The Juvenile Instructor turns 5 today

By October 26, 2012

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since that fateful day at J-Dawgs when five lowly BYU students decided to start a blog devoted to the academic study of Mormon history. Yup, that’s right. The Juvenile Instructor turns 5 today. We’ve added new bloggers (there’s 25 of us now! 25!), regretfully said goodbye to a couple of others, and grown and developed and (hopefully) improved during that time. I’ll offer my own belief that the JI is bigger and better and stronger than it’s ever been. And a lot of that has to do with you, our readers. Among the most regular comments I hear from people about the JI is how much they appreciate and enjoy the quality of conversation that goes on in the comments section, and I tend to agree. For those that have been with us since the beginning, thanks for sticking around. And for those who only recently found the blog, thanks for stopping by. We hope you’ll visit often.

As we did on our 2nd anniversary, we thought it’d be fun to share with you all a little more about us. We hope you’ll tell us more about yourself, when you started reading the JI, etc. in the comments. Thanks again, everyone!

Matt Bowman

Current school/occupation: Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion, Hampden-Sydney College
Started blogging at JI: April 2008
Current Research Interests/Projects: Dissertation about evangelical engagement with urban culture in turn of the century NYC, and how that produced fundamentalism and Protestant liberalism.
Favorite thing about JI: The quality of posts, especially ones about cat massacres.

Brett Dowdle

Current school/occupation: PhD Student, History, Texas Christian University; longtime research assistant for Ron Walker
Started blogging at JI: August 2008
Current Research Interests/Projects: My undefined and vague dissertation topic will be on the struggle over federal control versus democratic rule in Utah, 1850-1910.

Steve Fleming

Current school/occupation: PhD Candidate, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Started blogging at JI: June 2009
Current Research Interests/Projects: I’m currently working on my dissertation: “The Presence of God: Early Mormonism and Christian Platonism,” and hope to be done this summer.

Rachael Givens

Current school/occupation: PhD student, History, University of Virginia (to begin Fall 2012); currently working at Church public affairs in SLC;
Started blogging at JI: August 2012
Current Research Interests/Projects: gender and theology in socio-political debates of Enlightenment Europe, and Mormon miscellanea
Favorite thing about JI: an awesome model of freely shared information in a network of friendships and camaraderie

David Grua

Current school/occupation: PhD Candidate, History, Texas Christian University
Started blogging at JI: October 2007
Current Research Interests/Projects: I’m broadly interested in the North American West, Native America, memory and historical justice, and Mormonism. My dissertation examines contested memorializations of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 and indigenous participation in shaping American public memory. My Mormon history-related research focuses on contested memorializations of the Missouri persecutions.
Favorite thing about JI: It’s the best site out there dedicated solely to Mormon history. By “best” I mean both the content and the people involved.

Tona Hangen

Current school/occupation: Assistant Professor US History, Worcester State University
Started blogging at JI: August 2011
Current Research Interests/Projects: radio/media in American Christianity, “segregation academies” in the post-1954 South, history pedagogy
Favorite thing about JI: no archives or tag cloud in the sidebar. i.e. we don’t pretend to be a journal. Nonetheless, extraordinarily high quality of posts & discussion.

Amanda Hendrix-Komoto

Current school/occupation: PhD Candidate, History, University of Michigan
Started blogging at JI: February 2012
Current Research Interests/Projects: Mormon missionary work in Britain and the United States, Sexuality and Gender, Eugenics and Race, Sex Crime
Favorite thing about JI: The Backboards! And, the cohort of lovely lady historians that is developing.

Crissy Hutchison-Jones

Current school/occupation: PhD; Religious and Theological Studies, Boston University; currently an administrator in the Office of the Provost at Harvard University.
Started blogging at JI: September 2012.
Current Research Interests/Projects: Representations of Mormonism in American culture from 1890 to the present; representations of minorities in the US; religious intolerance in the US, esp. anti-Mormonism and anti-Catholicism.
Favorite thing about JI: Ditto.

Robin Jensen

Current school/occupation: PhD student, History, University of Utah; Project archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers project.
Started blogging at JI: December 2011
Current Research Interests/Projects: Joseph Smith-era Mormonism, Mormon record keeping, sacred texts of Mormonism, LDS Church Historians Office, Mormonism’s schisms, 1830-1860.
Favorite thing about JI: Smart people who write smart things and who happen to be all-around great people.

Edje Jeter

Current school/occupation: High school Physics teacher
Started blogging at JI: June 2008
Current Research Interests/Projects: Lived Mormonism in early-1900s Texas-Kansas; early (1898 on) sister missionaries; science fiction and fantasy literature in high-school science pedagogy.
Favorite thing about JI: since I dropped out of the career in History (at least for now), JI is where I get my history fix.

Janiece Johnson

Current school/occupation: PhD Student, History, University of Leicester, England; General Editor Mountain Meadows Legal Papers at Church History Library.
Started blogging at JI: August 2012.
Current research: Mormon identity and Mountain Meadows Massacre Prosecution and a variety of smalled women’s history projects.
Favorite thing about JI: I enjoy the backchannel camaraderie.

Christopher Jones

Current school/occupation: PhD candidate, Early American History, The College of William and Mary
Started blogging at JI: October 2007
Current Research Interests/Projects: I’m currently researching and writing a dissertation that explores the growth and development of Methodism in North America and the Caribbean, 1760-1815. My current research on Mormonism includes a continuation of my earlier research on early Mormon converts and their religious backgrounds. 
Favorite thing about JI: The community and connections. The other JI bloggers are among my best friends and I look up to each of them as model scholars. The community of bloggers, readers, and commenters at JI has helped my scholarly research and intellectual curiosities time and time again over the past 5 years, and I am take real pride in the quality of discussion that occurs at JI.

Joel Miyasaki

Current school/occupation: PhD Candidate, History, University of Illinoin Urbana-Champaign
Started blogging at JI: March 2008
Current Research Interests/Projects: My dissertation examines the internment of Japanese Americans from the perspective of U.S. Empire, but I am broadly interested in the History of Asian Americans and Mormonism.
Favorite thing about JI: That we premier serious scholarship on the history of Mormonism without the re-litigating the same old Mormon/anti-Mormon binaries of the past.

Max Perry Mueller

Current school/occupation: PhD candidate at Harvard in the Study of Religion
Started blogging at JI: February 2010
Current Research Interests/Projects: Writing a dissertation on Mormon conceptions of race in the 19th century.
Favorite thing about JI: A critical and supportive community of scholars studying the Mormon tradition.

Benjamin Park

Current school/occupation: PhD Candidate, The University of Cambrdige
Started blogging at JI: October 2007
Current Research Projects/Interests: the local productions of nationalism in early America, 1783-1832; the Transcendentalist movement; early Mormon thought and ritual; the LDS succession period; political theologies.
Favorite thing about JI: the community of bloggers, commenters, and administrators who share similar interests; the camaraderie of young scholars working together to help each other out even while dispersed across the nation (and lately, the broader Atlantic); the large think tank that allows me to keep abreast of developments and news in a field in which, while not my primary research topic, I maintain a deep interest.

Andrea Radke-Moss

Current school/occupation: Brigham Young University-Idaho; Professor of History
Started Blogging at JI: February 2012
Current Research Interests/Projects: Mormon women and the violence in Missouri; Mormon women and birthdays; Western women (currently researching Montana women) at the Chicago World’s Fair.
What I like most about JI: feeling intimidated by all of the knowledge oozing from you Young Guns.

Jenny Reeder

Current school/occupation: PhD candidate, American History, George Mason University
Started blogging at JI: August 2012
Current Research Interests/Projects: I’m currently teaching Western Civilization and dissertating: “Doing Something Extraordinary: Mormon Women and the Creation of a Usable Past.” Other research interests include 19th century Mormon women, material culture, Relief Society.
Favorite thing about JI: The camaraderie and support from around the world.

Nate Ricks

Current school/occupation: Currently a middle school and community college history instructor.
Started blogging at JI: August 2012
Current Research Interests/Projects: Joseph F. Smith’s first British Mission (1860-63); developing an interest in JFS’ half-brother, Patriarch John Smith
Favorite thing about JI: I love that everyone has such diverse research interests within (and without) the umbrella of Mormonism.

Tod Robbins

Current school/occupation: I just completed a MLIS from the University of Washington Information School (2012) and now work as the Digital Collections Librarian, Bonneville Communications.
Started blogging at JI: July 2012
Current Research Interests/Projects: Dictionary of Mormon Biography (; Early Provo wards; New Jersey branches/New Jersey saints on the Ship Brooklyn; building a DIY book scanner for Mormon Studies.
Favorite thing about JI: Fresh ideas and good humour. I also think the original Juvenile Instructor’s spirit of experimentation and holistic topical coverage carries over with us. Yay adjectives!

Ardis Smith

Current school/occupation: Currently in Consultation Services at the LDS Church History Library and Archives. Started blogging for JI: March 2009
Current Research Interests/Projects: Mid-twentieth century British civil rights; European LDS Church history. Favorite thing about JI: an intellectual yet constructive community of historians.

Jonathan Stapley

Current school/occupation: Executive at a technology firm.
Started blogging at JI: July 2012 [note: J. has really been with us from the beginning as site designer/administrator, our most regular commenter, and one of our biggest supporters]
Current Research Interests/Projects: Mormon liturgy, ritual and conceptions of authority. Mormon lived religion. Antebellum Christian Healing.
Favorite thing about JI: The website design. Also the brilliant community that is constantly making me a better researcher and historian. Thanks all.

Steve Taysom

Current school/occupation: Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Cleveland State University
Started blogging at JI: January 2008
Current Research Interests/Projects: Exorcism, Joseph F. Smith biography.
Favorite thing about JI: One of the very few serious historical blogs on Mormonism.

Stanley Thayne

Current School: PhD Student, Religious Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
Started blogging at JI: Present at the inception of the JI at J-Dawgs in October 2007.
Current Research Interests/Projects: Native American Christianity; Indigeneity; race, religion, and ethnic identity; ethnography of religion; religion in the American West; Mormonism.
Favorite thing about JI: Christopher’s posts. Also, Christopher filling out this answer for me when I forgot to do so myself.

Ryan Tobler

Current school/occupation: MA Student, University of Chicago; LDS Public Affairs.
Started blogging at JI: February 2009
Current Research Interests/Projects: Baptism for the dead, Mormonism in the historiography of American religion; Mormon/American lived religion.
Favorite things about JI: Great blend of friendship, diversity, and civility.

Jordan Watkins

Current school/occupation: PhD Candidate, History, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Started blogging at JI:February 2008
Current Research Interests/Projects: I am currently working on a dissertation measuring antebellum historical consciousness through an examination of biblical and constitutional hermeneutics. In this vein, I am also interested in early Mormon historical consciousness and, more specifically, in the historical aspects of early defenses and critiques of Mormon polygamy
Favorite thing about JI: It’s tolerance of negligent JIers.

Article filed under Announcements and Events Miscellaneous



    Comment by Tod R. — October 26, 2012 @ 9:04 am

  2. I’m pleased to have been one of the founders of the JI and that what we built has not only persisted, but grown.

    Comment by Jared T. — October 26, 2012 @ 9:26 am

  3. Congratulations! JI is a thoroughly useful and educational resource.

    Comment by Amy T — October 26, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  4. Kudos y’all.

    Comment by Randy B. — October 26, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  5. I’ve only been following JI for a little more than a year, I’m embarrassed to confess. But it’s since emerged as one of the very few sites I enjoy consulting on a daily (and sometimes more often) basis. Congratulations!

    Comment by Gary Bergera — October 26, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  6. Happy anniversary, baby
    Got you on my mind…

    Comment by Kevin Barney — October 26, 2012 @ 12:46 pm


    Comment by Liz — October 26, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

  8. Thanks for the great work and the reminder that all great things come from J-Dawgs!

    Comment by Alex — October 26, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

  9. You’re freaking me out! Five years??? Really? Holy crap, that makes me….so much older than you folks.

    I will add that right from the start you have produced high quality stuff, and it’s never let up. As one without academic credentials, I love listening in on your discussions about doing history. It’s the grad school I never went to. It’s so much cheaper this way, no student loan debt!

    You are now one of only three LDS blogs that I read and comment at regularly. Keep it up, at least 5 more years!

    Comment by kevinf — October 26, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  10. Thanks, Chris, for putting this together and to everyone for the kind words. It has been interesting to see the blog grow and expand, even as the original five have left BYU to “study abroad.”

    Comment by David G. — October 26, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  11. A great five years it has been — everyone could see JI had a lot to offer right from the beginning. Keep up the fine work.

    Comment by Dave — October 26, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  12. […] a little homage to my former blog home, I’m launching this blog on October 26, 2012, the five year anniversary of the founding of the […]

    Pingback by Welcome to Mormon Church History, An Academic Blog | Mormon Church History — October 27, 2012 @ 1:15 am

  13. Congrats!

    Comment by Max — October 27, 2012 @ 7:24 am

  14. Go team!

    Comment by Edje Jeter — October 27, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

  15. wow…! Congrats guys (even though it belated). JI is really a great blog for people like myself, who get most of our (church) history details from ” anti’s ” sites. thank God I stumbled upon JI last year & trust me, my life has never been the same… thanks guys.

    Comment by FrancisE. — October 28, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  16. Very good blog with very bright bloggers. I’ve been reading for about a year or so, but I don’t contribute to the comments, well, besides this one. I just wanted to congratulate the blog on this milestone and wish you many many more years of excellent discussions.

    Comment by Todd — November 2, 2012 @ 3:37 pm


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