The forty-fourth annual conference of the Mormon History Association will be held May 21- 24, 2009, in Springfield, Illinois, at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel located in the historic center of Springfield. It has been nearly two decades since the last MHA conference was held in Illinois. The MHA executive board selected Springfield as the location for the conference to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Corresponding with this historic anniversary, the theme of the 2009 conference will be Mormonism and the Land of Lincoln: Intersections, Crosscurrents, and Dispersions, a theme which encourages studies of Mormonism within broad historical contexts.
In October 1830, the first Mormons passed through Illinois on their way to preach to the Indian tribes west of Missouri. During the 1830s Illinois became a major thoroughfare for Mormons traveling between Missouri and Ohio and other points further east, and as early as 1835 the first branches were established in the state. With the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from Missouri in 1839, Nauvoo served as the main place of Mormon gathering until 1846. However, by this time, hundreds of Mormons were living in numerous branches established in other counties throughout the state. Significantly, after the main body of the Church departed under Brigham Young, those Saints who chose to remain looked to others for leadership and established Restoration churches and communities which continue to the present.
Place and time connect Mormonism with Lincoln. Significantly, in March 1830, about the time Jo seph Smith organized the Church of Christ in New York, twenty-one-year-old Abraham Lincoln settled in Illinois, and he then began his political career, first in New Salem and later in Springfield. By 1840, as Nauvoo was rising on the banks of the Mississippi, Lincoln had distinguished himself as a skillful lawyer, a member of the Illinois state legislature, and a leading figure in the state’s Whig party. In addition, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives the month before the last Saints still residing in the City of Joseph were expelled following the “Battle of Nauvoo.”
The 2009 program committee invites interested historians, scholars, and individuals to submit proposals for papers, panel discussions, or presentations for the conference. We especially encourage proposals related to the conference theme. However, proposals on other Mormon topics and themes are also welcome. All proposals must be submitted in electronic format. Proposals should be directed to: Alexander L. Baugh, Associate Professor, Church History and Doctrine, BYU at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for submission is October 1, 2008. Notification for acceptance or rejection will be December 15, 2008. Additional instructions for submitting proposals will be available on the MHA website at http://www.mhahome.org.
MHA SPRINGFIELD PROGRAM COMMITTEE
Ronald O. Barney
Volume Editor, Joseph Smith Papers,
Church Historical Department,
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day,
Salt Lake City, Utah
John Whitmer Historical Association,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Jacob W. Olmstead
Texas Christian University,
Ft. Worth, Texas
Assistant Professor of History,
Brigham Young University-Idaho,
Chair: Alexander L. Baugh
Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine,
Brigham Young University,