The Mormon History Association’s annual conference will be in SaltLake City, June 7-10, 2018. The topic for next year’s conference is “Isolation and Integration” and the deadline for proposals is this week—Thursday the 15th. Find the Call for Papers here.
Last year’s Book of Mormon Studies Conference was one of my favorites. The deadline for papers and proposals is quickly approaching. Come and join us in Logan for two days of engaging work on the Book of Mormon. See http://bomstudies.com/ for more details.
Matthew Godfrey, Spencer W. McBride, Alex D. Smith, Christopher James Blythe, eds. The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volume 7, September 1839-January 1841. (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2018).
I was introduced to the newest addition to the Joseph Smith Papers Project the day the books hit the shelves a couple weeks ago. We were given an opportunity to meet with the editors and talk about their favorite parts of this new volume. The Joseph Smith Papers Documents Volume 7 continues the inevitable march to June 1844 and as we get closer, the numbers of documents increase and the time period covered shortens. This seventh Documents volume covers just five months from September 1839 to January 1841 in 713 pages. We might consider the meticulous nature of the editing and annotation of each of these volumes, in that, this new volume is no different. All offer new nuance and detail to the narrative of Joseph Smith?s life. However, unlike the last volume, this volume is a period often skipped over. After the harrowing drama of the Missouri War and expulsion and the brief respite found for the refugees in Quincy we often narratively find ourselves in a fully formed and functioning Nauvoo. This volume zeroes in on Joseph Smith laboring to establish and bring the Saints to what he considers will be ?the greatest city in the world? as he likewise endeavors to seek political redress for what happened in Missouri, and begins to introduced distinctive Mormon doctrines that will shape the Nauvoo period.
Better Days 2020 is using important upcoming suffrage anniversaries to celebrate Utah women’s illustrious heritage and expand knowledge of that history as they look to improve the future of women in Utah.Better Days is a great example of public history and how that history has the potential to make a difference and they need a historical director. 2020 will be the 150-year anniversary of Utah women becoming the first in the nation to vote, the 100-year anniversary of the 19th amendment and US women’s suffrage, as well as the 55-year anniversary of the Voting Rights Act expanding access to disenfranchised minorities. Even if you don’t need a job, check out their efforts. Martha Hughes Cannon is on her way to Washington in 2020 and Better Days 2020 is on the move. Apply for a chance to become part of something important.
The particular danger of a roundtable in a digital format is in the overlapping repetition, forgive us for that. (Check out Tona and Joey‘s prior posts.) Though I had an opportunity a few weeks ago to respond to Jonathan Stapley?s The Power of Godliness in person, today I want to focus on the eminent accessibility of the nuanced liturgical history that Stapley crafted. Though I want the initial chapter on the cosmological priesthood to be more specific as he lays out the foundation of his argument, it is fulfilled over time in consecutive chapters. I appreciate that in each chapter Stapley outlines a dense history with complex transitions over time in a nuanced, compact, and entirely relatable manner. This would not be possible without the body of Stapley’s earlier work. (There will be rejoicing amongst my future students when they realize that there might be a more concise version of Stapley and Kris Wright?s spectacular but to them seemingly interminable 88-page JMH article on female ritual healing.) This accessibility matters both historically and devotionally.
In my current project, I am thinking about how a text becomes scripture?how people develop a relationship with a text. On this last day of Black History Month, I?m thinking about three items that reflect relationships to scripture that affect the life of Jane Manning James: a blessing, scripture, and an interview.
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.
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.)
Then at the Mormon History Association?s annual conference LDS Church historian and recorder Elder Steven E. Snow emphasized the need for the troubling saying, ?For too long Mormon women?s voices have been ignored. We, as a people, have suffered because of it.?
Chapter two of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich?s A House Full of Females is a gorgeous example of how incorporating women?s accounts provides a more complete view of all of the colors and textures and corners of the tapestry of early LDS history, but also frays the neatly finished edges in troublesome ways. After the Missouri expulsion, dual male narratives act in concert–miraculous healing and distinct but likewise miraculous missionary work. Joseph Smith offered physical salvation through healing. Healing enabled male apostles to work to offer spiritual salvation to others. In a tidy reciprocal narrative structure, Latter-day Saints are provided with examples of both ?what God can do for us and what we can do for God.? In both narratives, men endowed with priesthood power accomplished much.
The countdown to MHA has begun. 9 days and counting…. (If you still need to register go here.)
Help support and promote Mormon women’s history with the Mormon Women’s History Initiative Bazaar. Plan now to attend MWHIT’s second annual fundraiser bazaar and silent auction, June 2-4, 2017, at the Mormon History Association annual conference in St. Charles, Missouri. Donate handmade clothing, textiles, crafts, or professional skills (editing, writing, consulting, etc.). Donations are welcome even if you can’t attend in person. Contact any member of the MWHIT team with questions. All proceeds from the bazaar will help fund MWHIT programs and writing awards.