Juvenile Instructor, a Mormon History Blog

#MHA50 Award Recipients

By: J Stuart - June 05, 2015

Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners of the 2015 Mormon History Association Awards (JI bloggers are bolded):

Leonard J. Arrington Award: Néstor Esteban Curbelo Armando

Best Book Award: Russell W. Stevenson, For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 (Salt Lake City,:Greg Kofford Books, 2014).

Best First Book Award: David J. Howlett, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of of Illinois Press, 2014).

Best Biography: Julie Debra Neuffer, Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press,  2014).

Best Documentary Editing/Bibliography: Terryl L.Givens and Reid L. Neilson, eds. The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014).

Best Family/Community History: Donna Smart Toland, Finding Rachel & Myra Among Henrie Pioneers (self-published).

Best Personal History/Memoir: Craig Harline, Way Below the Angels (Grand Rapids, MIL Wm. B. Erdmans Press, 2014).

Best International Book: Marjorie Newton, Mormon and Maori (Salt Lake City,:Greg Kofford Books, 2014).

Best Article: Andrea G. Radke-Moss, “‘I hid [the Prophet] in a corn patch’: Mormon Women as Healers, Concealers, and Protectors in the 1838 Mormon-Missouri War,” Mormon Historical Studies 15, no. 1 (2014): 25-40.

Article Awards of Excellence (2): David Walker, “Transporting Mormonism: Railroads and Religious Sensation in the American West,” in Sally Promey, ed. Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 581-603.

Christopher James Blythe,  “‘Would to God, Brethren, I could Tell you Who I Am!’ Nineteenth-Century Mormonisms and the Apotheosis of Joseph Smith,” Nova Religio: The Journal Of Alternative and Emergent Religions 18 no. 2 (2014): 5-27.

Best International Article (2): Casey Paul Griffiths, Scott Esplin, Barbara Morgan, and E. Vance Randall “Colegios Chilenos de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias”: The History of Latter-day Saint Schools in Chile,”  Journal of Mormon History 40, no. 1 (2014):  97-134.

Dylan Beatty, “Mamona and the Mau: Latter-day Saints Amidst Resistance in Colonial Samoa,” Pacific Studies 37, no. 1 (2014): 48-74.

Best Article on Mormon Women’s History: Rachel Cope, “Composing Radical Lives: Women as Autonomous Religious Seekers and Nineteenth-Century Memoirs” in Nineteenth-Century American Women Write Religion, ed. Mary McCartin Wearn (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2014), 45-58.

Best Dissertation Award: Max Perry Mueller, “Black, White, and Red:  Race and the Making of the Mormon People, 1830-1880,”  Harvard University.

Best Thesis Award: Joseph Stuart, “Holy Races: Race in the Formation of Mormonism and the Nation of Islam,” University of Virginia.

Best Graduate Paper:  Charlotte Hansen Terry, University of Utah, “Rhetoric vs. Reality: Mormon Women’s Diaries and Domesticity in the Early Twentieth Century.”

Congratulations to all the winners!

JI Authors at #MHA50: A Preview featuring Abstracts

By: J Stuart - June 03, 2015

If you can believe it, we are only a few days away from #MHA50! Several JI permabloggers are presenting at the conference and more of us will be attending. A smattering of abstracts from several of our authors can be found below.

Here’s the format: Name: Paper Title (top) Session Title (Bottom). Let me know if this is confusing.


A Retrospective on John Brooke, “The Refiner’s Fire”: #MHA50 Session Preview

By: Ben P - June 02, 2015

Refiner's FireAnniversary conferences are a wonderful time to have retrospective panels that aim to chart the field’s development and future. Therefore, for MHA’s 50th anniversary, I thought it would be worthwhile to put together a panel that looks back on Mormon history’s most successful (in terms of academic awards) and most divisive (in terms of praise/rejection) book in the last few decades: John Brooke’s The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (Cambridge UP, 1994). A recipient of both Columbia University’s Bancroft Prize and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic’s Best Book Prize, most Mormon historians denounced the book as methodologically flawed and, in some corners, as anti-Mormon. This led to a bifurcated legacy: on the one hand, most religious historians’ only exposure to Mormonism is through the book, given its wide academic popularity, while most Mormon historians have tended to dismiss it and pretend it never happened.

Two decades later, it is time for a fresh look of both the book and its reception. What does Refiner’s Fire tell us about Mormonism’s place in the academy in the 1990s? What does its reception tell us about New Mormon History’s relationship to the broader historical community? How have the two fields developed in the past twenty years? (more…)

JI Summer Book Club: Rough Stone Rolling, Part 4: Chapters 7-9

By: J Stuart - June 01, 2015

This is the fourth installment of the first annual JI Summer Book Club. This year we are reading Richard Bushman’s landmark biography of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). JI bloggers will be covering small chunks of the book in successive weeks through the summer, with new posts appearing Monday mornings. We invite anyone and everyone interested to read along and to use the comment sections on each post to share your own reflections and questions. There are discussion questions below.



Chapter 7, “The Kirtland Visionaries: January-June 1831”

Chapter 8, “Zion: July-December 1831” and Chapter 9, “The Burden of Zion: 1832”


Art + Belief: #MHA50 Session Preview

By: Tona H - May 31, 2015

A+B_filmThe sixties beget all kinds of social experiments, and even Mormons were not immune to the call of the bohemian zeitgeist of their times. It may interest you to know that in the late 1960s there was an artists’ commune in the foothills of Alpine, Utah, calling themselves the Art & Belief Movement. Four artists – sculptor Neil Hadlock, figurative artist Dennis Smith, symbolist realist Gary Ernest Smith, and romantic realist Trevor Southey – and their families formed the core of the group. Though as transitory as many hippie communes of the era, this Mormon version is worth a closer look. (more…)

Let her be an Ensign.

By: JJohnson - May 29, 2015

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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. (more…)

My Dissertation Writing Process Tools (or how I almost got it done)

By: Natalie R - May 29, 2015

I have been absent from the blog for quite some time (yes over a year :( ) But I am back to write about…my dissertation writing process. Future posts will be back to our fave topic of Mormon history. However, I know many of us are writers, researchers, and scholars and are regularly engaged in some form of writing.

Now, this is not a prescriptive post about how to write the dissertation. In fact, it is far from it. Instead, I am going to share some of the tools that were and are essential to my writing. (more…)

On Footnotes: Thoughts, Rants, and Peeves

By: Edje Jeter - May 28, 2015

Since I lead a very exciting life, foot/endnotes are something I think about fairly frequently: How many? How long? How detailed? Foot or end? To excerpt or merely to cite? And so on. In an attempt to clarify my thinking, I have sketched a few thoughts, rants, and peeves. (more…)

JI Summer Book Club: Rough Stone Rolling, Part 3: Chapters 5 – 6

By: Edje Jeter - May 26, 2015

This is the third installment of the first annual JI Summer Book Club. This year we are reading Richard Bushman’s landmark biography of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). JI bloggers will be covering small chunks of the book in successive weeks through the summer, with new posts appearing Monday mornings. We invite anyone and everyone interested to read along and to use the comment sections on each post to share your own reflections and questions.


__________________________ (more…)

MHA Hotel Registration and Final Program

By: J Stuart - 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 2015conference@mormonhistoryassociation.org 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!

Paul Reeve Roundtable – Mormonism and Orientalism, Conclusion

By: Amanda - May 21, 2015

For this roundtable, I was asked to give my reactions to the last two chapters: Reeve’s chapter on Mormons and Orientalism and the conclusion. I also want to provide a few thoughts in summation. I’ll try to keep the post relatively brief.

As I was reading the book, one of the things that occurred to me is that the real meat of the book lies in the chapters on Native Americans and African Americans. I agree with previous posters that Reeve has done some excellent work thinking about the racialization of Mormons affected Mormonism’s internal racial politics. At times, however, I found Reeve’s discussion of the conflation between Native Americans and Mormons unsettling. At times, he seemed to be suggesting that the creation of a Missouri county for Mormons was the same as Indian Reservations. Like Christopher Smith, I found myself wanting Reeve to add a reminder that white Mormons retained access to certain rights that other groups did not. They did so because of their skin color. (more…)

Images: “Scenes in the Endowment Ceremonies” in Beadle

By: Edje Jeter - May 20, 2015

Note: today’s post deals with temple ordinances, which can be a sensitive topic. Please tread considerately.

Today’s image, “Scenes in the Endowment Ceremonies,” allegedly depicts portions of the Mormon ordinance of temple endowment. So far as I can tell, “Scenes” first appeared in John H Beadle’s Life in Utah: or, The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism (1870), which—if the title didn’t give it away—takes a dim view of Mormonism. Beadle reused the image in 1882 and again in 1904. [1]  (more…)

Roundtable on Paul Reeve, RELIGION OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: Black, White, and Mormon, pt. 2

By: J Stuart - May 19, 2015

Miscegenation and “One Drop”

The sixth and seventh chapters of Paul Reeve’s Religion of a Different Color focus on the six decades after plural marriage became public in 1852. In these chapters, Reeve examines the intertwining of polygamy and blackness after the 1856 presidential election, and how Mormonism’s racial restriction on priesthood/tem (more…)

JI Summer Book Club: Rough Stone Rolling, Part 2: Chapters Three and Four

By: Steve Fleming - May 18, 2015

RSR Image

This is the second installment of 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 through the summer. New posts will appear on Monday mornings.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. This week Steve Fleming takes a closer look at Chapters 3 (“Translation: 1827-30”) and 4 (“A New Bible: 1830”).

Previous installments in the series:

•Part I: Prologue, Chapters 1-2


3 Translation, 4 A New Bible (See part 1 here).

Bushman ends Chapter Two and begins Chapter Three by discussing how to make sense of the possible connections between the Smiths’ “magical” treasure-digging activities and Mormonism’s foundational events: receiving and translating the golden plates. Such similarities include seer stones, special treasure in the ground, and treasure guardians.

Bushman concedes that “Magic and religion melded in Smith family culture,” (51) but he argues that by 1827, the year he married Emma and received the plates, “magic had served its purpose in his life. In a sense, it was a preparatory gospel. Treasure-seeking lore may have made it easier for his father to believe his son’s fabulous story about an angel and gold plates” (54). Thus treasure digging played a “preparatory” role in the beginnings of Mormons, argues Bushman, and the treasure-digging elements in the events related to the golden plates played the purposed of Smith gaining his treasure-digging father’s support. (more…)

Roundtable on Paul Reeve, RELIGION OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: Black, White, and Mormon, pt. 1

By: Nate R. - May 15, 2015
BY I'm A Mormon Meme

Meme satirizing the “I’m A Mormon” campaign in the wake of the LDS Church’s 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood. In context here.

Whence the priesthood ban?

It’s a question that has been wrestled often over the last several decades.  Beginning with Lester Bush’s seminal Dialogue article in 1973, historians, sociologists, and theologians have scrutinized the decisions made between Mormonism’s founding in 1830 and the solidification of the priesthood denial to Saints of African origin in the 1850s.  JI permabloggers and friends have made our own humble contributions to the debates, as well, which continue in the wake of the LDS Church’s essay published 18 months ago on the historical priesthood ban.

Building on decades of scholarship, in chapters 4 and 5 of Religion of a Different Color Paul Reeve shows that Mormonism’s banning of blacks from holding the priesthood was less a black vs. white issue in Mormonism than it was a black vs. white issue in America that Mormonism’s universalist claims were forced to confront, and to which they ultimately gave way, in attempt to preserve Mormon aspirations for whiteness. (more…)

“My Father Had but One Ewe Lamb”: Joseph Smith and Helen, Heber, and Vilate Kimball

By: Steve Fleming - May 14, 2015

Helen Kimball as Joseph Smith’s 14-year-old wife understandably gets a lot of attention in discussions about Smith’s marital practices. In my dissertation, I argue that the story of Helen’s marriage to Smith sheds lights on larger issues so I’m posting those passages here. First, however, I’m posting a few paragraphs where I give a summary of my argument about Smith’s overall intent. It’s pages 371-74 of my dissertation.

The sexuality of Smith’s marriages has been much debated, but boiling Smith’s marital relationships down to sex misses the point. The point of the marriages, again, was best described by Mary Lightner, both in her description of the 1831 “sealing” and in the proposal to her by Smith: to be united with Smith so as to go with him into the Father’s kingdom. This was something that many early Mormons wanted. Oliver Huntington said that “soon after Dimick had given our sisters Zina & Prescinda to Joseph as wives for eternity,” Smith offered Dimick any reward he wanted. Dimick requested “that where you and your fathers family are, there I and my fathers family may also be.”[1] Todd Compton argues that a number of polyandrous husbands may have known about the sealing, particularly Henry Jacobs and Windsor Lyon.[2](more…)

Q&A With Russell W. Stevenson, Author of *For the Cause of Righteousness*

By: J Stuart - May 13, 2015

Russell W. Stevenson, author of For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about his work. The book was reviewed on JI a few weeks ago. Please add any other questions you may have in the comments!

When did you begin researching For the Cause of Righteousness?

Since this developed as an outgrowth of an earlier project—Black Mormon: The Story of Elijah Ables—one might say that I began researching as early as fall 2011. However, I began writing For the Cause in earnest in spring 2013. (more…)

Roundtable on Paul Reeve, RELIGION OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: Red, White, and Mormon.

By: JJohnson - May 12, 2015

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One day several years ago, I was sitting in my office at the LDS Church History Library reading trial transcripts for the Mountain Meadows Massacre and it suddenly occurred to me that that language being used to describe the Mormons sounded a lot like late nineteenth century language to describe African Americans. The language was racial. This was not a group of early African American Mormon converts that were being described, but a group of Southern Utah settlers, mostly of English descent, whom I had never thought of as anything but white.

For many contemporary Americans the idea that race is a historical construct still seems foreign—race doesn’t change they might say, it just is. (If you fit in that category, perhaps start with this.) In the last twenty years, we have had a proliferation of studies of race built in mostly segregated histories: Indians, African Americans, and whiteness have been central. And while all of these studies have offered insightful arguments about how we construct race and how our perceptions change over time, few have offered intersections beyond oppositional definitions. Reeve’s brilliance is found in these intersections. Rather than starting with and emphasizing Mormon exceptionalism, Reeve broadly contextualizes the evolving concepts of race and the affect on Mormonism.

Reeve’s chapters 2 and 3 illuminate Elder Berry’s American Indian child concentrating on Mormons and Native Americans—“Red, White, and Mormon”—both the real and the perceived. In chapter 2 it is a Mormon and Indian alliance—“Ingratiating themselves with the Indians” and chapter 3 Mormons playing Indian in “White Indians” that center his analysis. (more…)

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

By: Christopher - 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. (more…)

Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup

By: Christopher - 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.

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