Announcements and Events

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.

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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Inaugural Joseph Smith Lecture at the University of Virginia, Senator Harry Reid

By September 18, 2015

Senator Harry Reid

Senator Harry Reid

The  inaugural Joseph Smith Lecture featuring a conversation with Senator Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader, will be held on Saturday September 26 at 2:00 p.m. in the University of Virginia’s Newcomb Hall Theater. The conversation will be comprised largely of questions from the audience.

Parking is available in the Bookstore garage immediately behind Newcomb Hall.

Tickets are available for free from University’s box office at and may be picked up in the Theater’s lobby beginning at 12:24. Seating is open and tickets not picked up by 1:45 will be released to the public.

Proposing Panels for MHA’s Annual Conference: A Few Thoughts

By September 1, 2015

MHAWe are one month away from the deadline for MHA’s call for papers, so I thought this was as good a time as any to talk about the conference in general and conference papers in particular. I hope every reader of JI has had the privilege to attend MHA’s annual conference. It truly is a phenomenal time, with a mixture of solid papers and warm comraderie. It is quite unlike most historical conferences I attend where few people actually attend sessions and most people remain in the halls, at restaurants, and doing anything but hearing papers. There is certainly plenty of socializing and networking at MHA, but the thing that sets it apart is people actually care about the sessions, papers, and presenters. It’s refreshing, honestly. There are at times poorly-attended sessions, but more often than not the rooms are mostly filled, and not too infrequently they are overflowing with more anxious attendees than there are chairs. This is one of the conference’s great strengths.

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Fresh Update

By September 1, 2015

You may have noticed the Internet has changed under your nose. Web standards have matured enough that designers have more flexibility in typeface choices, layouts, and interactive elements. The prime medium for delivering web content has pivoted from the static and simple browser window to the mobile app. To take advantage of these developments, we’re launching a new design. Readers, rejoice—the day of an on-the-go, crisply formatted, mobile-friendly Juvenile Instructor has arrived.

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Job Post: Research Intern, Women’s History, LDS Church History Department

By August 19, 2015

The Church History Department announces an opening for a research internship with the Women’s History Team. This will be a part-time, temporary position beginning in September 2015.


•    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.
Please attach a vita to your application, and email a writing sample to:


Duties will include research related to contextual annotation of documents (identifications and explanations, genealogical inquiries, and biographical information), as well as detailed source checking. Research will involve work in primary and secondary sources for nineteenth- and twentieth-century America and Mormonism. Work will include general assistance to authors.

Worthiness Qualification

Must be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and currently temple worthy.


Women’s History

Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Emmeline B. Wells, and Eliza R. Snow

Call for Papers: Mormons, Race, and Gender in the Borderlands

By August 12, 2015


Race, Gender, and Power in the Mormon Borderlands

Mormon history lies at the borders between subaltern and dominant cultures. On the one hand, due to their unusual family structure and theocratic government, Mormons were a persecuted minority for the better part of the nineteenth century.  On the other, Mormons played a significant role as colonizers of the North American West, extending their reach to the borderlands of Mexico, Canada, and the Pacific Islands. There Mormon colonists intermarried with Native Americans, Mexicans, Hawaiians and Samoans, even as they placed exclusions on interracial sexual relations and marriage. During the nineteenth century, Mormons also discouraged Native peoples’ polygamous practices while encouraging plural marriage for white women. And Mormon religious doctrine subordinated persons of color within church hierarchy well into the twentieth century. African-American men, for example, could not hold the priesthood until 1978. Historically, then, Mormons have navigated multiple borders– between colonizer and colonized, between white and Other, and between minority and imperial identities. This limnal position calls for further investigation. We propose an anthology of essays on race, gender, and power in the Mormon borderlands.

Over the past thirty years, historians of Mormon women have expanded our understanding of gender and power in Mormon society. However, most of these studies focus on white Mormon women, while Mormon women of color have remained largely invisible. This volume seeks not simply to make visible the lived experiences of Mormon women of color, but more importantly, to explore gender and  race in the Mormon borderlands. Taken together, these essays will address how Mormon women and men navigated the complications of minority and colonizer status, interracial marriage and doctrinal race hierarchies, patriarchy and female agency, violence and religious responsibility, and plural identities. These metaphoric borders were brought into play on the geographic and cultural borders of the United States. Specifically, this volume will encompass the continental U.S. West, the borderlands of Canada and Mexico, and Pacific Rim islands such as Samoa and Hawaii, exploring the intersectionality of race and gender in Mormon cultures on the borders from the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. This focus will open new directions in Mormon history in concert with recent trends in western history. The anthology will have full scholarly apparatus and we welcome both historical research and interdisciplinary work.

Please submit article proposals/manuscript drafts by Sept.15, 2015, to Dee Garceau at <>  (901-484-1837)

Co-Editors:  Dee Garceau, Rhodes College ; Sujey Vega, Arizona State University,; Andrea Radke-Moss, BYU-Idaho

Co-Editors’ Faculty Profiles:

Dee Garceau

Sujey Vega

Andrea Radke-Moss

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

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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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Let her be an Ensign.

By May 29, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.30.46 PM

Two years ago, I wrote a post called, “In the Ghetto: I Like It Here, but When Can I Get Out?” I lamented the separation of Mormon women’s history from the general narrative of the church. Having people read what you’ve written is always lovely, but it is exponentially better when someone continues to think about something you’ve written and then chooses to do something about it. Thank you, Ardis.

Ardis Parshall–the mastermind behind the Mormon history blog Keepapitchinin–has moved to act. Always one to go above and beyond, Ardis has begun a daunting project of writing a broad synthesis of Mormon history written from the perspective of women–She Shall Be an Ensign. And she needs our support.

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MHA Hotel Registration and Final Program

By May 22, 2015

The following message is from our friends at The Mormon History Association: 


Have you reserved your room yet for the fast-approaching MHA conference? MHA has arranged for a discounted room rate of just $99/night at the conference hotel, the Provo Marriott. Call 801-377-4700 to make your reservations. Be sure to mention MHA to receive the group rate. If you are interested in finding a roommate to share the cost of the room, send us an email to and we’ll assist you. Type “room share” in the email’s subject line when you contact us.




$99 for a Marriott room is a fantastic bargain—if you don’t have accommodations arranged, please take advantage of this deal. Then you don’t have to worry about driving home from the conference at night, driving to the conference in the morning, or the burden of forgetting something important in your hotel room. If costs are an issue, there are many folks looking to share a room to defer costs. Be sure to take advantage of the MHA’s offer to line you up with a roommate who is as interested in Mormon History as you are!

You can also view the final program for the conference here: MHA Program-Final. See you in Provo!

JI Summer Book Club: Richard Lyman Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (Prologue + Chapters 1-2)

By May 11, 2015

This post kicks off the first annual JI Summer Book Club. This year we are reading Richard Bushman’s landmark biography of Mormonism founder, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). JI bloggers will be covering several small chunks of the book (typically 2-3 chapters) in successive weeks from now through the summer. New posts will appear on Monday mornings. We begin today with the Prologue, which sets the tone in several important respects for the rest of the book, and Chapters 1 (“The Joseph Smith Family: To 1816”) and 2 (“The First Visions: 1816-1827”). We invite anyone and everyone interested to join along. Please use the comment section on each post to post your own reflections and commentary on the chapters under consideration and ask questions.  


RSR ImageI first read Rough Stone Rolling (RSR) when it was first released in 2005. I was an undergraduate history major at the time, a recently-returned Mormon missionary, and an avid if novice and somewhat naïve student of Mormon history. Bushman’s biography was not my introduction to the scholarly study of Joseph Smith or Mormon history, but it still threw me for something of a loop, challenging many of the assumptions of my faith-promoting worldview. Nevertheless, I pushed through and finished the book. I next read it three years later, in a reading seminar in BYU’s now-defunct MA program in history. My familiarity with both Mormon and American religious history more broadly was deeper by then, and reading the book alongside both an experienced historian and several budding young scholars made the book both more familiar and yet so foreign from my initial reading. That a book reads differently to the same individual at different stages in her life is a truism of nearly all books, but it is especially true in reading Rough Stone Rolling.

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Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup

By May 10, 2015

MSWRA few Mormon studies-related links from around the internet over the last (couple) week(s):

Seth Perry authored a provocative review essay of Terryl Givens’s Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Reflecting on the book’s “emphatically male framing,” Perry examines it against the backdrop of contemporary Mormon debates over sex roles:

Wrestling the Angel is a comprehensive synthesis of Mormon theology. It’s not specifically about the theological particulars that undergird the Church’s increasingly unpopular sexual politics. Right now, however, those particulars are what people are interested in, and Givens’s struggle with them is emblematic of his Church’s current predicament. In a different era, a cogent, explicitely Christian synthesis of Mormon theology such as this one would have performed an apologetic purpose, giving Mormon thought the dignity it deserves. Nowadays, though, Mormon thought largely has that dignity. What readers both inside and outside the Church wonder about now is why it is so closely associated with an understanding of sex and gender that many find backward. The theological answers presented here are haunted by political questions.

A recent episode of Backstory with the American History Guys on “island hopping” included some discussion of James Strang and Beaver Island. Elsewhere on the radio, Doug Fabrizio discussed age and leadership in the LDS Church with scholars Richard Bushman and Greg Prince. Bushman, along with his wife and fellow scholar Claudia, were interviewed over at Past is Present, the official blog of the American Antiquarian Society, where the Bushmans have spent the year as Distinguished Scholars in Residence. Two excerpts of interest:

Past is Present: Richard, same question for you. How do you first become interested in a project? You have two strains in your work, one on American life and culture more generally and one on Joseph Smith and Mormonism.

RB: It’s that double life that lies behind this project. I’m basically an early American historian, but from time to time I’ve been asked to do something on Mormonism, so I got involved in writing about Joseph Smith. As I was looking for a new project on the early American history side, I thought I ought to do something that would interact with the work I was doing on Joseph Smith. His family were farmers, so I thought, “Well, I’ll see what I can find out about farmers.” And it worked out well. The two halves fed into each other. I use the Joseph Smith example, his family, in the farm work and the other way around.


Past is Present: I guess one more question. If there’s one book that you could write that you haven’t written yet, what would it be? One topic that you would love to cover.

CB: Well, I have two projects. One is [an oral history project on Mormon women]. The other one is my autobiography. I’m doing this for lots of reasons, but one is that women don’t write their autobiographies and they always apologize for doing it. They say, “I wouldn’t have done this, but my children, my neighbors asked me.” Because that’s the way we feel. Women shouldn’t, we’re just not important enough to write about ourselves. So I decided that that would be one of my final women’s studies projects, that I would tell my own story, and I’m about halfway done with it, I guess. I have plenty more to do. Seeing as I was not apologizing for it, I would give it an in-your-face title. So the title is, I, Claudia. So you take yourself seriously, but not too seriously. Will anybody ever publish it? I don’t know. My family can publish it. See, now I’m already apologizing! That’s bad. We just don’t want to apologize for ourselves, because it’s so important to have women’s autobiographies. Those that we have we value so much.  I don’t dare think of another project until I get those done.

Meanwhile, over at the Salt Lake Tribune, Peggy Fletcher Stack reported on a youth Sunday School teacher in Hawaii who was released after using the church’s recently-published essay on race and the priesthood in one of his lessons.

A CNN profile of Mormonism in Cambodia provided a fascinating look at the religious politics of temple work for the dead in a predominantly Buddhist country.

In academic conference news, the Mormon Pacific Historical Society released the CFP for its fall conference, to be held on the campus of BYU-Hawaii October 23-24.

We’ll wrap things up with a couple of bloggernacle links: First, a post over at By Common Consent by Steve Evans reflecting on the present and future of Mormon Studies, which sparked a lively conversation in the comments section and a lengthier response from Ardis Parshall over at Keepapitchinin on “Academia vs. Scholarship” (that’s the second link). Be sure and read both.

JWHA call for papers

By February 4, 2015

From the John Whitmer Historical Association organization:

Do you love church history? Visit the annual John Whitmer Historical Association meeting at Independence, Missouri, September 24–27, 2015. Listen to presentations and discuss historical events with some of the most knowledgeable authors like Erin Metcalfe, Newell Bringhurst, Joseph Johnstun, and many more. Even better, propose your own paper and present your research on a topic pertinent to the Restoration. The proposal deadline is April 1, 2015. Directions for submission can be found here.

Faith & Knowledge Conference: Schedule and Registration now up

By February 2, 2015

The schedule for the Fifth Biennial Faith & Knowledge Conference was posted this morning at The event will be held on Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28, 2015 at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. Registration is now open, as well.

For the first time ever, Friday night’s opening panel will be open to the public, and if you’re in the general area, you won’t want to miss this. Noted LDS scholars Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion, and the James A. Bostwick Professor of English at University of Richmond, and J.B. Haws, Assistant Professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University and author of The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception (OUP, 2013), will offer their respective thoughts in response to the prompt, “What’s Changing in Mormonism?” They will be followed by a response from Jennifer L. Geddes, Research Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and Director of Publications at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture University of Virginia. Dr. Geddes is the author of several articles and essays, and the editor of two books: Evil after Postmodernism: Histories, Narratives, Ethics (Routledge, 2001); and, with John K. Roth and Julius Simon, The Double Binds of Ethics after the Holocaust (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

Attendance at Saturday’s proceedings is limited to currently-enrolled LDS graduate students and early career scholars. It features presentations from some of the very best and brightest young Mormon scholars in panels ranging in subject from “LDS Experiences in and Approaches to the Academy” to “LDS Perspectives on Faith, Personality, and Work,” and from “Gender, Sexuality, and Race in Mormon History, Theology, and Experience” to new and innovative “Approaches to Mormon Scripture” to “Faith Crises and Faith Transitions.”

If you’re an LDS graduate student or early career scholar interested in the intersections between religious faith and scholarship, please consider attending.

Claremont Mormon Studies Conference Schedule: “Community, Authority, and Identity”

By January 30, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.04.15 AM[Looks like a great program, including a smattering of JIers–always a good sign for a successful conference.]

Claremont Mormon Studies Conference
Community, Authority, and Identity
Claremont Graduate University
March 6-7, 2015

Albrecht Auditorium
925 N. Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711

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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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CFP: AAR 2015, Mormon Studies Group

By January 27, 2015

[We are happy to pass along this CFP from our good friends who run the Mormon Studies Group at AAR. In my personal experience, these sessions usually include  some of the most exciting work currently being done in the field.]

aarThe Mormon Studies Group seeks proposals for full sessions or individual papers that consider any aspect of Mormon experience using the methods of critical theory, philosophy, theology, history, sociology, or psychology. This includes the use of Mormonism as a case study for informing larger questions in any of these disciplines and, thus, only indirectly related to the Mormon experience. For 2015 we are particularly interested in proposals addressing international Mormonism and which engage questions of globalization, imperialism, and decolonization.

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Adjunct at BYU Summer 2015

By January 23, 2015

Our friends in the Religion Department (Church History and Doctrine) at BYU are hiring adjunct faculty to teach a Doctrine and Covenants course this SUMMER term.

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Call for Nominations: MHA Awards

By January 20, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 9.29.48 AMIt’s that time of year, and MHA folk are reminding us to submit books and articles for their annual awards to be given at the conference in June. We would especially like to draw your attention to the following awards, and encourage everyone to submit your own work to the relevant categories. The deadline is February 1.

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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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Recent Comments

Steve Fleming on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “Thanks, Clark. Definitely some nuances here, but still a lot of basic similarities.”

Kevin Barney on McMurrin Lecture: "Looking Back,: “So did anyone go? Notes? Impressions?”

Clark on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “It's not really a thing depending upon what one means by that. (Thing is an infamously ambiguous notion in English) If you're familiar with Plotinus…”

Steve Fleming on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “Interesting, Clark. I don't know much about this Khora stuff, but in the passage you cite it kind of makes space sound like a "thing,"…”

Clark on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “I want to be careful to distinguish the Timaeus proper from 19th century uses of the Timaeus especially particular translations. Just to be clear…”

Steve Fleming on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “Alchemy and Neoplatonism often overlapped, but I agree, JS's language looks very similar to the Timaeus in those quotes. And I'm happy to hear…”