BYU Studies 48:1 (2009)

By July 31, 2009

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.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Thanks for the overview, Jared. I’m curious about the piece on FGW’s hymns. What evidence does the author marshall to demonstrate that FGW is the author?

    Comment by Christopher — July 31, 2009 @ 9:59 am

  2. Thanks, Jared. Seems like a solid issue.

    Comment by David G. — July 31, 2009 @ 11:22 am

  3. You’re so <21st century in your history. The Transhumanist Association on enhancement doesn’t merit mention in terms of Mormon History?

    The Williams piece sounds interesting. I’m with Chris in wondering though.

    Comment by smb — July 31, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

  4. So glad to hear that someone has worked to identify the Saints in at least one photo collection. Every time I post branch photos at Keepa, I wonder who those Saints are and where they went. You can guess that some of their thoughts were similar to yours, and even guess at the hymns they sang that morning, but when their names are missing they feel like ghosts.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 31, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  5. smb, good catch, I overlooked that actually. Don S. Browning and David Clairmont, eds. American Religions and the Family: How Faith Traditions Cope with Modernization and Democracy discusses 1) How American religions confront modernization (technology, consumerism, etc) and 2) how they deal with issues of democracy (individualism, etc). According to reviewer Loren Marks, in the chapter on the LDS Church, author David C. Dollahite “softens his convert’s zeal and enthusiasm, but they are never far from the surface.”

    Comment by Jared T. — July 31, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  6. Ooh, this is a great review. I’ve got to see Fred Williams’ article. As Ardis knows from sad experience, you can’t hardly mention prominent early Church members on a history blog without hitting one of my ancestors. My mother is a Williams, and I echo Chris’ question.

    I may just have to pony up for this issue!

    Comment by Ben Pratt — July 31, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  7. Hey, you guys are right to wonder about the identification. It had been a few weeks since I read that article, and when I saw your comments I went back to read it more closely and realized that if you don’t read it closely, you may miss some important caveats in the research. I’m away from the issue, but I’ll respond better a little later.

    Comment by Jared T. — July 31, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  8. Now you’re just teasing me, Jared.

    Comment by smb — July 31, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  9. Sorry, Jared, I just noticed that I was referring to BYUS 48:2, which I had thought was just published. Consider my prior comments both inscrutable and irrelevant.

    Comment by smb — July 31, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  10. Ha, no problem, I wasn’t sure what you were referring to, so I faked it, figuring maybe the book review was the closest thing to what you were talking about 🙂

    But I’ll be looking out for that in the next issue.

    Comment by Jared T. — July 31, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  11. All right, I have to admit that I skimmed the Williams piece a few weeks ago and the trouble with that is that if you’re not paying attention, you can get swept up in some questionable assumptions, so good eye to Chris and smb.

    The author seems to base his claim on the fact that there is a manuscript of the five songs together in the handwriting of Williams. Of course, looking at the reproduction of the document, it is clear that this is not an original document but a more polished copy. The author then turns to the Kirtland Revelation book and says that since the words “Sang by the gift of tongues and revelation (followed by a number of lines of what appears to be verse and which correspond to the songs)” is written in Williams’ handwriting, that this must be a personal experience that Williams received which he later expanded upon in song form. One big problem that the article itself discloses is that Williams wrote most of the Kirtland Revelation book as a scribe. The author says that since the text does not clearly state who sang by tongues and revelation, that it must be Williams and proceeds to refer to Williams’ revelatory experience for the duration of the article. Shaky at best.

    However, discounting or at least qualifying the Williams connection, I think the article is still very interesting and I do find the evidence compelling that these songs were created with reference to the experience recorded in the KRB.

    Might the editor have asked the author to qualify the argument better?

    Comment by Jared T — July 31, 2009 @ 9:35 pm

  12. […] pleased to have him guest posting here today.  For some previous discussion of this issue, see this summary of the BYU Studies issue with the Frederick G. Williams article and subsequent […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » “Sang By The Gift of Tongues and Translated” — December 1, 2010 @ 12:33 pm


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