I won’t be in Sacramento until tomorrow afternoon, but for convenience I thought I would go ahead and open a thread for discussion of all things MHA over the next four days.
I joined MHA in the early 1990s. I was about to teach an institute class on early LDS history, so I thought it was a good time to take the plunge. At that time I mainly just wanted to get the Journal. I kind of had the idea in my head that the conference was just for professional historians, and that wasn’t me.
Then one year the conference was going to be held in Kirtland, and that was within driving distance for me, so I thought I’d give it a shot. And I had an absolute blast. All sorts of great presentations; a personal tour of the newly restored potash factory from Don Enders himself; singing in the MHA choir and getting to sit in the corner choir seats in the Kirtland Temple during the Sunday morning devotional (something I had always wanted to do); it was simply terrific. And I learned that you don’t have to be a hot shot historian (which I am not) to go and have a good time. The people in particular were wonderful; salt of the earth all. And MHA has a really cool vibe where it just doesn’t matter what your personal religious point of view is (SLC Mormon, CoC, Strangite, Methodist, Catholic, Hindu, Atheist, whatever). All are welcome, and all share a passion for Mormon history.
So I was hooked. The next year I went to the conference in Killington, Vermont. And again, I had a tremendous time. I had never been to Vermont before, and it was gorgeous. I particularly appreciated the tour of New England Church history sites; the very sites I had taught my institute students about, but had never personally seen.
I’ve been to every conference since Kirtland, with the exception of last year, when shortly before I was to fly out I got a kidney stone. It was a great disappointment to me. So now I’m very excited to actually be heading west to Sacramento tomorrow.
The most frustrating thing is trying to figure out what to go see during concurrent sessions. I’ve studied the preliminary program and have some ideas, but these make for some tough choices.
So I plan to post on this thread notes and observations from the Conference as it proceeds, and I encourage others to add their own thoughts here as well.