies: maw4fp@virginia.edu.

The University will perform background checks on all new faculty hires prior to making a final offer of employment.

The University of Virginia is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.


MHA International Scholars Fund

By December 22, 2017


The Mormon History Association (MHA) seeks to raise $5,000 to support scholars from outside the United States to travel to and participate in the association’s annual conference in Boise, Idaho, on June 7-10, 2018.  If you love Mormon history, this is an excellent opportunity to support the diversification and internationalization of our community of scholars! LINK HERE

MHA is making a concerted effort to diversify its membership and include scholars and students from around the globe in order to help expand our understanding of Mormon history outside of the United States.  An annual fund of $5,000 will allow the association to subsidize the attendance and participation of scholars from Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and elsewhere, for whom the expense of traveling to the United States for an MHA conference is often prohibitive.  We need the perspectives and knowledge these scholars can contribute, and ask for your help in elevating their voices.

The Mormon History Association is the preeminent scholarly organization dedicated to the study and understanding of all aspects of the Mormon past.  As an independent, nondenominational, nonprofit organization, we welcome all who are interested in Mormon history.  MHA’s flagship event is our annual conference, scheduled to occur next on June 7-10, 2018, in Boise, Idaho.

Please join us in this initiative to bring a greater international presence to the MHA 2018 conference. Contributions of every level are welcome.  All donations are tax deductible.  Our goal is to raise $5,000 by January 22.

Thank you for your support of the Mormon History Association and our increasingly global community of scholars and members!

DONATE HERE


Mormonism in The Moslem Sunrise, 1922

By December 21, 2017


In 1921, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, a representative of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the first Muslim missionary to America, launched the The Moslem Sunrise, a newspaper intended to help proselytize Americans. In its October 6, 1922 issue, Sudiq included a short excerpt from another paper on “Mormon Christians.” Here it is in its entirety:

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Guest Post: Introducing Foundational Texts of Mormonism (OUP, 2018)

By December 12, 2017


The following is a guest post from friend-of-the-JI Mark Ashurst-McGee, the Senior Research and Review Historian at the Joseph Smith Papers and co-editor of several volumes in the series. He holds degrees in American History from Arizona State University, Utah State University, and Brigham Young University. Ashurst-McGee has authored award-winning graduate theses on Joseph Smith’s Zion project and the Mormon prophet’s use of seer stones and he is the author of several articles. He is the co-editor, along with Robin Scott Jensen and Sharalyn D. Howcroft, of Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources, forthcoming in February 2018 from Oxford University Press.

Early next year, Oxford University Press will publish a major new book on Joseph Smith and early Mormonism. If you are a scholar or an avid reader of early Mormon history, you will want to own and read this compilation.

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Highlights from Mormon Studies Review, Volume 5

By December 11, 2017


The Mormon Studies Review is the best annual over view of the Mormon Studies (sub)field available anywhere. Produced by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, the journal is produced by a remarkable editorial team. You can subscribe for $10 (and you get the Maxwell Institute’s other publications, too!). I’ll highlight each contribution, and pull a sentence or two from each article to give a taste of the writing and rigor involved in each contribution. As much as the summaries, I hope that you’ll appreciate with me the myriad of approaches that could be used in Mormon History or Mormon Studies. The field, as they say, is white and ready to harvest.

First, a review panel comprised of Ann Little (a renowned women’s history specialist and microhistorian), Paul Reeve (the Simmons Professor of Mormon Studies at the University of Utah), and Sarah Carter (a historian of plural marriage outside of Mormonism) examines Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A House Full of Females.[i]  An excerpt from Little’s response sums up the book well:

Ulrich’s instinct to hew to the daily realities of mid-nineteenth-century missionary life and westward imperial expansion serves her well. The Mormons she portrays lead complicated lives—emotionally and sexually messy as well as frequently (literally) clogged with mud, dirt, and dysentery from their various removes and migrations. She focuses on the details of early Mormon life as they were revealed in diaries rather than retrospective memoirs, which brings the immediacy of their experimentation to life.

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Mormon Immigrants and Fugitive Slaves on the (Underground) Railroad

By December 7, 2017


The July 19, 1856 issue of the Provincial Freeman and Weekly Advertiser, an abolitionist newspaper published in Chatham, Canada West (modern-day Ontario) carried the following notice from Albany, New York:

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REVIEW: The Field is White: Harvest in the Three Counties of England

By December 6, 2017


Carol Wilkinson and Cynthia Doxey Green, The Field is White: Harvest in Three Counties of England (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2017).

 

As a child, we had a record that narrated the story of Wilford Woodruff as a missionary at Benbow farm. (Vinyl played on our old blue Fischer Price record player. I only remember Woodruff and the headless horseman though I’m sure there were more options). The dramatic narration detailed a miraculous mass conversion of a whole sect by LDS apostle Woodruff in 1840 England.  Though fascinating that any American child might know of a pond on an obscure farm in the middle of the English countryside, the fame of Benbow Farm is well known among many Mormons. Lds.org lists scores of articles and talks focused on the same narrative. There Wilford Woodruff baptized a whole congregation of United Brethren—six hundred strong. The story has been retold and retold; Woodruff is legendary. As the story goes the United Brethren were just waiting for the Mormon missionaries to show up. John Benbow said they were “searching for light and truth, but had gone as far as they could, and were continually calling upon the Lord to open the way before them and send them light and knowledge that they might know the true way to be saved.” Woodruff brought them the “light and truth” for which they searched and they converted in droves in Benbow’s pond. 

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2017 in Retrospect: An Overview of Recent Books and Articles in Mormon History

By December 4, 2017


Once again, this is my attempt to recap the historiography of Mormonism from the past twelve months. This is the eighth such post, and previous installments are found hereherehereherehereherehere, and here. I do not list every single book and article from 2016, but I do highlight those I found most interesting and relevant. Therefore, a strong bias is obviously involved, so I hope you’ll add more in the comments.

The Instant Classic

Readers of this blog should already be familiar with Ulrich’s new book. (And hopefully everyone has already read our summer book club devoted to the masterpiece.) If you’re interested in my take, my review is found in Dialogue. In short: it’s perhaps the most significant book in Mormon studies since Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling, and perhaps surpasses even that. Make sure to read the roundtable devoted to Ulrich in the most recent issue of Mormon Studies Review; and while you’re there, make sure to subscribe to the field’s best review journal.

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New(!) Mormon Studies Website at the University of Virginia

By December 1, 2017


This post comes from Meredith Nelson, the webmaster of the University of Virginia’s Mormon Studies website. We hope that you will find it useful!

Kathleen Flake and the Mormon Studies Program at the University of Virginia have recently launched a new website that highlights programming, events, faculty, courses in American religious history, Professor Flake’s research, and potential research topics.

In Doing Mormon Studies, we feature a large collection of video interviews conducted by Prof. Kathleen Flake with prominent scholars in 2016. James Faulconer, Terryl Givens, Matthew Grow, Kate Holbrook, Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Ann Taves, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Grant Wacker comment on potential research topics waiting to be picked up, on their favorite personal discoveries, on Joseph Smith, on their own academic paths, and on what aspiring scholars should keep in mind.

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Review: Östman on Allen, Danish, But Not Lutheran

By November 30, 2017


We are pleased to post this book review by friend of the JI Kim Östman, who has researched and written extensively on Mormonism in the northern-European country of Finland. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative religion from Åbo Akademi University (2011) and a D.Sc. in microelectronics from Helsinki University of Technology (2014), and works as a Senior R&D Engineer with Nordic Semiconductor.

Dr. Östman’s research on nineteenth-century Mormonism in Finland was published as a doctoral dissertation by Åbo Akademi University Press. It discusses how Mormonism was viewed in Finnish print media, by local civil and ecclesiastical authorities, and what kind of results the LDS church’s Swedish-led missionary efforts in perilous legal conditions led to. A co-founder of the European Mormon Studies Association (EMSA), he is continuing his Mormon history research into early twentieth-century Finland and Sweden on his free time, as a post-doctoral scholar affiliated with Åbo Akademi University.

Julie K. Allen: Danish but Not Lutheran: The Impact of Mormonism on Danish Cultural Identity, 1850–1920. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2017, 288pp.

Scandinavians are overwhelmingly Lutheran to this day, although religiosity has tended to give way to “believing in belonging” during the past centuries. Their national churches are still seen as custodians of culturally significant rites of passage, bringing people together at life’s critical junctures. As Prof. Julie Allen explains in her study of Mormonism’s impact on Danish culture and identity, Denmark was the first Nordic nation to officially decouple citizenship from Lutheranism. Being a Dane had meant being Lutheran, but the new 1849 constitution separated the two identities by legalizing the activity of new religious movements while retaining the privileged position of the state church. This leap in religious freedom was preceded by for example Baptist activity in the kingdom.

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Review: Mueller, Race and the Making of the Mormon People (University of North Carolina, 2017)

By November 27, 2017


On the surface, Max Perry Mueller’s book is, like several other recent works, a study of the shifting racialist ideas in nineteenth century Mormonism. Like those books, Mueller argues that early Mormonism is a particularly useful illustration of the fluidity of race, particularly in the early decades of the United States. When, as Mueller argues, white Americans began in the nineteenth century to understand “race as (secular) biology,” (12) they began arguing that those characteristics they used to classify and label “races” were organic, functions of one’s biological makeup, and though these characteristics extended from the merely physical (like skin color) to issues of intellect and temperament, most people determined them to be inborn and hence immutable.

 

The Mormons, Mueller argues, were different, in two ways.

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A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 3 of 3

By November 22, 2017


See Part I here and Part II here.

By Craig Foster, Newel Bringhurst, and Brian Hales

During the tour on October 28, 2017, we had the opportunity for an in-depth visit to the FLDS Temple. Of all the structures on the Yearning for Zion ranch, none was more striking than the temple.

Like the Salt Lake LDS temple, the clasping hands motif is engraved on the exterior above the primary entrance.

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A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 2 of 3

By November 21, 2017


See Part I of this series on the YZR by Craig Foster, Newel Bringhurst, and Brian Hales HERE

A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 2 of 3

Our next stop brought us to the homes of Warren Jeffs, one he had lived in and one built for him after his incarceration.

The office and entrance of Jeffs’ older home were unimpressive. The house was filled with bedrooms and two kitchens. Around forty-five of Jeffs’ estimated eighty-plus wives lived in the house.[1]

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A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 1 of 3

By November 20, 2017


We are pleased to host three guest posts from Craig L. Foster, Newel G. Bringhurst, and Brian Hales.

A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 1 of 3

After providing historical background at a polygamy trial in Cranbook, Canada in April 2017, Brian Hales met a Texas Ranger who had been involved in the 2008 raid of the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch. The ranch, belonging to the FLDS Church, is located about four miles outside of El Dorado in west central Texas. The Ranger had offered to give Brian a tour, so, taking the Ranger up on his invitation, Brian Hales, Craig Foster, and Newell Bringhurst visited YFZ on October 28, 2017.

We arrived in Eldorado, Texas, the closest town to the ranch, and met up with our Ranger guide who then drove us to the outer gate of the ranch. Yearning for Zion Ranch, with boundaries approximately one mile by two miles, was acquired by Davis S. Allred in 2003. At the time of purchase, Allred represented the YFZ Land LLC and claimed he would be building a business retreat. Within a short time, the outside world realized Allred had been the front man to an FLDS purchase and that there were going to be more than business executives and wealthy game hunters residing at the ranch.[1]

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Mormon History and Mormon Studies at AAR 2017

By November 17, 2017


Here are the Mormon History and Mormon Studies Panels/Receptions at AAR 2017. If you’re interested in writing a post sharing your experience at AAR, please email joseph dot stuart at utah dot edu.

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Mormon History Association Call for Papers [DUE NOVEMBER 15]

By November 10, 2017


Mormon History Association

Call for Papers – 2018 Annual Conference

“Homelands and Bordered Lands”

The fifty-third conference of the Mormon History Association will be held June 7 – 10, 2018, at the Boise Centre Convention Center and nearby Grove Hotel in Boise, Idaho. The 2018 conference theme “Homelands and Bordered Lands” raises questions about how borders both disrupt and generate ideas about individuals’ and communities’ “homes,” broadly construed. The theme highlights the ways in which the dynamic interactions between peoples, places, and identities have always been central to Mormon histories.

The conference theme “Homelands and Bordered Lands” connects the history of the Latter-day Saints to Idaho’s diverse past. Idaho is first and foremost a Native homeland. The first Mormon settlement in the Idaho was created near present-day Salmon, Idaho, at Fort Lemhi in 1855. Immigration by Mormons and other Euro-Americans caused conflict with Native communities and led to the depletion of natural resources as well as outbreaks of violence. On the other hand, there have also been many instances of cooperation and mutual respect between the various communities.

Idaho has also always been a place where the boundaries of Mormon identity have been negotiated. The state has been a refuge and highway for those seeking to practice plural marriage. Polygamy contributed to a pronounced strain of anti-Mormonism in Idaho politics and law in the late nineteenth century. Idaho also has a healthy tradition of Mormon education, intellectualism, and dissent. Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho, has been foundational in LDS higher education. Furthermore, Leonard Arrington was born in Twin Falls and graduated from the University of Idaho, Sonia Johnson was born in Malad, Maxine Hanks attended Ricks, and the blog Feminist Mormon Housewives was founded in Boise.

While Idaho provides a rich tableau for the study of Mormonism in the context of the state’s history as a multiracial, multi-ethic, and multireligious place, we also seek papers and panels that address the theme of “Homelands and Bordered Lands” from any vantage point in the Mormon past. In addition to papers and panels that address the conference theme, the program committee also welcomes proposals on any topic in Mormon history.

Since its founding in 1965, the Mormon History Association has been dedicated to the promotion of intellectually rigorous, diverse scholarship on the history of the Mormon tradition. To help us create a welcoming space that embraces work from a wide variety of methodological and religious viewpoints, we encourage individuals to organize panels for the 2018 Conference in Boise, Idaho, that include presenters from a variety of institutional, social, and religious backgrounds. The program committee will give preference to panels that reflect the diversity of the historical profession by featuring women and underrepresented minorities. [Bold added]

The Mormon History Association intentionally embraces both academic and amateur historians. The conference organizers encourage submissions that think outside of the traditional format for conference sessions. We encourage people to organize roundtables, “cafés” in which participants are arranged in small groups to discuss a topic, pre-circulated papers, and so forth. Additional ideas for alternative session formats can be found at: http://solveforinteresting.com/category/good-conference/event-sessions/

Please send 1) a 300-word abstract for each paper or presentation and 2) a brief 1-2 page CV for each presenter, including email contact information. Session proposals should also include the session title and a 300-word session abstract, along with a confirmed chair and/or commentator, if applicable.

Previously published papers are not eligible for presentation at MHA. An individual may only submit one proposal as a session presenter, although it is acceptable for a presenter in one session to be a chair or commentator in another. Limited financial assistance is available to some student presenters and presenters from less economically-developed nations. Those who wish to apply for funding should include estimated travel expenses with their proposals.

The deadline for proposals is November 15, 2017. Proposals should be sent to the program co-chairs at mhaboise2018@gmail.com. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be made by December 15, 2017.

Please mark if you are attending the 2018 MHA Conference on Facebook HERE.

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