Journal of Mormon History 34 (Spring 2008)

It just so happens that this week, in Sacramento, is the 2008 Mormon History Association annual conference. A number of regulars will be attending and/or presenting. Should be great fun (let’s hope we have no emergency kidney stone passings). MHA also produces the Journal of Mormon History, in all its chromofenestrative glory. The Spring 2008 issue brings us back to last year’s MHA conference in Salt Lake, as several of the papers were delivered there.

1. William Deverell, “Thoughts from the Farther West: Mormons, California, and the Civil War.”
Deverell delivered this paper as last year’s Tanner Lecture – the annual presentation on Mormon history by prominent nonMormon historians. Deverall hails from USC and offers a well written call to arms for inclusion of Mormon history in the broader history of the West and of the US. So tired are we of the donut hole. Well worth the read.

20. Marlin K. Jensen, “LDS Church History: Past, Present, and Future.”
Elder Jensen is the Church Historian and delivered this paper at one of last year’s luncheons. I missed it, so was glad that the JMH reprinted it. I did, however, attend the session right after that included presentations by folks from the History Dept (here is some of the discussion surrounding the presentations), which covered some of the similar topics, including a somewhat controversial new mission statement. I called the History Dept. when I wrote the previous post to which I linked and asked for a copy of the new mission statement. They weren’t ready to circulate it, but it is included in Jensen’s paper. Jensen walks us through the various Church Historians and offices which they used. He doesn’t really acknowledge any of the controversial aspects of certain changes, but he does offer an excellent brief chronological history of the historians. The last section of Jensen’s paper treats the new History Library – I am encouraged, but still worry for the deprofessionalization of the Archives. Since this paper was given, the First Presidency has separated the Family History and Church History Departments, which development is not covered in this publication.

43. Carol Freeman Braby, “Hannah S. Jenkins: RLDS Missionary Wife in Palestine, 1911-1920.”
This is an interesting history of RLDS Missionaries. After a brief introduction to early Mormon attention to Palestine, Braby shifts to the story of George Adams, a fairly prominent Mormon who joined Strang and tried to fulfill his previous calling to minister in Palestine by establishing a colony of 157 people in Jaffa. A few survivors of the colony persisted into the twentieth century and established contact with the RLDS Church. The prominent missionary couple that ultimately established residency in Palistine was split when Rees, the husband was imprisoned during the First World War as a suspected spy, and Hannah Jenkins survived only to leave in 1920. Some really fascinating info here.

73. Gary James Bergera, “Ezra Taft Benson’s 1946 Mission to Europe.”
Many of us are familiar with Elder Benson’s post-war welfare mission to Europe. Bergera provides a wonderfully insightful and sympathetic view into this period of one of twentieth-centuries most important Mormons. I was deeply moved by Bergera’s treatment which synthesized extant documents, previously published biographies and Benson’s diary. Is Bergera doing a Benson bio?

113. Darrell E. Jones, “The St. George Temple Tower: Evolution of a Design.”
Have you heard the tale that Brigham Young hated the St. George Temple tower and posthumously struck it down by lightening? I had, though I can’t figure out from where I had heard it. Jones’ short article reviews the extant documentation on the tower and suggests the source of the rumor. Great fun.

130. William Shepard, “The Concept of a ‘Rejected Gospel’ in Mormon History, Part 1.”
Bill Shepard is, no doubt, a fine historian. But this paper lacks a coherent structure and rambles over what is basically a comparison of Utah Mormon and Strangite reactions to persecution. It would have been better had he set it up that way. Instead, we have non sequiturs about oaths of vengeance, non representative examples of fundamentalist teaching, and fifty pages of wandering prose. Part 2?

182. Erin B. Jennings, “The Consequential Counselor: Restoring the Root(s) of Jesse Gause.”
Remember Jesse Gause (pronounced like “laws”), one of Joseph’s first First Counselors? Didn’t think so. And, consequently, Jennings’ paper serves an excellent purpose. She uses several recently available documents to shed additional light on the life of the forgotten counselor. She makes the provocative claim that much of early Mormonism’s communitarianism can be traced to Gause’s former Shakerism.

228. Michael H. Madsen, “The Sanctification of Mormonism’s Historical Geography.”
In this article, Madsen distills his dissertation, “Mormon Meccas: The Spiritual Transformation of Mormon Historical Sites from Points of Interest to Sacred Space” (Syracuse University, 2003), into a potent spirits of timely and relevant research. Madsen draws on the historical record, but his own field notes, collected on site at various Mormon historical destinations, are dazzling. The evident evolution of Church policy and discourse is a striking illustration of the growing chasm between the modern Church and McConkieism of yesteryear.

256. John C. Thomas reviews Matthew Bolton’s Apostle of the Poor: The Life and Work of Missionary and Humanitarian Charles D. Neff. Positive review. Wanted more comparison to the Utah Church…not sure how applicable that is. Neff was a prominent liberalizer in the twentieth-century RLDS Church.

260. David J. Howlett reviews Matthew S. McBride’s A House for the Most High: The Story of the Original Nauvoo Temple. Positive review. Some critique of McBride’s analysis (or lack thereof), but a solid and helpful volume.

265. Irene M. Bates reviews H. Michael Marquardt’s Early Patriarchal Blessings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Very positive review. Effusive, though doesn’t mention some of the concerns brought up in comments in Sam’s review.


  1. Thanks for the write-up, J. See you this weekend at MHA.

  2. Thanks for the overview. These are always helpful and appreciated.

  3. Steve Evans says:

    Thanks J., and may I just voice my jealousy that you get to go to MHA…

  4. It is a pleasure.

    Steve, be jealous.

  5. Mark IV says:

    Thanks, J. I am waiting anxiously for my copy to arrive, and this just increases the sense of anticipation.

    Also, I pause to look lovingly at the word ‘chromofenestrative’. A google search returns exactly one instance this word, and that is in this very post. Of all the databases on all the servers in all the world, it graces this humble blog. Well done.

  6. Thanks J. There are a couple of pieces here that I need to look at more closely.

  7. Steve said what I was going to say. I am happy to read the write-up and more than just a little jealous.

  8. Should be great fun (let’s hope we have no emergency kidney stone passings).

    Along these lines, I won’t be able to make the conference. Unfortunately I passed three lizards last night and am now recovering.

  9. StillConfused says:

    “chromofenestrative” – WOW

  10. I have to say, J., that the chromofenestrative glory of this cover is a bit too similar to the cover of the Fall 1997 issue for my taste.

  11. I’m trying to unpack chromofenestrative, which would seem to me to mean the creation of a window with color, rather than the coloring of a window. It’s bringing me back to that Simpsons episode that felt like Homer-meets-Tron. Who says Mormons don’t have all the colors of the psychological spectrum represented. What would happen if you defenestrated one of those covers, say in Prague?

    Steve, I think you mean to say that you are envious. Unless you and Stapley are in a neck-and-neck battle for Gospel supremacy, the outcome of which depends in some degree on attendance at MHA, in which case you would indeed be jealous. (I do leave that possibility open.)

    Thanks for reviewing JMH as always Stapes. My skimming missed the St. George tower piece. The power beyond the veil, indeed.

  12. Justin scores double for hilarity and highlighting the journal’s self-poaching.

    RE: chromofenestrative. Just keeping it real.

  13. Fenestration is also used to describe the design of windows.

  14. Steve Evans says:

    smb, jealousy remains the right word, then.

  15. I watched Darrell Jones building his article on the St. George tower over the past several months (we share a library table on Tuesdays) and will be sure to point out your notice of it. He’ll like that.

    Good summary of the whole issue.

    See some-o-y’all in Sacramento in a few hours, and best wishes to Justin for recovery from his lizards. I hope he pickled them for later study.

  16. kristine N says:

    Huh, I took a couple of classes from Bill Deverell while I was an undergrad. I knew he was no longer at Caltech, but I hadn’t realized he’d landed at USC. He’s a fabulous teacher–I think he was pretty much a favorite for both me and my husband. It was in his class on American history that I first encountered Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and in his class that on race in America that I first attempted (rather poorly, I might add) to grapple with the Priesthood ban against blacks. Good to see what he’s up to. Thanks.

  17. I have been number crunching since J. posted this. Darned things just lay there looking smushed. They are supposed to rebound nicely and say “Woo-Hoo! You’ve got an extra $200!” Curses. Now I’m jealous!

    Have a great time, guys. Hope the weather stays nice for you.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    A couple of days ago I checked, and it said Sacramento should be in the upper 70s, just about 80 through most of the conference. Right now in Chicago we’re barely cracking 60, so that should be a nice change of pace.

  19. Bring your allergy medication. It’s nice that it’s not as Hades anymore but the wind is killing people with allergies.

  20. hot as Hades

  21. I thought that Madsens article was one of the most interesting JMH articles I have read in several issues. Well done.

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