Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni & Visitors Center, Brigham Young University
Some of the most puzzling documents left in the wake of Joseph Smith’s prophetic career pertain tot he Book of Abraham–from the ancient papyrus to the nineteenth-century notebooks. For over a century these documents were specially housed away from public view. In 2018 the Joseph Smith Papers Project team published the documents in Revelations and Translations, vol. 4.
Every year I look forward to seeing which books will be published (you can read my recap of the best books and articles of 2018 HERE). The list isn’t comprehensive—many books don’t have listings on press websites quite yet. Nevertheless, I hope that I’ve highlighted many of the books Mormon historians are anxiously waiting to have their hands on in the next twelve months. All quotations are from the Press’s website (when available) and all links are to the publisher’s website (where available).
Lecture: “A Window into Joseph Smith’s Translation: An Exploration of the Book of Mormon Manuscripts” presented by Robin Scott Jensen
Date: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Assembly Hall (50 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150)
The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to invite you to a special presentation in conjunction with the publication of Revelations and Translations, Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts. Robin Jensen, co-editor of the volume and project archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers, will present a lecture on 15 November 2018.
Revelations and Translations, Volume 4 tracks the development of the Book of Abraham from the time Joseph Smith and others purchased Egyptian papyri in 1835 through the publication of the Book of Abraham and its accompanying illustrations in the church newspaper Times and Seasons in 1842. Introductions in the volume situate Joseph Smith’s translation process in the broader context of the nineteenth-century fascination with Egyptian history and culture, of his own effort to reveal truths from the ancient past, and of his other translation efforts.
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.
On June 6-9, 2019 the Mormon History Association will gather for their fifty-fourth annual conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is a friendly reminder from the 2019 program co-chairs, Brittany Chapman Nash and Taunalyn Rutherford, that the deadline for submitting proposals is November 15, 2018.
We are excited about the potential for the production of scholarly work inspired by the 2019 conference theme, “Isolation and Integration.” Gathering in Salt Lake City affords the ideal location to contemplate the duality of the Mormon yearnings to be a peculiar people (isolation) and the contradictory impulse to be accepted and “mainstream” (integration). Historical commemorations marked by 2019 echo this theme and are rich topics for potential panels and papers. Consider for example, the 150th anniversaries of the laying of the Golden Spike and John Wesley Powell’s first Colorado River exploration, the 1869 national discussion over granting Utah women suffrage, and the centennial of the dedication of the Laie Hawaii Temple.
Scans of the Wilford Woodruff Diaries have been made available on the website for The Church History Library (owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). This is a huge deal for four reasons (beyond the fact that he was an Apostle and Church President, which I walk through below.
First, Woodruff kept a diary for more than fifty years as an active Mormon. Historians have a much better idea of what happened in Mormon relationships, church meetings, and other areas because of his records. He kept meticulous track of many things, including the letters he sent, people he baptized, and more. He recorded the words of ordinary Mormons. He wrote down his visions and impressions. He doodled. In short, his diary is fascinating for anyone looking to understand how Mormonism worked in nineteenth-century Mormonism. If you don’t believe me, ask Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. She says, “Woodruff’s massive chronicle is not only an essential source for the study of nineteenth- century Mormonism, it is a great American diary.”
MORMON HISTORY ASSOCIATION CALL FOR PAPERS – 2019 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Salt Lake City, Utah “Isolation and Integration”
The 54th conference of the Mormon History Association will be held June 6–9, 2019, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 2019 conference theme “Isolation and Integration” highlights a continuing tension in the Mormon experience and commemorates the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad and John Wesley Powell’s first Colorado River exploration. When Latter-day Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, they crossed an international boundary in search of religious liberty, something they hoped to find in the isolation of the desert expanses of northern Mexico. As MHA returns to Salt Lake City in 2019, we remember historical moments which reflect the Mormon desire for isolation as well as a corresponding pull toward integration represented by the laying of the Golden Spike in northern Utah on May 10, 1869, and, two weeks later, the beginning of Powell’s charting of the mighty Colorado. In addition, the 1869 national discussion over granting Utah women suffrage led to their becoming the first to vote in the modern nation in early 1870, pulling them into the center of the national suffrage movement. Moreover, the Mormons’ imagined sense of isolation in the Great Basin did not account for the reality of their settlements being built on land already claimed by the region’s Native American inhabitants, thus perpetuating Native American dislocation and marginalization.
The Joseph Smith Papers will release volume 4 of the Revelations and Translations series this year (2018), including the Book of Abraham and other related documents. In conjunction with the new publication, JSP will be holding a conference on 26 October 2018 at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Presentations include methods of translation, reception of translation, insights into Smith’s Egyptian-language project, and insights into the Book of Abraham.
The day-long conference is free and includes lunch, but space is limited. For a full schedule and registration, go to the website.
Update: Registration for the conference is full and has closed.
I was thrilled to be able to check out the Women in Mormon Studies (WiMS) website over the weekend. It represents the labor of many women that have worked together to amplify the work of women in our beloved subfield. After looking at scholar profiles (you can add yours HERE), I’ve come to a few conclusions: