Editor with the Joseph Smith Papers
UNITED STATES | UT-Salt Lake City
ID 135800, Type: Full-Time – Regular
By May 10, 2016
Yesterday, the Joseph Smith Papers Project released their latest volume: Documents 4 (April 1834–September 1835). I am looking forward to diving into the volume in the coming days, but for now here are my notes from the release event:
By May 9, 2016
Word is beginning to spread that Ronald Walker, long time practitioner of Mormon history, passed away early this morning after a long struggle with cancer. Walker was immensely influential not only within the historical community, but also with many of us here at Juvenile Instructor on a personal level. We will have a post with individual tributes soon, where it will be clear that his personal relationships far outweighed even his academic work, but right now I want to give a brief overview of his scholarly accomplishments.
Originally from Montana and California, Walker received degrees from BYU, Stanford, and the University of Utah. At first part of the CES as an institute teacher and curriculum writer, Walker joined Leonard Arrington’s “camelot” in 1976. (Walker later helped fashion Arrington’s legacy through projects like co-editing his reflections.) When the history division was dissolved and moved to BYU in 1980, he became a professor of history and part of the newly-founded Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, and later became involved with the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies as well. He was exceptionally prolific during this period with articles, edited collections, and frequent involvement with BYU Studies. Walker retired from BYU in 2006 to be a full-time independent historian with a laundry list of projects to complete.
By May 4, 2016
When the Juvenile Instructor was originally conceived in Fall 2007, it was by five BYU students who had at least two things in common. First: we loved Mormon history. And second: we were all significantly influenced by Spencer Fluhman, then an assistant professor of Church History at BYU. (A third point of similarity was we all loved to waste time on the bloggernacle.) Besides being a charismatic and gregarious professor, Dr. Fluhman represented the witty and integrative field of Mormon studies to which he contributed. Since that time, Juvenile Instructor flowered into what it is today, and Fluhman emerged as a leading figure in not on Mormon studies but American religious history. He moved over to the history department, published his award-winning “A Peculiar People”: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America (UNC Press, 2012) which Jon Butler declared “the quintessential history book” (see our Q&A with Fluhman about the book here), and then was announced editor of the newly re-launched Mormon Studies Review (which I wrote about here). Three volumes of MSR have appeared since then, each containing reviews and essays from leading scholars in Mormon and American religious history, and the journal is now the premier arbiter for books in the field. (Note: I’m biased.)
Today, BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship announced Spencer Fluhman as the new director. You can read the official announcement here.
By May 2, 2016
Brian Birch, Professor of Philosophy at Utah Valley University, will be teaching a course on the intellectual life of Mormonism this coming fall at the University of Utah. He has kindly made his syllabus and course readings available online, which many readers will want to read at their leisure.
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
By April 14, 2016
It would be hard to overstate the importance of George Q. Cannon to nineteenth-century Mormonism–if you haven’t done so yet, you must read David Bitton’s exhaustive biography of the man–and there are few documentary records more important that Cannon’s diaries. Over a decade ago, the first of what was to be a long series of published editions of Cannon’s journals appeared, covering his California mission. Two years ago, the second volume of the series, covering his Hawaiian mission, finally arrived. If they continued at that rate, we might finally make it to the last volume by the end of the century.
Yet that patient publication rate ended today with the official online release of the LDS Church Historian’s Press digital edition of Cannon’s journals, which provides content for nearly all of the voluminous journals’ content.
By April 13, 2016
We’re pleased to host this research query from Amber Taylor, a PhD student at Brandeis University. Please feel free to suggest readings in the comments below. Amber can also be reached at ambercecile3 AT gmail DOT com.
I am working on the history of the LDS Church in Palestine and Israel. One of the larger historical arcs that I am working with is the Church and globalization – how that has affected the Church’s position regarding the people and politics of Israel-Palestine. As of yet, I have found very little material on the Church and globalization itself – I recognize that this is a rather recent topic, and Mormon studies as such is a rather emerging field. I have read various articles by Arnold Green that address various aspects of Mormon views on Jews/Judaism and Muslims/Islam. I am also familiar with works by Steven Epperson and Grant Underwood on similar topics. Likewise, I have the book Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century from the Sperry Symposium, and have been perusing Reid Neilson’s work, as well as Marie Cornwall’s and Tim Heaton’s Contemporary Mormonism. I am wondering if anyone can point me to other scholars – including articles and books – that have looked at the way that the 20th century globalization of the Church has affected the way that leaders have talked of peoplehood and chosenness, and other such good things related to that.
Also, I have been considering the notion of “Zion” as a major aspect of my research. I am attempting to set my dissertation in a comparative framework, looking at the Church in its American setting, and examining the ways that American views of the Holy Land, Jews, and Muslims related to the Mormon views – and how both the broader American cultural setting and Mormon particularity affected one another. Specific to the concept of Zion, American culture (especially Protestant culture) has, from its very origins, been prone to talk of America and American Christianity in terms of “Zion,” or had themes of Zion weaved throughout it in myriad ways. Likewise, the concept of American exceptionalism is, of course, bound up with this. But the Mormons went a step further – they established an actual Zion, a physical space with teleological meaning. Their peoplehood as Israelites, and their actual American Zion, makes the question of the Mormon presence in Jerusalem and Palestine-Israel rather intriguing. America has always had a fascination with the Holy Land and its import in latter-day fulfillment of prophecy, yet the Mormon ethos is unique. What were/are the Mormons actually doing in the Old Zion, if they had their Zion, the New Jerusalem, on the American continent? What purpose does the BYU Jerusalem Center actually serve in all of this? Can anyone recommend any literature on this, specifically relating to the two Zions and what LDS leaders have said about them, what they mean in terms of physicality, sacred territory, and gathering?
Thank you for your help.
By March 7, 2016
Perhaps you have heard or read that I gave a talk called “Beyond Petticoats and Poultices: Finding a Women’s History of the Mormon-Missouri War of 1838” at the Beyond Biography: Sources in Context for Mormon Women’s History conference at Brigham Young University. My paper sought to address the history of how women experienced the violence in Missouri, particularly as victims of sexual violence. As part of that research, I examined the case study of Eliza R. Snow as a possible victim of a gang rape that might have left her unable to have children. I looked at a few of the rapes and attempted rapes in Missouri, recalled by various witnesses, legal testimonials, and personal accounts, with a discussion of why women are not specifically named in most sources. The scarcity and limitation of sources has presented historians with the difficulty of uncovering a history of sexual violence in Missouri, and of identifying actual victims. So I concluded with an examination of a primary source that amazingly came to me only three weeks prior to the conference, via a colleague who received it from a member of the family where the source is held. That source gives a description of Eliza’s rape, and its larger meaning in Snow’s life and possible motivations for her polygamous marriage to Joseph Smith.
By February 26, 2016
Matt Grow is Director of Publications in the Church History Department and co-editor (with Jill Derr, Carol Madsen, and Kate Holbrook) of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (The Church Historian’s Press, 2016). He is also a general editor for the Joseph Smith Papers and he has authored or co-authored multiple award-winning books. He received his Ph.D in American history from Notre Dame in 2006.
While the initial reason for creating the Church Historian’s Press in 2006 was to provide a publisher for The Joseph Smith Papers (hereafter JSP), the proposal contemplated that the “imprint could also be utilized in the future for the publishing of other approved Church history works of highest quality.” With the publication of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History, that day has arrived. The First Fifty Years of Relief Society is the first volume published by the Church Historian’s Press outside of the JSP, signaling the commitment of the Church to Mormon women’s history.
By February 12, 2016
From our good friends at the Tanner Humanities Center (University of Utah):
Mormon Studies Fellowship
The first of its kind in the nation, the Tanner Humanities Center’s Mormon Studies fellowship (at the University of Utah) provides a doctoral student funds to spend a year researching the history, beliefs, and culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and its members. This fellowship is open to all dissertation level students of the Mormon Experience from any university in the United States or from around the world. Areas of focus include, but are not limited to: Theology, History, Sociology, Economics, Literature, Philosophy, and Political Science.
This fellowship supports academic scholarship. It seeks to enlighten and educate while grounding understanding in serious research. The fellowship will not disparage or denigrate any religion, organization, people, or group. The fellow must be affiliated with a university and actively enrolled in a Ph.D. Program. A committee, chaired by the Director of the Tanner Humanities Center and composed of scholars and members of the community, informed and sensitive to the needs of Mormon studies, select the fellow annually.
The deadline for the 2016-2017 Mormon Studies fellowship is March 1, 2016
For more information and application forms please click here: http://thc.utah.edu/fellowships/mormon-studies.php
By February 11, 2016
I do not remember the first article I read authored by Milton Backman, Jr. It was almost certainly something he published in the Ensign during the 1970s or 1980s. As a 19-year-old missionary with a previously-untapped love for reading, learning, and history, those old Ensigns that occupied so much of the shelf space of ward libraries were treasure troves of information to me. Much to the annoyance of at least a few of my companions, I would eagerly request that we stay a bit longer at the church building after playing basketball on P-day so that I could flip through a dozen or so issues and photocopy each article dealing with church history, doctrine, or scripture. I don’t know if it was the first, but I do remember reading Backman’s 1989 essay, “Preparing the Way: The Rise of Religious Freedom in New England.” In addition to shattering some myths I had imbibed at some earlier point in my life (i.e. “Although many who sought religious liberty had immigrated to those colonies, the Pilgrims and Puritans did not, generally speaking, believe in extending religious freedom to others.”), Backman’s essay tied Mormonism into a larger narrative of American religious history in a way that I had not previously encountered. I was hooked.
By February 8, 2016
Matthew McBride is the Web Content Manager of the Church History Department, author of A House for the Most High: The Story of the Original Nauvoo Temple, and a graduate student at the University of Utah.
Over 30 years ago, Mel Bashore began to create a list of Mormons who migrated to the Great Basin, pre-railroad. According to legend, the “database” was stored for years in a Word document. Eventually, the data was made available on the web as the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travels database. In addition to becoming an instant hit with family historians, the database has become an indispensable resource for historians of 19th-century Mormonism and sparked scholarship on the trail experience.
The pioneer database began as an incomplete set of data gathered by Bashore and other researchers—tens of thousands of trail pioneers were unaccounted for. With time and the help of missionaries and the community of family historians and trail scholars, it has grown by thousands of pioneers to become far more comprehensive. This combination of crowd sourcing and careful verification (which continues under the leadership of Marie Erickson at the CHL) was the model that inspired the new Early Mormon Missionaries Database, launched last Thursday at RootsTech.
By February 3, 2016
Here’s a message from JI’s good friend and recently-appointed editor of Journal of Mormon History, Jessie Embry:
Greetings JI readers. I enjoy seeing the interesting discussions that you have on the blog. I hope that you will consider expanding some of them and submitting them as articles to the Journal of Mormon History. There is not a back log anymore, and I am eagerly looking for seminar papers or chapters of your dissertations to enlighten the Mormon History Association members and other Journal of Mormon History readers. Guidelines for submitting articles are available on the MHA webpage. If you feel that you have something that is not quite ready for publication, I would enjoy working with you on it. I look forward to hearing from you.
Jessie L. Embry
Editor, Journal of Mormon History
By January 14, 2016
The Tanner Humanities Center is proud to announce its most recent Mormon Studies initiative. We have begun to raise funds to create a fellowship in the name of Marlin K. Jensen. OurMarlin K. Jensen Scholar and Artist inResidence Program will host prominent scholars with expertise in Mormon Studies or renowned artists who explore the relationship between faith and art in their work.
By January 6, 2016
A few weeks ago I highlighted the year of 2015 in Mormon historiography. But I’m not here to talk about the past. In this post, I highlight a number of books I’m especially excited to see published in 2016. This list is not comprehensive—it’s nigh impossible to keep track of everything in the Mormon publishing world—but I hope it captures a taste of what we have in store over the next twelve months.
Even beyond this next year, there is still a lot more to be excited about. Kathleen Flake’s book on gender, power, and Mormon polygamy and Laurel Ulrich’s book on polygamous women’s diaries are certainly going to shake the field, but they are not quite ready for release. (Word is Ulrich’s book is in the pipeline for a year from now, though, and should arrive by AHA 2017). And we all know the works-in-progress by stars like Spencer Fluhman, Quincy Newell, Steve Taysom, and others that we eagerly anticipate. But I think we have enough here to satiate our appetite.
Without further ado…
By January 5, 2016
This week, historians from around the United States will descend upon Atlanta for the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. The American Society of Church History will meet concurrently—and happens to feature a number of JI-ers and several papers related to Mormonism. You can view the rest of the schedule here. If you are in Atlanta please let us know—we always look forward to meeting online friends in “real life.”
One more thing: if you are interested in offering a short blog post for JI about one of the sessions, please let us know in the comments!
The Nineteenth-Century American Scriptural Imagination: Three Case Studies
Thursday, January 7, 2016: 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Atlanta Marriott Marquis, International Ballroom 10
Chair: James Byrd, Vanderbilt University
Presidential Death and the Bible: 1799, 1865, 1881
Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame
A Rushing Mighty Wind: Tornadic Pentecosts and Apocalypses in Nineteenth-Century America
Peter J. Thuesen, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
The Abraham Mythos and Mormon Marriage, Early and Late
Kathleen Flake, University of Virginia
Comment: Philip Goff, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
The Confluence of Race, Religion, and Society: The Subversive Politics of Racial and Religious Minorities in the Progressive Era
Friday, January 8, 2016: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Atlanta Marriott Marquis, International Ballroom 1
Chair: Elizabeth Jemison, Clemson University
Whiteness, Christianity, and Civilization: Western Culture at a Black University, Howard University, 1900–30
Matthew Bowman, Henderson State University
Liquor and Liberty: African American Preachers, Poll Taxes, and Anti-Prohibition in Early Twentieth Century Texas
Brendan Payne, Baylor University
The “Evil of Race Suicide Now Sweeping Like a Blight”: Eugenics and Racialized Religion in the Progressive Era
Joseph Stuart, University of Utah
Comment: Elizabeth Jemison, Clemson University
The Uses of Propaganda in American Religious History: Catholicism, Mormonism, Protestantism
Friday, January 8, 2016: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Atlanta Marriott Marquis, International Ballroom 1
Chair: Seth Perry, Princeton University
“So Many Foolish Virgins”: True Womanhood, Nuns, and Propaganda in Antebellum America
Cassandra Leigh Yacovazzi, University of Missouri-Columbia
Religious Outsiders and the Catholic Critique of Protestantism in America
Bradley Kime, University of Virginia
Part Serendipity, Part Strategy: The Public Image Boost of the 1936 Mormon Welfare Plan as an Exception to America’s “Religious Depression”
J. B. Haws, Brigham Young University
Comment: Seth Perry, Princeton University
By November 25, 2015
Editor with the Joseph Smith Papers
UNITED STATES | UT-Salt Lake City
ID 135800, Type: Full-Time – Regular
Posting Dates: 11/24/2015
Job Family: Editorial, Writing & Language
Department: Church History Department
By November 16, 2015
From Jessie Embry, the newly appointed editor of the Journal of Mormon History:
The Journal of Mormon History is looking for graduate students and young professionals who are willing to share their expertise in Mormon history. So if you like to read and would be willing to share your views on a book, please consider writing reviews for the Journal. You will receive a copy of the book as a thank you, but more importantly you will have another entry to add to your vita. If you are interested in adding your name to the review list, please email the journal editor, Jessie Embry at email@example.com. Please list areas that you feel that you are qualified to review. When books come available, Ron Bartholomew will contact you and check on your availability. You will have two to three months to read the book and write a 600 to 1,200 word essay explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the book. When Dr. Bartholomew asks you to review a book, he will send additional guidelines.
The Journal is also looking for articles that explore Mormon history. If you have written an outstanding paper for a class or have a special chapter that you have been working on for your dissertation, please consider submitting it to the journal at journal@
By November 9, 2015
Historian/Documentary Editor, Joseph Smith Papers
UNITED STATES | UT-Salt Lake City
ID 135195, Type: Full-Time – Regular
Posting Dates: 11/06/2015
Job Family: Library, Research & Preservation
Department: Church History Department
By October 27, 2015
The Tanner Humanities Center has made the videos for the Black, White, and Mormon Conference available. The conference, held at the University of Utah on October 8-9, 2015, was an incredible experience for me as a participant. I would love to see more opportunities, funding, and venues dedicated to this type of public engagement.
The McMurrin Lecture by Lester Bush:
A Commemoration for Those Who Have Died
Race and the Inner City
Race and Mormon Women
Race and the International Church
Race and Brigham Young University
Race at the Ward Level
VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO THE EVENT’S CO-SPONSORS
George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation | Greg Prince | Jess Hurtado | Smith-Pettit Foundation | Anonymous | DESB Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative (Utah) | Charles Redd Center (BYU) | College of Humanities (BYU) | Laurel Thatcher-Ulrich | Utah Valley University | Department of History (Utah) | University of Utah Press
J Stuart on Eugenics and the Intellectual: “Thanks, Cassie, WVS, and Professor Mauss!”
Armand Mauss on Eugenics and the Intellectual: “Don't forget to check out the influence also of the LDS Genealogical Society, especially the work of its executive secretary James H. Anderson during the…”
wvs on Eugenics and the Intellectual: “Interesting stuff, J. All kinds of fun links to the Taylor-Galbraith efficiency movement and quack psyche.”
Cassie on Eugenics and the Intellectual: “The topic of Mormon elite interest in Eugenics is fascinating and requires additional unpacking to fully understand the reverberations of the pseudoscience on the church…”
Amanda on Eugenics and the Intellectual: “I mean...who controls which spirits go to which families? It's like we forgot everything that's been revealed about foreordination...that, just as there will be…”
RL on Eugenics and the Intellectual: “Great points Amanda. We often think Mormonism is unique in having to grapple with race or gender and belief, but we a Christian faith…”
© 2015 – Juvenile Instructor