With the relatively successful reception of the purple and blue cover of last fall, the folks at the Mormon History Association decided to rock our worlds with innovation: blue and purple.
1. Barbara G. Walden and Margaret Rastle, “Restoring, Preserving, and Maintaining the Kirtland Temple: 1880-1920.”
Mormons have a lot of misconceptions about the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) church and Walden and Rastle offer a great service in describing in great detail the life of the Kirtland Temple. The authors show how the RLDS church committed itself to the restoration and maintenance of the temple. Lots of great pictures too.
26. Samuel Brown, “The Translator and the Ghostwriter: Joseph Smith and W. W. Phelps.”
I thought the name of this author sounded familiar, but there was nary a “geonecromancy” or “sacerdotal genealogy” to be found in this article. Still, it is a fine essay on Joseph and W. W.’s relationship with extra emphasis on their linguistic quests for transcendence, both spiritually and socially. Ever read those long and bizarre multilingual asides in documents attributed to Joseph? Yeah.
63. Nancy J. Anderson, “Horace Ephraim Roberts: Pioneering Pottery in Nauvoo and Provo.”
Have you ever wondered about the table settings of our religious progenitors? If there were nothing better, potters would make do with red brick clay, which was plentiful in Nauvoo. However, there were four different clay types in Nauvoo and Horace Roberts was a skilled artisan, so he likely went for the higher end offerings. This paper follows Roberts from his conversion and baptism, through Nauvoo and to Utah. Freaks you out a bit to watch someone supplying entire regions with kitchenware buy lead by the cart and coat his products with it. I wish they had included some photos.
82. Kim B. Östman, “The Mormon Espionage Scare and Its Coverage in Finland, 1982-84.”
I think some Mormons were surprised by the anti-Mormon sentiment that washed over the country during the recent Republican primaries. Now imagine a place and time where Neal A. Maxwell, avatar of alliteration and erstwhile CIA agent, is believed to be directing the systematic collection of political information on an entire country’s citizens. Further that country’s Mormons are learning Russian so that when the Soviet Union ultimately collapses, they can take control of the empire. Östman, who has a great paper with BCC, and is (I think) hosting the EMSA conference, really is doing great work on Mormonism in Finland. This paper gets into the nitty gritty of Mormonism’s clumsy evangelism in the country which straddled the Iron Curtain.
118. John-Charles Duffy, “The Use of ‘Lamanite’ in Official LDS Discourse.”
I know I shouldn’t have, but I thought this was going to be more of the same stuff we always hear. I was delighted that Duffy approached this history with some context that I believe has been lacking in conversation on this topic. How many people would lose their testimony if you told them that indeed, despite the fact that the Church has told them they are descendants of Ephraim, they in fact have no actual Hebrew genetic code in their DNA? Duffy offers a nice overview with the crescendo of the usage and Lamanite-centricity of certain policies and the post-Kimball decline.
168. Kylie Nielson Turley, “Yesharah: Society for LDS Sister Missionaries.”
There was a time that BYU had fraternities. When the club which included both male and female returned missionaries split and the men formed a chapter of the Friars in 1929, the ladies were left out. So they started their own society (replete with initiatory rites). It is still around. Surprising, eh? They are a bit strapped for members, but there is some fascinating history surrounding the life of this organization whose name is Hebrew for “strait, right, just, righteous, good or pleasing.” Turley delivers.
204. Reid L. Harper, “Backcountry Missionaries in the Post-Bellum South: Thomas Ephraim Harper’s Experience.”
Most people have seen that image of B. H. Roberts in disguise. We still hear of terrible violence against missionaries, today. Still, the American missionaries in the South at the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries faced challenges that are quite surprising. Harper uses his grandfather’s diaries to shed additional light on this time. One of the most fascinating aspects of this study was Harper’s showing how missionaries secluded themselves in the countryside where the work wasn’t at all effective doing the same thing over and over for decades. Sound familiar?
233. Richard H. Cracroft, “‘The Assault of Laughter’: The Comic Attack on Mormon Polygamy in Popular Literature.”
Cracroft highlights six different comic artists, who in the nineteenth century capitalized on the Mormon penchant for unorthodox connubial relations. And really, how could you pass it up? The author gives examples from all six and contrasts their styles. While you can’t quantify the effect of comic attack on Mormonism, the author shows that these people wielded great power over public perception.
263. Alan Barnett reviews Lowell C. Bennion, et al., Polygamy in Lorenzo Snow’s Brigham City: An Architectural Tour.
Positive review. Perhaps not as tight and consistent as the reviewer hoped, but and meaty and important study.
264. David Earl Johnson reviews Reid L. Neilson and Ronald Walker, eds., Reflections of a Mormon Historian: Leonard J. Arrington on the New Mormon History.
Positive review. Everybody loves Arrington.
269. Ronald O. Barney reviews Will Evans, Along the Navajo Trails: Recollections of a Trader, 1898-1948.
Somewhat positive review. “Despite its weakness, this is an important volume for both Mormons and Navajos interested in the maintenance and recovery of the past.”
271. Jacob W. Olmstead reviews Terryl L. Givens, The Latter-day Saint Experience in America.
Positive review. Nice introductory text on the Mormon Church. Not history and a bit expensive, but good.
274. Shannon P. Flynn reviews Colleen Whitney, ed., From the Ground Up: The History of Mining in Utah.
Positive review. Some snoozer chapters and some scientific/technical material (a positive for me), but overall a very helpful and insightful history.