The Time Neil Armstrong Searched for Gold Plates

By July 20, 2018

It’s true: Neil Armstrong led an expedition into an Ecuadorian jungle to search for gold plates. The story begins with a Latter-day Saint mission president, an eccentric anthropologist, and an Italian Catholic missionary. It ends with Donny Osmond. And there are aliens in the middle.

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GQC Journal: Mormon Conceptions of Race

By July 17, 2018

This post is part of our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website.

The George Q. Cannon journals provide insights into Mormon conceptions of race in the nineteenth century. Cannon had a long tenure in the Quorum of the Twelve, as a counselor to different church presidents, and extensive involvement in writing and publishing. Because of this participation in church leadership and publication, Cannon’s writings show how church leaders conceived of race as the church changed and expanded during the nineteenth century. I will give a few examples here of instances in his journal where he discusses racial ideologies, but there are many more.  

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New Authors at the JI

By July 16, 2018

We are pleased to announce that we have added several new authors to our ranks! Please join us in welcoming them as perma-bloggers and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

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GQC Journal: Sealings and Adoptions

By July 9, 2018

In 1894 Wilford Woodruff stood in general conference and announced a revelation that had a larger influence on Mormon cosmology than the Manifesto. Even though most Mormons today are unaware of it, this revelation was the bedrock of twentieth century sealing and genealogical practice. I’ve written about these developments in an article on adoptive sealing rituals and in my recent volume on Mormon liturgy.

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The Journals of George Q. Cannon

By July 6, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from friend of the blog Bill Smith.

“Suppose that one of the world’s masterpieces were to disappear, leaving no trace behind it, not even a reproduction; even the completest knowledge of its maker’s other works would not enable the next generation to visualize it. All the rest of Leonardo’s oeuvre would not enable us to visualize the Mona Lisa.”— Andre Malraux

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George Q. Cannon on Brigham Young

By July 5, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from Matthew J. Grow, director of publications at the Church History Library.

I’m grateful that Juvenile Instructor is spotlighting the George Q. Cannon journal. Those of us who have worked on the Cannon journal at the Church History Department are excited that the journal is now available to all who would like to read it and use it in their own research and writing.

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Tolkien, Mormonism, and Pendle Hill

By July 3, 2018

During the first LDS mission to England, Heber C. Kimball and Joseph Fielding ventured up the Ribble Valley (I post links to the Google maps since they are too grainy when I copy them; minimize the search bar to see the whole area) after their tremendous success in Preston (Pendle Hill is the green blob north of Manchester with the word “Nelson” on it). Their success continued especially at Chatburn (at the top of the first map) where townsfolk requested that Kimball preach to them and where Kimball ended up baptizing twenty-five people the night of his first visit.[1] Kimball later said, “My hair would rise on my head as I walked through the streets, and I did not know then what was the matter with me. I pulled off my hat, and felt that I wanted to pull off my shoes, and I did not know what to think of it.” When Kimball told Joseph Smith of this experience, Smith replied, “Did you not understand it? That is a place where some of the old Prophets traveled and dedicated that land, and their blessing rested upon you.”[2]

Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England

Looming above Chatburn is Pendle Hill, which does have a very interesting religious history. In 1652, George Fox felt impressed to climb Pendle Hill: “There atop the hill,” said Fox, “I was moved to sound the day of the Lord; and the Lord let me see atop of the hill in what places he had a great people to be gathered.”[3] Quakers mark that event as the beginning of the movement.

On the other side of the hill is the Pendle Forest (not really a forest; that meant a traditional hunting ground where in the Middle Ages people weren’t supposed to live) the events that led to England’s most famous witch trial occurred. Witches are a major part of the tourist industry of the region. The region was also the most Catholic area in England after the Reformation. That plus the abundance of Methodist churches in the area makes the Pendle Hill region sort of the overflowing microcosm of all the factors that led to early Mormon conversion according to my research. [4]

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George Q. Cannon and the Gilded Age

By July 2, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from Jed Woodworth. Jed currently works at the Church History Library.

The quarter century between the end of Reconstruction and the U.S. presidency of Theodore Roosevelt stands out as a great anomaly. As John Pettegrew has observed, it is the only periodization in American history with a pejorative title. Other periods have been given benign or complementary monikers like “Early National America” or the “Progressive Era.” Not so with the Gilded Age. That historians adopted the name of the satirical 1873 novel written by Charles Dudley Warner and Mark Twain speaks to the problematic character of this period. Excess, tawdriness, and corruption have come to define this time.

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The value to historians of the now-complete online journal of George Q. Cannon

By June 29, 2018

This post in our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website, comes from Richard Rust. Richard, who was a Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, assisted in the work of the George Q. Cannon journals.

As is noted on the website of The Journal of George Q. Cannon,

next to Brigham Young, George Q. Cannon was arguably the best-known Latter-day Saint in the last half of the nineteenth century. His record covers half a century, a period in which he served as an editor and publisher, a businessman, an educator, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a territorial delegate in Congress, and a counselor to church presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow.

The vast majority of Cannon’s journal has never been publicly available before. The online publication of Cannon’s journal includes roughly 2.5 million words and opens up new insight and understanding into the Mormon past. The journal, however, should not be seen just from the vantage point of Mormon history—it ranks as one of the most voluminous and valuable journals in American religious history. Cannon’s broad interests, extensive connections with people both within and outside of the Latter-day Saint faith, and cogent observations will also make his journal of particular interest to scholars and students of western U.S. history and U.S. political history. With journal entries covering the mundane to the miraculous, the interactions of his large family to the dynamics of Congress, and his private religious practices to his leadership in a variety of ecclesiastical settings, Cannon’s record deserves deep study.

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Scholarly Inquiry: W. Paul Reeve, A Century of Black Mormons Project

By June 29, 2018

W. Paul Reeve is Simmons Professor of Mormon Studies at the University of Utah. He directs the digital history project “Century of Black Mormons.”

This weekend the University will sponsor “Black, White and Mormon II,” the second conference on race in the modern LDS Church the University’s Mormon Studies initiative has sponsored.  We approached Reeve with a number of questions about the “Century of Black Mormons” project.

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