Articles by

David G.

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.


  • 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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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


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


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.

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.

•    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 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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The latest Journal of Mormon History

By January 14, 2014

The latest Journal of Mormon History has been reaching subscribers’ mailboxes this week, which means it’s time for the JI’s semi-regular brief reviews of the issue.

Ronald W. Walker, joined by Matthew J. Grow, completes his two part analysis of the 1851-1852 “Runaways” incident in “The People Are ‘Hogaffed or Humbugged’: The 1851-52 National Reaction to Utah’s ‘Runaway’ Officers, Part 2,’ 1-52. The first installment, which appeared in the last issue of JMH, chronicled the origins of the crisis with the first non-Mormon federal appointees in Utah Territory. This second part continues the story as the scene shifts to the nation’s capital, and follows the public affairs and behind-the-scenes activities of Jedediah Grant, John M. Berhisel, and Thomas L. Kane. Walker and Grow not only tell a gripping tale, but also demonstrate the importance of this event in the long and tortured history of Mormon-federal relations from the late 1840s through the 1890s. Unlike the similar struggle with federal appointees in the lead-up to the Utah War, the 1852 even actually turned out in the Mormons’ favor. The article provides a teaser for Walker and Grow’s forthcoming documentary volume on Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane’s correspondence.

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Review: Compton, Jacob Hamblin: A Frontier Life

By December 31, 2013

Todd M. Compton. A Frontier Life: Jacob Hamblin, Explorer and Indian Missionary. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2013. 642 pp. Illustrations, photos, maps, bibliography, index. Cloth: $44.95; ISBN: 978-1-60781-234-0

Todd Compton’s first major contribution to Mormon history was his 1997 In Sacred Loneliness, a collective biography of Joseph Smith’s plural wives.[1] In his most recent offering, Compton has returned to the biographer’s craft, with a definitive examination of Jacob Hamblin, a prominent figure in the Mormon colonization of southern Utah and the Southwest. Hamblin was a devout Latter-day Saint, who preached the Gospel to Indians, married plural wives, and played a key role in the expanding Kingdom of God in the West. Even in his lifetime, Hamblin achieved renown not only among the Saints as the “Apostle to the Lamanites,” but also nationally as a guide and an interpreter for John Wesley Powell’s famed expeditions to the Grand Canyon. Previous Hamblin biographies have been either fictionalized or hagiographic, reflecting the “Hamblin legend” that emerged in the nineteenth century.[2] More recent works, reacting against these earlier portrayals, have cast Hamblin in a more unfavorable light.[3] Compton’s biography, the first full-length scholarly treatment of Hamblin’s life, presents a positive reevaluation, while not ignoring the frontiersman’s flaws. Compton expertly analyzes Hamblin’s evolving attitudes toward Indians, showing how the missionary gradually became the “Apostle to the Lamanites.”

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JSPP Opening: Production Editor

By December 5, 2013

Editor, Joseph Smith Papers Project-Church History Department

ID# 106611, Type: Full-Time – Regular

USA – UT – Salt Lake City

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Arapeen, the Ute Prophet

By November 26, 2013

Filed away in the Brigham Young Papers at the Church History Library, there is a document that records the vision of a nineteenth-century prophet. That visionary, however, was not Brigham Young. Rather, it was Arapeen, a leading Ute chief during the Mormons’ first two decades in the Great Basin. That the Saints believed that Arapeen had received a legitimate revelation is revealed in the language they used to categorize the document. John Lowry, Jr., the Manti resident who interpreted for Arapeen, and George Peacock, who acted as scribe, entitled the document “Vision of Arapine on the night of the 4th of Feb 1855.” Later, after it had been sent to Young’s office in Salt Lake City, an unidentified clerk scrawled “The Lord to Arrowpin” in the margins.[1] Arapeen’s vision provides a fascinating window into the Utes’ hybrid religious culture that was in the process of formation in the years following the Mormons’ arrival in 1847.

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Painting the Mythical and the Heroic: Joseph Smith Preaches to the American Indians

By November 19, 2013


By Laura Allred Hurtado, with David G. Note: This represents preliminary and ongoing research for the Armitage painting. 

In 1890, British born painter and founder of the Utah Art Association William Armitage created the massive historic painting, Joseph Smith Preaching to the Indians. The artwork, which once hung with prominence in the Salt Lake Temple, now fills the wall leading up to the 2nd floor of the Church History Museum. The scale itself means that it demands the attention of the entire room, standing almost as a sentinel within the space. The painting depicts, as the title suggests, a well-dressed Smith preaching to a crowd of nearly forty American Indians which surround the frame. Smith’s outstretched right arm gestures heavenward while his left hand holds the Book of Mormon, a book that according to historian Ronald W. Walker was “not just a record of the ‘Lamanite’ or Native American people, but a highly unusual manifesto of their destiny.”[1] Smith stands triumphantly and confidently among this crowd of mostly male Indians whose expressions vary from guarded, taken aback, distrusting, perhaps even provoked but in all instances, they are engaged, looking toward Joseph and his distinct message regarding the destiny of North America’s Indigenous peoples.

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Mormons and Natives: A JI Blogliography

By November 13, 2013

Since the JI’s founding in 2007, our permas and guests have spent a lot of time thinking about Mormonism’s encounters with indigenous peoples. Here’s a “blogliography” (ht: Blair) of our past posts on the subject, through October 2013:

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Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup

By October 27, 2013

Welcome to the Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup! Let’s get down to business.

The ever-insightful Jana Reiss recently published an article with Publishers Weekly, where she attempts to quantify the extent of Mormon Studies publishing. In a teaser posted on her blog, she reports that, while many presses struggle just to break even on most academic books, Mormon tomes tend to outpace expectations. An average (non-Mormon) book has to sell more than 1,500 copies just to stay out of the red. John Turner’s award-winning biography of Brigham Young, put out by Harvard University Press, sold an eye-popping 10,000 copies during its first year in print. Oxford University Press told Jana that the Mormon Studies category in its catalog is easily in the top three in terms of sales, with Massacre at Mountain Meadows ranking in the press’s top ten best sellers in the overall Religion category over the last two decades. Jana doesn’t provide a number for copies sold, but knowledgeable observers associated with the JI suggest that it exceeds 65,000. Although Jana doesn’t address it in her blog post, the number of mid-tier presses trying to get into the Mormon Studies market is also increasing (I’ll defer to Ben, the JI’s resident Mormon Studies watcher, to provide a list in the comments section). This week’s announcement of Fairleigh Dickenson University’s new Mormon Studies series demonstrates this.

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Mormon History at the Western History Association

By October 24, 2013

With Andrea R-M

Earlier this month, the Western History Association met in Tucson, Arizona. As always, there was great scholarship, great conversation, and even great Mormon history, with papers by JIers.

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CFP: The International Church–Mormonism as a Global Religion

By October 4, 2013

The International Church:

Mormonism as a Global Religion


March 6–7, 2014

 Jointly Sponsored by

 The Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, and

The Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


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Joseph Smith Papers Launch Party: The Documents Series

By September 5, 2013

On Wednesday, September 4, 2013, the Joseph Smith Papers Project hosted a launch party for journalists and bloggers to introduce the Documents Series, which will serve as the chronological backbone of the project. Previously, the project has released volumes from Journals Series (2), the Revelations and Translations Series (2, plus an oversized facsimile volume), and the Histories Series (2). The first volume of the Documents Series reproduces in chronological order all of Joseph Smith’s papers from July 1828 to June 1831, beginning with the earliest extant recorded revelation (D&C 3) and concluding with the historic church conference where the high priesthood (that is, the office of high priest) was restored.[1] This was a foundational period in Mormon history, tracking the translation of the Book of Mormon, the recording of the first revelations, the organization of the church, the mission to the “Lamanites,” the beginning of Joseph Smith’s revisions of the Bible, and the beginnings of the first two gathering places of the church–Kirtland and Independence. The editors–Mike Mackay, Gerrit Dirkmaat, Grant Underwood, Bob Woodford, and Bill Hartley, along with other smart people at the JSPP who also contributed–contextualized these issues in commendable fashion. Although images and transcriptions of these documents have been available on the JSPP website for some time, the “value added” of the JSPP editors’ introductions and annotations is well worth paying for the print volume. 

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