Articles by

Edje Jeter

Prehistoric Mammals in the Manti Temple

By December 5, 2016

Three years ago I wrote about prehistoric reptiles in a mural in the Manti Temple: “Things I Did Not Know: Dinosaurs in the Manti Temple”. This past summer I went back and, this time, noticed some prehistoric mammals.

I was not able to find images of the particular murals [1], so… with the usual caveats about memory and eye-witnesses of a mural I saw in from across the room in July while doing something else, the animals I saw were:

  • Deinotherium (looks like an elephant with downward curving tusks),
  • Megacerops (looks like a rhinoceros with forked horn),
  • Xiphodon (looks like a camel)

There was also a goat in the same panel, but I didn’t notice anything to distinguish it from a present-day male Alpine ibex (Capra ibex).

The murals in question were painted by Carl Christian Anton Christensen (1831-1912; usually CCA Christensen) in 1886-1887 and depict facets of creation up to, but not including, humans. Below I have included images from  Louis Figuier’s La Terre avant le déluge (1863, French; 1872, English), which seems, upon casual inspection, to be a candidate for one of Christensen’s sources. [2]. (Hat-tip again to Mina for pointing out Figuier when I posted about Mesozoic Reptiles.)

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Summer Book Club Week 7: Mormon Enigma, Chapters 17-19

By July 18, 2016

Click here for part onetwothree, fourfive, and six of this year’s summer book club. 

This week’s chapters address Emma’s experiences in Nauvoo after the population of Nauvoo became thoroughly non-Mormon (Ch 19: “Change in Nauvoo,” 1850-1860) and as her sons (and Joseph Smith, the prophet’s sons) became established as adults and potentially key figures within Mormonism (Ch 20: “Emma’s Sons, Lewis’s Son,” 1860-1870).

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Photos of a Visit to Iosepa

By June 23, 2015

A few weeks ago Ben P, Catherine P, and I visited the Iosepa (pronounced, I think: ee-oh-SEP-ah, but, in practice usually closer to: yo-SEP-uh) Cemetery, near Dugway, Utah. Below I’m posting some of the pictures from the trip, mostly without commentary. 

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The Origin and Persistence of Mormon Horns

By June 9, 2015

Below I summarize (700 words) my 2015 MHA paper (3,000 words), “The Origin and Persistence of Mormon Horns.” Note that I’ve blogged about Mormon horns before and almost all the images I used in the presentation have appeared in prior blog posts, so I’ve omitted them here.

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On Footnotes: Thoughts, Rants, and Peeves

By May 28, 2015

Since I lead a very exciting life, foot/endnotes are something I think about fairly frequently: How many? How long? How detailed? Foot or end? To excerpt or merely to cite? And so on. In an attempt to clarify my thinking, I have sketched a few thoughts, rants, and peeves.

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JI Summer Book Club: Rough Stone Rolling, Part 3: Chapters 5 – 6

By May 26, 2015

This is the third 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.



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Images: “Scenes in the Endowment Ceremonies” in Beadle

By May 20, 2015

Note: today’s post deals with temple ordinances, which can be a sensitive topic. Please tread considerately.

Today’s image, “Scenes in the Endowment Ceremonies,” allegedly depicts portions of the Mormon ordinance of temple endowment. So far as I can tell, “Scenes” first appeared in John H Beadle’s Life in Utah: or, The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism (1870), which—if the title didn’t give it away—takes a dim view of Mormonism. Beadle reused the image in 1882 and again in 1904. [1] 

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The Garfield Assassination, 4 of 4: Aftermath and Conclusion

By April 28, 2015

In the last post we looked at ways Mormonism appeared in the trial of Charles Guiteau, assassin of President Garfield. Today we’ll look outside and after the trial.

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The Garfield Assassination, 3 of 4: Guiteau’s Trial

By April 21, 2015

Previous installments here and here. Guiteau’s trial for the murder of President Garfield began on November 14, 1881, and ran about ten weeks to January 25, 1882. [1] Direct and indirect references to Mormonism were scattered throughout the trial.

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The Garfield Assassination, 2 of 4: DeWitt Talmage

By April 15, 2015

As noted in the last post, T[homas] DeWitt Talmage, the histrionic, hyperbolic, famous, and famously anti-Mormon preacher of Brooklyn, was not the first or only figure to claim that Garfield’s assassin, Charles Guiteau, was Mormon or that Guiteau was part of a Mormon conspiracy. However, Talmage’s national presence gave his allegations more reach (see image).

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The Garfield Assassination, 1 of 4: Joy, Prophecy, and Conspiracy

By April 8, 2015

In his inaugural address as President of the United States, James A Garfield included about 180 words proposing action against Mormonism (1881 Mar 04). [1] Four months later (Jul 02), Charles J Guiteau shot Garfield. Guiteau was apprehended at the scene and Garfield died several weeks later (Sep 19). In the next few posts I will look at some ways Garfield’s shooting and rhetoric about Mormonism intersected. (Image [2])

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Mormon Thugs, Part 2 of 2

By March 24, 2015

In my last post I looked at comparisons between Mormons and Thugs in the late nineteenth century. Today I look at Mormon reactions and the broader imperial context.

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Mormon Thugs, Part 1 of 2

By March 11, 2015

You might remember the “Thuggee cult” as the very bad guys in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), though there were some, uh… literary licenses taken with the religious practices. As understood by nineteenth-century Westerners, Thugs murdered hundreds of thousands of people in India from the 1300s to the 1800s—mostly by strangulation in furtherance of highway robbery—in fulfillment of religious duty. Today I sketch some ways Thugs figured in nineteenth-century rhetoric about Mormons. [1]

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Images: The Hoosier Don Quixote

By March 3, 2015

For today’s image we begin with an 1863 edition of Don Quixote illustrated by Gustave Doré and engraved by Héliodore Pisan. [1] Doré’s images are among the most famous and most influential illustrations of Quixote. The frontispiece illustrates how Quixote fixated on stories about knights: “His fancy grew full of what he used to read about in his books.” [2] 

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Mormon Turtles 2: Thomas Nast and the Catholic Crocodile

By February 18, 2015

A few weeks ago we looked at how the Salt Lake Tabernacle was frequently invoked as a symbol for Mormonism in the 1880s and then at descriptions of the Salt Lake Tabernacle as turtle-shaped. This week we combine the two to imagine a symbol that might have been. First, however, we’re going to talk about anti-Catholic crocodiles.

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Images: The Situation of the Mormons in Utah, with Bleg

By February 9, 2015

For today’s discussion, the image is “Situation of the Mormons in Utah” by George Frederick Keller, which appeared in San Francisco’s Wasp on 1879 Feb 01. [1] 

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Mormon Turtles 1: The Salt Lake Tabernacle, etc

By February 3, 2015

In the next two posts I’m going to look at turtles as symbols in a Mormon context. I resisted the titles “Mormon Testudines” and “Mormon Chelonians” as being bit obscure for a non-science blog. For our purposes today, “turtles” will include “terrapins” and “tortoises,” acknowledging that some versions of English make distinctions among the three. It turns out that almost everything I found with Mormons and turtles in the same sentences involved comment on the shape of the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

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The Salt Lake Tabernacle as Graphic Signifier in the 1880s

By January 21, 2015

In many anti-Mormon cartoons from the 1880s (and a few before and after), the Salt Lake Tabernacle functioned as a graphic shorthand to communicate Mormon-ness. That is, from its completion in 1867 until sometime after the completion of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893, the presence of the Salt Lake Tabernacle was one of the ways you knew you were in a (usually anti-) Mormon cartoon. In retrospect, the point seems rather obvious, but it surprised me a bit when I noticed so I wrote it up. 

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Images: Woman’s Bondage, The Cave of Despair, and The Twin Relic

By January 6, 2015

In today’s post I will look at three images published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in the early 1880s that focus on the alleged plight of female converts to Mormonism from rural Europe. [1] All three are familiar to modern scholarship. To avoid going on too long, I will put the detailed descriptions in the footnotes and mention a few key points in the main post.

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Images: The Mistletoe Tradition at Salt Lake City

By December 23, 2014

Note: the post below includes images of pejorative racial and ethnic stereotypes from 1912.

Today’s image, “The Mistletoe Tradition at Salt Lake City,” came to my attention via Bunker and Bitton’s The Mormon Graphic Image, 1834-1914, where it illustrates a period (1908-1914) when portrayals of Mormons declined in frequency and hostility. “Mistletoe…” comes from the British Punch’s Almanack for 1912—an appendage to the more famous Punch—and Bunker and Bitton only included the Mormon part of the full-page, three-panel gag about cultural exchange in British colonialism. [1] The whole page is below.

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