Job Ad: Production Editor, The Joseph Smith Papers

By November 25, 2015


Posting Dates: 11/24/2015

Job Family: Editorial, Writing & Language

Department: Church History Department

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“For ye were strangers”: Four Short Vignettes on Mormon(s) (and) Refugees

By November 18, 2015

“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” -Leviticus 19:33-34


Quincy, Illinois. February 27, 1839[1]

Four months after Missouri Executive Order 44 was signed into law by governor Lilburn Boggs, the Democratic Association of Quincy, Illinois meets to consider the plight of the Mormons, now classified as “enemies” in neighboring Missouri. After deliberation, Quincy residents adopt the following resolutions:

Resolved, That the strangers recently arrived here from the state of Missouri, known by the name of the ‘Latter-day Saints,’ are entitled to our sympathy and kindest regard, and that we recommend to the citizens of Quincy to extend all the kindness in their power to bestow on the person who are in affliction.

Resolved, That a numerous committee be raised, composed of some individuals in every quarter of the town and its vicinity, whose duty it shall be to explain to our misguided fellow citizens, if any such there be, who are disposed to excite prejudices and circulate unfounded rumors; and particularly to explain to them that these people have no design to lower the wages of the laboring class, but to procure something to save them from starving.

Resolved, That a standing committee be raised and be composed of individuals who shall immediately inform Mr. Rigdon and others, as many as they may think proper, of their appointment, and who shall be authorized to obtain information from time to time; and should they [the committee] be of opinion that any individuals, either from destitution or sickness, or if they find them houseless, that they appeal directly and promptly to the citizens of Quincy to furnish them with the means to relieve all such cases.

Resolved, That the committee last aforesaid be instructed to use their utmost endeavors to obtain employment for all these people, who are able and willing to labor; and also to afford them all needful, suitable and proper encouragement.

Resolved, That we recommend to all the citizens of Quincy, that in all their intercourse with the strangers, they use and observe a becoming decorum and delicacy, and be particularly careful not to indulge in any conversation or expressions calculated to wound their feelings, or in any way to reflect upon those, who by every law of humanity, are entitled to our sympathy and commiseration.

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Interested in getting a free book? Consider reviewing for the Journal of Mormon History

By November 16, 2015

From Jessie Embry, the newly appointed editor of the Journal of Mormon History:

The Journal of Mormon History is looking for graduate students and young professionals who are willing to share their expertise in Mormon history. So if you like to read and would be willing to share your views on a book, please consider writing reviews for the Journal. You will receive a copy of the book as a thank you, but more importantly you will have another entry to add to your vita. If you are interested in adding your name to the review list, please email the journal editor, Jessie Embry at Please list areas that you feel that you are qualified to review. When books come available, Ron Bartholomew will contact you and check on your availability. You will have two to three months to read the book and write a 600 to 1,200 word essay explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the book. When Dr. Bartholomew asks you to review a book, he will send additional guidelines.

The Journal is also looking for articles that explore Mormon history. If you have written an outstanding paper for a class or have a special chapter that you have been working on for your dissertation, please consider submitting it to the journal at By submitting an article, you will learn the process of peer review and hopefully when accepted you will have another entry to add to your vita. If you have questions on submitting an article, please contact Jessie Embry at one of the email addresses listed above.

Job Ad: Historian, The Joseph Smith Papers

By November 9, 2015

Historian/Documentary Editor, Joseph Smith Papers  

UNITED STATES |  UT-Salt Lake City

ID 135195, Type: Full-Time – Regular


Posting Dates: 11/06/2015

Job Family: Library, Research & Preservation

Department: Church History Department

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Book Review: We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics

By November 4, 2015

Neil J. Young. We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

This book might be described as an intellectual genealogy (in the Foucauldian sense) of the conservative religious coalition that has exerted so much gravitational pull in the last forty years of American history. Young argues, in a nutshell, that the electoral coalition often described as the Religious Right was no monolith: rather, it was the result of a thousand small give and takes among the three primary camps he explores: Roman Catholics, evangelical Protestants, and Mormons. Indeed, Young’s careful delineation of distinctions and disjunctures almost persuades me that there is no “Religious Right” at all, merely a series of shifting alliances pivoting, shifting, forming and reforming on issue after issue after issue.

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New Journal of Mormon History Issue, Featuring a Roundtable on John Brooke’s REFINER’S FIRE

By October 30, 2015

JMH CoverThe latest issue of Journal of Mormon History is hot off the press this week and is now available to download for those of you who are members of the Mormon History Association. (And if you’re not a member, you can fix that right now.) Below are the articles in the issue:

  • RoseAnn Benson, “Alexander Campbell: Another Restorationist”
  • Nancy S. Kader, “The Young Democrats and Hugh Nibley at BYU”
  • Gregory A. Prince, “Joseph Smith’s First Vision in Historical Context: How a Historical Narrative Became Theological”
  • Gary James Bergera, “Memory as Evidence: Dating Joseph Smith’s Plural Marriages to Louisa Beaman, Zina Jacobs, and Presendia Buell”
  • Elise Boxer, “The Lamanites Shall Blossom as the Rose: The Indian Student Placement Program, Mormon Whiteness, and Indigenous Identity”

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Videos for Black, White, and Mormon Conference (October 2015)

By October 27, 2015

The Tanner Humanities Center has made the videos for the Black, White, and Mormon Conference available. The conference, held at the University of Utah on October 8-9, 2015, was an incredible experience for me as a participant. I would love to see more opportunities, funding, and venues dedicated to this type of public engagement. 

The McMurrin Lecture by Lester Bush:

A Commemoration for Those Who Have Died

Race and the Inner City

Race and Mormon Women

Race and the International Church

Race and Brigham Young University

Race at the Ward Level


George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation | Greg Prince | Jess Hurtado | Smith-Pettit Foundation | Anonymous | DESB Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative (Utah) | Charles Redd Center (BYU) | College of Humanities (BYU) | Laurel Thatcher-Ulrich | Utah Valley University | Department of History (Utah) | University of Utah Press


Job Ad: Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer

By October 26, 2015

We’d like to make our readers aware of an exciting new opportunity: the University of Virginia posted an ad for a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Mormon Studies.

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New Editor of the Journal of Mormon History: Jessie Embry

By October 21, 2015

We are thrilled to share this press release from the Mormon History Association. Please join us in congratulating Jessie Embry, whom many of JI’s perma-bloggers have worked with, taken classes from, or otherwise interacted with through the Charles Redd Center, on her appointment as the new editor of the Journal of Mormon History!


Embry recently retired as the Associate Director of the Redd Center for Western History at Brigham Young University.  She is the author or editor of twenty-one books, mostly in Mormon and western history. Among them are Mormon Polygamous Families: Life in the Principle, published by the University of Utah Press, in 1987 and reissused by Greg Kofford Books in 2009.  Most recently she completed Immigrants in the Far West: Historical Identities and Experiences, coedited with Brian Q. Cannon and published by the University of Utah Press.

Embry has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to recovering grassroots non-institutional voices and experiences, including extensive experience in oral history.  She believes strongly in comparative history and placing historical events in a larger context.  She desires making connections with wide-ranging conversations that will enrich both Mormon history and broader fields of historical inquiry.

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Plato, Tolkien, and Mormonism: The Travels of Cyrus

By October 19, 2015


Ainulindale by Alassea Earello from

To finish my series on inclusive monotheism (see here here here here) and similarities with Plato’s Timaeus, I wanted to look at similarities between Mormon pre-existence narratives and Tolkein’s.

Many have noted the similarities between Mormonism and Toklien’s creation stories and others have pointed out Platonic elements in Tolkien. A ring of invisibility is mentioned in the Republic and the first phrase of The Silmarillion, “There was Eru the One,” is especially Platonic since “The One” was the highest deity to the Neoplatonists. Tolkien’s Eru or Iluvatar, though aloof like the One, is rather more like Plato’s demiurge in the Timaeus: the God who plans and oversees the creation.

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CFP: Communal Studies Association 2016 in SLC!

By October 15, 2015

Call for Papers for the Annual Conference of The Communal Studies Association

October 6–8, 2016
Salt Lake City, Utah
Anticipating the End Times:
Millennialism, Apocalypticism, and Utopianism in Intentional Communities

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Church History Department Job Ads

By October 14, 2015

Editorial Assistant—Joseph Smith Papers Project 

The Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is looking for an editorial assistant to assist with The Joseph Smith Papers. This is a unique opportunity to learn about early LDS history, work with primary documents, significantly contribute to the project’s research and production processes, and acquire a variety of new skills relating to both print and web publishing. This is a benefited, full-time position that is contingent for one year. The start date for this position is dependent upon employee availability, preferably between October and December 2015.

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Scholarly Inquiry: Christine Talbot

By October 14, 2015

Christine Talbot is the author of A Foreign Kingdom: Mormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture, 1852-1890 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013).  We are delighted that she agreed to an interview with the JI about this important new book.  Christine is Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Gender Studies Program at the University of Northern Colorado.

Yours is the latest entry in a number of books on polygamy in the Utah territory.  What makes yours distinct from, say, Sarah Barringer Gordon’s, or Kathryn Daynes’s?

I think my work builds on the previous work of Sarah Barringer Gordon, Kathryn Daynes, Terryl Givens, and others by bringing in a cultural perspective, especially in terms of anti-Mormon rhetoric. Cultural history led me to different conclusions about the nature of the Mormon question. A cultural history allows us to see what I think is one of the central roots of the Mormon question, issues of American national identity and citizenship. These issues were profoundly gendered in nineteenth century America; citizenship was built on the idea of a masculine public sphere where citizenship was enacted, juxtaposed to a feminine private sphere in the home where future citizens were trained. (However, married women’s property acts and the woman suffrage movement provided ample ammunition to contest the masculinity of citizenship). My book shows that the practice of polygamy upset the historical distinction between public and private in ways that many Americans found troubling precisely because it is a distinction that never held in the first place. Plural marriage denaturalized and deconstructed the distinction between public and private that upheld American ideals of citizenship. That, I think, is one of the things about plural marriage that so upset other Americans.

Having spent so much time with polygamy, what do you think are remaining areas that are worth exploring in relation to it?

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Jane Lead’s Inclusive Monotheism

By October 13, 2015

I wanted to put up some quotes from Jane Lead on the issue of inclusive monotheism because her writings generally look so very Mormon and because she addresses issues related to another post I want to do.

In her Enochian Walks with God (1694), Lead talks about holy people becoming deified in the next life who then seek to aid holy people on earth. “For those Angelical Spirits that once liv’d in Flesh, do more nearly sympathise with us in all our Infirmities, and therefore all feelingly they tenderly consider our tempting-state, and give themselves out most readily for our help; they are Advocates, and to remind the Lord Jesus of their Prophecies, that they may have their fulfilling upon us. Of this sort and degree, they are the choicest and greatest in the Kingdom of our Lord, and have very stately Pavilions which are pitched round the Majesty of the Jehovah God” (25).

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Tweets on Black, White, and Mormon: A Conference on the Evolving Status of Black Saints Within the Mormon Fold

By October 12, 2015

We hope to have more reflections and commentary on the conference here at the JI. In the meantime, please enjoy the Tweets, which have been Storified at this link!

If anyone who attended the conference is interested in blogging about the experience, please e-mail me at joseph dot stuart at utah dot edu.


McMurrin Lecture: “Looking Back, Looking Forward”

By October 6, 2015

Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion and Culture

Opening plenary session of Black, White, and Mormon: A Conference on the Evolving Status of Black Saints Within the Mormon Fold.

Thursday, October 8, 2015 / 7:00 p.m.

Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Dumke Auditorium

Open to the public. Seating is limited.

“Looking Back, Looking Forward: Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine Forty-Two Years Later”

2015 McMurrin Lecturer Lester Bush

Lester E. Bush Jr.

Lester E. Bush Jr. will reflect on the forty-two years since his seminal article was published in Dialogue which undermined the standing historical narrative that the LDS Church’s priesthood ban began with Joseph Smith. We invite Bush to consider the past forty years: what has changed, what has stayed the same, and what steps are yet necessary to bring about change.

Founded in 1992, the McMurrin Lecture supports the serious and knowledgeable study of religion. The McMurrin Lecture honors beloved scholar and teacher Sterling M. McMurrin (1914-1996), who served as U.S. Commissioner of Education during the Kennedy Administration.

Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph Smith’s Sermon at the Grove

By October 5, 2015

Franklin’s statement may provide a lens through which to view some of Smith’s final statements about God(s). In the Sermon at the Grove (June 16, 1844) Smith insisted that there were multiple Gods: “the word Eloiheam ought to be in the plural all the way thro—Gods—the heads of the Gods appointed one God for us.” Franklin said there was a high God over Gods and that our God was the one who created our solar system. Franklin was probably influenced by Isaac Newton who also said there were multiple God in the universe and cited 1 Corinthians 8:5-6: “But to us there is but one God.” Smith cited the same scripture in the Sermon at the Grove.[1]

Thus Smith taught similar ideas to what some of the West’s most important thinkers and scientists had. Franklin biographer James Parton noted that Kepler and Goethe taught the same thing.[2] Strict monotheism would win out in orthodox Christianity (it usually did) but these great thinkers had found inclusive monotheism a better for the new conception of the universe.

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Reminder: MHA Abstracts Due 10/1/15!

By September 30, 2015

MHA Logo

Mormon History Association Annual Conference, Call for Papers

The 51st annual meeting of the Mormon History Association will take place on June 9-12, 2016. The conference theme is simple yet evocative: “Practice.” The work of Mormon history in the past few decades has delved deeply into theological, institutional, and cultural research. And yet the richness of the lived realities of the Mormon experience begs to be uncovered in new ways that cut across these familiar categories. “Practice,” in this sense, is used broadly in order to capture the dynamic participation of individual adherents within diverse strains of Mormonism throughout the past two centuries. Several decades-worth of scholarship in “lived religion” provides the tools to capture these fresh perspectives. Mormonism’s distinctive religious morphology and substantial corpus of records creates a promising field for new theoretical understanding. What role does “practice” play in Mormon religiosity? What is the relationship between hierarchical, correlated authority and grassroots implementation and innovation? How do Mormon practices change, evolve, and adapt over generations and throughout global communities? How are global Mormon religious norms shaped by indigenous culture in Salt Lake City, Kinshasa, or Manila?

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Introducing MHA’s New Executive Director

By September 29, 2015

MHAAs many readers know, the Mormon History Association recently conducted a search for a new executive director. A few weeks ago they chose Rob Racker, a long-time MHA attendee and Utah-area business consultant for the job. I was fortunate to spend a bit of time with Rob this last weekend at JWHA and he seems like an excellent choice. Below is a brief exchange for JI’s readers to get to know Rob a little better.

[Also, consider this your urgent reminder that MHA conference submissions are due in two days!]

What is your own background, especially your intersections with the Mormon history community?

My interest in Mormon History and studies/culture has spanned over my entire adult life, but especially over the last 20+ years. I have a business/consulting professional background mostly helping companies with financial management and systems issues, so the interest and passion in Mormon History is mostly been from an amateur perspective. I remember reading Sillitoe and Roberts’ Salamander and  Naifeh and Smith’s The Mormon Murders shortly after the Mark Hofmann episode and later Juanita Brooks’ Mountain Meadows Massacre. After these and a few other books I couldn’t get enough of the “warts-and-all” kind of church history vs. the purely devotional perspectives learned earlier in my life. My first MHA Conference was in 1996 at Snowbird and I have been hooked ever since. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation and camaraderie of the diverse personalities, opinions and approaches found within MHA.

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Twelve Thoughts on Raising the Dead

By September 28, 2015


1. Thomas Aquinas
“Those things are properly called miracles which are done by divine agency beyond the order commonly observed in nature.” Summa Contra Gentiles, III

2. Peter Cartwright
This was the most troublesome delusion of all; it made such an appeal to the ignorance superstition and credulity of the people, even saint as well as sinner . . . They would even set the very day that God was to burn the world like the self deceived modem Millerites. They would prophesy that if any one did oppose them God would send fire down from heaven and consume him like the blasphemous Shakers. They would proclaim that they could heal all manner of diseases and raise the dead just like the diabolical Mormons.
The Backwoods Preacher (London: Heylin, 1858), 22.

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Mormon News, November 16–20 | Signature Books on "For ye were strangers":: “[…] Jones posted “Four Short Vignettes on Mormons and Refugees” this week at the Juvenile Instructor blog. As debate rages in the United States over…”

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