The Juvenile Instructor will be reviewing the contents of a number of Mormon-related periodicals including BYU Studies, the Journal of Mormon History, the John Whitmer Association Journal, Restoration Studies and others as they come to us. This will be a regular feature on the JI.
Today, it’s BYU Studies 48:1 (2009).
The first article, “The Boggs Shooting and Attempted Extradition: Joseph Smith’s Most Famous Case” by Joseph Smith Papers contributor Morris A. Thurston provides a very comprehensive (abt. 53 pages) and interesting account of the Boggs case, extradition attempts, arrests, the accusations against Joseph Smith, and his court victory. What I like about this article is that Morris Thurston, being an attorney himself, has spent time learning the nuances of the law from this early-mid 19th century period and can give a very well informed perspective on the case. This article and others like it in the past have made me excited for the Joseph Smith legal papers series in the JSP. Morris informs us that rather than being an absolute victory for Joseph, “the victory was a hollow one. Smith had wanted a victory ‘on the merits’ and understood from his lawyer that Judge Pope would not rule on a ‘technicality.’…He [Pope] did not express any opinion on the question of whether Smith had ordered the assassination of Boggs. Indeed, Pope did not even make a finding on whether or not the Mormon prophet had fled from justice. Instead, Pope ruled that the Boggs declaration was insufficient to support the claim that Joseph had fled from justice” (47).
Frederick G. Williams’ piece, “Singing the Word of God: Five Hymns by President Frederick G. Williams” presents five hymns of hitherto unknown or questionable attribution that appeared in The Evening and the Morning Star, in the first hymnal and in subsequent ones. These he argues were written by Frederick G. Williams as part of a revelatory experience in the Kirtland Temple involving the gift of tongues. These interesting hymns follow the Enochian revelation of the Pearl of Great Price and even add a few details not found in the scriptural text. One interesting tidbit: “We learn further that Enoch’s ability to see the Divine was conveyed when God touched Enoch’s eyes with his finger” (80). All in all a very interesting article.
Probably the most important contribution in this issue comes with Colleen Whitley’s “Thomas Farrar Whitley’s Mission Photos of Tonga, 1935-1938.” After a short overview of the mission in the period under examination, Colleen presents a selection of photos with extensive captions that draw from Thomas Whitley’s (Colleen’s father-in-law) journals and correspondence (in private posession). Most significantly, Colleen contacted Tongans who lived at the time and in the places where the photos were taken and thus was able to identify most of the Tongan Saints in the over 130 photo collection. In one astounding example, these Tongan women helped Colleen identify all but a handful of the 68 people in one branch photo. Had Colleen not taken the time to do this research, within few years, the faces and names of these early Tongan Saints may well have been lost to history. I hope to see many more such efforts with similar photograph collections from all over the world.
Here the issue includes a touching poem by Marilyn Bushman-Carlton, “Goodbye.”
Next, Ronald E. Bartholomew’s “The Patterns of Missionary Work and Emigration in Early Victorian Buckinghamshire, England, 1849-1878” quotes from our own Steve Fleming’s Church History article and uses numerous early branch histories to identify early members and meeting places in the Buckinghamshire area of England. I’m glad to see these branch records used. They can be a true treasure trove of information. Interestingly, through these and other early records, Bartholomew was able to discover some previously unknown branches. He also finds that local converts accounted for a great deal of the missionary work in the area. After American missionaries baptized a core of faithful, those converts actively proselitized their neighbors. Those that came to Utah, according to Bartholomew, did not enter the Church hierarchy or attain prominence, but provide an example of rank and file saints.
Finally, the last article by Randy Astle, “Mormon Cinema on the Web” provides links to a variety of websites that deal with LDS films: Promotional Sites such as HaleStorm Entertainment, Retail Websites such as Mormon Media [dot] com, Websites that discuss LDS Films (with mention of some Bloggernacle sites), Websites that Exhibit Mormon Films. Definitely a useful guide, though likely to be out of date shortly.
None of the three book reviews deal with a Mormon History topic, so I will forego them…that was easy.
Though the errata at the end is somewhat humerous. Somehow a picture of a woman was identified with a man’s name and the man’s picture with the woman’s name. The photos are reproduced with their correct identifications.
All in all, a strong showing in Mormon History from this issue of BYU Studies. I’m looking forward to the next issue.