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 email@example.com
* 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!
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:
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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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!
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 History, Dialogue, 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We have limited quantities of some of these titles and they may need to be ordered.
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.
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!
**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…).
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.
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
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.