Articles by

David G.

Heavenly Ledgers and Ghostly Specters: Two Recent Articles

By July 7, 2016


Mormonism and Media Studies, at least from a historical perspective, has been a relatively neglected topic. Recently, however, two major academic journals have published articles that engage Mormon history from the perspective of German media theorist Friedrich A. Kittler. The first article is by John Durham Peters, the A. Craig Baird Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. It is entitled “Recording beyond the Grave: Joseph Smith’s Celestial Bookkeeping” and it appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Critical Inquiry. The article is unfortunately only available to subscribers, but here is an excerpt: 

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CfP: Mormon History Association, 2017, St. Louis, Missouri

By June 29, 2016


From the Program Committee:

Mormon History Association 52nd Annual Conference

Call for Papers

2017 St. Louis, Missouri

“Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History”

The fifty-second annual conference of the Mormon History Association will be held June 1-4, 2017, at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Louis, Missouri metro area. The 2017 conference theme, “Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History,” borrows concepts from religious studies scholar Thomas A. Tweed, who argues that religion is simultaneously in motion and in place. The theme seeks to capture both St. Louis’s general history and Latter-day Saint connections to the city’s past.

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Gender and Recording the Names of the 1838 Mormon War Dead

By May 31, 2016


HaunsMassacreMillstoneOn November 29, 1838, Major General John B. Clark wrote his final report to Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs reviewing the state militia’s recent operations against the Latter-day Saints. “The whole number of Mormons killed through the whole difficulty as far as I can ascertain are about forty and several wounded,” while one non-Mormon had been killed.[1] Verifying Clark’s figure presents a challenge. Although Clark, as the commanding officer overseeing the campaign, was interested in total casualties, neither he nor anyone else in the state government had an incentive to record the names of Mormons who died. It was therefore left to the Saints themselves to document their losses of human life.

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Ronald W. Walker: Historian, Mentor, and Friend

By May 11, 2016


Ronald W. Walker left an indelible impression on many Juvenile Instructor bloggers (and friends of the JI). For some, it was primarily through reading his work or hearing his conference presentations. Others of us got to know him on a more personal level, and we have contributed brief tributes below, reflecting on Ron as a historian, mentor, and friend.

Brett D. DowdleJoseph Smith Papers

I was saddened to learn of Ron’s death.  The first time I read one of Ron’s articles was in 2006, when I read “Crisis in Zion: Heber J. Grant and the Panic of 1893.” I was instantly captivated.  Ron had a way with words and a command of research that few historians ever approach.  In June 2008, I was privileged to meet him for the first time, beginning a long friendship as he kindly took me on as a research assistant for his biography of Brigham Young.  At the time he hired me, I was an inexperienced graduate student and historian, but he kindly worked with me to teach me how to become a proficient researcher.  While working with Ron, my understanding of and appreciation for the early Utah period grew exponentially as we discussed the topic in his office.  Up to the very end, Ron was dedicated to research and writing, and was pushing forward with his work on Brigham Young.

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Reminder: CFP Communal Studies Association

By April 15, 2016


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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Religious Liberty, Mormons, and Muslims

By December 16, 2015


The Founding Era of the United States witnessed dramatic changes in regards to the relationship between the government and religious bodies. Previously, state churches had either suppressed dissent or heavily regulated it through taxes and other penalties. Based on the ideas of John Locke, however, Thomas Jefferson and other founders promoted the idea of having no state church and providing expansive religious liberties to all citizens. Some Americans opposed these proposals on the grounds that religious liberty should be limited to Protestants or, more broadly, to Christians. These opponents raised the specter of the Catholic Pope running for President, or, pushing this argument to its extreme limits, that “Mohammadans” (Muslims) might come to the United States and, claiming the rights of religious liberty, somehow undermine the nation. As Denise A. Spellberg has shown in her excellent book, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, there were likely tens of thousands of Muslims in America by this time, but they were African slaves with no public presence. Those invoking Muslims in the debates usually only knew about Islam from inherited cultural prejudices and popular media that cast Muhammad and his followers in an unfavorable light. Against these arguments, Jefferson and others contended that for religious liberty to be an effective principle, its protections needed to extend to all people and all religions, including Islam.

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Job Ad: Production Editor, The Joseph Smith Papers

By November 25, 2015



POSTING INFO

Posting Dates: 11/24/2015

Job Family: Editorial, Writing & Language

Department: Church History Department

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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 INFO

Posting Dates: 11/06/2015

Job Family: Library, Research & Preservation

Department: Church History Department

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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: Ignacio Garcia, Part 2

By July 9, 2015


garciaFor Part 1, see here.

5. How do you envision your memoir contributing to both Mormon studies and Chicano studies?

While all of us want a legacy most of us never do enough to make it beyond a footnote or a family member’s sacrament meeting talk.

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Scholarly Inquiry: Ignacio Garcia on Chicano While Mormon

By July 8, 2015


garciaIgnacio M. Garcia is the Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. Professor of Western and Latino History at BYU. He is the author of several significant scholarly studies of Chicano and Mexican American history and he mentored several JI bloggers when they were students at BYU. Ignacio recently published a memoirChicano While Mormon: Activism, War, and Keeping the Faith, which is the first installment in Farleigh Dickinson University Press’s new Mormon Studies Series. Dr. Garcia’s memoir recounts his early years, from his family’s migration to Texas from Mexico, his growing up Mormon in a San Antonio barrio, his time in Vietnam, and his college activism in the incipient Chicano Movement. With the Latino/a population now the largest minority in the United States, and Latino/as joining the church in growing numbers, understanding Mormon Latino/a history will becoming increasingly important in years to come. As the first published autobiography of a Mormon Mexican American, Dr. Garcia’s memoir is an important milestone.  For those interested in purchasing the memoir, here is a code for a 30% discount: UP30AUTH15 (enter it at the Rowman and Littlefield website, linked to above)

Continuing the JI’s occasional series, Scholarly Inquiry, Dr. Garcia agreed to answer the following questions:

1. Briefly, could you summarize the main points of the memoir for the JI’s readers?

I don’t know if you write a memoir with main points in mind.

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JI Summer Book Club: Rough Stone Rolling, Part 8: Chapters 19-21

By July 6, 2015


This is the eighth installment of the first annual JI Summer Book Club. This year we are reading Richard Bushman’s landmark biography of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). JI bloggers will be covering small chunks of the book in successive weeks through the summer, with new posts appearing Monday mornings. We invite anyone and everyone interested to read along and to use the comment sections on each post to share your own reflections and questions. There are discussion questions below.

Installments:

  • Part 1: Prologue, Chapters 1-2
  • Part 2: Chapters 3-4
  • Part 3: Chapters 5-6
  • Part 4: Chapters 7-9
  • Part 5: Chapters 10-12
  • Part 6: Chapters 13-15
  • Part 7: Chapters 16-18
  • Next week (Part 9): Chapters 22-24

 

32493_000_01_Title.qxdIn the previous installment of the summer book club, Tona brought us through early January 1838, when, acting on a revelation, Joseph Smith (JS) fled Kirtland, Ohio, and reestablished the church’s headquarters in Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. As chapter 19 begins, Bushman lays out JS’s vision of the burgeoning Mormon settlement in northwestern Missouri and the palpable optimism that the Saints felt regarding Far West’s prospects. However, as 1838 progressed, that optimism would fade in the face of internal dissension and external opposition, ultimately resulting in the violent deaths of perhaps forty church members, the government-sanctioned expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from the state, and JS himself incarcerated on charges of treason and other crimes. Sifting through an uneven historical record, Bushman seeks to evaluate JS’s role and responsibility in these difficulties.

The internal dissent that had plagued JS and the church in Kirtland in 1837 followed him to Missouri. In February 1838, church members voted to remove David Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and John Whitmer as the presidency of the Missouri church, based on charges of mishandling church funds and properties. In March and April, church courts excommunicated the Whitmers, Phelps, and Oliver Cowdery, another church leader. These men had been among JS’s earliest and staunchest supporters, but by 1838 they had become estranged from the prophet. Cowdery had objected to what he saw as un-republican ecclesiastical interference in personal affairs. Bushman uses Cowdery’s trial as “a reminder of the complex ideological environment of Mormons in the 1830s. Most of the time they spoke Kingdom of God language, using words like ‘faith,’ ‘righteousness,’ ‘Zion,[’] ‘gathering,’ ‘priesthood,’ and ‘temple.’ At the same time, as American citizens, they knew the political language of rights and freedom” (348). Although JS himself used republican language when declaring that the Mormons would not submit to mob violence, he was less enthusiastic when his followers used it to undermine Latter-day Saint beliefs in consecration and unity.

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CFP: Communal Studies Association 2016 in SLC!

By April 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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Job Ad: Historic Sites Writer/Editor, Church History Department

By January 29, 2015


Posting Info:

Posting Dates: 01/29/2015 – 02/27/2015
Job Family: Library, Research & Preservation
Department: Church History Department

Purposes

The Church History Department seeks a full-time Writer/Editor who will be responsible for the research, writing, and editing of products associated with historic sites significant to the history of the Church.

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Internship: Joseph Smith Papers

By January 12, 2015


Joseph Smith Papers Project Internship

Purposes:

The Church History Department announces an opening for a one-year internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project.   This will be a part-time (28 hours a week) temporary position beginning in March 2015.

Responsibilities:
Duties will include research related to document analysis (textual and documentary intention, production, transmission, and reception) and to contextual annotation of documents (identifications and explanations). Research will involve work in primary and secondary sources for early nineteenth-century America and early Mormonism. Work will include general assistance to volume editors.

Qualifications:
•    Bachelor’s degree in history, religious studies, or related discipline, with preference given to those with master’s degrees and/or in doctoral programs.
•    Possess excellent research and writing skills.
•    Ability to work in a scholarly and professional environment.
•    Requires both personal initiative and collaborative competence.

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Frank W. Warner and the History of Mormon Native Writing

By November 12, 2014


Although recent scholarship has done much to understand Native conversions to Christianity in early America, asking intriguing questions about indigenous agency and adaptation within colonial contexts, little has been written on Native converts to Mormonism. Part of the hesitance, at least for nineteenth-century historians, stems from the nature of the source material. There are, simply put, few “Native texts”—written accounts drafted by indigenous converts to Mormonism that reflect their viewpoint—prior to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[1] From the 1850s through the 1880s, thousands of Native peoples accepted Mormon baptism in the inter-mountain American West and the Pacific Islands. Few if any of these converts could read Roman script, meaning their experience with Mormonism was largely oral in nature. They heard about rather than read the Book of Mormon and Mormon beliefs about the Lamanite ancestors of indigenous peoples. The corollary to this point is that few if any Mormon Natives could record in writing their own interpretations of church teachings, meaning historians are left with accounts of Native words that have been filtered through white interpreters and scribes. That said, some indigenous converts such as the Ute Arapeen, although unable to read or write English himself, used ingenious techniques to turn writing to his own purposes as he navigated the world around him that was rapidly being transformed by Mormon settlement.

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Job Posting: Historian/Documentary Editor, Joseph Smith Papers

By October 30, 2014


Historian/Documentary Editor, Joseph Smith Papers

Job Description: The Joseph Smith Papers seeks a full-time historian/documentary editor with the academic training, research, and writing skills to edit Joseph Smith’s papers. The Joseph Smith Papers is producing a comprehensive edition of Smith’s documents featuring complete and accurate transcripts with both textual and contextual annotation. The scope of the project includes Smith’s correspondence, revelations, journals, historical writings, sermons, legal papers, and other documents. Besides providing the most comprehensive record of early Latter-day Saint history they will also provide insight into the broader religious landscape of the early American republic.

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Journal of Mormon History, Summer 2014

By August 12, 2014


The latest issue of the Journal of Mormon History arrived in subscribers’ mailboxes recently. Here’s a brief rundown of the articles:

  • “The Curious Case of Joseph Howard, Palmyra’s Seventeen-Year-Old Somnium Preacher,” by Noel A. Carmack
    • Carmack compares Joseph Smith’s method of translation through seer stones with two New York “somnium preachers,” Rachel Baker and Joseph Howard, who delivered devotional and theological messages while appearing to be asleep or entranced. Carmack argues that Baker and Howard provided a context within which to place JS’s “subconscious religious exhortations taken down by dictation–one of which occurred only blocks away from the reflective, developing boy prophet.”
  • “The Upper-Room Work: Esotericism in the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite), 1853-1912,” by Christopher James Blythe
    • Blythe continues his ongoing investigation of Cutlerite history with an investigation of the role of esotericism (basically, the practice of “secret” rituals)  in the development and persistence of Culterite identity in the face of competition from RLDS and other Restoration groups.

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Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup

By February 9, 2014


Another week, another edition of the Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup!

There were significant new developments at church headquarters. First, it has been reported that the church’s Seminaries and Institutes department was revising its curriculum, in part to incorporate insights from the Joseph Smith Papers Project and the revamped Gospel Topics page on lds.org. The first installment in this revised curriculum was released this week, with an updated Church History and Doctrine and Covenants manual. The folks at FAIR Mormon are pleased with the results. Second, the Young Women organization announced a new board that will include substantial representation from women outside the United States. The Relief Society and Primary organizations are expected to form similar boards to better meet the needs of the international church. Additionally, training sessions for these organizations, which have traditionally been held only in Salt Lake City, will be made available via the internet. The Research Information Division at church headquarters is looking for a full-time researcher with graduate training in the social sciences. 

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From the Archives: Thomas D. Brown’s “Missionaries’ Song”

By February 7, 2014


In late 1853, Brigham Young sent missionaries among the Paiutes in what is now southern Utah. The Southern Indian Mission, as it came to be known, resulted from a combination of factors, including Mormon beliefs in the Israelite origins of indigenous peoples and Young’s Indian policies in the wake of the Walker War of 1853-1854. Many Paiutes, including some prominent chiefs, found the missionaries’ message appealing, with hundreds of baptisms occurring over the next decade. The Paiutes embraced Mormonism for a variety of reasons. During the previous generation, the Paiutes’ Ute relatives had relied on horses and guns to raid non-equestrian Paiute bands, kidnapping women and children and selling them to New Mexican and Mormon buyers.[1] Seeing the Mormons as potential allies against the Utes, Paiute bands accepted the missionaries into their communities and expressed interest in learning new agricultural techniques and wearing Euro-American style clothing.[2] Additionally, many Paiutes who chose to affiliate with the church found the new religion compatible with their traditional religious views. By June 1854, one missionary reported that Paiute proselytes “prefer being called Pahute Mormons to Pahutes.”[3]

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