In my treatment of the early Mormon death conquest, I have been working on early rituals, including the antecedents to the temple liturgy we call the “endowment.” As many people know, the role of Masonic induction rituals has generated great controversy over decades. Unfortunately, there is not yet a reliable scholarly treatment of Masonry and Mormonism during Joseph Smith’s life (two separate histories are being written, but they are not yet available), so I have been forced to spend about ten pages treating Masonry and Mormonism. This is tricky territory, in large part because Masonry and Mormonism were both remarkably fluid in the period in consideration and because they both drew from an immense, highly Biblical literature and tapped into considerable creativity among non-theologians. To give a sense for how easy and dangerous it is to leap to conclusions, I offer the following example:
Four days after Christmas 1835, Joseph Smith preached a three-hour sermon after a sumptuous patriarchal blessing meeting, to a crowded congregation. He later discovered that several Presbyterians had been present as he “exposed their [Protestants' theological and ecclesiastical] abominations in the language of the scriptures.” Hoping to have converted his listeners, he prayed “that it may be like a nail in a sure place, driven by the master of assemblies.”
The language sounds an awful lot like language from Masonic rituals and employs imagery that could easily be associated with sacred building and pageantry, trademark themes for Masons. This similarity led the authors of one treatment of Mormon temple worship to propose this as strong evidence of Smith’s involvement in Masonry long before his 1842 induction into the fraternity. Jeff Lindsay countered that Smith was merely quoting Isaiah 22:23-25 and Ecclesiastes 12:11, which is true but not necessarily a convincing response (if Masons were the only people in antebellum America to use that Bible reference that way, this quotation could still be evidence of Smith’s familiarity with Masonry).
Enter googlebooks. It has become almost trivial, as long as a researcher knows the cultural background, major institutions, and major actors in a period, to answer questions like this–how often did various religious believers and agents of culture use particular scriptures or phrases in particular applications? Try, for instance,
"master of assemblies" nail sure place date:1780-1840
You will find that these phrases were used to describe potent preaching by the famous Quaker Elias Hicks, English Baptist Robert Robinson, Boston Congregationalist Samuel Green, and a wide variety of others, circulating in various editions through the period of interest. In light of these contextual sources, it becomes very difficult to maintain this commentary on a sermon as evidence of explicit Masonic influence on pre-Nauvoo Mormonism. I am continually reminded that rigorous research depends on exhausting thoroughness, the patience to chase down odds and ends, and above all to characterize the context closely. I’d be interested to hear about other examples and to hear how people are using Googlebooks in their research. I suspect that a lot of apparent parallelisms will acquire dramatically different valences once thorough contextual research begins to see the light of day.
NB: this is not meant to be a thorough treatment of Masonic Mormonism–LDS members may enjoy Lindsay’s site, and outside scholars will be left with Bullock and Brooke for the time-being–and I am not particularly supportive of flame wars on this topic. Any disrespectful or explicit references to LDS temple rites will be deleted by Steve.
 Brooke (Refiner’s Fire) is the most scholarly treatment of this topic but got way too far ahead of the documents–it’s a great history of Western hermeticism despite its other flaws. Albanese (Republic of Mind and Spirit) is largely derivative from Brooke on this specific topic (it’s a great survey). Reed Durham’s famous MHA presidential speech is not particularly scholarly or thorough, despite its legendary status among the samizdat critics. Homer’s Dialogue article is a useful beginning but has important limitations. Nick Litterski and Homer are both working on separate book-length treatments that I am eager to read when they’re available. Although I’m happy to be reminded of something I’ve overlooked, pretty much all the other treatments of Masonic Mormonism are useful only for bibliographies and historiography as a window into a later culture.
 Many 1830s Patriarchal Blessings were bestowed during “blessing meetings” that were probably modeled on Methodist agape love feast and (revivalistic) Presbyterian conference meetings, delightful encounters filled with good food, acclamations of Christian unity, and visible spirituality.
 Presbyterians represented the orthodox Reformed church in America (they merged with the Congregationalists, the other main orthodox denomination for frontier evangelism) and as such, the respectability of urban life and education. Smith’s status-conscious mother had joined the Presbyterians before his religious career began. Presbyterians would represent particularly coveted converts for the LDS, who often drew from less “respectable” groups.
 Joseph Smith Papers (Journals) 1: 139, 29 December 1835.
 Buerger, Mysteries of Godliness, 48 [I can't find my copy, so I'm relying on Lindsay's treatment for this page number].
 Lindsay, http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_masons.shtml
 This is important to emphasize. If you don’t know the difference between a Hicksite Quaker and a Unitarian, it will be very easy to misconstrue the data hits you get from googlebooks. I’m all for autodidact history, but I would emphasize the importance of carefully working through the data–think of googlebooks as a research assistant rather than a research replacement.
[first8]: see the results of the googlebooks query.
[second8] There is (almost) no ironclad proof in history. It is not impossible that Joseph Smith had in mind Masonry in December 1835, it’s just not particularly likely on the basis of documentary evidence.
 Bullock’s Revolutionary Brotherhood is an excellent book. Its discussion of Mormonism is quite limited, though, as it’s a broader history. In fact, I would recommend Bullock first to anyone interested in Masonic Mormonism, as context is critically important.