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Robin

Restriction-ism Unveiled!

By February 16, 2017


Today’s guest post comes from Keith Erekson. Keith is the Director of the Library division at the LDS Chruch History Library.

One of the most common tropes in Mormon literature asserts that Mormon practices are veiled in secrecy. In the realm of historical practice, the trope has been employed to describe the archival and historical collections of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presently housed in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. What lies in the vaults at the Church History Library? What is restricted, and why? Is it possible to use restricted items in your research? What restrictions influence the intellectual property request process? Are restrictions ever lifted?

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George Q. Cannon Journals

By January 11, 2017


This morning’s guest post comes from Richard Dilworth Rust, a missionary at the LDS Church History Library and who has worked on the George Q. Cannon project for the last several years.

On George Q. Cannon’s 190th birthday, January 11th, 2017, the Church Historian’s Press issued online George Q. Cannon’s journal for the period of 1876 to 1880.

The following are some of the events/topics that can be explored. Links to events are provided in the online list at the beginning of January each year.

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Summer Book Club Week 1: Chapters 1 and 2

By June 6, 2016


For this Summer’s Book Club, we will be reading Mormon Enigma by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery. This week’s post focuses on the first two chapters, “Emma and Joseph, 1825-1827” and “The “Elect Lady” 1827-1830.”

Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery published Mormon Enigma, the biography of Emma Smith, in 1984 at the height of the Hofmann era (any guesses how many Hofmann sources are quoted in the first two chapters of the first edition?). Their work went a long way in bringing Emma Smith out of the antagonistic rhetoric so often used by members of the LDS Church. Today, the work still serves as a corrective to a surprising amount of Mormon scholarship, despite the fact that it does show signs of its age.

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Mormon History Association awards recipients

By June 6, 2014


As announced at this evening’s Awards Banquet in San Antonio, Texas:

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Reference Archivists

By October 1, 2013


The Society for American Archives month has designated October Archives Month. To celebrate, here’s a highlight of the recent SAA journal.

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Documenting history

By November 24, 2012


[Another installment in the roundtable on John Turner’s Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet.]

Archival and historical research is the bread and butter of historical writing.

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Finding history in the archives

By October 2, 2012


From my experience, historians don’t consciously believe archives are a neutral space in the historical research process, but there is not nearly enough literature on the filtering process that occurs within an archives.[1] I’m not speaking of the difficulties inherent in historic documents. All historians are taught to focus a critical eye on a source, look at why it’s created, and to weigh its biases. But I think historians are ill-trained in analyzing the archival influence of various collections. Scholars need to think about and engage with the fact that historical documents are processed by archivists with their own prejudices, (changing) professional standards, and varying historical knowledge. What have historians missed due to not understanding processing and preservation practices? This opens up a tremendous array of questions scholars can glean in their own research. Below is but a small example of this kind of thinking. It’s in no way earth-shattering, but I think uncovers some illustrative evidence historians should remember.

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I Found it in the Archives

By October 1, 2012


Archival research and the resulting discovered sources often provide the critical foundation for scholarly articles and books. There is something wonderful about stepping into the archives and having the past delivered to your table in Holinger boxes and non-acidic folders; not to mention that you often discover answers to questions you had not thought to ask.

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1829 Mormon Discovery Brought to you by…Guest Erin Jennings

By August 21, 2012


The following post comes from intrepid researcher by Erin Jennings. Erin (BS, Cameron University; MSE, Arkansas State University) is an independent historian and current board member of the John Whitmer Historical Association. Among her areas of focus, Erin has extensively researched Jesse Gause, Charles Anthon, and the Whitmer family. She has published, “The Consequential Counselor: Restoring the Root(s) of Jesse Gause,” in the Journal of Mormon History, and “The Whitmer Family Beliefs and Their Church of Christ,” in the book Scattering of the Saints: Schism Within Mormonism, edited by Newell G. Bringhurst and John C. Hamer. The Juvenile Instructor thanks Erin for kindly sharing an important document she recently found:

A relentless eight-year search has finally come to an end for me. Thanks to an ever-growing trove of digital tools, I’ve finally located an elusive Oliver Cowdery letter that in February 1830 Cornelius Blatchly claimed was reproduced in a New York newspaper in 1829.

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Revelations, women, and the early church

By March 30, 2012


In honor of Women’s History month, I bring you something from the archives.

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The Success of “Succession Crisis”?

By December 7, 2011


Post-1844 Mormonism has been on my mind lately since beginning a documentary history project with fellow-blogger Ben Park on the “Succession Crisis.” The documentary record is rich with history that should be more widely available to scholars interested in the various interpretations of Mormonism following Joseph Smith’s death.

I’ve long paused at the term “Succession Crisis,” hesitating at the term’s capacity to depict the history it attempts to clarify. There is no doubt Mormons faced a tumultuous period following the 1844 death of Joseph Smith and his brother in Carthage, Illinois—some of that difficulty stemming from theological/doctrinal confusion. But to what extent did the church and its members undergo a “crisis” in deciding upon a path of “succession”? In trying to be conscious of the language and terminology we use, I’ve put some of my thoughts to digital paper, attempting to outline some points I think the term “Succession Crisis” reveals not just about the past, but historians’ attempt at explaining that past.

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