New (and loaded) Issue of Mormon Historical Studies

By April 3, 2013

If you haven’t noticed, we have a proliferation of Mormon history journals. So much so, in fact, that it is difficult to keep up. (One way to stay on top of things: the forthcoming Mormon Studies Review!) That’s where your friends at JI come in with our journal recaps.

One journal that unfortunately is often overlooked is Mormon Historical Studies, edited by Alex Baugh. This is unfortunate, because it is often the most “nerdy” and over-specialized of the journals–and I mean that as the highest compliment. When it comes to straight history, this journal often carries strong work, and its pages often smell of archival research. The most recent issue is no exception; in fact, it is perhaps one of the strongest issues they have published to day, partly because it is a combined issue for the entire 2012 year (they often publish two issues a year). Below are the contents, with a little commentary by yours truly.

Samuel Brown, “Reconsidering Lucy Mack Smith’s Folk Magic Confession.”

  • Sam, a friend of JI, has already established himself as one of the leading historians on early LDS thought, and he uses his talents to address a fascinating phrase in Lucy Mack Smith’s memoir. In doing so, he says really smart things about Mormonism, magic, faith, and identity. 

Matthew Godfrey, “‘Seeking after Monarchical power and Authority’: Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831-1832.”

  • After becoming an important voice in unearthing 20th century LDS history, Godfrey recently joined the Joseph Smith Papers as an editor. This artilce is a thoughtful look at ecclesiastical and authority changes in early Mormonism–a topic that is still extremely murky despite the attention it has received in the past.

Thomas Wayment, “Joseph Smith’s Description of Paul the Apostle.”

  • Wayment, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU, examines Joseph Smith’s quixotic statement concerning the likeness of Paul, and shows how Smith was both familiar with and reliant upon 19th century biblical commentaries.

Brian C. Hales, “Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives after the Martyrom.”

  • Continuing his streak of publishing at least one article on Joseph Smith’s polygamy every year for what seems like a century, Hales (whose 3 volume book on the topic was recently released) challenges and nuances Tod Compton’s description of the lives of JS’s plural wives after the martyrdom.

Nathan H. Williams, interviewer, “Challenging the Model: Reflections of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.”

  • How could you not be interested in an interview with the most successful and skilled historian who happens to be Mormon?

Robin Scott Jensen, “Joseph Smith’s Chronicler: An Interview with Dean C. Jessee.”

  • The most knowledgeable archivist of JS’s history in the Church, Jessee, is interviewed by his successor, Rob. Can’t get much better than that.

Elder Steven E. Snow, “Not So Long Ago.”

  • Cursious about our new Church Historian? Well, here are some of his reflections on history.

There is also plenty of other stuff, including fascinating looks of LDS historic sites in Richmon, Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois and southern Alberta, an 1889 Joseph F. Smith letter to Susa Young Gates, a recap of the important commemoration of the 1912 Mormon exodus from Mexico, as well as solid book reviews of the Joseph Smith Papers (by Hobson Woodward), Anderson’s The Development of LDS Temple Worship (by Dustin Naegle), Dinger’s The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (by Brady Winslow), Pykles’s Excavating Nauvoo (by Scott Esplin), and Neilson’s Exhibiting Mormonism (by Robert Rydell).

Like I said: the issue is packed with good stuff. Perhaps we’ll highlight some of the specific articles in the future.

Happy reading!

Article filed under Book and Journal Reviews


  1. Proud to say that I played a moderatly-sized role in the publication of Sam Brown’s work.

    Comment by Russell Stevenson — April 3, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

  2. Looks like an awesome issue. Thanks for the recap, Ben!

    Comment by Jenny — April 3, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

  3. This looks fantastic!

    Comment by Amanda HK — April 3, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

  4. This looks great. Congrats to MHS on another solid issue and to the many contributors. Thanks for the write-up, Ben.

    Comment by Christopher — April 4, 2013 @ 3:43 am

  5. Your description of Hales’ article is grammatically unsettling.

    Comment by Nathan Whilk — April 4, 2013 @ 8:44 am

  6. Nathan: you know what? YOU’RE GRAMATICALLY UNSETTLING!!!

    (Also, thanks; I was apparently in a rush to finish and added a few unnecessary words, which has now been fixed.)

    Comment by Ben P — April 4, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  7. Thanks for the reminder that a new issue is due in my mailbox. I discovered MHS about three years ago–I subscribed for one article–and I’m still reading it. Good work, Alex.

    Comment by Susan W H — April 4, 2013 @ 10:43 am


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