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Miscellaneous

REVIEW: The Field is White: Harvest in the Three Counties of England

By December 6, 2017


Carol Wilkinson and Cynthia Doxey Green, The Field is White: Harvest in Three Counties of England (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2017).

 

As a child, we had a record that narrated the story of Wilford Woodruff as a missionary at Benbow farm. (Vinyl played on our old blue Fischer Price record player. I only remember Woodruff and the headless horseman though I’m sure there were more options). The dramatic narration detailed a miraculous mass conversion of a whole sect by LDS apostle Woodruff in 1840 England.  Though fascinating that any American child might know of a pond on an obscure farm in the middle of the English countryside, the fame of Benbow Farm is well known among many Mormons. Lds.org lists scores of articles and talks focused on the same narrative. There Wilford Woodruff baptized a whole congregation of United Brethren—six hundred strong. The story has been retold and retold; Woodruff is legendary. As the story goes the United Brethren were just waiting for the Mormon missionaries to show up. John Benbow said they were “searching for light and truth, but had gone as far as they could, and were continually calling upon the Lord to open the way before them and send them light and knowledge that they might know the true way to be saved.” Woodruff brought them the “light and truth” for which they searched and they converted in droves in Benbow’s pond. 

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New(!) Mormon Studies Website at the University of Virginia

By December 1, 2017


This post comes from Meredith Nelson, the webmaster of the University of Virginia’s Mormon Studies website. We hope that you will find it useful!

Kathleen Flake and the Mormon Studies Program at the University of Virginia have recently launched a new website that highlights programming, events, faculty, courses in American religious history, Professor Flake’s research, and potential research topics.

In Doing Mormon Studies, we feature a large collection of video interviews conducted by Prof. Kathleen Flake with prominent scholars in 2016. James Faulconer, Terryl Givens, Matthew Grow, Kate Holbrook, Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Ann Taves, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Grant Wacker comment on potential research topics waiting to be picked up, on their favorite personal discoveries, on Joseph Smith, on their own academic paths, and on what aspiring scholars should keep in mind.

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Review: Mueller, Race and the Making of the Mormon People (University of North Carolina, 2017)

By November 27, 2017


On the surface, Max Perry Mueller’s book is, like several other recent works, a study of the shifting racialist ideas in nineteenth century Mormonism. Like those books, Mueller argues that early Mormonism is a particularly useful illustration of the fluidity of race, particularly in the early decades of the United States. When, as Mueller argues, white Americans began in the nineteenth century to understand “race as (secular) biology,” (12) they began arguing that those characteristics they used to classify and label “races” were organic, functions of one’s biological makeup, and though these characteristics extended from the merely physical (like skin color) to issues of intellect and temperament, most people determined them to be inborn and hence immutable.

 

The Mormons, Mueller argues, were different, in two ways.

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A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 3 of 3

By November 22, 2017


See Part I here and Part II here.

By Craig Foster, Newel Bringhurst, and Brian Hales

During the tour on October 28, 2017, we had the opportunity for an in-depth visit to the FLDS Temple. Of all the structures on the Yearning for Zion ranch, none was more striking than the temple.

Like the Salt Lake LDS temple, the clasping hands motif is engraved on the exterior above the primary entrance.

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A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 2 of 3

By November 21, 2017


See Part I of this series on the YZR by Craig Foster, Newel Bringhurst, and Brian Hales HERE

A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 2 of 3

Our next stop brought us to the homes of Warren Jeffs, one he had lived in and one built for him after his incarceration.

The office and entrance of Jeffs’ older home were unimpressive. The house was filled with bedrooms and two kitchens. Around forty-five of Jeffs’ estimated eighty-plus wives lived in the house.[1]

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A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 1 of 3

By November 20, 2017


We are pleased to host three guest posts from Craig L. Foster, Newel G. Bringhurst, and Brian Hales.

A Visit to the Yearning for Zion Ranch—Part 1 of 3

After providing historical background at a polygamy trial in Cranbook, Canada in April 2017, Brian Hales met a Texas Ranger who had been involved in the 2008 raid of the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch. The ranch, belonging to the FLDS Church, is located about four miles outside of El Dorado in west central Texas. The Ranger had offered to give Brian a tour, so, taking the Ranger up on his invitation, Brian Hales, Craig Foster, and Newell Bringhurst visited YFZ on October 28, 2017.

We arrived in Eldorado, Texas, the closest town to the ranch, and met up with our Ranger guide who then drove us to the outer gate of the ranch. Yearning for Zion Ranch, with boundaries approximately one mile by two miles, was acquired by Davis S. Allred in 2003. At the time of purchase, Allred represented the YFZ Land LLC and claimed he would be building a business retreat. Within a short time, the outside world realized Allred had been the front man to an FLDS purchase and that there were going to be more than business executives and wealthy game hunters residing at the ranch.[1]

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Mormon History and Mormon Studies at AAR 2017

By November 17, 2017


Here are the Mormon History and Mormon Studies Panels/Receptions at AAR 2017. If you’re interested in writing a post sharing your experience at AAR, please email joseph dot stuart at utah dot edu.

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Mormon History Association Call for Papers [DUE NOVEMBER 15]

By November 10, 2017


Mormon History Association

Call for Papers – 2018 Annual Conference

“Homelands and Bordered Lands”

The fifty-third conference of the Mormon History Association will be held June 7 – 10, 2018, at the Boise Centre Convention Center and nearby Grove Hotel in Boise, Idaho. The 2018 conference theme “Homelands and Bordered Lands” raises questions about how borders both disrupt and generate ideas about individuals’ and communities’ “homes,” broadly construed. The theme highlights the ways in which the dynamic interactions between peoples, places, and identities have always been central to Mormon histories.

The conference theme “Homelands and Bordered Lands” connects the history of the Latter-day Saints to Idaho’s diverse past. Idaho is first and foremost a Native homeland. The first Mormon settlement in the Idaho was created near present-day Salmon, Idaho, at Fort Lemhi in 1855. Immigration by Mormons and other Euro-Americans caused conflict with Native communities and led to the depletion of natural resources as well as outbreaks of violence. On the other hand, there have also been many instances of cooperation and mutual respect between the various communities.

Idaho has also always been a place where the boundaries of Mormon identity have been negotiated. The state has been a refuge and highway for those seeking to practice plural marriage. Polygamy contributed to a pronounced strain of anti-Mormonism in Idaho politics and law in the late nineteenth century. Idaho also has a healthy tradition of Mormon education, intellectualism, and dissent. Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho, has been foundational in LDS higher education. Furthermore, Leonard Arrington was born in Twin Falls and graduated from the University of Idaho, Sonia Johnson was born in Malad, Maxine Hanks attended Ricks, and the blog Feminist Mormon Housewives was founded in Boise.

While Idaho provides a rich tableau for the study of Mormonism in the context of the state’s history as a multiracial, multi-ethic, and multireligious place, we also seek papers and panels that address the theme of “Homelands and Bordered Lands” from any vantage point in the Mormon past. In addition to papers and panels that address the conference theme, the program committee also welcomes proposals on any topic in Mormon history.

Since its founding in 1965, the Mormon History Association has been dedicated to the promotion of intellectually rigorous, diverse scholarship on the history of the Mormon tradition. To help us create a welcoming space that embraces work from a wide variety of methodological and religious viewpoints, we encourage individuals to organize panels for the 2018 Conference in Boise, Idaho, that include presenters from a variety of institutional, social, and religious backgrounds. The program committee will give preference to panels that reflect the diversity of the historical profession by featuring women and underrepresented minorities. [Bold added]

The Mormon History Association intentionally embraces both academic and amateur historians. The conference organizers encourage submissions that think outside of the traditional format for conference sessions. We encourage people to organize roundtables, “cafés” in which participants are arranged in small groups to discuss a topic, pre-circulated papers, and so forth. Additional ideas for alternative session formats can be found at: http://solveforinteresting.com/category/good-conference/event-sessions/

Please send 1) a 300-word abstract for each paper or presentation and 2) a brief 1-2 page CV for each presenter, including email contact information. Session proposals should also include the session title and a 300-word session abstract, along with a confirmed chair and/or commentator, if applicable.

Previously published papers are not eligible for presentation at MHA. An individual may only submit one proposal as a session presenter, although it is acceptable for a presenter in one session to be a chair or commentator in another. Limited financial assistance is available to some student presenters and presenters from less economically-developed nations. Those who wish to apply for funding should include estimated travel expenses with their proposals.

The deadline for proposals is November 15, 2017. Proposals should be sent to the program co-chairs at mhaboise2018@gmail.com. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be made by December 15, 2017.

Please mark if you are attending the 2018 MHA Conference on Facebook HERE.


Mormon History Books for Comprehensive Exams?

By November 1, 2017


Welcome to a new series at Juvenile Instructor entitled “The Gathering.” In this series of posts, several JI-ers will respond to a single question posed by another JI blogger. If you have a question you’d like to submit, please post it as a comment at the bottom of this post. 

If you could assign two books on Mormonism to be read for a US History comprehensive exam, what would they be?

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MHA Paper Proposal Networking Thread

By October 30, 2017


The deadline for the Mormon History Association’s annual conference in Boise, ID is coming up in about two weeks on Wednesday November 15th. The deadline is significantly later than usual so I trust that most of you are prepared and have already submitted. If not, no worries! There is still time.

The call for papers says:

While Idaho provides a rich tableau for the study of Mormonism in the context of the state’s history as a multiracial, multi-ethic, and multireligious place, we also seek papers and panels that address the theme of “Homelands and Bordered Lands” from any vantage point in the Mormon past. In addition to papers and panels that address the conference theme, the program committee also welcomes proposals on any topic in Mormon history.

In other words, Idaho is a fascinating place to explore the evocative theme of “Homelands and Bordered Lands” BUT the conference organizers will also welcome proposals on any area in Mormon history.

At MHA, as with other conferences, proposals for panels (consisting of a chair, three presenters, and a commentator) are much likelier to be accepted than individual papers. The first reason for this is that the program committee is made up of volunteers and shuffling all the papers to fit into cohesive panels would takes a lot of work. Secondly, unified panels enable both the audience and commentator to draw thematic threads throughout the presentations. Individual papers will still be considered but organizing a panel will significantly improve your chances.

I also want to draw your attention to the following part of the call for papers: “We encourage people to organize roundtables, “cafés” in which participants are arranged in small groups to discuss a topic, pre-circulated papers, and so forth.” In other words, a good panel proposal does not have to consist of a chair, three presenters, and a commentator. You could propose a roundtable on professional development issue or under-explored methodology that is relevant to Mormon History. For other ideas look here.

What does a compelling abstract look like? A few years ago JI contributor Ben wrote a post where he summarized what conference organizers look for in a proposal. Y’all should read the whole post, but let me liberally quote some of the most important points.

  • When providing a description of your proposed paper, be as specific as you can about your topic, your approach, and your potential findings. It is not reasonable for you to have your entire paper written at this time—heaven knows we all submit paper proposals as a way to jump-start future research—but it is pretty obvious when a proposal is written without much thought. As a program committee, we want to know that you have given the topic serious thought, that you are familiar with the sources you will consult, and that this is something that will turn out to be a fine finished product. Put simply, your paper proposal should not be something you write on a whim an hour before you submit it, perhaps with a bit of academic jargon thrown in, but should rather be a reflection of your engagement with, knowledge of, and excitement for your topic.
  • …Both the paper and panel proposal should cover what makes your submission relevant. What will be new in these presentations? What stories are you telling that have previously been ignored? How are they filling a space in the field previously overlooked? We sometimes like to cover the same stories, arguments, and theories again and again, so it is crucial to show what is going to be novel and important in these new presentations.
  • In putting together your panels, try your best to be as diverse as possible. This diversity includes not only demographic background, though that is always important, but also institutional or occupational backgrounds. For example, a panel on a particular person or event could include papers from an academic professor, a public history employee, as well as an interested observer. And it is always to crucial to ask if your panel could benefit from a different gender or racial perspective, a sensitivity that MHA has recently tried to address more frequently.

In an effort to help you through the difficult task of organizing a panel we want you to use the comment section of this post to network and find fellow panelists. Please summarize your idea for your paper. If others have similar ideas they can get in touch via the JI moderators.

Happy writing everyone!


THE JOSEPH SMITH PAPERS RELEASE DOCUMENTS 6: FEBRUARY 1838-AUGUST 1839

By October 26, 2017


Joseph Smith Papers Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839, edited by Mark Ashurst-McGee, David W. Grua, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Alexander L. Baugh, and Brenden W. Rensink.

 

The ink was barely dry on the sixth volume of the Documents series of the Joseph Smith Papers when I was able to meet with three of the very capable editors of the volume—Mark Ashurst-McGee, David Grua, and Elizabeth Kuehn. That week I also heard JI’s own, David Grua, lecture on the Liberty Jail letters. It was all a lot to take in. In the time that has passed, I’ve been able to understand the depth and breadth of this volume a little better. The Missouri experience looms large in the Mormon memory and the contribution of this volume is essential to our understanding of this critical period—though it will take a very long time to take it all in.

This tome is the largest volume thus far in the Papers project. Its 776 meticulous pages cover just 19 months in four sections. Add the front matter and you’re over 800 pages. (Let’s hope the binding can hold up.)

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REVIEW: Alford, Utah and the American Civil War

By October 25, 2017


Kenneth L. Alford, ed., Utah and the American Civil War: The Written Record (Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark, 2017).

There are several books on Utah’s place in the Civil War, but until recently, there was never book that held all of the documents related to the war in Utah Territory. Kenneth Alford, Professor of Church History and Doctrine and Brigham Young University, has created a documentary volume that places all of the documents from the Official Records of the Civil War (OR) from Utah Territory and letters, reports, and other texts in a single volume.

Utah and the Civil War has five chapters, each of which are useful to history buffs and to academics. In the first chapter, Alford provides a summary of Utah Territory’s place in the American Civil War, including the service of the Lot Smith Company. Alford’s clear and lively narration helps readers to see that multiple parties competing for power and influence in the Territory, as well as Utah’s position as a political hot potato in the rest of the country. The second chapter gives a brief overview of the creation of the 128-volume Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Chapter Three explains the background of the Civil War Records created in Utah Territory.

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Which aspect of Mormon history needs to be studied through the framework of “lived religion?”

By October 24, 2017


Welcome to a new series at Juvenile Instructor entitled “The Gathering.” In this series of posts, several JI-ers will respond to a single question posed by another JI blogger. If you have a question you’d like to submit, please post it as a comment at the bottom of this post. 

Which aspect of Mormon history needs to be studied through the framework of “lived religon?”

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BREAKING NEWS: LDS Church to Publish the William Clayton Diaries

By October 20, 2017


At a conference sponsored by the Joseph Smith Papers Project (JSPP), LDS Church History Department (CHD) Director of Publications Matt Grow announced the publication of the William Clayton diaries. They will transcribe and annotate the volume, just like the Joseph Smith Papers volumes.

THIS IS ENORMOUS NEWS!

Some may wonder why this announcement is such a big deal. Long story short, the Clayton Diaries hold key information about plural marriage and Joseph Smith’s religious workings. While excerpts have been available for some time in publications, notably Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s new book on plural marriage, they have not been available to the public, or even to most researchers. This will allow future projects to better understand the last years of Joseph Smith’s life. This is one of the best sources to understanding Joseph Smith’s personal life, thoughts, and activities in Nauvoo.

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Thoughts on PBS’S Wolf Hall

By October 5, 2017


Yes, I’m very late to the party, but I recently saw a few episodes of PBS’s Wolf Hall about Thomas Cromwell and wanted to comment. Though I did a reading exam on the English Reformation, my focus was more societal than on individuals, so my knowledge of the main characters in the story are somewhat impressionistic. I did see a few problems though.

First, I’ll say that the production is very good, and Cromwell’s character is very likeable as a salt-of-the-earth, humble servant, caught up in difficult times. Clearly the intent is to overturn Man for All Seasons (1966) that makes Thomas More the hero of the story.

More’s character in Wolf Hall is an interesting one, and while many say he’s the villain, Wolf Hall’s More is much more three-dimensional than Man for All Seasons’ Cromwell. Things seem to go off the rails, however, in the lead up to More’s trial and execution, as the dialogue becomes all about justifying More’s execution, and Cromwell seems to shoot down all the great lines from Man for All Seasons. Ultimately, More’s prosecution, torture, and burning of Protestants justify Cromwell’s prosecution of More for his refusal to sign the oath of allegiance. 

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“The Heathen World and America’s Humanitarian Impulse”

By October 4, 2017


I have recently become the director of the Rocky Mountain American Religion Seminar (RMARS) at the University of Utah. As director, one of my jobs is to invite scholars to deliver public lectures at the University of Utah. Our first lecture will be delivered by Professor Kathryn Gin Lum of Stanford University. Her lecture will be held on Monday, October 16 at 2 PM in CTIHB 101 (University of Utah).

She will speak on the confluence of race, religion, and the “heathen” in American history. You can RSVP (and help spread the word) on Facebook.

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Q&A with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

By September 25, 2017


Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, whose book we have been reading together for nearly six months, has graciously agreed to answer a few questions from JI bloggers and readers. If you found the book club useful and/or interesting, we hope you will follow JI on Facebook, Twitter, and share our articles. 

JI: What has the reception been among academic, popular, and Mormon audiences?  

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Scholarly Inquiry: A Conversation with Stephen C. Taysom, II

By September 19, 2017


Eighteen months ago, Taysom was deep into work on a biography of Joseph F. Smith, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1901 to 1918. We interviewed him then about the project. Taysom recently finished work on the manuscript, and we decided to follow up to see how the project evolved over that period and what Taysom’s reflections in retrospect are.

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Review: The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History

By September 18, 2017


This review was written by Courtney Jensen Peacock, a PhD student in American Studies at Heidelberg University.

Book Review: Grow, Matthew and R. Eric Smith, eds. The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History. Religious Studies Center, BYU, Provo, UT: 2017.

The release of the Council of Fifty minutes by The Joseph Smith Papers project last year (Administrative Records: Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846) is a fantastic example of the exciting new developments currently occurring in Mormon studies, as more sources are becoming available for the first time to both scholars and the public. The release of new primary sources is always cause for celebration, but the fact that the Council of Fifty minutes cover the late Nauvoo period make them especially valuable. Scholars working on the Nauvoo period have always struggled with a shortage of available contemporary sources, which has hindered a full understanding of this crucial time in the development of Mormonism’s distinct theology and culture. The publishing of the Council of Fifty minutes, along with other sources recently released by The Joseph Smith Papers or published elsewhere, has and will contribute to important and innovative analyses of the Nauvoo period and nineteenth-century Mormonism.[i]

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Q&A with Patrick Mason on the Global Mormon Studies Center at CGU

By September 5, 2017


We are pleased that Patrick Mason, Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has responded to questions asked by JI bloggers about his plans for the Global Mormon Studies Center. You can find more about the Global Mormon Studies Center here.

  1. The Global Mormon Studies Center is the first research organization directly connected to Mormon Studies. Do you see the Center as a part of the program’s draw for students, or as a separate research center attached to CGU?

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