Categories of Periodization: Accommodation

Guest Post: 1923 Photographs of the Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript

By August 28, 2015

Robin Scott Jensen is the mastermind behind the Joseph Smith Papers’ Revelations and Translations Series, which just released its third volume reproducing the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Jeffrey G. Cannon is the JSP’s photo archivist and as such is the point man for the numerous textual and contextual illustrations that appear in JSP volumes. When R3 was released, photographs of Joseph Smith’s seer stone dominated attention here on the blog. This guest post sheds light on the history of the printer’s manuscript by focusing on the 1923 effort to photograph the entire manuscript for conservation purposes and the recent addition of the complete set of 1923 photos to the JSP website.

With all the excitement about seer stones in the weeks since the latest volume of The Joseph Smith Papers was released, it is easy to overlook the fact that the volume also contains hundreds of high-quality, full-color photographs of the printer?s manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Another set of important images was also recently posted exclusively to the Joseph Smith Papers Project website.

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Frank W. Warner and the History of Mormon Native Writing

By November 12, 2014

Although recent scholarship has done much to understand Native conversions to Christianity in early America, asking intriguing questions about indigenous agency and adaptation within colonial contexts, little has been written on Native converts to Mormonism. Part of the hesitance, at least for nineteenth-century historians, stems from the nature of the source material. There are, simply put, few ?Native texts??written accounts drafted by indigenous converts to Mormonism that reflect their viewpoint?prior to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[1] From the 1850s through the 1880s, thousands of Native peoples accepted Mormon baptism in the inter-mountain American West and the Pacific Islands. Few if any of these converts could read Roman script, meaning their experience with Mormonism was largely oral in nature. They heard about rather than read the Book of Mormon and Mormon beliefs about the Lamanite ancestors of indigenous peoples. The corollary to this point is that few if any Mormon Natives could record in writing their own interpretations of church teachings, meaning historians are left with accounts of Native words that have been filtered through white interpreters and scribes. That said, some indigenous converts such as the Ute Arapeen, although unable to read or write English himself, used ingenious techniques to turn writing to his own purposes as he navigated the world around him that was rapidly being transformed by Mormon settlement.

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Questions about D&C 132 and Plural Marriage

By October 31, 2014

Today’s post, the latest in our series where we answer questions about plural marriage, is about textual questions related to Doctrine and Covenants 132. Again, we are grateful to those who asked questions, wrote answers, and helped edit and format the post. Thanks especially to WVS, who answered the questions today. WVS has been a long-time bloggernacle denizen, blogging at his solo blog– and at His fascinating multi-part analysis of the textual development of D&C 107 was recently published in Dialogue. He later wrote an in-depth series of posts at BCC on D&C 132, which he is currently expanding into a book.

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Pioneer Day: Recommended Reading from JI’s archives

By July 24, 2014

Happy Pioneer Day, readers! Thank you for your patience with us lately — we know things have been slow around here (they tend to get that way during the summer), but we have some exciting things planned moving forward and hope you’ll keep checking in, reading, and commenting moving forward.

In recognition of Pioneer Day, I’ve culled from the Juvenile Instructor’s archives links to several previous posts treating Mormon Pioneers in one sense or another. In hopes that they’ll prove interesting to those who missed them the first time around (and to those, like me, interested in revisiting them), here we go:

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“Do You Believe In Lady Missionaries?”

By June 5, 2014

Today’s post comes from Matthew McBride who is Web Content Manager with the Church History Department and author of A House for the Most High.

Nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints considered proselytizing missions to be the exclusive domain of male priesthood holders. Women participated in tract societies, shared their beliefs with family and friends, and occasionally accompanied their husbands on missions. But these activities were calculated to keep women in proximity to the domestic sphere and were typically viewed as supportive of and secondary to the full-time missionary thrust. This changed in 1898 when women began to be called to serve full-time proselytizing missions, including the first single sister missionaries in the Church?s history.

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Mormons and Natives Month at the JI

By November 5, 2013

For the past several months, the JI has sponsored various theme months, allowing permas and guests to ruminate on such topics as politics, the international church, and material culture. November is Native American Heritage Month, which was first promoted in the Progressive Era by reform-minded Indians to recognize the contributions of Natives to the development of the United States. As in the case of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, we at the JI believe that Natives are an intricate part of Mormon history, rather than a sub-topic only worthy of discussion once a year, but we also see the value in focusing our thoughts at this time in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month. This month’s editors, David G., Amanda, and Farina, have assembled an all-star cast of guest bloggers, who will share fascinating insights from their research, alongside contributions from permas. The editors have also put together some brief thoughts on their areas of expertise for this introductory post.

Mormonism’s Encounters with Native America in the 19th Century (David G.)

From the earliest days of Mormonism, indigenous peoples were central to Joseph Smith?s vision of the future.

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Response: J.B. Haws Answers Questions about his recent JMH article and his forthcoming book (Part II)

By November 4, 2013

We’re pleased today to welcome back J.B. Haws for Part II of our Q & A on his recent article in the JMH and his forthcoming book, The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception (Oxford, December 2013), both exploring the changing image of Mormons in American media from George Romney’s presidential run in the 1960s to his son Mitt Romney’s campaigns in the early 21st century. Last time, we focused mainly on Haws’ methods and sources. Today, we’re exploring specific aspects of his analysis and a few of his conclusions.

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Response: J.B. Haws Answers Questions about his recent JMH article and his forthcoming book (Part I)

By October 21, 2013

In August, I reviewed J.B. Haws’ recent article ?When Mormonism Mattered Less in Presidential Politics: George Romney?s 1968 Window of Possibilities?, published in the summer issue of the Journal of Mormon History. Haws, an Assistant Professor of Church History at BYU, graciously agreed to participate in a Q & A to answer some of my lingering questions and those submitted by members of the JI community. In the course of our conversation, we also discussed how the research he presented in his article is extended in his forthcoming (and highly-anticipated!) book, The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception (Oxford, December 2013), which promises to be an important and much-needed addition to our understanding of Mormonism in the contemporary period, as well as of public representations (and misrepresentations) of Mormonism across the last half of the 20th century.

JBH: I should say, by way of preface, that as I read through your questions, my reaction after every one was to think, ?Wow?great question.?  But I?m going to resist typing that every time (but just know I?m still thinking that!).  Thanks for these thoughtful and thought-provoking questions.

CHJ: Thank you, J. B.! We’re excited that you were willing to offer us some answers. So?let’s get to it!

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A Touchstone of the Past: The Face Wheel from Haun’s Mill

By September 17, 2013

Tiffany T. Bowles offers this installment in the JI’s material culture month. Tiffany is a Curator of Education at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. A native of Orem, Utah, she received a BA degree in history from BYU and an MA in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. She has worked for the National Park Service at Natchez National Historical Park in Natchez, Mississippi, and Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. In addition, she has worked at the Illinois State Military Museum and volunteered for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

On a quiet fall day in October 1838, Amanda Barnes Smith and her family busily worked to prepare a campsite on the banks of Shoal Creek in the small community of Haun’s Mill, Missouri. After a grueling journey from Kirtland, Ohio, the Smiths were relieved at the prospect of settling near others of their Latter-day Saint faith on the unfamiliar frontier.

Without warning, the contentment of the autumn afternoon was broken by the sounds of a fast approaching mob. The men of the settlement gathered in a small blacksmith shop, prepared to defend themselves and their families. Amanda Smith and two of her children “escaped across the millpond on a slab-walk,” and sought safety in “some bottom land” near the creek [1]. When the firing ceased, Amanda returned to the blacksmith shop to find her husband and one of her sons among the 17 dead.

In Latter-day Saint memory, the brutality of the massacre at Haun’s Mill epitomizes decades of persecution endured by early members of the Church. Some Latter-day Saints today commemorate and try to make sense of this defining event in Church history by looking to the power of place and visiting the location of the massacre. A visit to this site today requires a long, bumpy drive on dirt and gravel roads (a hazardous journey after a rainstorm). The site of the massacre is an open field along a shallow creek bed. The only indication of the violent events that occurred at this location is a small sign detailing the events of October 30, 1838.

Others might look to the power of objects in making sense of the Haun’s Mill tragedy. Objects have the unique ability to provide a tangible connection to the past and allow us to transform “experience into substance” [2]. Steven Lubar and Kathleen Kenrick, Curators at the National Museum of American History, describe artifacts as “the touchstones that bring memories and meanings to life” [3]. Unfortunately, since the mill on Shoal Creek was torn down in 1845, tangible ties to Haun’s Mill are rare, though interest in objects related to the massacre has spanned two centuries.

In September 1888, Church historian Andrew Jenson and colleagues Edward Stevenson and Joseph S. Black embarked on a journey to visit Church history sites across the country. At Haun’s Mill, they noted a “remnant of the old mill dam,” including “five large pieces of timber left in the middle of the creek.” They mentioned standing “upon a solid ledge of rock,” where the milldam was originally located. The group then searched for the well where those murdered in the attack had been hastily buried. The site was marked “by an old millstone, formerly belonging to Jacob Haun’s mill” [4].

Latter-day Saint photographer George Edward Anderson mentioned another millstone when he visited Haun’s Mill in May 1907. He wrote of crossing the creek and finding “one of the old millstones, which we worked out of the ground and [then moved it] down to the edge of the creek and made two or three negatives of it, putting an inscription on one side” [5]. This particular stone was later moved to a city park in Breckenridge, Missouri [6].

Just two months after George Edward Anderson’s visit to Haun’s Mill, Latter-day Saint Charles White took a seven-day trip across the state of Missouri. Along the way, he gathered “relics” at each of the sites, hoping to establish a tangible connection not only to the various locations, but to the events that transpired there. At Haun’s Mill, White recorded that he waded out into Shoal Creek and broke several pieces off of an original millstone “as a relic of the blackest crime that was ever committed in our fair country” [7].

The interest in objects related to the Haun’s Mill Massacre continued into the late 20th century, when “Cowboy” Bill Howell, a resident of the area, discovered a piece of cast iron protruding from the bank of Shoal Creek. He assumed that he had found “the metal frame for half of the waterwheel from the old mill,” and “hoped that someday he might run upon the matching other half so he could reconstruct the wheel” [8]. In April 1986, Latter-day Saint Institute of Religion instructors Newell R. Kitchen and John L. Fowles asked Cowboy Bill if he would be interested in selling the metal wheel fragment to them, which he did for $25. Kitchen and Fowles later determined that the cast iron artifact was not a wheel frame, but was actually a “face wheel,” or a gear wheel that transferred power from the waterwheel to the rest of the mill’s machinery [9]. On August 11, 1986, the men delivered the face wheel to the LDS Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, where the artifact is now displayed as the lone representative of one of the most tragic events in Church history [10].

How can this rusty piece of cast iron connect us to the events of October 30, 1838? The basic function of this face wheel gives us insight into the type of work that was done at the mill on Shoal Creek. Face wheels of this kind were common in gristmills of the time period, and gristmills were used to grind grain into flour. The probability that the mill at the Haun’s Mill settlement was a gristmill is substantiated by a statement from Latter-day Saint Ellis Eamut who recorded that non-Mormon residents of the area were initially friendly with the Saints, using “[our] mill[s] for grinding” [11]. Interestingly, Eamut mentions that they also used the mill for ‘sawing,” indicating that the mill functioned as both a gristmill and a sawmill. A study of nineteenth century mills in South Carolina states that “a saw mill could often be found at the site of a grist mill. The two could be powered by the same wheel or turbine by using different gearing” [12].

In addition to increasing our understanding of the type of work done at the mill, the face wheel artifact can also connect us to the personal stories of Haun’s Mill. Latter-day Saint convert and successful millwright Jacob Myers from Richland County, Ohio, constructed the original mill on Shoal Creek in 1836. Myers later sold the mill to Jacob Haun, and Myers’ son, Jacob Myers Jr., helped Haun operate the mill. On the day of the 1838 attack at Haun’s Mill, Jacob Myers Jr. was shot through the leg as he attempted to run from the ill-fated blacksmith shop. One of the attackers approached him with a corn cutter, intending to kill him. According to Myers’ sister, “As [the attacker] raised his arm to strike, another one of the mob called out to him and told him if he touched my brother he would shoot him,” for Myers had “ground many a grist for him” [13]. Instead of killing him, the mob carried Myers to his home. His skill as a worker at the mill had saved his life.

The rusty face wheel on display at the Church History Museum serves as a tangible connection to the early Saints, increasing our understanding of their life and times and serving as a reminder of their sacrifices and courage. In a broader sense, this artifact also represents, as a plaque near the original millstone in Breckenridge, Missouri, states, “The perpetual need for greater understanding and tolerance between all peoples” [14].

Original cast iron face wheel from Haun’s Mill on display at the Church History Museum

 George Edward Anderson 1907 photograph of original Haun’s Mill millstone, Courtesy Church Archives


[1] Journal of Amanda Barnes Smith, unpublished typescript, 3.

[2] Marguerite S. Shaffer, See America First: Tourism and National Identity, 1880-1940 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001), 265.

[3] Steven Lubar and Kathleen Kenrick, “Looking at Artifacts, Thinking about History,” Smithsonian National Museum of American History “Guide to Doing History with Objects,”

[4] “Half a Century Since,” Deseret News (October 3, 1888), 10. The “red millstone fragment” that marked the well was moved by area resident Glen E. Setzer in 1941. Setzer, unaware of the significance of the stone’s location, moved it to the site of a marker he constructed near the road (‘story of Haun’s Mill’ by the Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation, unpublished typescript, 2003, 5).

[5] Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, T. Jeffrey Cottle, and Ted D. Stoddard, eds., Church History in Black and White: George Edward Anderson’s Photographic Mission to Latter-day Saint Historical Sites (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1995), 97, as quoted in Alexander L. Baugh, “The Haun’s Mill Stone at Breckenridge,” Mormon Historical Studies 2, no. 2 (Fall 2001), 211.

[6] Baugh, “The Haun’s Mill Stone at Breckenridge,” 211.

[7] Charles White, Charles White, Journal, 1907 [typescript] MSS SC 219, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, p. 13.

[8] Newell R. Kitchen and John L. Fowles, “Finding the Haun’s Mill Face Wheel,” Mormon Historical Studies 4, no. 2 (Fall 2003), 167.

[9] Kitchen and Fowles, “Finding the Haun’s Mill Face Wheel,” 170.

[10] Artifact acquisition records, artifact number LDS 87-26, Church History Museum.

[11] Ellis Eamut, “Reminiscence,” in Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 30 October 1838, 11.

[12] Chad O. Braley, Southeastern Archaeological Services, Inc., “Mills in the Upcountry: A Historic Context, and a Summary of a Mill Site on the Peters Creek Heritage Preserve, Spartanburg County, South Carolina,” unpublished manuscript prepared for the Spartanburg Water Authority, 2005, 12.

[13] Artemisia Sidnie Myers Foote, “Reminiscences, 1850-1899,” MSS SC 999, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

[14] Historical marker at Breckenridge, Missouri City Park, dedicated May 26, 2000.

A Crash Course in Material Culture for Tourists: The Mormon Beehive

By September 16, 2013

Is this really a post about material culture? I started out thinking it would be, but I suppose it hasn’t really ended up that way as I’m not analyzing the ways in which the makers or users of these objects physically interact with them. Yet I think there’s something significant in the fact that the Mormon beehive is such a substantial physical presence, both as it is materially incorporated into so many Mormon sites and as it appears in so many of the mundane physical assertions of state power in Utah. Perhaps I’m grasping at straws in an effort to anchor myself to our monthly theme here at JI ? I’ll leave it for the readers of this post to decide!

I?ve always been a very visual person, and I take great delight in quizzing myself and the people around me on the people and pictures that we encounter in our everyday lives. I?m told it?s something of a trial to watch any BBC production with me, as every time a new character appears on screen I immediately give my fellow viewers a brief history of the actor?s previous performances and explain how their previous roles are being used to shape the audience?s reaction to the current character. (This might explain why my husband often chooses to go do something else when I turn on Masterpiece Theatre….) I do the same thing with Disney movies, and I also delighted, when I worked for the Disney Store in college and made frequent excursions to Orlando, at finding the ?hidden Mickeys? that Disney incorporates into designs all over its theme parks. It?s a shame Dan Brown isn?t better at what he does ? I?m a big fan of finding and analyzing hidden symbols… when they?re well hidden (or at least unnoticed or misunderstood by many) and worth finding anyway.

So imagine how much fun I have with the many not-so-hidden but all-too-overlooked symbols I have learned through my study of the Latter-day Saints (as evidenced here by the fact that all of the pictures below are mine, unless otherwise noted).

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Recent Comments

Ben S on What’s in a name?: “Ah, never mind. Skimmed too fast past the beginning. How embarrassing.”

Ben S on What’s in a name?: “How did you create that display?! I’d love to do something similar. I’ve looked at timeline software, and it’s all either expensive or useless.”

J. Stapley on What’s in a name?: “I'm that same boat as Ardis with the Mules. Fascinating!”

KLC on What’s in a name?: “I'm 65 and the term 'Jack Mormon' was quite common when I was growing up in the 60s and early 70s. I always understood…”

Ardis on What’s in a name?: “Am I the only one who *never* before recognized that "jack" used this way is connected to mules?? That stuns me. And delights me. I also…”

Questions on CFP: 2020 MHA Poster: “Will MHA accept proposals from students who have already sent in a proposal for a presentation or panel? If so should the poster be a…”