By July 30, 2018
Reproduced below are excerpts from my review of Angela Pulley Hudson’s Real Native Genius: How An Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015, which appeared in the most recent issue of Mormon Historical Studies. MHS kindly granted me permission to post these excerpts.
Angela Pulley Hudson’s Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians, winner of the Evans Biography Award, is an engrossing dual biography of former-slave Warner McCary and his white wife, Lucy Stanton. Before this book, Mormon historians had known the McCarys primarily for their schismatic religious group in Winter Quarters and for their contribution to the development of the race-based priesthood and temple ban. Hudson, an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University, demonstrates in Real Native Genius that the McCarys’ Winter Quarters imbroglio was just one chapter in the lives of the couple, who subsequently reinvented themselves as “professional Indians”—Choctaw chief Okah Tubbee and Mohawk princess Laah Ceil Manatoi Tubbee—first as famous traveling performers and then as “Indian” medical practitioners. Hudson uses the couple’s gaudy lives as a window into the concept of “Indianness,” which she defines as “a wide-ranging set of ideas about how American Indians looked, talked, lived, and loved” (5). Real Native Genius is therefore one of a growing number of works that explore ways that Mormon history can illuminate broader themes in American history and culture.
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.
By July 5, 2018
This is the second installment in the JI’s fourth annual summer book club. This year we are reading Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). Check back every Thursday for the week’s installment! Please follow the JI on Facebook and Twitter!
Several years ago, I worked as a TA for a class on Mormonism and the American Experience. Towards the end of the course, the professor dedicated a week for reading excerpts from recent, groundbreaking scholarship—in contrast to the classic historiography which had largely dominated the class. My assignment was to survey several books to recommend possible excerpts for an undergraduate class. When I came to On Zion’s Mount, one of the chapters I recommended was chapter two, “Brigham Young and the Famine of the Fish-Eaters.” Now, nearly ten years later, I was eager to see if my earlier enthusiasm for this chapter was justified. I am happy to report that if anything I am more enthralled with Farmer’s research, methods, and conclusions now than I was as a TA.
By July 4, 2018
NOTE: The original version of this post was based, in part, on faulty research, for which I take full blame. What appears below is a revised version (with a slightly modified title). There is no documentation identifying either Francis or Martha Grice as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Believing, however, that the source shared below is still sufficiently interesting and important, I’m keeping the post. A copy of the original can be seen here.
I’ve been slowly making my way through Paul Ortiz’s new book, An African American and Latinx History of the United States. In a chapter on the Cuban Solidarity Movement of the 1860s through the 1890s, Ortiz quotes an 1873 letter from “an African American in Salt Lake City,” published in the black-owned newspaper, The Elevator. Curious to learn more (and anxious to see if there were any clues where the SLC correspondent was a Latter-day Saint), I searched for the original letter in the digitized version of the paper (courtesy of the California Digital Newspaper Collection), and to my great delight, discovered that it was written by Francis H. Grice, a “mulatto” artist, miner, and restauranteur who moved to Salt Lake City in 1871.
By June 21, 2018
Back by popular demand, the Juvenile Instructor will be hosting its Fourth Annual Summer Book Club in 2018! This year’s book is Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard UP, 2008). The selection of Farmer’s book continues our ongoing emphasis on biography. The first two years, we read and discussed Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling and then Newell and Avery’s Mormon Enigma, biographies of Mormonism’s founding couple. Last year, we read Ulrich’s A House Full of Females, a group biography of several women (and a few men) of the movement’s first generation. On Zion’s Mount is perhaps best understood as the biography of a place—Mount Timpanogos—and how it became such a prominent landmark in Utah.
By June 18, 2018
Hokulani K. Aikau’s book, A Chosen People, A Promised Land, published in 2012, is an important work on Mormonism in the Pacific, addressing the colonial legacy of the church and its racial ideologies. Back in 2013 here on this blog, Aikau’s work was listed as an important work in Mormon history and the history of indigenous peoples. But the Juvenile Instructor blog has never had a full review of Aikau’s book published. In order to fix this error, this post includes a portion of my review of Aikau’s book that was just published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Mormon History.
By June 13, 2018
Black, White, and Mormon II:
A Conference on Race in the LDS Church Since the 1978 Revelation
- June 29-30, 2018
- Salt Lake City Library, Nancy Tessman Auditorium
On 8 June 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Spencer W. Kimball’s revelation extending the lay priesthood to “all worthy male members… without regard for race or color.” To mark this event and analyze the Mormon Church’s ongoing efforts to achieve racial equality, the Tanner Humanities Center will host a multidisciplinary conference in collaboration with the College of Humanities’ Simmons Mormon Studies Professor Paul Reeve. This follows their 2015 conference on Mormonism and race that received national and international press coverage.
This conference will include scholarly and community panels to examine themes and issues about how the LDS Church sustains an ever-increasing multiracial and multicultural membership and the impact of doctrinal change at the grassroots.
Speakers include Darius Gray, Alice Burch, Ahmad Corbitt, Wain Myers, and LeShawn Williams, among many others, with a cultural celebration with Marj Desuis.
This conference is sponsored by the Charles Redd Center, BYU; LDS Church History Department; Gregory Prince; Smith-Petit Foundation; W. Paul Reeve, Simmons Professor of Mormon Studies, University of Utah; Tanner Humanities Center, University of Utah, and Jon and Philip Lear.
More information and a complete schedule can be found here.https://thc.utah.edu/lectures-programs/mormon-studies-initiative/black-white-mormon.php
By May 7, 2018
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments surrounding President Trump’s travel ban. The arguments centered around whether the president had authority to issue such a ban, whether the ban targeted Muslims, and how long the ban would last. Public responses have fallen largely into two camps: that the ban is a continuation of presidential campaign prejudice against Muslims, or that the ban protects national security based on confidential information.
A telling article in the Salt Lake Tribune last week gave some historical context for the Supreme Court situation. During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the removal of Japanese-Americans to internment camps because of a potential threat to national security. Fred Korematsu refused to be removed, was arrested, and argued that the order was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that the executive order was constitutional and that national security took precedence over protection against racial prejudice. This court case was not the only source of presidential authority over national security in relation to race and migration, but it was a symbolically important one.
“Forty years later,” Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke writes, “an attorney named Dale Minami persuaded a court to vacate the conviction [against Korematsu] based on new evidence that the government had lied about the ground for the interment order.” In 1983, Korematsu won an appeal against the original Supreme Court decision, and in 1988 the federal government issued $20,000 in reparations to each surviving interned Japanese-American.
So, what does this court case mean for today’s travel ban? And why are you reading it on a Mormon History blog?
By May 2, 2018
Brian Q. Cannon, ??To Buy Up the Lamanite Children as Fast as They Could?: Indentured Servitude and Its Legacy in Mormon Society,? Journal of Mormon History 44, no. 2 (Apr. 2018):1-35.
The most recent issue of the Journal of Mormon History has arrived in mailboxes and it is a very strong number. We?ll be highlighting many of the articles over the next few weeks, starting with the Presidential Address of outgoing president, Brian Q. Cannon. His piece, ??To Buy Up the Lamanite Children as Fast as They Could?: Indentured Servitude and Its Legacy in Mormon Society,? examines the white Mormon entanglement with the 19th-century Indian slave trade, a system that emerged in the violence of Spanish colonization of the Great Basin. As Native nations such as the Utes acquired horses, they began raiding non-equestrian tribes and capturing women and children, who were then sold as slaves in New Mexico and California. After the Mormons? arrival in the Great Basin, they found themselves drawn unwillingly into the trade, leading to the purchase of captive children, and in 1852 the Utah Territorial Legislature legalized the trade as an indenture system of unfree labor, albeit one with extensive requirements for the education and good treatment of the indentures.
By March 26, 2018
This is the first of three posts on Max Perry Mueller’s Race and the Making of the Mormon People. Today’s post comes from Jessica Nelson, who recently completed an MS in history at Utah State University. She is interested in race and Mormonism in the twentieth century and loves riding her stationary bike.
Max Perry Mueller?s book Race and the Making of the Mormon People actively and deliberately engages with the Book of Mormon. This is significant, and I hope that other scholars will follow suit and take the words of the Book of Mormon?along with its 19th century context and what it represents to Mormonism?seriously in their work. Mueller rightly demonstrates that the Book of Mormon?s stories of racial lineages are critically important to understanding racial constructs in early Mormonism.
Readers familiar with the Book of Mormon will be able to recognize that Mueller carefully read Mormonism?s foundational text. After finishing Mueller?s conclusion, however, I am left wondering how useful textual analysis and literary criticisms of the Book of Mormon are to fully understand race in nineteenth-century Mormonism. How central are Mormon scriptures to Mormon conceptions of racial otherness and whiteness? Can the Nephites as ?white? people within the Book of Mormon be problematized any more than the simplistic way that Mueller references them? Did nineteenth-century white Mormons even think of the Nephites as ?white? like they were? The Book of Mormon is inherently problematic as primary source material, but evaluating Mueller?s claims begs further examination of scripture and the characters in it.