MHA Conference Boise 2018


This evening marks the beginning of the 2018 Mormon History Association Conference in Boise, so I’m opening up a post for commentary on all things MHA through the end of the conference on Sunday.

My flight was uneventful (if expensive; there are only a couple of direct flights from O’Hare, and I didn’t want to deal with a connection). Walking into the hotel I caught a glimpse of Devery Anderson, and I just ran into Ron and Marilyn Barney in the elevator. I’m off to go pick up my registration materials for the conference.

Please share with us your notes, commentary and skinny on all things MHA over the next few days. There are a lot of folks who would love to be here who can’t for various reasons, so let’s bring a bit of the conference to them.



  1. Kevin Barney says:

    If you want to see what’s on tap, here is the conference program:, which details the various sessions:

    Click to access MHA-2018-Program-Final.pdf

  2. Go Kevin! Thanks for posting about the conference.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    The conference itself will be a block away from the Grove Hotel, in the Boise Centre East. Everything, including exhibitors, will be on the same (fourth) floor, which should be convenient. There is an opening reception tonight at 7:00 in the Grove Plaza, which appears to be an outdoor plaza in front of the Boise Centre.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    I just walked over to the venue on the off chance that the exhibitors would be up early (they weren’t), but I was able to have a nice chat with Barbara Jones Brown, the new Executive Director of MHA.

  5. I had no idea this was in town.

    If you’re looking for a good meal close by, my unsolicited suggestions are Bardenay, Bittercreek, Matador, St. Lawrence Gridiron, and Fork. Also, I’m not much for Thai myself, but lots of people really like Mai Thai. All of them within 5 blocks of the Centre.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    I ended up getting dinner with part of the Book of Mormon Central crew, Stephen Smoot and Jared Riddick, at Buffalo Wild Wings (Where I also ate the evening before MHA last year near St. Louis–once more and it will become a tradition!)

    The opening opening reception was supposed to be outside, but it was raining so they moved it inside, but then it turned out to be nice out anyway. Oh well. Of course I saw lots of MHA stalwarts, and spent a fair amount of time talking to Stirling Adams and his wife Kif.

    Well, that’s it for now, the conference begins in earnest at 9:00 a.m tomorrow morning.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Opening Plenary: Brandi Burns (an Idaho historian), “The Intersection of Homelands and Bordered Lands.” Will start in a few minutes. Looks like this will be about the intersection of academic and public history in Boise. Seems like an homogeneous place, but Boise became home to a wide divergence of ethnic backgrounds, including Jews, African Americans, Greeks, Irish, Germans, Mexicans, Chinese and Basques.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Boise actually has a municipal Department of Arts & History. Unusual at the municipal level. Artifacts, public programming and education, publications, oral history collection, (over 200 interviews, teaches people how to interview), research.

    Played a game: Hollywood Squares, Idaho Mormon History Edition. Patrick Mason v. Quincy Newell. Ezra Taft Benson served as Stake President of a Boise ward. Series of (to me) obscure Idaho history questions. Dr. Joseph William Morgan introduced the first bill that would give women the right to vote; failed on a tie vote. Fred T. Dubois worked hard to disenfranchise all Mormons in Idaho. Daniel Major established official boundary between Idaho and Utah in 1871. Patrick won the game.

    For Idaho Mormons, it became a homeland, but resentment on both sides between Mormons and Gentiles. First group of Mormons came to Franklin area. Dispute over territory maps. Wallace appointed first territorial governor. Boundary dispute. Early settlers believed they were in Utah; actually in Idaho. Anti-Mormonism in Idaho, combination of factors. Cooperative communities didn’t welcome individual Gentiles. Practice of polygamy. Fred T. Dubois tried to disenfranchise all Mormons in Idaho territory. Arrested Mormons who tired to vote, imprisoned polygamists.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Some Mormons even withdrew membership in Church in order to vote.

    Admitted as 43d state in 1890. Mormons got voting rights back when they promised to stop voting as a block. But this was only men; women had to wait another five years to get the vote.

    Idaho’s most outspoken suffragist, Abigail Scott Duniway, complained about women and vote in Utah, claimed they just supported hierarchy there.

    Everyone has the vote, Idaho a state, but anti-Mormonism hasn’t died. Mormons migrate into other areas of Idaho.

    Boise’s first LDS services. 8 men met in 1903. Organized a branch, quickly grew to 200. Didn’t have a permanent home, held services in various places. Joseph F. Smith purchased a church, dedicated 1914. Quickly outgrew. In 1925 started meeting in a synagogue. Jews actually had an easier time practicing their religion than Mormons did. Mormons and Jews assisted each other. Built a new building in 1925; cost $90,000 to build.

  10. As someone from Boise, but who can’t attend the MHA conference, I’m loving this, Kevin. Thank you.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    I had to run back to the hotel to take care of a work issue, so I’m late to the next session on Before and After OD2. Jana Riess going over statistics from survey.

    Just heard the summary to the effect that Mormons like most religions as segregated as ever (7DAs doing better).

    Most Mormons in 2016 said they believed or knew the priesthood/temple ban was the will of God(!) Nearly 2/3 of LDS said know or believe was will of God. (Holy hell.) 70% of nonwhite Mormons also believe or know was will of God; she was surprised by that result.

    How did former Mormons respond to this question? Only 1 in 5 thought it was will of God; 80% did not think it was. (Former Mormon sample has more racial diversity in the sample.) But not a significant reason they gave for leaving the Church.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    Wanda Willis (AA sister, independent scholar). Member since 1978. Grew up in projects; things very complicated growing up. Lived in ghetto, back and forth between Oakland and LA. Feels fortunate to have that background. God must have intended more for them. For three years she and her mom went to different churches. Moved by idea that God knows her and loves her specifically. Decided to get baptized. Worked with BRM’s brother, MP in La. He said when you do a relay race, who do you put in the final lap? Your strongest runner. Split with her husband (over Black Panthers’ treatment of women); split for 34 years. Neither ever remarried; they decided they still loved each other. But she believed in the Church. Decided to get married. She told Lord you handle it; I’m not gonna push my religion on him. So grateful for the Gospel. Wants AAs to have the priesthood in their homes. Very grateful for Gospel; has changed her life.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Eddie Willis (Wanda’s husband). Lord gave him finally his childhood sweetheart, “O what a merciful God.” Grew up in West Oakland, worst part. At sic years old witnessed first murder. Grew up with low self esteem as a result. Developed into kind of person who would want to take up arms against the country; a revolutionary subculture; studied Mao. Wanted American Dream, but trying to acquire it on a foundation of Communism–how messed up is that? He eventually also became disillusioned with the Black Panther Party.

    Party wanted them to educate selves about contributions of AAs in the country.. When educate yourself, begin to realize you’ve been duped. He tried a lot of things; a banker, a corporate administrator; played music; nothing filled that dark hole. Went to Hawaii, became born again. (LDS Church is only one he actually joined). Black Muslims preach hate. Loves Christmas too much to joine JWs.

    Being a Mormon a way of life. It was a set up. He frequently cried out to the Lord. There must be something else, something better. Not one to commit suicide. God has to be at the head of the equation. So decided wasn’t going to look for a church to find it. Many churches good in this or that, but not everything. Went to a megachurch; pastor could really preach, choir could really get down, but no one would speak to him.

    Wife never talked to him about the Church. Other doors closed to him; door that opened was his childhood sweetheart. He personally has not experienced any racism in the church, but he knows it has existed.

    Weirded out that members so comfortable with themselves, don’t share the Gospel. Jesus didn’t mean for us to sit and be comfortable, but to share what we’ve found.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    Okafor next speaker. How he became Mormon. Was in a boarding school. Helped his dad run a business. One afternoon a man he didn’t know came over and gave him a book, the Book of Mormon. Understood it to be the book of the devil; was scared by it.

    As a little boy of 8 years old. NT didn’t talk that much about Christ; thought there must be something more. Believed God doesn’t change; if he comes to Moses and talks to him, why not now, why not us? Something was missing.

    Every night the guy asked him whether he read the book. He finally lied to the guy and said he read it. His father said why lie? Just read it, and if you don’t like it, tell the guy you don;t like it. So he read the book, and all his questions were answered.

    He told his dad he wanted to join Mormons; was expecting a slap on the head. His dad said if you want to join the Mormons then go ahead. Shocked him.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Oops, that wasn’t Okafor, it was Jermaine Sulllivan.

  16. Thanks for these notes, Kevin.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    During lunch there was a roundtable on Mormon Women’s History, featuring Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, Christine Talbot, Tarienne Mitchell, Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Hannah Jung and Jill Mulvay Derr. I did not take notes since it was lunch. Hannah told a funny story about when she first went to work for the Church she wore pants, and no one had bothered to tell her that was not allowed. So she made a dress out of material featuring pictures of pants and wore that. And it turns out everyone loved it–even conservative Mormons.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Roundtable on the new Church book Saints volume `. 2008 proposal to update the Comprehensive HoC. Four volume representative history approved. 1st to Nauvoo, 1nd to SL temple, and I missed the demarcation of the other two. Meant to be inclusive, global. Not primarily for MHA goers, but interested in feedback, strengths, weaknesses.

    Steven Harper gave overview. He’s the historical editor. Now Scott Hales speaking; he’s the literary editor. Needs to appeal to church members across the globe. Would need a simple, straightforward style. Finding right literary voice a challenge. How to choose what to include or exclude?

    Lisa Olsen Tait, the review editor. First volume draws on over 500 sources. Have scoured archives. Covers well known ground, but even well readers will find new things. Dialogue comes directly from sources word for word. Difficult decisions about what to include and exclude. Factual or narrative importance; representative of larger themes or patterns. Efforts to be balanced and inclusive in terms of gender and nationality. Not a top down history; focused more on people. Translated into 14 languages. Online version a very rich hypertext experience (maps, photographs, etc. that go beyond the narrative, links to primary sources). Outlines created collaboratively. Chapters drafted, goes to review, then polished drafts go out for external reviews. Final drafts reviewed at highest levels of the Church.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Patrick Mason has reviewed entire manuscript. Doesn’t want to spoil what happens in 1844 (funny!). A big thumb’s up. Meets the criteria that they mentioned. That said, a lot of people will be unhappy. Some for not being academic enough, others for being too revealing of difficult things.

    Four things: 1. Narrative. Really well written; very readable. Tone and approach appropriate for target audience. His fear is people won’t read it, not because of quality but because people don’t read as much any more. Found a number of chapters truly dramatic and even effecting in an emotional way. He was affected by violence in Missouri, saving the BoC pages, Mountain Meadows, even though he knew what was coming. At times veers a little too much into Joseph Smith territory, but probably inevitable. No script writer could come up with this; it’s crazy stuff, so rich, so much going on. Death is ever present in this volume, haunts the pages.

    2. Difficult issues in LDS history. Reliance on Gospel Topics Essays. Will make substance more acceptable to Church members. Treatment is straightforward. Sometimes shocked by lack of sugar coating. Can almost guaranty that nobody will be satisfied with it, just the nature of the beast.

    3. Theology. Theology is embedded. God an active shaper of history, but sometimes absent. Very clear JS the prophet of the restoration. Converts sincere good Christians. The 12 inheritors of the keys of the kingdom. The temple the apex. In this book the prophet not perfect in character; a temper, bad ideas. But revelations entirely trustworthy. Makes a claim for the superiority of the living prophet over scripture.

    4. History and historical consciousness. Plenty of heroism, but also plenty of heartache. Humanizes but not demonizes critics of the church. Clear doesn’t want to be academic history, a defensible choice. But on 1V never comes out and says the sources disagree. A possible missed opportunity. A history with warts but not with hanging chads. William Law emerges as a villain in the end, but book treats his reasons fairly.

    Could any other church do this? An enormous step.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Linda Hoffman Kimball. Tells personal story of her conversion. Husband Chris describes her as being fluent in Mormon but not native.

    Delighted to participate in reading the volume. Appreciates little details (which she has been assured have all been thoroughly researched.

    For the first time she recognized what a looming presence Alvin Smith was in the family. At the Pulpit used as a resource. Events of Hawn’s Mill so raw had to step away for awhile.

    Vocabulary assumes distinctive Mormon meanings, may be hard for outsiders to follow. Good example is the word “translation,” which can often mean a sort of inspired midrash, something outsiders would not understand from the word used.

    Concerned about decision to amalgamate the different versions of the 1V. Didn’t find it clarifying.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    Chris Crowe:

    Loved the year without a summer framing at the beginning, but where was that world framing in the rest of the book.

    Appreciated detail while also being accessible. Narrative moves forward well.

    Like vignettes of common people, not just leaders.

    720 pages. Sounded like a long read, but it went quickly. More sources you can explore if you want to. Source notes didn’t feel intrusive.

    Not just the story of Joseph Smith. He liked that. Story of the Saints, not just Joseph.

    Lots of moments of basic humanness, frailty.

    Hedged a little bit on age of Fanny Alger as “young woman.”

    Lots of amazing villains he had never heard of. (John Bennett.)

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    Volume 1 in September, others to follow 12 to 18 months.

    Already really long books; difficult to add much more than what’s there.

    Rick Turley talked about narraitve v. analytical history. On 1V point, if people click through they’ll get the essay and then all the different versions. So if people are interested they can get more, even though this is a narrative approach.

    References to this have already been written into seminaries and institute curriculum. Steven believes momentum will build behind it.

    Chapters appear at same time in Liahona as in Ensign.

  23. Kristin Brown says:

    In past years I have enjoyed attending the MHA Conferences. I have read every comment and look forward to more of your notes being posted for those who could not make it. Thank you.

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    Idaho’s Foundations to Fundamentalist Mormonism

    First up, Craig Foster. Did research on third volume of Persistence of Polygamy series. Based on that research. Will mention in alphabetical order.

    Allred family, Lee Harvey Allred among earliest believers in Lorin Woolley’s views.18 at first marriage. Moved to Mexico to take a post-manifesto wife (with permission of LDS authorities). in 1908 moved family back to Blackfoot, Idaho. 1916 elected to Idaho state legislature, became speaker of house in 1917. In 1927 on a business trip to SLC became reaquainted with Woolleys, 1886 authority given them. Called his family together for a special meeting, recounted what he had learned. Among first Idaho LDS families to accept Woolleys. Rulon C. Allred rejected Woolleys and his father’s acceptance. Rulon began to carefully study plural marriage, and accepted what his father taught. First wife divorced him; heartbreak.

    Blackmore family. Not from a polygamist background, but several entered the Principle. John Horn Blackmore. Not a polygamist himself, but ex’ed in 1947 for teaching the doctrine. One of their sons did become a fundamentalist. Joseph Raymond Blackmore accepted principle; had six wives and 31 children. In 2002 Winston excommunicated by Warren Jeffs.

    Dockstader. George moved to Idaho as a young man. In 1942 among a committee of six men who created the United Effort Plan at Short Creek.

    Hammond family. Had lived in Nauvoo. In I886 moved to Wilford Idaho.By 1940 learned of Woolley and married a plural wife. Six known wives.

    Holm family. In 1940s became involved with fundamentalism. Sold his farm and donated proceeds to United Effort Plan.

    Jeffs family. 1939 two plural wives. Rulon Jeffs at age 11 went by name Jennings. (Father of Warren Jeffs).

    Kingston family. Move from Idaho, settle in Davis County, create the Davis County Coop. To this day have congregations in Idaho.

    Kunz family. Follows Allred family into fundamentalism.

    Zitting family. From Ammon Idaho. Bought land near Kingston family. Ex’ed in 1928 for polygamy. 1944 trial for it. Called to Priesthood Council.

    In early days of fundamentalism there were networks of families and places. Utah of course important, but so was Idaho. 11 counties in Idaho, nine of which in southeastern portion of state, mirroring Mormon settlement there.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Marianne T. Watson, “When Politics Meets Polygamy: A History of B. Harvey Allred Jr.”

    90-some years ago family arrived in Boise. Becomes a post-Manifesto polygamist. Born 1870 in Idaho. In 1875 father married first of two additional plural wives. 1878 moved across border into Utah.

    Father married third wife just after the Manifesto in Mexico. Harvey seemed skeptical.

    Meets Lorin C. Woolley; critical to his acceptance of fundamentalism.

    Entered politics at a young age.

    Discusses principle with his wife. Has a dream of a girl, then meets her in real life.

    He battled within himself. He loved both women. He got his wife’s permission and proposed to the second.

    He acknowledged it is hard for a woman to accept the principle and give up things like public courtship.

    In 1902 went to SLC to determine whether they really had to live the law of plurality. Told law still binding as ever. But would have to go to Mexico.

    They determined to obey and enter into plurality. Spent a hard five years in Mexico.

  26. Thanks, Kevin

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    As usual, JI has posted the awards so I don’t have to:

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    Now on to Saturday and the opening plenary, Judith Weisenfeld, Framing the Nation: Religion, Film, and American Belonging.

    Jana Riess, a former student of hers, doing the introduction. In 1995 Jana began grad studies at Columbia. Jana’s first ever publication was in a journal Judith founded. She helped Jana when she was extremely discouraged about her dissertation. Judith said you’re comparing this to the wrong thing. So she looked at dissertations that had been passed, and they were really bad. Solved her problem., just the advice she needed.

    Presentation will be about early films treating Mormon themes. 1917 showing of A Mormon Maid; a Mormon claimed it wasn’t true, an anti claimed it was literally true.

    Joseph F. Smith and Utah governor sent telegrams trying to get the film stopped from distribution. Church was active in trying to counter film depictions of the faith.

    Cluster of influential films in silent era:

    A Trip to SLC (1905)

    A Victim of the Mormons (Denmark 1911)

    The Mormon (1912)

    The Danites (1912)

    Marriage or Death (France, 1912)

    A Mormon Maid (1917)

    Riders of the Purple Sage (1918)

    The Rainbow Trail (1918)

    Trapped by the Mormons (UK, 1922)

    Married to a Mormon (UK, 1922)

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    Reformers concerned about new medium (Sunday showings, for example).

    Need to look beyond anti-Mormon tropes, look at images of the nation more generally.

    A Mormon Maid exhibited widely for an extended period.. 1017 to 1921 in at least 225 cities, plus foreign showings (even in China!). (Shows a map of distribution–none in intermountain west.)

    The Birth of a Nation did well in SLC and Ogden. Can’t uncouple visual achievement from content.

    (She showed some clips.)

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    The Fall of a Nation a sequel to Birth about an immigrant takeover of the US government(!)

    Advertising linked A Mormon Maid with Birth of a Nation in terms of quality and significance.

    Used all seeing eye as a trope for authoritarianism. Use of Klan costuming.

    Many exhibitors promoted as historical fact.

    Mormon as a whole depicted as trusting, but fade into background as Mormon leaders come to the fore in a ngative light. Lion of the Lord (obviously BY but never named as such.)

    National Board of Review justified its decision to allow Mormon Maid with argument similar to Birth of a Nation. Limited to early pioneer days; contemporary Mormons should not take exception.

    Dora is the Mormon girl, young, scrappy, innocent and sexualized at the same time. Mormon man comes by to warn of Indians on attack; mother says “I’ll take my chances with the Indians, not the Mormons.” But then Indians attack. (Shows a clip). Family relocates to City of Saints since home destroyed. Mormon council forces Dora into celestial marriage. Dora reads from D&C and invokes it to save herself from the marriage. (Temple robes look like Klan outfits.) Dora escapes.

    Exhibitors used anti-Mormon rhetoric in advertisements.

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    Mormons and Race: Reexaminging Racial Policy and Experience Forty Years after OD 2. Newell is chair.

    Paul Reeve, “To Save This Fallen Race”: Debating Indian Indenture at the 1852 Utah Territorial Legislature.”

    Quincy Newell, “I am white with the exception of the color of my skin.” Aunt Jane James and the Paradox of Race and Gender in 19th century Mormonism.

    Matt Harris, Hugh B. Brown’s Unsuccessful Crusdade to lift the priesthodd and temple ban, 1952-59.

  32. Kevin Barney says:

    Paul. 1852. Orson Pratt argued against passage of both bills Gradual emancipation bills that freed no one then enslaved. Children born would become indentured servants until 21, then freed. Utah fit the pattern. Congress resolved in 1852 when it freed all slaves in the territories, including Utah. People in 18th and 19th centuries recognized slavery as immoral. Orson Pratt argued strongly against slavery. Legislature chose bondage and white supremacy instead. Pratt warned they would be judged by history.

    Legislatures also passed an Indian indenture bill. Could purchase indians from traders and hold as indentured servants for up to 20 years. Pratt’s approach here differently. Motivated by paternalistic impulses; believed they had a moral obligation. If can save them from Indian captors, we should do so. Feed, clothe, educate. Indian captors would kill the children if not bought. Even so he argued against passage of the indenture bill. Mormons should redeem them, but without a law. The bill is nothing more than slavery.

    In the end they passed both laws over Pratt’s objections. Form modified in response to Pratt’s concerns. Original version had language making it permanent until the curse taken from the seed of Canaan; that was taken out. In eyes of history, Pratt clearly vindicated.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    Now Quincy. I am white with the exception of the color of my skin. (Interviewer didn’t ask what she meant by that.) An intersectional analysis. Can’t understand apart from race and gender.

    In other contexts she went out of her way to remind people she was not white. Hyrum PB placed in lineage of Canaan, son of Ham (common understanding at the time). Can take mark upon forehead (Cain) can be taken off. Perhaps a clue to what Jane meant.
    Weidness of account makes her historian’s spidey sense tingle. Doesn’t make sense as a linear conversation.

    Black women didn’t want to be white, but wanted what whiteness represented. In Jane’s case she wanted access to the temple, to be dressed in beautiful pure white. Jane made a servant to JS in temple by proxy. Ritual never performed again. Progress, but not enough. She continued to apply, continued to be spurned. Church applied term “aunt” to her. Can be a positive term, but also has racial overtones. Denied social respectability that came with marriage and motherhood.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    Now Matt. Hugh B. Brown’s controversial attempt to lift the ban. He stood almost alone in opposition to the ban. Opposition dates to 1930. Kept out of the 12 many years on basis of race. HJG wanted him; JFS objected. DOM finally brought him in. McKay sensitive to criticism. Personally ambivalent about the ban. Worried about losing the south. Bt also worried about JFS hard line.Brown said it was all a bunch of gobbliedigook.

    Brown would defend status quo, but changed in 1960s. George Romney’s political run, taking the Church to Africa. Told Lowell Bennion apostles discussing intently. Greatest issue since polygamy. Brown let media know about sensitive top level discussions; senior apostles very miffed. JFS denied such discussions. Also tussles with hardliners over civil rights. Brown read statement in conference.

    In 1969 Brown suggested ordaining to AP to give them time to prove themselves for MP; HBL torpedoed that. ETB thought civil rights a communist plot.

    1968-71 dozens of universities refused to play BYU. Brown tried to use to his advantage. Thought Church simply could not maintain the ban. Used Taggart manuscript. McKay was going to allow a black man to be ordained. But he was 95 and could not resist the hardliners, they put a stop to it.

    HBL met with apostles one by one and got them to commit to the ban. Showed deference to him because he would soon become prophet.

    Stanford severed athletic relationship. Statement drafted supporting status quo. HBL and JFS would not allow a change.

    12 upset at Brown for talking to press. Had very little support among top leadership.

    Brown paid a high price for his activism. JFS dropped him from 1P. In private disgusted.

    In 1975 HBB died without having seen the ban be lifted. Some leaders reached out to the family after the revelation.

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    Newell comments. Paul’s paper. Pratt claimed Utah legislature would be under greater condemnation than slaveholders in the south, because they would be the originators of it there.

    Questions whether indenture act was a form of a gradual emancipation. Who drafted the act? Was Pratt the sole voice of opposition.

    Quincy, intersection of race and gender. What did Deseret News have to do with it?

    Matt’s paper. A wealth of new information and insights. Tensions within hierarchy. How did McKay react to Brown’s first efforts in 1953?

  36. Kristin Brown says:

    Fascinating. This is great…and thank you for the link to the MHA Awards. The article by Jeffrey David Mahas about the The Nauvoo Whistling and Whittling Movement sounds interesting. The story has always been one of my favorites.

  37. Kevin: Thanks for all of these reports.

    Regarding Linda (Hoffman Kimball) June 8 @1:57, you mention “‘translation,’ which can often mean a sort of inspired midrash.” Are these Linda’s words (I didn’t get to see her remarks before she left)? Or your words? Are they now routine terminology? I think regular BCC readers, or regular Kevin Barney readers, or regular MHA attendees (?), will not find the phrase at all surprising. But I wonder if we’ve reached the point where we can toss off “inspired midrash” without a caution or qualifier or definition?

    Which leads to a more general question: Is there anything coming out of the Conference that (you think) would be startling or unsettling to a general Mormon audience? Reading between the lines (which is dangerous), I get the impression that the Conference is about at the level of the Gospel Topics Essays–that if the Essays are new and unsettling, then so would a lot of this Conference, but if the Essays have been happily or critically digested, then this Conference would feel like lots more along the same lines.

  38. Do the proceedings get published? Are there individual papers published? What’s next, in other words?

    Not to pick out favorites, but some of the speakers I know personally and can ask privately. Many others are really interesting but inaccessible unless they publish.

  39. Kevin Barney says:

    Christian, “inspired midrash” were her very words. But as you know I’m partial to that formulation, which is why I quoted them.

    There is not a published proceedings of the conference, but of course much of the work described will eventually be published in various venues.

  40. Kevin Barney says:

    Barbara Jones Brown gave a nice talk on what BY knew about MMM and when he knew it during the plenary luncheon.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    Now up, Book of Abraham, with Susanna Morrill, Robin Jensen and Sam Brown. First Susanna.

    Focus will be on gender in BoA compared with more popular creation accounts. Women writers offered similarly unbalanced creation accounts, but skewed towards female rather than male.

    Priesthood/motherhood dichotomy. BoA is all about priesthood power.

    Knowledge of priesthood is knowledge of creation.

  42. Kevin Barney says:

    Christian, I would say the level of knowledge and discourse here generally is beyond the Gospel Topics Essays. But not every presentation deals with a controversial topic, so that might not always be apparent.

  43. Kevin Barney says:

    Now Robin. Spent last several years with the mss. Questions frequently go unanswered, but even unanswered questions are valuable. He will raise some unanswered questions about documentary editing. Thesis is can obscure more than it reveals. Beware an overly simplistic view. (Not suggesting no value to documentary editing; that’s what he does.) Wants to explore nuances rarely discussed. In reading typescript volumes, too many scholars forget the complexities. A firm believer in self reflection. Must contemplate the weaknesses of one’s own field.

    Literary editing is a recent development; different from documentary editing. Literary editors establish the text; documentary editors choose a text from a point in time and publish that.

    Literary editor would view BoA as a single text. One would compare five versions and try to capture Smith’s latest thinking. Documentary editing approach looks at those versions as unique documents.

    Relative neutrality of transcription and other documentary methods. Putting documents together in an edition can skew the nature of the production. Original scribe viewed text differently. Presenting historic text, but not historic context.

    What do we do with multiple versions of the same text? Documentary editor wants to preserve each of the documents. Prepare all three versions, but two created at same time from a single dictation event.

    Often look at KEP as private material not meant for wider circulation. But we have evidence of preparation for just such circulation.

    Often read and interpreted by how it has been published. Newspaper serial, inspired scripture, evidence of fraud, etc. Presentation affects how document is read. What do scholars do with the false start, the unfinished translation? Both extant and non-extant documents would have affected the original author.

    Historical docs are more than just primary sources; they are also historical artifacts. Can’t just focus on trying to recreate an ur text.

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    Sam up next. What we call the BoA is in fact a collection of texts, not a single book.

    JS creating targums, oral translations, interpretations of the Bible. A collaberative model of the creation of scripture.

    Graphic glossolalia. (Kristine says her throat closes with anaphylaxix every time he makes up a new word, but she’s not here.)

    These are just remnants of a larger corpse.

    Explains grammar documents.

    Glossolalia. Believer enters into an ecstasy state, and speaks or sings syllables that do not exist in any known human language. A sacred performance. Common in early Mormonism. Bending of glossolalic syllables to organization of a grammar.

    Jonathan Stapley sent him a helpful example of Shaker glossolalia.

    KEP using Latin letters trying to capture for a moment what is beyond human language.

    Priesthood is deeply genealogical (substitute term for patriarchal).

    Creation is a story about organization.

    Grammar documents crucial to understanding BoA.

    Katamin is a queen, a royal. An early marker of temple liturgy, particularly of women as queens and priestesses.

  45. Kevin Barney says:

    Degrees a multiplicative expansion is glyph that means women.

    Believes BoA a targum of Genesis.

    Egyptus finding Egypt.

    If you ignore grammar documents, you won’t understand the Egyptian Bible.

    1835 already introducing several concepts that will come in temple.

    Key part of sustained targumization of Hebrew Bible, including BoM and JST and D&C.

  46. Kevin Barney says:

    Laurie Maffly-Kipp respondent. Few people more fascinated with scriptural output than Mormons.

    Story a great screenplay, starting with acquisition of antiquities themselves.

    She served on editorial board of JSP; reviewed volume 4.

    Three sets of documents. Egyptian antiquities. Grammar documents. Manuscripts of BoA text, including facsimiles.

    Short book. Text overshadowed by history. AS much images as text.

    Meaning is hardly self-evident.

    Robin provides nuts and bolts issues of documentary editing. Text is a fabrication, not as something made up but a new construction.

    Raises questions about authority. How do you have uniformity of belief alongside so many possibilities? That’s a struggle.

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    White over Black in Mormon History: White Supremacy and the Building of LDS Institutions.

    Max Mueller on how blacks couldn’t testify in Nauvoo courts.

    Taylor in Nauvoo Neighbor: “A Negro knows nothing in this case,” meaning he couldn’t testify. Several cases where men went free as a result. City-State of Nauvoo could have overridden the laws of Illinois, but they failed to do so. Effect tended to preserve corrupt and abusive governments.

    Do we write history in ways that silence the narratives of black Mormons.

  48. Kevin Barney says:

    Joanna Brooks, excerpt from a Dialogue article this fall. “He Kind of Dropt His Head and Said Brother Zebedee is Right”: The MIcropolitics of White Supremacy and the Making of the LDS Church’s Priesthood and Temple Ban. About John Taylor’s attempt to adjudicate the ban in 1879.

    Misrepresented JS instructions re: slaves as if applicable to all blacks Smoot and Coltrin just lied about Joseph’s teachings. Why would they do such a thing? Influenced by BY’s later statements?

    Gives evidences Coltrin rearranged history in his statements, probably for his fealty to Young. After Abel’s death, Smoot/Coltrin consensus became the basis for the ongoing ban.

    OD2 removed the policy, but did not remove investments in white supremacy. Must be investigated, understood and intentionally dismantled.

  49. Kevin Barney says:

    Rebecca de Schweinitz on black students at BYU.

    Barret an early professor at BYU, author of The Restored Church. Ernest Wilkinson appointed him as a vice president over unified BYU students. Recruited and approved all faculty hires. Then was Commissioner of Education before Elder Maxwell. He was also very influential in establishing white supremacy at BYU.

  50. Ronald Tenney says:

    Kevin, it was nice to make your acquaintance at this conference. I have read a lot of your writing in the past. We crossed paths a few times, so I think we have similar interests.
    I hope to strengthen our friendship over time.
    Ron Tenney

  51. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks Ronald!

    My final act of the conference was to go out for New York style pizza with Ben Spackman, Joe Spencer, Matt Bowman, Josh Probert, and a BYUI music professor who joined us later whose name I didn’t catch. Great conversation!

    So another conference is in the books and I’m at the airport waiting for my flight. Thanks to all who were involved. Next year in Salt Lake!

  52. An Old Bish says:

    Kevin, I don’t know if you’re still reading this, but did anyone offer a shout out during the conference to Boise native son Howard W. Hunter? Maybe it was enough to have the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies in attendance.

  53. Kevin Barney says:

    An Old Bish, I didn’t hear a shout out to Howard W. Hunter, but there may well have been one in a session I didn’t attend. There was lots of Boise and Idaho history as part of the conference.

  54. The pre-conference tour on all things Boise (lead by Brandi Burns) went to HW Hunter’s home as well as Ezra Taft Bensen’s home, in addition to some old LDS chapels that haven’t been torn down. These were among the many stops that culminated at the Old Idaho Territorial Pen where many Mormon polygamists were imprisoned during the 1880s. These tours are often the best part of MHA conferences.

  55. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the report, Rob.

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