MHA Saturday Sessions Open Thread

The Women’s History breakfast is starting soon, kicking off the last day of active scholarly content for MHA. I thought it would be useful to have a new post for the new day.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for opening a new thread, Sam.

  2. One thing (among many) which I love about MHA: The convergence of the past and the present. By this I mean, I love seeing Armand Mauss and Newell Bringhurst and Linda Newell alongside with Kristine Haglund, Jonathan Stapley, Kevin Barney, Jared Tamez, Ben Park, Samuel Brown and MANY MORE I won’t list. I love the passing of the torch. Mormon history is in such good hands!!

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Sitting in the Allred polygamy session waiting for it to begin.

    I wore shorts yesterday, but I’m wearing jeans today. I had looked at the weather and saw forecasts in the mid-80s, but I hadn’t counted on everything being over-air conditioned the way it is.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Eric Rogers is first speaker. Rulon Allred played significant role in fundamentalist polygamy, especially the fundamentalist schism. This presentation is on his early life.

    Born 1906 in Mexico. Father came from Star Valley to polygamist refugee colony. Conditions in Mexico challenging; in 1908 relocate to Idaho. Rulon’s mother dies, so father Harvey now a monogamist, and lives as a mainstream saint, but still believes in principle. In 1920s a critical mass of “true” Saints emerges. Harvey advocates publicly for polygamy and criticizes Church for its disavowal.

    Rulon falling in love with an LDS girl, Katherine (sp?). She described him as a “wonderfully tall blond boy who looked at me when he thought I wasn’t watching.” Courted for two years and married in 1926. Moved to LA. (continued)

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    First child dies; Katherine has three more kids. Rulon grads from chiropractor college. Active in LDS Church, develop close relationships. Susan Easton Black’s parents were in his SS class in Long Beach.

    1933 Rulon rebukes his father for fomenting advocacy of polygamy and encouraing his sisters to enter into the principle. He writes to Anthony Ivins about destructive effects of polygamy. (Ironically, Ivins had solemnized his parents’ post-manifesto marriage.) Rulon studies polygamy to combat his father. Neglects his practice. All he can think of. His wife’s heart is breaking. Rulon says his fondest dream would be to see both of his daughters married to the same man. Katherine says she won’t let it happen. (Rulon says if not for Katherine, he would be living it too.)

    SP tries to counsel him, but Rulon defiantly advocates polygamy. (Had at least one supporter on high council.)

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Members in LA area Katherine thought would correct Rulon actually encouraged him. Significant number of people in LA at the time still advocating polygamy. SP calls Rulon to high council. Rulon says that proved he was right; he said from then on he would run the home or there wouldn’t be a home.

    Katherine writes to Ivins to ask whether Rulon is right or not. She then writes HJG. He says to stay with the church. She takes her children and moves out of the home. In three weeks Rulon finally comes. Says he knew his father was wrong, and he never again would go against the church teachings. Short lived. After only two weeks she said it is the end. He plans to enter polygamy as soon as he can.

    She thought that if purpose of polygamy is to have more children, she thought that if he couldn’t have more he would be faithful to her. She asked her brother, a doctor, if there was any way to waylay him and castrate him (!)

    Divorce in 1935. Two wives, then five more. Joseph Musser names him to priesthood council; rejected; leads to split between two main polygamist movements that exists to today.

  7. Margaret, you love seeing a few people who aren’t even here at MHA. :)

    I’m at the session on anti-Mormonism this morning. As they did last year, Mike Paulos and Ken Cannon self-published a small booklet to accompany their presentations—this one on “Cartoonists and Muckrakers: Selected Media Images of Mormonism during the Progressive Era.” It has loads of wonderful political cartoons from the late 19th and early 20th centuries andincludes an introduction by Tom Alexander. Really fun stuff.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Joseph Jessop, raised in polygamy (now LDS). When he was 16, he and his brother working construction in SLC, stop in a Maverick for a drink. Girl behind counter says, “Guess what? There were just a couple of polygamists in here!” He goes, “Nooo! Really? How could you tell?” (She had no idea she was talking to a couple of polygamist boys.)

    FLDS Short Creek group has severed ties with LDS. Allred Group (Apostolic United Brethren) try to maintain relationships. More open, maintains a relationship with outside world, which generally has benefited them.

    However, substantial diversity of thought has developed within the Allred group. Will focus on three profiles that seem to be emerging within group: Traditionalist, Progressive, and Analytical.

    Progressive largest. Purpose to keep alive plural marriage. Evolving role in preparing for Christ. Church and priesthood two separate organizations. Kingdom and God as out of order. See LDS Church as out of order and pray for One Mighty and Strong to set church in order.

    Traditionalists differ in belief that everything other than plural marriage falls under mainstream LDS Church. Church doesn’t recognize them, but they see themselves as children of the Church. View selves as children of divorce parents. Believe Church will eventually recognize them again. Should stay as close to Church as possible. Becoming minority view.

    Analytical are questioning, seeking logical answers and tired of following blindly. Analyze and question fundamentalist doctrine and leadership. Very questioning. Detaching from doctrine, but still very involved in community but no desire to leave.

  9. Eric and Joseph have been staples at JWHA conferences recently, doing several presentations on 20th century fundamentalists. Great guys, and always do a bang-up job.

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    Three main issues leading to divergency:

    1. 1978 revelation.

    2. Leadership issues on council.

    3. Virginia Hill case.

    1978 revelation. Thought Church went too far, had forfeited priesthood keys. Less than 18 months after murder of Rulon Allred in 1977, still transitioning to Owen Allred leadership. Some wanted to take on more of sealing powers of priesthood and provide endowment and wear temple garments. Decided to proceed. First living endowments given in the basement of a home. Newly endowed members could no longer wear short sleeves, so everyone knew who had received it. Revelation to expand to all ordinances, including sealings and baptism for the dead. (Revelation is not available to general membership of group.) Security guard of Seattle temple joined group; took some members on a tour of temple.

    1980s group took on more and more temple ordinance responsibilities. Not all excited by this. Many concerned about going beyond traditional responsibilities. Owen conceded had gone too far; had been influenced by pressures from members of council.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    High percentage of problems on leading council has led many to question the group.

    Virginia Hill case: large amount of cash came into the group, started distributing money in small amounts that got taken back out. Money laundering charges. Some thought end of group, but opposite, has strengthened them, given them an outside force to come together against. $6 MM ruling. Close to paying it off, but not there yet. Lot of small fundraising, widow’s mite sort of contributions.

    Allred group at a crossroads with three emerging profiles.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    Marianne Watson on descendants of early Mormon polygamists among current fundamentalists. (Paper read by someone else.) She sees a definite correlation there. Decided to do as a project to see if a correlation between polygamist ancestry in pedigree and modern fundamentalism.

    176 responses. 85% polygamist ancestry; 15% none at all. For none at all, first or second generation Mormons.

    Several shared common lineages. More than half of parents at time of birth fundamentalist Mormons; just under half LDS. Suggests an influx into fundamentalism from LDS.

    2/3 awareness of polygamist ancestry as a child. 81% not surprised at all. Does an early awareness of plural marriage suggest more openness to the practice? Most thought it had a definite impact.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Martha Bradley the respondent. When she talks to secular audiences, they want to know “How does it work?” Tendency to see fundamentalists as homogenous. Value to studying closely individual lives and experiences.

    Katherine’s writings of her personal struggle are touching. She couldn’t bear thought of sharing him. Began keeping secrets from each other. Felt her prayers weren’t being answered.

    She didn’t know until a teenager of her polygamist ancestors (she had been named for one such ancestor; her grandmother told her about this all quite casually).

    Generational aspect in fundamentalist groups is very interesting. Some willing to accept, some not.

    Thought Joseph’s paper fascinating. More nuanced understanding of evolution of Allred Group. Human diversity; not monolithic, negotiated by individual practitioners. Analysis richer because of his vantage as an insider-outsider, with still good relationships with friends and family in the group.

  14. Breakfast by the Mormon Women’s History Initiative–web page improvements announced ( ), much good camaraderie and intellect. Props to founders and organizers.

    Had a discussion with another academic. We decided that URL citations for googlebooks or similar photographic facsimile of documents are bogus and confusing.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Why was Rulon rejected by priesthood council? Not clear leadership within the council. Barlow and Musser main forces; very different styles. Rulon a newcomer compared to other individuals who could come into the council. Musser released council and called a new one. Old one becomes FLDS, new council Allred Group.

    Grant in his response to Katherine said anyone who lives PM now is “lecherous.”

    After divorce, Katherine remarries. (Craig Foster’s mother remembers her; they were in stake together.)

    Katherine wrote to Myrtle Allred (legal wife after Rulon died), asking for a momento; Myrtle wrote her a nice letter back.

    Succession issues have lead to a lot of diversity of thought within the group. How important is seniority rule? Can men politic way to the top? Now considered by appointment, not limited to seniority.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Where is temple work among Allreds today? Heavy emphasis on genealogy; Rulon was a genealogist. Traditionally, send their names to LDS temples. Traditionalist mindset. Now, not necessarily going through LDS temples. Instead being done in Endowment House in Bluffdale or Pinesdale, MO. Part of split within group; some still sending names to LDS temples.

  17. The Mormon Women’s History breakfast this morning (can someone please move it from 6:30 am? thanks), was great. The best one I’ve attended. Jill’s documentary history of the RS is shaping up and will hopefully be published 2012. The Chapman Turley seven-volume series on LDS women is moving forward, and they will have volume 1 published this year. A new website announced:

    There is an associated facebook page. Like it.

  18. Whoops, Sam beat me to it.

  19. JS you did a better job. Kate says you were great at the breakfast. I was plotting world domination with a member of the Illuminati.

  20. smb (#14): “Had a discussion with another academic. We decided that URL citations for googlebooks or similar photographic facsimile of documents are bogus and confusing.”

    Agreed. Since I just came across this today, I thought I’d share a new way some scholars are getting around it: Daniel Richter’s massive and impressive Before the Revolution just devotes a paragraph in his “Acknowledgements” thanking the people at Googlebooks, Readex, and other similar projects for providing online access to many of the books he cites. Seemed a fair enough approach.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    Plenary is starting. Will be George A. Miles of the Beinecke Library at Yale, on “Mormon History and History of Mormonism: One and the Same? A Librarian’s Perspective.”

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    George’s mentors in Mormon history include Bill MacKinnon, Chaz Peterson, Tom Alexander, Mike Quinn, Jan Shipps, Terry Tempest Williams.

    One of first acquisitions was early St. George paper Our Dixie Times (many signed by George A. Smith or Wilford Woodruff), renamed Rio Virgin Times, lasted until 1869. Talking about Joseph Johnson, whose paper it was.

  23. The session on Indian and 19th century Mormon relations was not particularly well attended, but like all the other sessions I have attended was rich with information. Ed Lyman talked at length regarding regarding the perceptions of the Southern Paiutes during the 1860’s when Navajo raiders preyed on Sothern Utah livestock and settlers. He discussed how Paiutes often tended to crops while settlers in remote locations evacuated to more secure communities, and ofteen participated in chasing raiders and recovering stolen livestock and property.

    Michael Bennion used the story of Janet Smith Leavitt, a Navajo girl obtained from Ute Indians intent on selling her as a slave, and was raised as just another child in her adoptive family. A key incident in her life involved getting her family to ask for George A. Smith to intervene on her behalf to get Dudley Leavitt to take her as a fourth polygamous wife, where all accounts indicate she was treated equally with other wives in the family. Her story of agency was compared to that of many other Native American children obtained by Mormon settlers in similar circumstances, who more often than not were treated as indentured servants until they reached adulthood.

    Sondra Jones, U of U, in her response engaged both scholars with good criticisms and recommendations. Overall, a worthy addition to revising the perceptions of the Native American inhabitants with whom the Mormon Settlers shared the Great Basin. In particular, there appears to be a new appreciation for the culture and contributions of the Southern Paiutes.

  24. Forgive my spelling as I am taking notes and posting from my new tablet, the touchscreen keyboard is still small even on 7 inch screen, and subject to keystrokes being missed and others repeated.

  25. Ben David holland was pretty formal about it but I think it’s becoming mainstream. Publishers don’t seem to care much.

  26. Looking forward to a report of the Rugh lecture. Our family’s logistics officer (me currently) forgot to buy tickets until after they were sold out.

  27. Eager to hear Jim McLaughlin and Phillip Barlow talk about WH Chamberlain and others at 2:00.
    And yes, Christopher, I know that Jared and Ben aren’t here. I just started thinking about the young scholars, and their names (and awards) came to mind. I am so impressed with the up-and-comers.

  28. Too many good choices. I’m just heading into the Arizona settlemets session, chaired by Charles Peterson.

  29. Don’t worry, Margaret; I’m definitely there in spirit! (Though my mind is currently focused on the Barca/Man U game.—my only consolation for not being in Dixie.)

    And thanks for the shout-out and vote of confidence!

  30. Perhaps I should’ve made that smiley face bigger, Margaret.

  31. Ron Barney is in fine form introducing Jim, Phil, and Jan.

    He jested that Phil and Terryl’s OUP forthcoming Handbook to Mormonism is “the academic response to the Church’s newly issued General Handbook of Instructions.”

    Looks to be a fine session on Chamberlin and Modernism.

  32. Apparently, BYU is supporting the Edward Partridge Papers Project. Some autobiographical materials by Partridge and a few letters were given to the JSP when the FP turned over the Book of Commandments and Revelations. Some folks at BYU are verifying and anotating a transcript created by Jessee. RSC is to publish these docs with other Partridge docs in a single volume. Some early life materials, a bit on 1833-1835 and then some chunks on the MO War.

  33. JME McTaggart sounds like an intriguing communalist atheist. Curious to hear more about his philosophy.

  34. Also, as a side note BYU Studies has just released a biography of Andrew Kimball, SWK’s father, written by Ed Kimball. Paperback only (clothe is apparently too costly these days).

  35. JS, great news. is there a timeline for the early documentation? Any idea whether there are any really cool tidbits?

  36. Hard to tell from the presentations so far. Some apparently new info regarding consecration. No word on the ETA.

  37. One of my good friends, Whitney, is on the project. Toss her a tough question for me….

  38. Are the lost Council of 23 Minutes within the Partridge Papers?

    In a more serious vein, JS and I are probably most interested in liturgical and theological developments. Any of that in Partridge?

  39. In the Arizona session, Norm Jackson referred to John Willard Young’s ordination as an apostle at age 11, as “slightly more significant than deacon’s quorum president”.

  40. Phil gave a great talk about echoes of the 1911 controversy in Mormon Church Education and highlighted ongoing skepticism about “higher criticism” among many within CES. I thought he presented a thoughtful, rigorous and kind approach to the question.

    Jan Shipps’s research assistant is presenting results of an old education survey (ca. 1967) they found at CHL. Looks like it’s mostly men, mostly active/ordained, and many of them had sought education beyond BA. Most of the women who did work were in education, few got PhDs, and fewer (67% vs. 75%) had active callings. They did notice that many women identified themselves as “sister missionaries,” though they’re not sure what that meant exactly.

  41. Thanks for these update. Calgary is sounding better all the time.

  42. Kevin Barney says:

    I missed the early afternoon session (had to take care of some Dialogue business). I would have gone to the one with Phil, so thanks for your report, Sam.

    For the last one, there were three that I was torn by. The polygamy one looked good, but I really wanted to go to the theology one where my friends were presenting. But I just had to see I Am Jane, so that’s the one I opted for, and I’m glad I did. I thought the play was outstanding, and the young people who did the acting did a great job.

    All that’s left now is the closing dinner and Bill Mac’s presidential address (I’m not staying for the devotional in the morning.)

    Oh, I went up to say hi to Val Hemming, who is on the Dialogue Board, and he was talking to Elder Jensen. He said hi to me, calling me by name as he shook my hand–without looking at my name badge. I thought that was pretty cool that he would know who I was enough to know my name.

  43. Swisster says:

    Great updates. Maybe the Calgary temple will be finished in time for next year’s conference. Probably not. Is “newbie” Lincoln Blumell from Calgary — does anybody know?

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    Swisster, yes, his father spoke at the evening banquet about Calgary, being from there.

  45. I’ve been impressed by how gracious Elder Jensen is to the Mormon history community.
    We all wished we could have gone to the Jane play, but I think the theology session went quite well. Sheila Taylor asked some fascinating questions about the theological meaning of Incarnation within Mormonism, Matt preached an awesome sermon on the meaning of liturgy vs. theology in early Mormon, examining the specific case of the Lord’s Supper, and Deirdre drew our attention to the refreshing views of Erastus Snow on female power within polygamy (he apparently nicknamed one of his wives Bishop and preached a dyadic God). Phil did a great job of responding, gracious as always, and it was a delight to have Jill chairing the session.

  46. Thanks for the updates, everyone! This really filled a gaping whole in my weekend.

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    Sitting in the SLC airport waiting on a delayed flight. Just wanted to say that Bill’s presidential address was outstanding. MHA has been well served to have a president who not only has history chops but is also a top notch business man.

    Thanks, all, I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. Here’s looking forward to Calgary at the end of June, 2012.

  48. Really a wonderful conference. I loved Jan Shipps’ term “inspired whim.”
    Next year in CALGARY!!

%d bloggers like this: