BYU Studies: MMM Edition

By July 23, 2008

I just received word that the next issue (47:2) of BYU Studies “will be a special issue of important documents about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, some never before seen.” Guest edited by Rick Turley and Ron Walker, this volume of documents includes “affidavits and interviews” used by the authors for their forthcoming Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Tragedy (see BCC review here).

The documents will be produced in “full-color plates and meticulous facing transcriptions,” and will also include “a detailed introduction explains the origins and significance of this trove of documents.” Turley and Walker will also share insight concerning their experience in researching and writing the book.

Other features to be included in the volume:

  • “biographical sketches . . . [of] the people behind these documents, some of whom were personally involved in the massacre.”
  • Book review of Shannon A. Novak’s House of Mourning: A Biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre by Joel C. Janetski (reviewed at the Juvenile Instructor by Jared T. here).
  • Book review of Walker, Turley, and Leonard’s Massacre at Mountain Meadows by Brian Cannon.

I don’t know whether all new (previously unavailable or unknown) documents used by the authors of the new MMM book will be included or not. I do applaud the effort to make these documents available to other researchers and interested individuals. The biographical register should also be helpful, and it will be interesting to see what kind of review Janetski and Cannon give each book.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. These documents were initially supposed to be included as an appendix in the book, but someone (I’m not sure who), decided that they would make the book too long.

    Comment by David G. — July 23, 2008 @ 11:49 am

  2. Thanks for the heads up on that, David. I’m glad they’re still at least being published somewhere.

    Comment by Christopher — July 23, 2008 @ 11:50 am

  3. I was certainly relieved when I reached the point where you named the guest editors. I had a momentary nightmare that somebody at BYU decided it was too important/timely a topic to let pass and was trying to get up to speed overnight.

    Instead, I’m glad to see that Turley et al. are so quickly making good their promise to make their research materials publicly available. A single volume could hardly include all the new material (black binders holding copies run for shelf after shelf in one of the authors’ offices), so this is probably limited to the key documents that are part of the church’s collection (not materials from other repositories, I mean).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 24, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

  4. Curious if the BYU Studies will have:

    The papers in MMM research file that Donald Moorman quotes from in his “Camp Floyd and the Mormons” that were no longer in the file when Will Bagley researched the file for “Blood of the Prophets”. For an example see Bagley page 407 footnote 124.

    The complete Haight sermon mentioned in J. Stapley and Brad’s very good review. Stapley wrote that this is, “a critical Haight sermon”, cited in Massacre at Mountain Meadows”(pg. 131, note 8). This sermon is quoted in Brooks from the Cedar City Ward record in the LDS Church archives.

    The letters written to Wm Dame by George A. Smith on Sunday Sept. 6, 1857, see LDS Historical Office Journal. It is interesting that this information is missing from Jarvis, “Ancestry, Biography and Family of George A. Smith”. One has to wonder where the rest of George A. Smith’s journal is between the dates August 31 1857 – December 31 1857, see Jarvis pg. 217.

    This is just a few examples that I would like to see made available and hope they are in the BYU Studies volume. For more interesting missing documents see Paul Reeves excellent presentation at MHA in Sacramento.

    Comment by Joe Geisner — July 25, 2008 @ 2:04 pm

  5. I was just in the BYU Studies office and they’re going to publish not just the journal issue but also an additional book of documents, also edited by Walker and Turley. I’m not clear as to what documents will be printed between the two, but apparently there are 600 total pages of documents. They’re hoping to have the book and the issue printed within a few weeks of the Oxford volume, so for the interested, there’s going to be a ton of new material on MMM in the next month or so.

    Comment by David G. — July 25, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

  6. Joe, I don’t believe that the Haight sermon is extant. Brooks got the source second hand and it was never in the LDS Archives. It may have been a casualty of the DUP Danites.

    It would be wonderful if they included Hamblin journal extracts that Moorman had access to, as well as his statement to the FP that same month.

    I missed Paul’s presentation and have been meaning to download it. Thanks for the reminder.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 25, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

  7. David, that is great news. When I asked Walker about the forthcoming volume of the Jenson papers that he and Turley are working on, he didn’t want to even give a hint when it might be. This is exciting if this were the Jenson papers, and exciting if they are not, because that means there is more to look forward to.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 25, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  8. On a related note, Amazon sent me an email yesterday saying that my pre-ordered Massacre at Mountain Meadows was shipped and should be at my doorstep on Monday.

    Lets hope it wasn’t a mistake.

    Comment by Ben — July 25, 2008 @ 2:49 pm

  9. FWIW, Ben, I got an email from amazon telling me that the book shipped today and should arrive next week.

    Comment by Justin — July 25, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

  10. David,

    I agree this is great news. I am older than most of you and to read of what is happening with the publishing of these documents is quite incredible. I went through the period where the access to church archives was all but shut down. It did not last long in hindsight, but at the time it was scary because no one knew how long the policy would last. I think the church deserves a great deal of the credit for this openness.

    When these two documentary books are available we will then be able to judge there importance. If history repeats itself and they are anything like Dean Jesse’s “Joseph Smith Papers” or “Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons”, or the “McLellan Journals” by Un of Ill/BYU Studies we are all in for a magnificent treat.

    What is even more remarkable is that Will Bagley and David Bigler’s “Innocent Blood” is supposed to be available in October. In theory we could be overwhelmed in documents about this “awful tale of blood”.

    Thanks J. for the information about the Cedar ward records. I think it is quite sad that the documents are lost. Even with all this forthcoming material I have to wonder what people were/are trying to hide. I am not suggesting the church or the archives is hiding something. I am suggesting the participants and the people who destroyed or suppressed these lost documents were/are trying to hide something. I think they were/are successful. It begs the question of who knew what and did what. It also causes me to conclude that questions will continue to dominate the discussion. I am not naive and realize history is not a complete picture, but these missing documents make large gaps.

    Comment by Joe Geisner — July 25, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

  11. J.,

    A couple questions about the Haight talk. I have tried to find the Brooks quote of the talk in “MMM” and have been unable to find it in the 1st edition. I don’t have the second edition, is this where the quote is found?

    Besides the Palmer letter you quote, is there any more detail about the talk in “Massacre at Mountain Meadows”. You wrote above that Brooks got it “second hand” and did not see this in church archives. I am confused by this. Could you elaborate?

    I am sorry that this does not relate directly to the BYU Studies volume. I had no other way of asking J. these questions. If it is best, you can contact me privately at rbssman “at” gmail “DOT” com. Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Joe Geisner — July 25, 2008 @ 7:14 pm

  12. Curious if anyone has heard of dates for the documentary volumes? I am just finishing MatMM and look forward to seeing the documents.

    Comment by Joe Geisner — August 27, 2008 @ 10:31 am

  13. Joe: I was at a meeting last week where they said September was their goal to get them out. However, they also reminded us that 2001 was their original goal to finish the book, so take that with a grain of salt.

    Comment by Ben — August 27, 2008 @ 10:55 am

  14. Ben,

    Thanks for your update. This is troubling!

    I was under the impression, not because of comments here but direct communication with BYU Studies, that BYU Studies 47:2 was at the printers/binders over two weeks ago.

    As a general question, when something is at the printers/binders I thought a book was close to being available. I was really looking forward to seeing these documents since I am so close to the end of MatMM.

    Again, thanks for the update Ben.

    Comment by Joe Geisner — August 27, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  15. Joe, I think perhaps, ben was refering to the forthcoming volumes (e.g., the Jenson papers), not the forthcoming BYU Studies issue.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 27, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  16. Thanks J.

    I was under the impression 47:2 was the beginning of the documents. Christopher wrote above that “affidavits and interviews” would be in 47:2 and I figured that was from the Jensen papers after reading the book. I wonder what other interviews and affidavits will be in this BYU Studies. Sorry I misunderstood.

    Comment by Joe Geisner — August 27, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

  17. Great news about sales.

    Comment by Joe Geisner — August 27, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  18. Joe: Sorry to be confusing, but J is right: i was referring to the document volumes. From what I hear, the BYU Studies edition should be out shortly. (thanks for clearing that up while I was gone, J)

    Comment by Ben — August 27, 2008 @ 5:16 pm

  19. […] discussed previously, BYU Studies will produce a special volume of their journal devoted to the Mountain Meadows […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Forthcoming and Recently Published Books on Mormon and Utah History — November 12, 2008 @ 10:43 pm


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