What’s in a name? Putting “Jack Mormon” in the Timeline of History

By December 12, 2019

Historians exist in a world of naming (Mormon Historians doubly so!).1 But, what’s in a name? Historian John O’Malley offers two reflections on this question, one a little naïve and another a little wiser. The first:  

“Sometimes very little. A rose still smells as sweet. Even designations for historical phenomena like ‘the Middle Ages’ that were once loaded with prejudices lose them through repeated usage. They become the equivalent of dead metaphors, where the image loses its punch. Is it not further true that all such historical constructs are imperfect, not much more than pointers to what can never be fully grasped by them, impositions on a fluid reality that they can never adequately capture? What difference does it make, then, what we call the Catholic side of the early modern period? Should we not stop worrying about labels, mere terms of convenience, and get on with the real business of history?”2 

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CfP: Joseph Smith Papers Conference, 2020

By December 9, 2019

From our friends at the Joseph Smith Papers project:

To commemorate the 2020 release of volumes 10 and 11 of the Documents series, which cover the history of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints from May 1842 to February 1843, the Joseph Smith Papers Project will host the fourth annual Joseph Smith Papers Conference on September 18, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The theme for this year’s conference is “Joseph Smith’s Connections and Networks.”

Paper proposals should consist of a brief abstract (no more than 500 words) and a current CV; both should be sent to Chase Kirkham (chkirk@churchofjesuschrist.org) by February 21, 2020. Successful abstracts will include 1) an explanation of the proposed project, 2) a clear thesis statement, and 3) an explanation of how the author intends to use the Joseph Smith Papers in his or her presentation as well as what specific documents will be featured in the paper. Scholars whose proposals are accepted will be notified by March 10, 2020 and will receive advance copies of the annotated documents found in volumes 10 and 11 of the Documents series. Some travel funding will be available for graduate students and early career scholars living outside of Utah.

For more information, see the full Call for Papers here.

CFP: 2020 MHA Poster Session

By December 9, 2019

Visions, Restoration, and Movements

Mormon History Association 55th Annual Conference


Submission Deadline: February 1, 2020

The Mormon History Association (MHA) is accepting submissions for a poster session, to be held in the Riverside Convention Center Exhibit Hall during the 55th annual conference in Rochester/Palmyra, New York, June 4-7, 2020. We welcome proposals that address the conference theme, “Visions, Restoration, and Movements,” but all proposals will receive equal consideration. Please visit https://mormonhistoryassociation.org/2020-conference to view the conference call for papers. This poster session offers participants the opportunity to discuss and answer questions about their work in a relatively informal, interactive setting. This format is particularly useful for works-in-progress and for projects with visual and material evidence. Presenters must be MHA members, register for and attend the meeting, and be available for a two-hour poster viewing session and reception during the conference, date and time TBD. MHA will waive the conference registration fee for all student poster presenters.

 The submission deadline for poster proposals is February 1, 2020. Notifications of acceptance or rejection will be sent March 1, 2020. Proposals will be evaluated on the persuasiveness of the abstract and the project’s connection to major questions and issues in Mormon history and the conference themes. MHA allows a maximum of four presenters per poster. All posters must be 36 inches x 48 inches. We will provide cardboard, binder clips, and easels for those who request them. Presenters are responsible for all other materials, including the printed poster itself. Accepted posters will be on display for the entirety of the conference. Please send your proposal to mharochester2020@gmail.com. Contact program co-chairs Anne Berryhill or Joseph Stuart at this email address if you have any questions.


 In a single PDF file, please include the following information for each presenter: -Name -Title/Position -Affiliation (if applicable) -Email -Phone Number -Bio (no more than 100 words) In the same PDF file, also include: -Poster Title -Poster Abstract: In no more than 200 words, describe the project that the poster will focus on and how you plan to present the project. Outline the research topic, themes, or questions, and the design and materials of your study. Explain and justify the proposed poster components (e.g. text, images, other graphics, tables etc.). Briefly anticipate the results or conclusion.

Better Days 2020: Call for Volunteer Ambassadors

By November 26, 2019

Better Days 2020 is looking for volunteer ambassadors to help share suffrage history at community events throughout Utah in the next year.

2020 will mark the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s first votes, the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Better Days 2020 is a non-profit founded to commemorate these voting rights anniversaries in Utah. They’re working statewide to raise the profile of women in Utah’s history through education, public art, and events.

You can get involved by giving presentations, sharing information at a booth or table, or volunteering at events. To become a volunteer ambassador, check out the online training and sign up here to indicate your interest and availability. Better Days 2020 will send you a t-shirt and other materials when you schedule your first event!

Find more details about becoming a Better Days ambassador here. If have any questions or know of any groups interested in hosting a presentation on Utah’s suffrage history, please contact Katherine Kitterman, Better Days 2020 historical director, at katherine (at) betterdays2020 (dot) org.

2019 In Retrospect: An Overview of Recent Articles and Books in Mormon History

By November 25, 2019

Another year, another excellent year for Mormon history and Mormon studies publications! Traditional categories, like biography and primary source collections, continue to see strong publications and newer methodological innovations written within interdisciplinary fields are showcasing their value to the field. While there’s no way to include every single publication, these are the thirty or so that I believe will be most important to the field in the future. What did I get wrong? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

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JWHA CFP 2020 (St. George, UT)

By November 5, 2019

Our friends at the John Whitmer Historical Association have published their call for their 2020 conference. You can see the original post HERE.

As pioneers and Zioneers left Nauvoo due to crushing conflict, Restoration groups in newly-created outposts struggled to build communities of worship.  Did they create  economic stability and refinement, or did they experience strife with competing neighbors?  Perhaps the outpost provided a visionary oasis with new doctrine and  ritual.  How did saints returning to Nauvoo try to negotiate a peaceful existence?   

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George F. Richards’ journals

By October 31, 2019

The Church Historian’s Press has released a new George F. Richards (GFR) digital history project that includes transcripts of his journals. This appears similar to the George Q. Cannon diaries CHP project. Currently the website holds transcripts of the first two volumes of GFR’s journals, spanning August 1880 to March 1892. GFR’s journals have been on a short list of documents that I have been interested in for a long time, and I am consequently very excited.

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Paid Internship at the CHL: Global Support and Acquisitions Team Assistant

By October 30, 2019


Posting Dates: 10/16/2019 – 11/13/2019

Job Family: Human Resources

Department: Church History Department


Assist the Global Support and Acquisitions Division (GS&A) of the Church History Department in collecting, preserving, and sharing Church history throughout the world.  This is an exciting and unique opportunity for someone interested in pursuing a career in history or library/archival science.  We are looking for a motivated, energetic, and organized individual to join our team!

This paid internship is anticipated to last one year (12 months). This position is a part-time (28 hours per week) hourly, nonexempt position. The candidate must be currently enrolled in, or recently graduated from (within the last 12 months), an undergraduate- or graduate-degree program.  Preference will be given to history/MLIS students, or those who are English majors working on an editing certificate.

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Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought CFP: Indigineity and Mormon Studies

By October 29, 2019

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought seeks research-based articles, personal essays, round-table discussions, fiction, art, and poetry on Indigenous, Native, or First Nations peoples and their place in the Latter-day Saint (or other Restoration churches) tradition. The submissions will be considered for a special issue of the journal that will focus on this topic and related themes.

The Book of Mormon, the foundational scripture of Joseph Smith’s movement, recounts a historical narrative about the origins of peoples in the Americas and the Church’s drive west led to numerous meetings and convergences of Indigenous peoples with diverse peoples/immigrants/migrants. The landscape was then shaped by Mormon and US Government interventions. As the Church spread globally, these encounters continued to be tinged by colonization as a geo-political force. Such encounters and narratives about indigeneity continue to define the present.

We encourage research article submissions to treat such topics as colonialism and postcolonial studies, historical studies and enthographic approaches, indigeneity as a category of identity, scriptural narratives, and theological reflections, among other topics. Personal essays, art, fiction, and poetry on these topics would ideally also wrestle with legacies of Mormonism’s relationship to indigenous peoples as well as issues that are of contemporary concern. We are especially interested in featuring the work of Indigenous persons. 

Questions about submissions may be directed to Taylor Petrey, editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (dialogueeditor@dialoguejournal.com).

For consideration for this special issue, submissions should be received by April 1, 2020. Instructions for submitting your work may be found here: https://www.dialoguejournal.com/about/submission-guidelines/.

An Introduction to Joseph Smith Papers Project Documents, Volume 9

By October 28, 2019

Joseph Smith’s attention to his own day-to-day activities ebbed and flowed throughout his fourteen years of religious leadership. The final three years of his life mark the high point of his documentary record. In Documents, Volume 9 of the Joseph Smith Papers, historians and editors Alex Smith, Christian K. Heimburger, and Christopher Blythe provide invaluable insight and background on 102 documents created between December 1841 and April 1842. As the editors note in their introduction, this volume captures less than six months of Smith’s life, “and no subsequent volume in [the Documents] series will capture more than half a year of Smith’s activities.”[1]

Smith created a large number of documents during this period, at least in comparison to previous times in his life, owing to several circumstances. Latter-day Saints enjoyed a season of relative peace during this time frame, which allowed for physical improvements to the city and a steady trickle of immigrants gathering to Nauvoo. Stability brought innovation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expanded its own organization, most notable among them being the Nauvoo Female Relief Society.

Image result for joseph smith brick store

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Recent Comments

Ben S on What’s in a name?: “Ah, never mind. Skimmed too fast past the beginning. How embarrassing.”

Ben S on What’s in a name?: “How did you create that display?! I’d love to do something similar. I’ve looked at timeline software, and it’s all either expensive or useless.”

J. Stapley on What’s in a name?: “I'm that same boat as Ardis with the Mules. Fascinating!”

KLC on What’s in a name?: “I'm 65 and the term 'Jack Mormon' was quite common when I was growing up in the 60s and early 70s. I always understood…”

Ardis on What’s in a name?: “Am I the only one who *never* before recognized that "jack" used this way is connected to mules?? That stuns me. And delights me. I also…”

Questions on CFP: 2020 MHA Poster: “Will MHA accept proposals from students who have already sent in a proposal for a presentation or panel? If so should the poster be a…”