Articles by

David G.

2020 Church History Symposium CFP: Visions and Visionaries: Joseph Smith in Comparative Contexts

By September 4, 2019

Church History Symposium, 2020

Visions and Visionaries: Joseph Smith in Comparative Contexts

The Department of Church History and Doctrine at BYU and the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announce the Church History Symposium, March 12–13, 2020. The symposium will convene at Brigham Young University (March 12) and at the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City (March 13). Keynote speakers include Sheri Dew and Richard Lyman Bushman (March 12), and President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (March 13).

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2019 JSP Conference: Program and Registration

By August 6, 2019

On Friday, October 11, 2019, the Joseph Smith Papers Project will host the third annual Joseph Smith Papers conference. Due to the overwhelming public interest in past conferences, this year’s event will take place at the Conference Center Theater in order to accommodate all who wish to attend. The theater is located on the west side of the Conference Center (60 West North Temple St., Salt Lake City, Utah 84150).  

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Guest Post: An Introduction to The Earth Will Appear as the Garden of Eden: Essays on Mormon Environmental History

By May 7, 2019

We welcome this guest post by friends of the JI Jedediah S. Rogers, one of the editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly, and Matthew C. Godfrey, Managing Historian and one of the General Editors of the Joseph Smith Papers.

In 2012 the renowned environmental historian Mark Fiege published The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States. In that book, Fiege took well-known events in American history and examined them through the lens of environmental history. This approach generated fresh and fascinating insights into subjects ranging from the construction of the transcontinental railroad to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. As William Cronon noted in the Foreword, “No book before it has so compellingly demonstrated the value of applying environmental perspectives to historical events that at first glance may seem to have little to do with ‘nature’ or ‘the environment.’”[1]

Inspired by Fiege’s innovative approach, we started discussing the need for more historians to use the environmental lens to explore events in Mormon history—a subfield it seemed to us that did not self-consciously much swim in environmental history waters. As colleagues at Historical Research Associates, Inc., we had worked on projects for a variety of clients that presented us with opportunities to explore environmental history using a number of analytical approaches. This, in addition to our training and publications in both environmental and Mormon history, gave us confidence that we had something to say on the subject. Both of us recognized that a handful of scholars and writers—Richard Jackson, Terry Tempest Williams, Tom Alexander, George Handley, and Jared Farmer, to name a few—had examined the interactions of Saints with nature, but we believed this was largely an underutilized approach in Mormon history.

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Reminder: Third Annual Joseph Smith Papers Conference

By March 27, 2019

From our friends at the Joseph Smith Papers Project:

Call for Papers

“Joseph Smith’s Expanding Visions and the Practical Realities of Establishing Nauvoo.” 

(September 1839-April 1842)

On 11 October 2019, the Joseph Smith Papers Project will host its third annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. As with past years, the 2019 conference will be held to celebrate the release of recent volumes–Documents 7, Documents 8, and Documents 9. These volumes reproduce high-quality transcriptions of Joseph Smith’s papers from September 1839 through April 1842. As noted in the call for papers:

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Job Ad: Director of Publications, Church History Department

By February 13, 2019

The Church History Department is looking to hire a new Director of Publications, with responsibilities including overseeing the department’s several print and digital publications. You can find the ad at by searching for job #228043. The posting will be open for two weeks.

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Communal Studies Conferences and Grants

By January 17, 2019

Matthew J. Grow is Director of the Publications Division in the Church History Department and a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. He is currently President of the Communal Studies Association. 

I am excited to let the Juvenile Instructor community know about two upcoming communal studies conferences as well as two opportunities for grants and two sets of awards/paper contests.

The main scholarly organization for the study of communal groups and intentional communities—past and present—in the United States is the Communal Studies Association. CSA conferences are held annually, often at the site of a historic communal group. I have found the CSA to be a very welcoming and interesting group of scholars, and there are generally several presentations on Latter-day Saint history. For some thoughts on the connections between communal studies and Latter-day Saint history, see here.

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CfP: 2020 Sperry Symposium

By December 31, 2018

THE 2020 SIDNEY B. SPERRY SYMPOSIUM: “How … and What You Worship”

Christology and Praxis in the Revelations of Joseph Smith

Call for Proposals

On 6 May 1833, Joseph Smith received a revelation which clarified Johannine teachings about Christ. It taught truths meant to help early church members “understand and know how to worship and know what [they] worship” (D&C 93:19). This revelatory reworking of the Prologue of John (John 1:1-18) shed light on both the subject of worship as well as the process of how to worship that subject. Although the immediate context of the revelation remains obscure, it uncovered truths about the nature of Christ, who “continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness,” and linked those truths to the process of worship by instructing its audience to keep Christ’s commandments, which would allow them to “receive grace for grace.” In addressing both the who and the how of worship, the revelation deals with concepts that scholars term christology and praxis. Christology has to do with the study of the nature and mission of Christ. In light of Joseph Smith’s revelations, this study necessarily involves attention to the spiritual and intellectual quest (D&C 88:118) to “know” the Savior (John 17:3). That the revelation should insist on the “how” of worship indicates that praxis is inseparable from the knowledge of Christ: as King Benjamin taught, it is a mark of discipleship, the outward manifestation of knowledge (Mosiah 5:15). This relationship is emphasized throughout scripture, and the revelations of Joseph Smith constitute a unique scriptural setting to analyze the relationship between knowledge and practice. With this in mind, the 2020 Sperry Symposium, which will be held at Brigham Young University in October 2020, will focus on both the person of Christ and the practice of worshiping Him as outlined in the revelations of Joseph Smith. For the purpose of this symposium, “the revelations of Joseph Smith” will be understood as modern revelations received by the prophet. Strong proposals will make such revelations the central focus of their arguments, without necessarily excluding the dialogic nature of such revelations with other scriptures or the precisions they bring. More specifically, this symposium and the anticipated volume seek to understand Christ in the revelations to the first prophet of the restoration, and elucidate the practices – understood both as ordinances and daily attitudes – required of those who worship a being who grew “from grace to grace.”

Authors of Sperry papers are encouraged to find the appropriate balance between responsible scholarship and the interests of nonspecialists who are looking for accessible and engaging substance with a believing dimension. See the reverse side for a list of suggested topics. Proposals should take the form of an abstract of no more than 300 words containing all of the following: (1) the main thesis of your paper/presentation, (2) a brief outline of the components supporting your main thesis, (3) a summary of your methodology as well as the primary and secondary sources you will consult as evidence and support, and (4) a brief statement concerning how your study will make a significant contribution to previous scholarship on the work of worship and the person of Jesus Christ in Joseph Smith’s revelations. Following the abstract, please include a short separate statement (25-50 words) outlining your background, qualifications, or preparation so far to address this subject (you should already have completed some research in preparation for writing the proposal).

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CfP: WHA 2019 in Vegas UPDATE: Deadline Extended

By November 13, 2018

What happens in the West doesn’t stay in the West!

The Western History Association will be holding its 2019 meeting in Las Vegas, October 16-19, 2019. The conference theme is “What happens in the West doesn’t stay in the West” and the organizers are eager to include panels that seek to connect western history and the histories and historiographies of other parts of the nation, continent, and world. 

You can access the full call for papers here ( The deadline for panel and paper proposals is December 1, 2018. [UPDATE: The deadline for panel and paper proposals for the WHA conference has been extended to December 5, 2018.] The WHA is committed to promoting the full and equitable inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, LGBTQ people, and people with various ranks and career paths on this conference program. The Program Committee will encourage sessions to include diverse sets of participants, addressing gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, sexual diversity, religious diversity, disability-based diversity, and/or LGBTQ diversity.

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Summer Book Club: Reflections by Jared Farmer

By September 6, 2018

Over the last ten weeks, the Juvenile Instructor’s Summer Book Club has taken readers on a guided tour through Jared Farmer’s award-winning On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). Jared has graciously agreed to share his reflections on the book, ten years after its initial publication.

(Posts in the series: introduction; chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, chapter four, chapter five, chapter six, chapter seven, chapter eight, chapter nine.)



“Utah, I Loved Thee”: Reflection by Jared Farmer

My gratitude to David G. and other members of Juvenile Instructor’s summer book club for their thoughtful comments about my second book, now ten years old.

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Review: Hudson, Real Native Genius

By July 30, 2018

Reproduced below are excerpts from my review of Angela Pulley Hudson’s Real Native Genius: How An Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015, which appeared in the most recent issue of Mormon Historical Studies. MHS kindly granted me permission to post these excerpts. 

Angela Pulley Hudson’s Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians, winner of the Evans Biography Award, is an engrossing dual biography of former-slave Warner McCary and his white wife, Lucy Stanton. Before this book, Mormon historians had known the McCarys primarily for their schismatic religious group in Winter Quarters and for their contribution to the development of the race-based priesthood and temple ban. Hudson, an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University, demonstrates in Real Native Genius that the McCarys’ Winter Quarters imbroglio was just one chapter in the lives of the couple, who subsequently reinvented themselves as “professional Indians”—Choctaw chief Okah Tubbee and Mohawk princess Laah Ceil Manatoi Tubbee—first as famous traveling performers and then as “Indian” medical practitioners. Hudson uses the couple’s gaudy lives as a window into the concept of “Indianness,” which she defines as “a wide-ranging set of ideas about how American Indians looked, talked, lived, and loved” (5). Real Native Genius is therefore one of a growing number of works that explore ways that Mormon history can illuminate broader themes in American history and culture.

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