Church History

Grassroots-Style Dispensations

July 7, 2009 | 18 comments
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Are Mormons exclusivists or universalists? Read more »

Edits have never been so cool

July 6, 2009 | 29 comments
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This month’s Ensign features a ground-breaking discussion of the nuances in the Doctrine and Covenants creation process — and it’s all about edits, like you’ve never seen them before.  Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, who is the current church historian, writes at some length about the general process, including the fact that there were later changes and edits made to earlier manuscripts: Read more »

Political Sentiments and Religious Sentiments

June 4, 2009 | 75 comments
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My own politics ocillate between liberalism (in the grand historical sense) and conservatism. Read more »

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part Four

May 27, 2009 | 20 comments
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Here is the last installment of our 12 Questions with Marvin Perkins, comprised of Brother Perkins’ responses to our last two questions. We’d like to thank Brother Perkins for the time and effort he’s put in to giving us a set of very substantive and thought-provoking responses. Read more »

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part Three

May 24, 2009 | 3 comments
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Here is Part Three of our 12 Questions with Marvin Perkins, comprised of Brother Perkins’ responses to our next five questions. See Parts One, Two, and Four for our introduction of Brother Perkins and his responses to our other questions. Read more »

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part Two

May 21, 2009 | 10 comments
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Here is Part Two of our 12 Questions with Marvin Perkins, comprised of Brother Perkins’ responses to our next four questions. See Parts One, Three and Four for our introduction of Brother Perkins and his responses to our other questions. Read more »

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part One

May 20, 2009 | 32 comments
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Marvin Perkins has graciously agreed to answer a few questions from Times & Seasons. Brother Perkins is a Latter-day Saint music producer who is currently the Public Affairs Co-chair for the Genesis Group and who has worked to nurture understanding between African Americans and Latter-day Saints and attack misconceptions. As part of this effort, he has appeared on CNN, among other places. In late 2007, Brother Perkins and former Genesis Group President Darius Gray put out a DVD entitled “Blacks in the Scriptures” that contains four lecture-style scriptural presentations on Blacks and the Bible, Skin Color, Curses, Equality, Priesthood... Read more »

History and Identity

May 9, 2009 | 3 comments
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I recently read a short essay by Eric Hobsbawm, “Identity History Is Not Enough.” I came across it in his book On History, a collection of essays, but fortunately for you it is available online at the above link (except for the last page, for some reason). Mormonism is not mentioned, but the discussion seems to bear directly on the writing and reading of Mormon history. Read more »

A Mormon in the Family Tree

May 6, 2009 | no comments
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Family Tree Read more »

Mormons as Minorities

April 16, 2009 | 3 comments
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Today I gave a presentation to the William & Mary chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Society on “Mormons as Minorities” in which I discuss some of my research on Mormon legal and political history (and other stuff). If you are interested, you can listen to the presentation here. Read more »

“Aviva Levine”: The God of Her Fathers

April 16, 2009 | no comments
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”Aviva Levine” is the pseudonym used by a woman who told of her conversion to the Church almost 50 years ago. Because I do not know her real name, I cannot update the story she told in 1964, and can only hope that her new life continued as it began. Aviva was born in Hungary in 1932, the daughter of an observant Jewish father and a non-religious, possibly Gentile mother. Read more »

What I Learned about Mormon Courts (and the Writing of Mormon History)

April 13, 2009 | 17 comments
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For those who are interested in Mormon legal history, my article “Preaching to the Court House and Judging in the Temple” was just published in the most recent issue of the BYU Law Review. (You can download a copy of the article here.) This article provides my own take on the rise and fall of civil cases in church courts in the nineteenth-century. Of course the story of how nineteenth-century Mormons took lawsuits over broken contracts, wandering cows, disputed property lines, and the like to their local bishops has been told before, most elaborately in Ed Firmage and Collin... Read more »

I Have a Question, 1891

April 9, 2009 | no comments
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These questions and answers are from the Juvenile Instructor of 1891. Some of them appear in columns headed “Editorial Thoughts,” some of which are explicitly signed The Editor, marking them as the work of George Q. Cannon. Read more »

The Double-Minded Essence of Mormonism

April 8, 2009 | 16 comments
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A while ago I was reading some sermons from the 1880s in the Journal of Discourses.  The 1880s, of course, is the decade when the anti-polygamy crusades were at their most intense.  Thousands of Mormons were incarcerated, the Brethren were in hiding from the law much of the time, and every time you turned around there was a new law confiscating Mormon property or disenfranchising Mormon voters.  Hence, I was surprised to come across a sermon in which George Q. Cannon spoke unironically of his admiration for George Edmunds.  Edmunds was a Republican Senator from Vermont, and the chief... Read more »

En Route to the Field: Missionaries Aboard the S.S. Vestris, 1928

April 3, 2009 | no comments
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En Route to the Field: Missionaries Aboard the S.S. Vestris, 1928

David Henry Huish, born in the Mormon colony of Morelos, Sonora, Mexico in 1906, and Keith Wynder Burt, born in the Mormon colony of Cardston, Alberta, Canada in 1908, met in the Mission Home in Salt Lake City late in 1928, after both young men had been called to serve missions in South America. After finishing their few days’ training in Salt Lake – which did not include language training – the two young men traveled together by train, via Denver, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., to New York City. They spent two and a half days exploring New York,... Read more »

(Beehive) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – 1916

March 22, 2009 | no comments
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(Beehive) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – 1916

In 1916, the Beehive Girls were Latter-day Saint young women ages 14 and 15 (the 12- and 13-year-olds were still in Primary). Older teens, and even the mothers of Beehive Girls, could learn the same skills and earn the same badges of honor, if they chose to. Beehive Girls from Thatcher, Arizona Read more »

Jensine Hostmark Grundvig: Zionward

March 19, 2009 | no comments
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Jensine Hostmark Grundvig: Zionward

Jensine was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1837, her parents’ youngest child. Her father died when she was 4, her mother when she was 12; she probably spent her youth in the household of one of her much older brothers. In1857 Jensine was married to Frants Christian Grundvig, a young joiner who had come to Copenhagen a few years earlier to learn his trade. Read more »

What My Father Did

March 16, 2009 | 34 comments
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What My Father Did

A few weeks ago my father retired after spending three decades working for the Church Historical Department.  I’m no doubt guilty of an excess of filial piety, but I think that the Church and Kingdom are better for the work that he did.  Read more »

The Salamander Letter in a nutshell

March 16, 2009 | 32 comments
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So, what is this scary Salamander Letter that the church is hiding from everybody?    Read more »

Forgetting, and History

March 12, 2009 | 11 comments
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From Ernest Renan, a French 19th-century philosopher: Forgetting, and I would say even historical error, is an essential element in the creation of a nation, and that is why the progress of historical studies is often a danger for the nation itself. Read more »

Monument to the Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

March 12, 2009 | no comments
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Monument to the Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

While uncounted thousands of visual artists have contributed their skills to building Zion, the Fairbanks dynasty holds a special place in the world of Mormon art history: John B. Fairbanks (1855-1940) was one of the art missionaries sent to Paris by the Church, who came home to paint murals for the temples. His sons J. Leo (1878-1946) and Avard T. (1898-1987) have a catalog that must amount to a hundred or more Mormon-themed works: Read more »

Laura Rees Merrill: Replacing Fear with Peace

March 4, 2009 | no comments
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Laura Liona Rees was born in Brigham City, Utah, in 1876, to LDS parents (her father had emigrated as a convert from England; her mother was born at Council Bluffs). With only an eighth grade, district school education, she studied for and passed the test to be licensed as a grade school teacher. Then she became one of the first women to attend Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) at Logan. Read more »

“You Can’t Go to Heaven in Cologne Water”: A Missionary Talk by J. Golden Kimball

March 2, 2009 | no comments
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If you’re going to be disappointed by a J. Golden talk that doesn’t fit the swearing-elder stereotype, stop reading now. This isn’t that kind of J. Golden story. It is a talk the future Seventy gave to a small South Carolina branch in 1891 during a period when local members – including a woman – had been whipped and shot at, their homes ransacked, and the missionaries ordered out of the county at gunpoint. Read more »

Confidential: Have I Got a Deal for You

February 24, 2009 | no comments
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The original Keepapitchinin printed this “editorial” in 1870: Confidential. We have received the following letter: ”Dear Sir: – a confidential friend having notified us that you can be relied on we send you the enclosed circular.” Read more »