I am planning on attending the MHA Conference in Killington, VT, May 26-29. For details, see here. I see that T&S blogger Kristine is presenting; is anyone else from the Bloggernacle going to be there?
I first joined MHA maybe a decade ago so that I could get the Journal of Mormon History. I don’t consider myself a Mormon historian; my efforts have always been focused more on LDS scripture than history. But I decided to teach an Institute class on early LDS history (mostly the New York period; I’ve taught that same class twice now), and so decided I had better start boning up on the history literature, and thus joined MHA. I wanted to teach the history class because I realized it would force me to learn more about the subject, which I have always been interested in. I tend to overprepare as a teacher and so I learn a lot about whatever subject I teach.
I really had no intention of ever actually attending an MHA Conference; I just wanted to get their Journal. But a couple of years ago they held their Conference in Kirtland, and that is a nice road trip from where I live in the Chicago area, and there were a lot of restored buildings that I hadn’t seen yet. So I decided to go. And I had an absolutely terrific time. (I also got to have dinner with T&S blogger Nate, sitting at the same table as James Allen and Dan Peterson.) Jan Shipps’ hotel room was right across the hall from me, and it was fun to rub elbows with all of the big names I had been reading. The presentations were generally very well done, informative and interesting. And the tours–there are always tours–were great. I also sang in the MHA choir (about 100 voices), and got to sit in the corner pews of the Kirtland temple for our Sunday morning worship service (we sang the songs from the original dedication and a few others from the period–really fun stuff!).
So I was hooked. Last year I went to the Provo Conference, this year I’m going to Vermont (I’ve never been there), and I intend to go annually from now on.
It’s a little bit pricey. Between airfare (since I live by O’Hare Airport I can fly directly into Burlington; most people have to fly to Boston to get there), a rental car, the hotel and the conference registration I’ll probably put out about $1,000. The demographic at these things tends to skew towards older, more affluent Saints. But it is so much fun, I think it is well worth the cost.
I’ve already gone through the preliminary program (which you can see at the MHA website I linked to above) to get a sense for which sessions I’ll go to. And I’m looking forward to the tour of the various places I taught my students about where the Smith family lived and farmed while trying to keep their heads above water, including Sharon, Joseph’s birth place.
I hope to see some of you there!