Benchmark Blog

EVENING WITH AN AUTHOR

religion of a different color

Paul Reeve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are excited to announce that Paul Reeve, author of the recently-published Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (published by Oxford University Press) will be here on Wednesday, February 11th to sign and discuss his book. He will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

The Protestant white majority in the nineteenth century was convinced that Mormonism represented a racial—not merely religious—departure from the mainstream and they spent considerable effort attempting to deny Mormon whiteness. Being white equaled access to political, social, and economic power, all aspects of citizenship in which outsiders sought to limit or prevent Mormon participation. At least a part of those efforts came through persistent attacks on the collective Mormon body, ways in which outsiders suggested that Mormons were physically different, racially more similar to marginalized groups than they were white. Medical doctors went so far as to suggest that Mormon polygamy was spawning a new race. Mormons responded with aspirations toward whiteness. It was a back and forth struggle between what outsiders imagined and what Mormons believed. Mormons ultimately emerged triumphant, but not unscathed. At least a portion of the cost of their struggle came at the expense of their own black converts. Mormon leaders moved away from universalistic ideals toward segregated priesthood and temples, policies firmly in place by the early twentieth century. So successful were they at claiming whiteness for themselves, that by the time Mormon Mitt Romney sought the White House in 2012, he was labeled “the whitest white man to run for office in recent memory.” Mormons once again found themselves on the wrong side of white.

“In this revealing study, Paul Reeve puts the subject of Mormon racialization in a new light. Mormons racialized others, to be sure, but were in turn racialized themselves. In the nineteenth century critics denigrated Mormons by seeing them as racially a between-people, near-Black, friendly to Indians, and likely allies of the yellow hordes. The church’s compensating rush to whiteness, unfortunately, went too far. Now Mormons are seen as too white, obscuring their innate inclination to universalism. No one has told this excruciating story so well as Reeve.”-Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

“Religion of a Different Color plows truly new and important ground in explaining the fuller story of Mormonism’s place in the long American struggle with racial bigotry, as well as the uses of racialist thinking in U.S. history more generally. Previous studies have tried to explain the traditional racial teachings of Mormonism mainly by reference to doctrines and developments inside the Church. This new study instead analyzes the heavily racialized context of the entire nation, in which Mormons became both victims and perpetrators of racist policies and practices.”-Armand L. Mauss, author of All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormons Conceptions of Race and Lineage

Paul Reeve, Associate Professor of History at the University of Utah, is the former Associate Chair of the History Department at the University of Utah where he teaches courses on Utah history, Mormon history, and the history of the U.S. West.  He is the recipient of the University of Utah’s Early Career Teaching Award and of the College of Humanities Ramona W. Cannon Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.  He serves on the Board of Editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly and was a past board member of the Mormon History Association and the Faculty Advisory Council of the University of Utah Press. He received the Smith-Pettit Best First Book Award for Making Space on the Western Frontier from the Mormon History Association in 2008

 

(click on any title below to order online)

Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. Oxford University Press, 2015. 352pp. Hardback. $34.95.

 

Also by Paul Reeve:

Making Space on the Western Frontier: Mormons, Miners, and Southern Paiutes. University of Illinois Press, 2006. 231pp. Hardback. $37.00

Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia (co-edited with Ardis Parshall). ABC-CLIO, 2010. 449pp. Hardback. $85.00

Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore (co-edited with Michael Scott Van Wagenen). Utah State University Press, 2011. 243pp. Paperback. $24.95

Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional (USPS)–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax

 

 

Despite the cold weather, great new books continue to be published!  We have received several titles, both new and sale books (save nearly 70% on Terryl Givens’ Viper on the Hearth!). Check them out and see if something piques your interest. To order, please call 801-486-3111 or e-mail us at info@benchmarkbooks.com

NEW BOOKS

  • for the causeFor the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 by Russell W. Stevenson. Greg Kofford Books, 2014. 419pp. Paperback–$32.95/Hardback—$66.95. This book broaches one of the most sensitive topics in the history of Mormonism: the story of the LDS community’s turbulent relationship with the black population. For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 promises to tell a story of how an American religious community could wander through the rocky landscape of American racial politics, all while hoping to hold onto its institutional integrity in the face of attacks from both within and without. Drawing on a rich array of archival documents and oral testimonies, For the Cause of Righteousness suggests that understanding race and Mormonism requires far more than watching the movements of well-dressed men on North Temple; it calls for understanding the dynamics of global Mormon communities ranging from Mowbray to Accra, from Berkeley to Rio de Janeiro. But as any historian will say, primary sources matter. Thus, For the Cause of Righteousness offers up not only a narrative history of the global black Mormon community but also an anthology of primary source transcripts: letters, newspaper articles, and speech transcripts, all in hopes that readers might take one more step toward understanding a story that simultaneously inspires, troubles, and urges Latter-day Saints into understanding a provincial religion that has reached global proportions.**paperback copies are signed**
  • Search Ponder]Search, Ponder and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels by Julie M. Smith. Greg Kofford Books, 2014. 283pp. Paperback–$27.95/Hardback–$60.95. Latter-day Saints already familiar with the New Testament will find a wealth of new insights into the cultural, historical, and literary background of the Gospels. Research previously shrouded in academic jargon is presented in a way that is not only understandable, but encourages readers to evaluate the evidence for themselves and to draw their own conclusions. Over 4,000 thought-provoking questions allow readers to ponder the scriptures in new and exciting ways. In many ways, this book immediately and directly facilitates a close, deliberate, and thoughtful reading of the scriptural text.“Julie Smith has made a substantial contribution, not simply to the growing field of serious Mormon scholarship on the Bible, but to the LDS community as a whole. In Search, Ponder, and Pray, Smith shares her impressive gift to ask questions that lead to powerful literary, historical, and devotional insights. This is the type of book I wish I would have had at the beginning of my career. It is my sincere hope that every teacher involved with church education will take advantage of this incredible resource.” — David Bokovoy, author of Authoring the Old Testament
  • honoring juanitaHonoring Juanita Brooks: A Compilation of 30 Annual Presentations from the Juanita Brooks Lecture Series, Dixie State University comp. by Douglas D. Alder. Dixie State University, 2014. 854pp. Paperback. $18.75. Juanita Brooks’ influence was such that she had a lecture series named for her five years before her 1989 death. In 1984, Obert C. Tanner, founder of O.C. Tanner Co., endowed the Juanita Brooks Lectures Series at what is now Dixie State University, the same institution where Brooks herself was an instructor for a time. Each year a different respected scholar from throughout Utah and across the United State comes to St. George to deliver the lecture. Like Brooks, many of the scholars have written about Mormon history. Some of them share her membership in the church, others do not. But they all have a common goal: objective history over partisan posturing. Among the lecturers are prominent historians like Levi S. Peterson (1989) and Pulitzer Prize-winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (1992). While most are LDS, some like Jan Shipps (1987) and Larry Logue (1990), are not. Similarly, some are locals like Hurricane native W. Paul Reeve (2007) and Cedar City resident Wayne K. Hinton (2001), while others come from northern Utah or even other states.
  • These ThingsThese Things I Know: The Autobiography of William Grant Bangerter comp. by Cory William Bangerter. Voices and Images (BYU Print Services), 2013. 567pp. Hardback. $32.99. William Grant Bangerter’s life spanned many momentous events in the 20th Century: from the pre-penicillin era plagues of influenza to modern AIDS; from the economic collapse of 1929 and the Great Depression to prosperity of the latter 20th century; through world wars and conflicts, including “The Great War” (World War I), World War II (in which he was an active participant), Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars and others. Bangerter was heavily involved in the development of the Church in Brazil, serving as a missionary and mission president there. The remaining years of his life were spent first as an assistant to the Twelve and then as a Seventy.
  • joseph smith and latterJoseph Smith and the Latter-Day Saints, vol. 1 by Richard Lloyd Dewey. Stratford Books, 2014. 846pp. Hardback. $43.99. Eleven years in the making, Dewey’s book captures Joseph’s tumultuous life story, backing it up all the way with thousands of facts—many not widely known even among Latter-day Saints. He quotes numerous journals and letters of neighbors on the farms and villages who actually knew Joseph Smith. And he characterizes the fascinating relationships Joseph had with friends and enemies alike, as the reader get to know Joseph on a personal level. Written from the viewpoint of a believer, this book tackles the controversies head-on, with the pro and anti-sources analyzed. This meticulously researched first volume (of a three volume series) covers the first 25 years of Joseph’s 38-year life.
  • helen andelinHelen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement by Julie Debra Neuffer. University of Utah Press, 2014. 190pp. Paperback. $19.95. In 1961, Helen Andelin, housewife and mother of eight, languished in a lackluster, twenty-year-old marriage. A religious woman, she fasted and prayed for help. As she studied a set of women’s advice booklets from the 1920s, Andelin had an epiphany that not only changed her life but also affected the lives of millions of American women. She applied the principles from the booklets and found that her disinterested husband became loving and attentive. He bought her gifts and hurried home from work to be with her. Andelin took her new-found happiness as a sign that it was her religious duty to share these principles with other women. She began leading small discussion groups for women at her church. The results were dramatic. In 1963, at the urging of her followers, Andelin wrote and self-published Fascinating Womanhood. The book, which borrowed heavily from those 1920s advice booklets, the Bible, and classical literature, eventually sold over three million copies and launched a nationwide organization of classes and seminars led by thousands of volunteer teachers (including the author’s mother).
  • god seedThe God Seed: Probing the Mystery of Spiritual Development by M. Catherine Thomas. Digital Legend, 2014. 330pp. Paperback. $22.95. We believe many things but don’t always know how to implement them. We believe that human beings can grow into Gods; we accept the importance of coming to Christ and also of awakening our divine attributes and powers — but how to do that seems obscure. Likely a list of spiritual to-do’s ceases to serve. So we may find ourselves seeking a more fulfilling path — but where to set our foot? In recent years, studies in adult developmental psychology have cast unexpected light on the path to Godhood. They illustrate that human beings already possess the potent seeds for unfolding into more highly developed beings. We learn that spiritual practices can shape the mind into and instrument for facilitating spiritual growth and experience, that is, for continuing from “grace to grace.” Along the way, venturing into the unknown, we shed false concepts about ourselves, about our reality, and about God Himself.
  • flunkingFlunking Sainthood Every Day: A Daily Devotional for the Rest of Us by Jana Riess. Paraclete Press, 2014. 328pp. Hardback w/ ribbon. $23.99. Over one year recounted in Flunking Sainthood, Riess failed twelve different spiritual practices. To her surprise, thought, she learned something important even from the ones she failed most spectacularly. In this new 365 daily devotional, readers who are looking for spiritual growth will find guidance, arranged according to monthly practices such as gratitude, generosity, prayer, Sabbath-keeping, and hospitality. Each day’s reading has a reflection from a contemporary or classic spiritual thinker, a short scripture verse, and a brief prayer, reflection, or follow-up action. This daily devotional helps us know that there is great compassion for all of us who are flunking sainthood as we learn that spiritual growth is a lifelong journey without a fixed destination.

SALE BOOKS

  • viperThe Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy (updated ed.) by Terryl L. Givens. Paperback. Reg. $24.95, SALE $7.99. Nineteenth-century American writers frequently cast the Mormon as a stock villain in such fictional genres as mysteries, westerns, and popular romances. The Mormons were depicted as a violent and perverse people–the “viper on the hearth”–who sought to violate the domestic sphere of the mainstream. Givens is the first to reveal how popular fiction, in its attempt to deal with the sources and nature of this conflict, constructed an image of the Mormon as a religious and social “Other.” Includes a chapter with some recent developments.
  • american_crucifixionAmerican Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church by Alex Beam. Hardback. Reg. $26.99, SALE $19.99. In American Crucifixion, Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelation—the doctrine of polygamy—created a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.
  • menaceThe Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South by Patrick Q. Mason. Hardback. Reg. $29.95, SALE $9.99. Mason, a Research Associate Professor at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame, demonstrates that anti-Mormonism was one of the earliest vehicles for reconciliation between North and South after the Civil War and Reconstruction.  He shows how southerners turned to legislation, to religion and, most dramatically, to vigilante violence in order to vanquish this perceived threat to Christian marriage and the American republic.
  • brigham youngBrigham Young: A Concise Biography of the Mormon Moses by Ed Breslin. Hardback. Reg. $24.95, SALE $9.99. In Brigham Young, Ed Breslin distills Young’s larger-than-life story into a concise, readable biography that focuses on his most critical moments and achievements. Unlike other biographies, Breslin’s account neither whitewashes nor sensationalizes Brigham Young’s controversial life. Brigham Young is the perfect primer on Young’s vast and complicated legacy.
  • harpercollins The HarperCollins Visual Guide to the New Testament: What Archaeology Reveals about the First Christians by Jonathan L. Reed. Paperback. Reg. $24.95, SALE $9.99. This one-of-a-kind presentation of the New Testament world and its archaeological treasures provides a new, more complete understanding of the world in which Christianity was born. Through lavish photographs, architectural plans, extensive maps, and detailed charts, you can explore the landscape of Nazareth where Jesus grew up; sit at the shores of Galilee where he preached; and enter the streets and temple of Jerusalem where his ministry was fulfilled.
  • judasJudas: A Biography by Susan Gubar. Hardback. Reg. $27.95, SALE $7.99. “If Judas had not existed, God would have had to invent him. The divine script called for betrayal with a kiss, and someone had to be cast in that role. Judas, the intimate friend of the Son, became thus the indispensable collaborator of the Father and a figure of endlessly inviting ambivalence for the Western imagination. Susan Gubar has assembled a tour-de-force collection of Judas-art and Judas-literature and turned it into a Judas biography full of thought, heart, and fascination.” — Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography
  • zondervanZondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity by Jonathan Hill. Hardback. Reg. $39.99, SALE $19.99. Full of lavish full-color photographs and illustrations, the Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity offers a sweeping history of the Christian faith from the time of Jesus and the apostles till now. The early and later church fathers; Africa, the Middle East, and the Missions East; the Byzantine Empire; the High Middle Ages; the Reformation; Reason and Revival; Modern America and Oceania … seventeen sections cover all these and many more aspects of Christian history in vivid and engaging detail. Features include:* Comprehensive, highly readable coverage of the history of Christianity by expert contributor

    * 42 feature articles on relevant and fascinating topics such as Origen, the Inquisition, Darwinism, African church music, the great Russian novelists, and witch hunts

    * 200 full-color photos and illustrations * Maps, charts, and timelines

We have posted videos from our last several signing events:

Jedediah Rogers (Council of Fifty), 12/17/14

Gerrit Dirkmaat and Brent Rogers (Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, vol. 3), 12/4/14

Samuel Brown (First Principles and Ordinances), 11/19/14

Robert Kirby (The Essential Kirby Canon), 11/12/14

To watch these (or past) videos, please visit the Events tab above or click here.

For our next Countdown to Christmas Cyber Deal, take 20% off any book (new or used) with “Joseph Smith” in the title. This offer is good through the end of the day (12/23). Please make sure you let us know you saw this post when placing your order.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good book!

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It’s time for the next deal (valid through the end of tomorrow—12/20—only)—take 30% off any used biography under $100. Make sure to mention that you saw this post when you order.

 

To see some choices, come visit the store or check out:

http://www.benchmarkbooks.com/?product_cat=usedop-biographies

COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS CYBER SALE

Starting today, we will be offering several killer deals leading up to Christmas. Beginning with the next deal, they will be found exclusively on our website (www.benchmarkbooks.com) and on our Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/OdM3gk). Make sure to follow our webpage by entering your e-mail address in this box at the right margin of the page:

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You can “like” our Facebook page by clicking like at the top:

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We are kicking off the deals today by offering copies of The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith by Terryl and Fiona Givens (published by Deseret Book) at 25% off! Like all the rest of the deals, this is valid only on the day of the offer.

Make sure to follow our webpage and like our Facebook page so you don’t miss out!

Also, as an added incentive, refer a friend to our webpage or Facebook page, have them follow or like us and you both get 20% off your next book here!

 

 SPEND YOUR LUNCH BREAK WITH AN AUTHOR

for the cause Russell Stevenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are pleased to announce that Russell Stevenson, author of For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 (published by Greg Kofford Books)—will be here for a lunchtime signing on Friday, Dec 19. He will be here from 11:30 to 12:30 to sign copies of his book and chat. We hope you will be able to make it but, if not, we can mail a signed copy to you or hold it for pick-up here at the store. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

This book broaches one of the most sensitive topics in the history of Mormonism: the story of the LDS community’s turbulent relationship with the black population. For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 promises to tell a story of how an American religious community could wander through the rocky landscape of American racial politics, all while hoping to hold onto its institutional integrity in the face of attacks from both within and without. Drawing on a rich array of archival documents and oral testimonies, For the Cause of Righteousness suggests that understanding race and Mormonism requires far more than watching the movements of well-dressed men on North Temple; it calls for understanding the dynamics of global Mormon communities ranging from Mowbray to Accra, from Berkeley to Rio de Janeiro.

But as any historian will say, primary sources matter. Thus, For the Cause of Righteousness offers up not only a narrative history of the global black Mormon community but also an anthology of primary source transcripts: letters, newspaper articles, and speech transcripts, all in hopes that readers might take one more step toward understanding a story that simultaneously inspires, troubles, and urges Latter-day Saints into understanding a provincial religion that has reached global proportions.

“In Russell Stevenson’s For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, he extends the story of Mormonism’s long-standing priesthood ban to the broader history of the Church’s interaction with blacks. In so doing he introduces both relevant atmospherics and important new context. These should inform all future discussions of this surprisingly enduring subject.”

— Lester E. Bush, author of “Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview”

Russell Stevenson is an independent historian and author of Black Mormon: The Story of Elijah Ables. He has also been published in the Journal of Mormon HistoryDialogue, and Oxford University Press’s American National Biography Series. He currently resides in East Lansing, Michigan.

 

For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013. Greg Kofford Books, 437pp. Paperback–$32.95/Hardback—$66.95

also by Russell Stevenson: Black Mormon: The Story of Elijah Ables. PrintStar, 2013. 129pp. $16.99

Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional. Priority/FedEx/UPS options available—inquire for details

Utah residents—add 7.05% sales tax

 

POLYGAMY RESOURCES

With the recent release of several Gospel Topics essays on the Church’s website (see here) and general interest in the topic of polygamy, we thought we would highlight some key resources on the subject. If you would like to order copies of any of the titles or have questions about them, please give us a call at 801/486-3111 or e-mail us at info@benchmarkbooks.com. We have limited quantities of some of these titles and they may need to be ordered.

  • insacredCompton, Todd. In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. Signature Books, 1997. 788pp. Hardback. $43.95. In this one-of-a-kind study, Todd Compton created chapter-length biographies for each of the 33 wives of Joseph Smith that he could document. The majority of Smith’s wives were younger than he, and one-third were between fourteen and twenty years of age. Another third were already married, and some of the husbands served as witnesses at their own wife’s polyandrous wedding. In addition, some of the wives hinted that they bore Smith children—most notably Sylvia Sessions’s daughter Josephine—although the children carried their stepfather’s surname. For all of Smith’s wives, the experience of being secretly married was socially isolating and emotionally draining. Along with the spiritual and temporal benefits, which they acknowledged, they found their faith tested to the limit of its endurance. A landmark study. Best Book Award from both the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association.
  • jspHales, Brian C. Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Vol. 1: History (vols. 2 & 3 are temporarily out of print). Greg Kofford Books, 2013. 623pp. Hardback. $36.95. Victorian America saw plural marriage as immoral and Joseph Smith as acting on libido. However, the private writings of Nauvoo participants and other polygamy insiders tell another, more complex and nuanced story. Many of these accounts have never been published while others have been printed sporadically in unrelated publications. Drawing on every known historical account, whether by supporters or opponents, Volume 1 (along with vol. 2—vol. 3 discusses theology) takes a fresh look at the chronology and development of Mormon polygamy, including the difficult conundrums of the Fanny Alger relationship, polyandry, the “angel with a sword” accounts, Emma Smith’s poignant response, and the possibility of Joseph Smith offspring by his plural wives. Among the most intriguing are the newly available Andrew Jenson papers containing not only the often-quoted statements by surviving plural wives but also Jenson’s own private research, conducted in the late nineteenth century.  An exhaustive study and a valuable resource.
  • npSmith, George D. Nauvoo Polygamy: “…but we called it celestial marriage.” Signature Books, 2008. 705pp. Hardback. Reg. $39.95, SALE $14.99/2011. 728pp. Paperback (revised 2nd ed.). $28.95.  In this thoroughly researched and documented work, the author shows how the prophet introduced single and married women to this new form of “celestial marriage”—a privilege granted to the elect men of Nauvoo. Through their journals, letters, and affidavits, the participants tell their stories in intimate detail—before polygamy was forcibly abandoned and nearly forgotten. Perhaps the most notable feature of George Smith’s contribution is the way in which public elements of Nauvoo, such as sermons given by Joseph Smith, are placed in context of what was occurring “behind the scenes” with the development of polygamy.
  • mpVan Wagoner, Richard S. Mormon Polygamy: A History. Signature Books, 1989. 255p. Paperback, $19.95. In this comprehensive survey of Mormon polygamy, Richard Van Wagoner details the tumultuous reaction among insiders and outsiders to plural marriage. In an honest, methodical way, he traces the origins, the peculiarities common to the midwestern and later Utah periods, and post-1890 new marriages. Drawing heavily on first-hand accounts, he outlines the theological underpinnings and the personal trauma associated with this lifestyle. What emerges is a portrait that neither discounts nor exaggerates the historical evidence. He presents polygamy in context, neither condemning nor defending, while relevant contemporary accounts are treated sympathetically but interpreted critically. No period of Mormon history is emphasized over another. Scattered throughout the western United States today are tens of thousands of fundamentalist Mormons who still live “the principle.” They, too, are a part of Joseph Smith’s legacy and are included in this study. Still the only comprehensive history of polygamy ever written.
  • moreDaynes, Kathryn M. More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910. University of Illinois Press, 2008. 305pp. Paperback. $26.00. More Wives Than One offers an in-depth look at the long-term interaction between belief and the practice of polygamy, or plural marriage, among the Latter-day Saints. Focusing on the small community of Manti, Utah, Kathryn M. Daynes provides an intimate view of how Mormon doctrine and Utah laws on marriage and divorce were applied in people’s lives.
    “Kathryn Daynes has combined meticulous research into the lives of families in Manti, Utah, with a superb sense of the interaction between law and religion. This book is a multi-faceted jewel, illuminating the clashes of doctrine and legislation in nineteenth-century Utah, and the meaning that such clashes had in the lives of individuals. No prior book on polygamy has given us such a rich and thoughtful account of how the Mormon marriage system affected all of society, as well as those who lived the principle.”–Sarah Barringer Gordon, author of The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America
  • modernHales, Brian C. Modern Polygamy and the Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto. Greg Kofford Books, 2011. 524pp. Paperback. $31.95. This fascinating study seeks to trace the historical tapestry that is early Mormon polygamy, details the official discontinuation of the practice by the Church, and, for the first time, describes the many zeal-driven organizations that arose in the wake of that decision. Among the polygamous groups discussed are the LeBaronites, whose “blood atonement” killings sent fear throughout Mormon communities in the late seventies and the eighties; the FLDS Church, which made news recently over its construction of a compound and temple in Texas and Warren Jeffs’ arrest and conviction; and the Allred and Kingston groups, two major factions with substantial membership statistics both in and out of the United States. All these absorbing histories, along with those of the smaller independent groups, are examined and explained in a way that all can appreciate. Best Book Award–John Whitmer Historical Association.
  • persistence 1`Bringhurst, Newell and Craig L. Foster (eds.). The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy.   306pp. Paperback–$24.95/Hardback–$39.95. The first in a three-volume anthology in which top scholars examine the entire range and history of Mormon polygamy. Essays include: “Mormon Polygamy before Nauvoo? The Relationship of Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger” (Don Bradley), “Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants: Its Complex Contents and Controversial Legacy” (Newell G. Bringhurst),  “Joseph Smith and the Puzzlement of ‘Polyandry’” (Brian C. Hales),  “Joseph Smith, the Question of Polygamous Offspring, and DNA Analysis” (Ugo A. Perego).
  • persistence 2Bringhurst, Newell and Craig L. Foster (eds.). The Persistence of Polygamy: From Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom to the First Manifesto, 1844-1890. 372pp. Hardback–$39.95. In this second volume, the editors have assembled an array of new research into the wide diversity of polygamy as practiced by different Latter Day Saint groups during the later nineteenth century. Essays include: “For Time and All Eternity: The Complex Brigham Young Polygamous Households” by Jeffery Johnson, “Brigham Young, African-Americans, and Plural Marriage: Schism and the Beginnings of Black Priesthood Denial” by Connell O’Donovan, “Six Polygamous LDS Presidents and their Wives: From Brigham Young through Heber J. Grant” by Craig Foster, “Three Schismatic Mormons Leaders and Plural Marriage: Alpheus Cutler, William Smith, and Lyman Wight” by Christopher Blythe, “LDS Joseph F. Smith v. RLDS Joseph Smith III: Records of Nauvoo Polygamy and the Conflict that Forged Them” by Don Bradley and Brian Hales, “The RLDS Church’s Changing Policy on Plural Marriage and the Bringing Forth of RLDS Doctrine and Covenants Section 150” by Richard Howard
  • RevelationSmith, Merina. Revelation, Resistance & Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830-1853. Utah State University, 2013. 267pp. Hardback, $29.95. Author Merina Smith explores the introduction of polygamy in Nauvoo, a development that unfolded amid scandal and resistance. Smith considers the ideological, historical, and even psychological elements of the process and captures the emotional and cultural detail of this exciting and volatile period in Mormon history. She illuminates the mystery of early adherents’ acceptance of such a radical form of marriage in light of their dedication to the accepted monogamous marriage patterns of their day. When Joseph Smith began to reveal and teach the doctrine of plural marriage in 1841, even stalwart members like Brigham Young were shocked and confused. In this thoughtful study, Smith argues that the secret introduction of plural marriage among the leadership coincided with an evolving public theology that provided a contextualizing religious narrative that persuaded believers to accept the principle. This fresh interpretation draws from diaries, letters, newspapers, and other primary sources and is especially effective in its use of family narratives.
  • polygamousHarline, Paula Kelly. Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women. Oxford University Press, 2014. 244pp. Hardback. $29.95. Polygamous wives were participants in a controversial and very public religious practice that violated most nineteenth-century social and religious rules of a monogamous America. Harline considers the questions: Were these women content with their sacrifice? Did the benefits of polygamous marriage for the Mormons outweigh the human toll it required and the embarrassment it continues to bring? Polygamous wives faced daunting challenges not only imposed by the wider society but within the home, yet those whose writings Harline explores give voice to far more than unhappiness and discontent. The personal writings of these lesser-known women, all married to different husbands, are the heart of this remarkable book–they paint a vivid and sometimes disturbing picture of an all but vanished and still controversial way of life.
  • solemnHardy, B. Carmon. Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage. University of Illinois Press, 1992. 435pp. Hardback. $42.00. In his famous Manifesto of 1890, Wilford Woodruff called for an end to the more than fifty-year practice of polygamy. Fifteen years later, two men were dramatically expelled from the Quorum of Twelve Apostles for having taken post-Manifesto plural wives and encouraged the step by others. Evidence reveals, however, that hundreds of Mormons (including several apostles) were given approval to enter such relationships after they supposedly were banned. Why would Mormon leaders endanger agreements allowing Utah to become a state and risk their church’s reputation by engaging in such activities–all the while denying the fact to the world? This book seeks to find the answer through a review of the Mormon polygamous experience from its beginnings. Solemn Covenant provides the most careful examination ever undertaken of Mormon theological, social, and biological defenses of the principle.
  • questionGordon, Sarah Barringer. The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth Century America. UNC Press, 2002. 337pp. Paperback–$32.50/Hardback–$77.95. From the Mormon Church’s public announcement of its sanction of polygamy in 1852 until its formal decision to abandon the practice in 1890, people on both sides of the “Mormon question” debated central questions of constitutional law. Did principles of religious freedom and local self-government protect Mormons’ claim to a distinct, religiously based legal order? Or was polygamy, as its opponents claimed, a new form of slavery–this time for white women in Utah? And did constitutional principles dictate that democracy and true liberty were founded on separation of church and state?  As Sarah Barringer Gordon shows, the answers to these questions finally yielded an apparent victory for antipolygamists in the late nineteenth century, but only after decades of argument, litigation, and open conflict. Victory came at a price; as attention and national resources poured into Utah in the late 1870s and 1880s, antipolygamists turned more and more to coercion and punishment in the name of freedom. They also left a legacy in constitutional law and political theory that still governs our treatment of religious life: Americans are free to believe, but they may well not be free to act on their beliefs.

The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Jedediah Rogers)

Just a reminder that Jedediah S. Rogers, editor of the much anticipated Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (published by Signature Books), will be here on Wednesday, Dec 17th to speak about and sign his book. Please note that this event will be slightly different from our other events:

The publisher, Signature Books, has generously provided for the acclaimed Chow Truck to serve complimentary gourmet sliders and beverages. The food will be served in our parking lot (to the east of the building) from 5:30 to 6:30. (We will have some chairs in our east lobby and in the hall for those who wish to eat inside). We then invite you to come upstairs to the store where Jed will speak beginning at 6:30.  Following his remarks and Q&A, the editor will then be available again to chat and sign books.

For more, info click here and to RSVP on Facebook, click here.

We thought that our report from this very interesting presentation would be a good teaser for tonight’s event with Gerrit Dirkmaat and Brent Rogers!

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The current JSP lineup

**click on any image to enlarge**

On Monday, we were invited to attend a release event at the Church History Library for the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers–Documents, vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834. We enjoyed seeing friends and bloggers and hearing from four people associated with the Joseph Smith Papers project. First, our good friend Matt Grow gave an update on forthcoming volumes. 2015 will see first the publication of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon (in two volumes)—release date will probably be in the summer. Like the oversize Revelations & Translations. Manuscript Revelation Books – Facsimile Edition volume, these volumes will feature a full-color scan of the original and the transcription on the facing page. The estimated retail at this point is $89.95/vol. Next, in the fall, the long-awaited third and final volume in the Journals series.

2016 will be an even busier year. First, in the spring, volume 4 in the Documents series will be released. Then, sometime in the middle of the year, a blockbuster release—the first volume in the Administrative series. This volume will include the complete minutes from the Nauvoo-era Council of Fifty.  These minutes—long held in the First Presidency vault and unavailable to scholars—are a very welcome inclusion in the project. Finally, in the second half of the year, the first volume in yet another series—Legal and Business—will be released.

Grow also discussed the revamped JSP website—elements of the website now being added include photos, topic/area pages, improved document viewer (with table of contents for large documents), updated search capability (sorting, quicker, suggested search, filters), individual pages for each print volume and, perhaps most intriguing, lesson plans that integrate the JSP with curriculum (geared to university classes—perhaps with church curriculum in the future?).

Following Grow’s introductory remarks, we heard from co-lead editor Gerrit Dirkmaat. He noted that this volume starts off benignly with great hopes—church leaders were trying to expand Kirtland (several documents discuss how to purchase more land). Though the Peter French farm purchase is fairly well-known, they intended to acquire much more land than this. Gerrit noted jokingly that “I don’t think they had two dimes to rub together” but somehow they came up with the money.

A particularly intriguing entry in this volume is minutes from 18 March 1833—it appears to be a School of the Prophets meeting. The scribe, Frederick G. Williams, nonchalantly recorded that “many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the savior and concourses of angels.” We discussed why, despite Williams’ statement that “each one has a record of what they saw,” no other contemporary reference to this event exists (Zebedee Coltrin was famously asked about this vision fifty years later, also in a School of the Prophets setting). Following this experience, “the wheels come off very quickly” both in Kirtland and Independence at roughly same time (mid-summer 1833). In Kirtland, this was due more to internal factors—disgruntled former Mormon Philastus Hurlbut created serious problems with his allegations and efforts to collect affidavits attesting to perceived Mormon shortcomings (this endeavor, funded by Eber D. Howe, resulted in the publication of Mormonism Unvailed—an annotated edition of this important work will be issued soon by Signature Books).  One of the most durable claims Hurlbut made was that he had seen a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding that was tweaked by Joseph Smith and then reported to be the Book of Mormon translation. By summer 1833, most documents are of “response” type  dealing with the fallout of Hurlbut’s determined efforts.

Next, Gerrit discussed the evolving concept of township poor funds and how these could affect residence within the township. Due to frequent abuse of the fund, the overseers could “warn out” people and, in some cases, physically deport them. Once this happened, those “warned out” could not establish legal residence in the township. The aforementioned Eber D. Howe noted that “every legal means” was used to prevent Mormon dominance in Kirtland and this strategy very well may have been in his mind when he wrote that. An October 1833 warrant in this volume relates to the “warning out” effort.

Alison Palmer, lead production editor for this volume, next got to employ some very impressive “show and tell” to demonstrate some of the challenges involved in producing a print volume for this time period. The plans and plats included here demonstrate the wider talents and goals of Mormon leaders and are key pieces to understanding these individuals. However, since the documents themselves are huge, they presented a unique obstacle to represent typographically. For example, how to include the colored Kirtland plat in a useful way—with the temple block in the center and residential plots around the edges thereof—gave them some heartburn. The solution they devised was to divide the large image into smaller sections, include an image of the original and transcribe anything written on it. Though today these documents are priceless, at the time they were certainly not seen as such. For example, the plan for the Kirtland temple was used as “scratch paper” and served as backing for some of the papyri associated with the Book of Abraham. The plans and plats were revised continually—this is best seen in the iconic plat for the city of Zion.  Only by seeing this in person can one see that the center temple block has actually been pasted over an earlier version (we asked if we could just peel that back and see the original—everyone agreed that archivists would have no problem with that…).

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revised plat for city of Zion

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zoomed in on temple block

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shows pasted-on revision to temple block

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architectural drawings of exterior of Kirtland Temple

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closeup of pulpits in Kirtland Temple drawings

The conflict in Jackson is beginning to rage as these particular documents were being created—the drive to create Zion was at the forefront even amidst these difficulties.

The final presenter was the second lead editor, Brent Rogers. He began by pointing out that this volume includes a healthy amount of material on women and lesser known figures. One particular person we discussed was Vienna Jaques who appears several times in the volume. The only woman mentioned by name in the D&C besides Emma Smith, Jaques was a wealthy convert from the East who provided very welcome financial assistance at a critical moment. Another prominent theme in Documents, vol. 3 is the difficulty in managing church growth in various places in a letter-only world. With a lag of three weeks (one way!) for the delivery of a letter, leaders in Kirtland were woefully behind in trying to keep on top of the growing crisis in Missouri. The first hint of trouble there arrived in a letter from John Whitmer—he had just received a package from the leadership in Ohio with city and temple plans.  This juxtaposition of Zion and conflict is a perfect symbol for the nature of this time period—the bulk of the documents reflect these two themes.

As has come to be expected, this volume includes cutting edge scholarship with exhaustive documentation. Future research and publications on the conflicts in Missouri and the plans for building Zion as well as the Kirtland Temple will greatly benefit from the insight and painstaking analysis from the editors of this volume.

EVENING WITH THE EDITOR

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The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Jedediah Rogers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are very excited to announce that Jedediah S. Rogers, editor of the much anticipated Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (published by Signature Books), will be here on Wednesday, Dec 17th to speak about and sign his book. Please note that this event will be slightly different from our other events:

The publisher, Signature Books, has generously provided for the acclaimed Chow Truck to serve complimentary gourmet sliders and beverages. The food will be served in our parking lot (to the east of the building) from 5:30 to 6:30. (We will have some chairs in our east lobby and in the hall for those who wish to eat inside). We then invite you to come upstairs to the store where Jed will speak beginning at 6:30.  Following his remarks and Q&A, the editor will then be available again to chat and sign books. We hope you will be able to make it to this memorable night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

One of the more intriguing developments in Mormon history during Joseph Smith’s lifetime came only a scant few months before his death. In March 1844, the Council of Fifty was formed—council member John D. Lee proclaimed it would replicate the “councils of the gods” in heaven. The intent was to have an organization that would supervise political campaigns and send explorers out in search of locations where the church could establish satellite colonies. As events unfolded, their scouting forays into Oregon and Texas proved useful when tensions mounted in Illinois and Mormons began looking for a new home base.

In the Great Basin the council oversaw everything from water rights to the regulation of hunting and grazing during the first few years in the valley. The council later appointed a Committee of Seven to monitor the federal “Board of Registration and Election in the Territory of Utah” and to approve candidates for elections, typically only allowing one candidate per office.

Among the council’s more notable practices was how it anointed its leader their temporal king. “After listening to some current items of news” in 1885, council president John Taylor “directed [someone] to read a revelation which [Taylor] said he [had] received … requiring him to be anointed & set apart as a king [and] priest and ruler over Israel on the earth,” upon which they “proceed[ed] to obey the requirement of the revelation.”

Council members clearly felt an inseparable bond, writing about how they spent hours together in “sweet conversation.” One council member described one of the meetings as “a long session but pleasant and harmonious,” while another wrote that “much precious instructions were given, and it seems like heaven began on earth and the power of God is with us.”

Entries in this documentary history are taken from contemporary diaries and letters—in some cases, excerpts or entire sets of meeting minutes are taken from the research notes of Michael Quinn. Helpful annotation from Rogers gives biographical details on members of the council, fleshes out references and provides contextual historical information.

“Some may think the forthcoming Nauvoo minutes are the all-important and sufficient record of the council, but I suspect not. Context is equally important. We don’t yet know exactly what the contents of the minutes might be, but I believe the church’s editors will find themselves hard-pressed to produce anything as thorough and fine as the present volume.”

–from the foreword by Klaus J. Hansen, author of the pioneering study Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History

“This is an extraordinary compendium of information having to do with the foundation of Mormonism and early Utah. It contains virtually every document, outside of church vaults, pertaining to the operation of the Council of Fifty, the secretive and powerful group that worked for forty years to bring about Joseph Smith’s political vision. Rogers sets a new high standard for a documents collection.”

–Gene A. Sessions, professor and author of Mormon Thunder: A Documentary History of Jedediah Morgan Grant

Jedediah S. Rogers is co-editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly. He is the author of the 2012 Wallace Stegner Prize-winning book, Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country, and editor of In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892, winner of the Mormon History Association’s 2008 Best Documentary Book Award and Utah State University Evans Handcart Award.

 

The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History. Signature Books, 2014. 480pp. Hardback. $49.95.

Also by Jedediah Rogers:

Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country. University of Utah Press, 2013. 278pp. Paperback–$24.95/Hardback–$39.95

In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892 (Significant Mormon Diaries Series, limited to 500 copies). Signature Books, 2007. 511pp. Hardback. $125.00.

 

Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional (USPS)–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax

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Just a reminder that Gerrit Dirkmaat and Brent Rogers, two of the editors of the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers—Documents, vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834 (published by The Church Historian’s Press), will be here on Thursday, Dec 4th to speak about and sign their book. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

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