In Sacred Loneliness: The Documents (ed. Todd Compton)
Signature, hardback, $39.95, September
Plural marriage in the Nauvoo era of LDS Church history has long been a fascinating subject. To understand it fully requires one to look at it from the perspective of the man who introduced it, but just as crucial is a dive into the lives of the women he married, all who have their stories to tell. In his 1997 award-winning study, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Todd Compton focused on the thirty-three women who he could demonstrate that Smith married, providing life stories of many who were well-known and others who have been largely forgotten. In his new work, In Sacred Loneliness: The Documents, Compton returns to his subject and provides the raw materials that helped him create his original study, writings composed by the women themselves.
This volume includes many autobiographical writings, diaries, and letters, with Compton providing annotations and introductory material that illuminates these crucial primary sources. This allows readers to take their understanding of this unique group of women to a new level and to drive home that fact that their lives go far beyond the Nauvoo experiment that forever links them to Mormonism’s founding prophet.
Chosen Path: A Memoir (Michael Quinn)
Signature, hardback, $39.95 fall
After D. Michael Quinn’s death in April 2021, his children found his remarkable, unpublished memoir in his home and entrusted Signature Books with its publication. Relying on his journals, primary research, and reminiscences, Quinn shares his life story as few have heard it—from his father’s hiding of his true name and Mexican identity, to his upbringing by his abusive grandmother, to his choice to closet his homosexuality, to his undying commitment to his faith and its history.
From the age of nine, Quinn felt convicted he would one day serve as an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He chose the path he believed would take him there, eventually living as a straight LDS family man in a mixed-orientation marriage. In the 1970s he became a BYU professor and one of Mormonism’s most promising, prolific, and respected historians. But his uncompromising commitment to total honesty about his religion’s history, along with his homosexuality, set him on a collision course with church leaders and the end of his seemingly idyllic Mormon life. Throughout his telling, Quinn unflinchingly opens up about his feelings and experiences that shaped his enigmatic life.
Open Canon: Scriptures of the Latter Day Saint Diaspora (Christine Elyse Blythe, Christopher James Blythe, Jay Burton, eds.)
University of Utah, 384pp, paperback—$39.95/hardback—$95, September
The publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830 began a new scriptural tradition. Resisting the long-established closed biblical canon, the Book of Mormon posited that the Bible was incomplete and corrupted. With a commitment to an open canon, a variety of Latter Day Saint denominations have emerged, each offering their own scriptural works to accompany the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other revelations of Joseph Smith. Open Canon breaks new ground as the first volume to examine these writings as a single spiritual heritage.
Chapters cover both well-studied and lesser-studied works, introducing readers to scripture dictated by nineteenth- and twentieth-century revelators such as James Strang, Lucy Mack Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Harry Edgar Baker, and Charles B. Thompson, among others. Contributors detail how various Latter Day Saint denominations responded to scriptures introduced during the ministry of Joseph Smith and how churches have employed the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Lectures of Faith over time. Bringing together studies from across denominational boundaries, this book considers what we can learn about Latter Day Saint resistance to the closed canon and the nature of a new American scriptural tradition.
Slavery in Zion: A Documentary and Genealogical History of Black Lives and Black Servitude in Utah Territory, 1847-1862 (Amy Tanner Thiriot)
University of Utah, 384pp, paperback—$39.95/hardback—$95, September
An Akan proverb says, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” This belief underlies historian Amy Tanner Thiriot’s work in Slavery in Zion. The total number of those enslaved during Utah’s past has remained an open question for many years. Due to the nature of nineteenth-century records, particularly those about enslaved peoples, an exact number will never be known, but while writing this book, Thiriot documented around one hundred enslaved or indentured Black men, women, and children in Utah Territory.
Using a combination of genealogical and historical research, the book brings to light events and relationships misunderstood for well over a century. Section One provides an introductory history, chapters on southern and western experiences, and information on life after emancipation. Section Two is a biographical encyclopedia with names, relationships, and experiences. Although this book contains material applicable to legal history and the history of race and Mormonism, its most important goal is to be a treasury of the experiences of Utah’s enslaved Black people so their stories can become an integral part of the history of Utah and the American West, no longer forgotten or written out of history.
Imperial Zions: Religion, Race, and Family in the American West and the Pacific (Amanda Hendrix-Komoto)
University of Nebraska, 276pp, paperback—$30/hardback—$99, October
In the nineteenth century, white Americans contrasted the perceived purity of white, middle-class women with the perceived eroticism of women of color and the working classes. The Latter-day Saint practice of polygamy challenged this separation, encouraging white women to participate in an institution that many people associated with the streets of Calcutta or Turkish palaces. At the same time, Latter-day Saints participated in American settler colonialism. After their expulsion from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, Latter-day Saints dispossessed Ute and Shoshone communities in an attempt to build their American Zion. Their missionary work abroad also helped to solidify American influence in the Pacific Islands as the church became a participant in American expansion.
Imperial Zions explores the importance of the body in Latter-day Saint theology with the faith’s attempts to spread its gospel as a “civilizing” force in the American West and the Pacific. By highlighting the intertwining of Latter-day Saint theology and American ideas about race, sexuality, and the nature of colonialism, Imperial Zions argues that Latter-day Saints created their understandings of polygamy at the same time they tried to change the domestic practices of Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples. Amanda Hendrix-Komoto tracks the work of missionaries as they moved through different imperial spaces to analyze the experiences of the American Indians and Native Hawaiians who became a part of white Latter-day Saint families. Imperial Zions is a foundational contribution that places Latter-day Saint discourses about race and peoplehood in the context of its ideas about sexuality, gender, and the family.
Eternity in the Ether: A Mormon Media History (Gavin Feller)
University of Illinois, 192pp, paperback—$25/hardback—$110, December
Mass media and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints evolved alongside each other, and communications technology became a fundamental part of the Church’s institutions and communities. Gavin Feller investigates the impact of radio, television, and the internet on Mormonism and what it tells us about new media’s integration into American life. The Church wrestled with the promise of new media to help implement its vision of Zion. But it also had to contend with threat that media posed to the family and other important facets of the Latter-day Saint faith. Inevitably, media technologies forced the leadership and lay alike to reconsider organizational values and ethical commitments. As Feller shows, the conflicts they faced illuminate the fundamental forces of control and compromise that enmesh an emerging medium in American social and cultural life.
Intriguing and original, Eternity in the Ether blends communications history with a religious perspective to examine the crossroads where mass media met Mormonism in the twentieth century.
Mormon Envoy: The Diplomatic Legacy of Dr. John Milton Bernhisel (Bruce W. Worthen)
University of Illinois, 304pp, paperback—$29.95/hardback—$125, January
For more than twenty years, John Milton Bernhisel negotiated with the federal government on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bruce W. Worthen illuminates the life and work of the man whose diplomacy steered the Church’s relationship with Washington, D.C. from its early period of dangerous conflict to a peaceful and pragmatic coexistence.
Having risen from a Pennsylvania backcountry upbringing to become a respected member of the upper class, Bernhisel possessed a personal history that allowed him to reach common ground with politicians and other outsiders. He negotiated for Joseph Smith’s life and, after the Church’s relocation to the Utah Territory, took on the task of rehabilitating the public image of the Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young’s defiance of the government undermined Bernhisel’s work, but their close if sometimes turbulent relationship ultimately allowed Bernhisel to make peace with Washington, secure a presidential pardon for Young, and put Utah and the Latter-day Saints on the road to formally joining the United States.
Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 14 (January–May 1844) (Alex Smith, Adam H. Petty, Spencer W. McBride, Jessica M. Nelson, eds.)
Church Historian’s Press, hardback, $54.95, March 2023
The fourteenth volume in the Documents series, to be published in March 2023, features ninety-nine letters, deeds, accounts of discourses, minutes of meetings, memorials to the nation’s leaders, poems, and other documents, telling of a tumultuous period in Joseph Smith’s life and depict a region on the brink of civil war.
Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 15: 16 May–28 June 1844 (Brett D. Dowdle, Adam H. Petty, J. Chase Kirkham, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, David W. Grua and Matthew C. Godfrey )
Church Historian's Press, hardback, $54.95, June 2023
The fifteenth and last volume in the Documents series, to be published in June 2023, covers the tumultuous final six weeks of Joseph Smith’s life, illuminating especially the events that led to his death. It features one hundred and four documents, representing the core of his documentary output during this period, including his correspondence, accounts of his discourses, administrative minutes, municipal documents, military orders, and legal papers.
Reading Scripture, Reading Creation: The Ancient Near Eastern Context of Genesis 1 (Ben Spackman)
Intellectual History of James E. Talmage (Spencer Fluhman)
Oxford University Press
Oxford Handbook on Mormonism and the Bible
Book of Remembrance: Mormon Sacred Kinship In America (Fenella Cannell)
“The Long Awaited Day”: The LDS Church, African Americans, and the Lifting of the Priesthood Ban, 1945-2015 (Matthew Harris)
Mormonism among Christian Theologies (Brian Birch And Grant Underwood)
Underground But In The Light: The Plural Community of Centennial Park (Jennifer Huss Basquiat)
Every Word Seasoned With Grace: A Textual Study of the Funeral Sermons of Joseph Smith (William V. Smith)
A Compilation of Historical Selections from the General Handbook of Instructions of the Lds Church: 1899-2006 (Michael Paulos)
Mormonism In America (Phil Barlow And Jan Shipps)
Columbia University Press, hardcover, 320 pp, $45.00
Convictions: Mormon Polygamy and Criminal Law Enforcement in Nineteenth-Century Utah (Sarah Gordon/Kathryn Daynes)
University of Illinois
biography of Joseph F. Smith (Steve Taysom)
University of Utah Press