My sincere apologies, friends, but I must impose upon your eyes, web browsers, and feed readers yet again because there now wells up within me that ancient anger against injustice that has boiled the blood of many a Mormon before me. Now, don’t get me wrong: this is familiar territory for us Mormons. Once again, it seems that we’re being labeled as bigots, meddlers, and theocrats for having supported Proposition 8 in California.1 Much like the Missourians who feared the Mormons’ ability to support a cause they disliked (Mormons were generally anti-slavery) some elements of California society seem to have suddenly realized what the Mormons who have dwelt in their midst since before the Gold Rush actually believe in.
To those who accuse us of forgetting the persecutions we suffered in the past, and of now persecuting the gay population: did you really think we’d forgotten? Be assured that the memory of our people being driven from Ohio and Missouri, of our Prophet being murdered in cold blood in Illinois, of being driven from homes in the United States to the desolation of a mountain wilderness, haunts us to this very day. But the Holy Spirit has witnessed to our hearts that the Church is God’s, that the Book of Mormon is a revelation meant for our day, and that the president of the Church, Thomas S. Monson, is a prophet of God. And so it took no coercion to convince us to support traditional marriage.
The church teaches that sexual relations are sinful and wrong in every situation except between a man and a woman who are married to each other. This is known in the church as the law of chastity. Given our support for chastity as defined above, and keeping in mind that the most fundamental meaning of marriage is as society’s (and God’s) official seal of approval upon a sexual relationship, and given furthermore that the defining aspect of a homosexual relationship is, well, homosexuality,2 which does not fit in with the law of chastity, it therefore makes absolutely no sense for Latter-day Saints to wish society to stamp its approval upon gay relationships by calling them “marriage.” It might even be understood as a crime against conscience to do so.34
Much of what I’ve seen written concerning Proposition 8 has suffered from substantial, unacknowledged preexisting biases. Here are some corrections.
Many have presupposed that marriage between people of the same sex is a fundamental right like those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. According to the LA Times:
It was the latest in an escalating campaign directed against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its role in marshaling millions of dollars in contributions from its members for the successful campaign to take away same-sex marriage rights.5
The California voter guide guide put it this way, claiming that Proposition 8
ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY.
The San Francisco Chronicle:
Proposition 8 has passed, denying to some the right enjoyed by other citizens in California, the right to marry. Now, the central question for the courts to decide is: Are gays in California equal, or can members of certain churches declare them constitutionally inferior?
I take issue with the implication that there is some sort of right to have society treat your homosexual relationship as equivalent to the long-established institution of marriage. I wonder to whom the man writing in the SF Chronicle refers with his conspiratorial phrase, “certain churches”? No church has the right to change with the constitution. But the people do.
And what makes forbidding marriage between people of the same gender discriminatory? The prohibition enacted against homosexual marriage applies with equal force to all people. Not having an inclination to participate in marriage as traditionally defined has never been an occasion for special treatment in the past; why should it be now?To quote the comments immediately following that article:
americanb4black: Gays aren’t the only group(s) that doesn’t have the RIGHT to marry, but that’s mainly because there isn’t a RIGHT to marry. Marriage is a privilege given by the society (typically the state) in which you live. Other groups that don’t have a RIGHT to marry: fathers marring daughters, sisters marring brothers, men marring two or more women at once. Should these groups also have the RIGHT to marry?! Why not?!
batmanyey: geez, enough already – the people of california have spoken and Prop 8 won! It doesn’t matter who voted for this proposition the bottom line is the people of california by majority vote DO NOT APPROVE OF GAY MARRIAGE! How many times do the people have to vote on this matter?
dragons7: If there is such a concern about separation of church and state, then why is there such a demand to have gay “marriages”? It would seem to make sense that they would be demanding “civil unions”.
Once marriage means anything and everything, it will clearly mean nothing.
Here’s a statement quoted favorably in this CNN article:
“It really feels personal. It feels like why would someone not want us to live in love and respect,” said protester Jayne Dean-McGilpin.
Do I even need to explain this false dichotomy? So Jayne Dean-McGilpin is saying that anyone who does not want to change the definition of marriage to accommodate homosexuals doesn’t want homosexuals to have loving, respectful relationships. That’s simply false. I hope that all human relationships will be positive, and in the sphere of your own domestic life I hope that translates into love and respect. But marriage is, nonetheless, between a man and a woman.
Separation of Church and State
Another one from CNN:
“I believe that politics and religion should be completely separate,” protester Eric Rogers told CNN affiliate KGO-TV. “This has been, actually, one of those lines that has been blurred by that.”6
Let’s have a little civics lesson. The First Amendment is quite to the point about these issues:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
According to Wikipedia, Justice Souter wrote that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.” Supposing the federal constitution to ultimately be applicable at the state level (as has been established by precedent), no reasonable argument can be made that Proposition 8 was a “law respecting an establishment of religion.” Defining marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibiting anything else from being called marriage is no more a “law respecting an establishment of religion” than are laws which define murder as one person willfully causing the life of another to come to an end and then forbid people to murder.
In claiming that, by supporting Proposition 8, the Mormons have somehow overstepped their rights with regard political discourse, some people seem to think that parts of the First Amendment are suspended with regard to groups who oppose their views. Proposition 8 was a “petition [of] the Government for… redress of [a grievance],” namely, that the Supreme Court of the State of California had redefined a key cultural institution without regard for the negative consequences of so doing. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in organizing themselves to campaign for Proposition 8, were exercising the “right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Moreover, this assembly and petition was done as a manifestation of “the free exercise [of religion]” which, we are told, “Congress shall make no law… prohibiting….” Thus says the fundamental law upon which our republic was built, the Constitution.
It’s About Money?
And, inasmuch as contributions to causes are recognized in the courts as protected speech, all of the church’s media activities (videos, articles, phone calls, websites, etc.) related to the campaign were likewise protected. So this isn’t about the church stepping out of bounds. This is rather about the church standing for something that some gay marriage proponents hate. And it’s also the church’s ability to get things done in support of its views. As church leader and former Utah Supreme Court Justice Dallin H. Oaks has noted:
Perhaps the root fear of those who object to official church participation in political debates is power: They fear that believers will choose to follow the directions or counsel of their religious leaders. Those who have this fear should remember the celebrated maxim of Jefferson “error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” Some may believe that reason is not free when religious leaders have spoken, but I doubt that any religious leader in twentieth century America has such a grip on followers that they cannot make a reasoned choice in the privacy of the voting booth. In fact, I have a hard time believing that the teachings of religions or churches deprive their adherents of any more autonomy in exerting the rights of citizenship than the teachings and practices of labor unions, civil rights groups, environmental organizations, political parties, or any other membership group in our society.7
Steven E. Snow
Executive Director, Church History Department, and Church Historian and Recorder
J. Devn Cornish
Assistant Executive Director, Church History Department
Reid L. Neilson
Managing Director, Church History Department, and Assistant Church Historian and Recorder
NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD
Richard Lyman Bushman
Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University, and former Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University
Terryl L. Givens
James A. Bostwick Chair and Professor of Literature and Religion, University of Richmond
Dean C. Jessee
Founder and Former General Editor, Joseph Smith Papers
Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University
Susan Holbrook Perdue
Program Director, Documents Compass, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, University of Virginia
Stephen J. Stein
Chancellor’s Professor, Emeritus, of Religious Studies and Adjunct Professor of American History and American Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington
Harry S. Stout
Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Religious History and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University
DIRECTOR OF PUBLICATIONS
Matthew J. Grow
was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in March 2001. He is currently serving as executive director of the Church History Department and as church historian and recorder. Elder Snow served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from 2007 to 2012. Before he was appointed to the Seventy, Elder Snow was a senior partner in the Utah law firm of Snow Nuffer. Elder Snow has been actively involved in the support of education, having served as a member and president of his local school board, chairman of the Utah State Board of Regents, and chairman of the Western States Commission of Higher Education. He was appointed a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2012. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Utah State University and a Juris Doctor from Brigham Young University. He chairs the Church History Department Editorial Board.
J. Devn Cornish
was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 2, 2011. At the time of his call, he had been serving as a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy in the North America Southeast Area. He is currently serving as the Assistant Executive Director of the Church History Department. Elder Cornish received a BA in biology from Johns Hopkins University in 1975. In 1978, he received a doctor of medicine, also from Johns Hopkins University. He completed his pediatric residency at the Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard University in 1981. In 1985, he completed a neonatology fellowship program at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. Subsequently, he was Professor and Chairman, and later a Vice Chairman in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. He is a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board.
Reid L. Neilson
is assistant church historian and recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and managing director of the Church History Department. He received his BA in international relations from Brigham Young University in 1996. After graduation he worked for Arthur Andersen’s Strategy, Finance, and Economics Division in Los Angeles and London, consulted for Walt Disney’s Strategic Planning Division in Tokyo, and researched for the University of Michigan Business School’s Asia-Pacific Human Resources Partnership in Hong Kong. He also took graduate degrees in American history and business administration at BYU in 2001 and 2002, respectively. In 2006 he completed his PhD in religious studies (American religious history emphasis) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was named an International Studies Scholar for Tomorrow Fellow. He began his academic career as an assistant professor of LDS church history and doctrine at BYU before joining the Church History Department in 2009. Dr. Neilson is the author of several books and the editor or coeditor of over a dozen volumes. He is a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board.
NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD BIOGRAPHIES
Richard Lyman Bushman,
a member of the National Advisory Board of the Joseph Smith Papers, served as a general editor of the Papers from the project’s founding until 2013. He is Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University and former Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He received his BA and PhD degrees from Harvard University. He taught at Brigham Young University, Boston University, and the University of Delaware before joining the Columbia faculty. His published works include From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690–1765 (1967), King and People in Provincial Massachusetts (1985), and The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities (1992). He has served as president of the Mormon History Association and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. His books on Mormon themes include Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (2005), Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (1984), and Believing History (2004).
Terryl L. Givens,
a member of the Joseph Smith Papers National Advisory Board, is James A. Bostwick Chair and Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond. He received a BA in comparative literature from Brigham Young University and an MA and PhD in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among his religious studies work are several titles with Oxford University Press. His works include The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths and the Construction of Heresy; By the Hand of the Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched a New World Religion; and When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought. His latest book, the first volume of Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought, is titled Cosmos, God, Humanity. He has also published essays in Romanticism, literary theory, and cultural studies.
Dean C. Jessee
is a founder of the Joseph Smith Papers and a member of the National Advisory Board. He served as a general editor of the Papers from the project’s founding until 2013. He received an MA degree in LDS church history from Brigham Young University. His career includes working for the Archives and the History Division of the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1964 to 1981, followed by nineteen years’ service at the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History at Brigham Young University. His years of gathering and publishing Joseph Smith documents laid the groundwork for the current Joseph Smith Papers. His publications include Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (1984, 2001); Papers of Joseph Smith, vols. 1 and 2 (1989, 1991); Brigham Young’s Letters to His Sons (1974); and numerous articles dealing with aspects of nineteenth-century Mormon history. He is a past president of the Mormon History Association.
a member of the National Advisory Board of the Joseph Smith Papers, is a distinguished professor in the humanities at the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her BA from Amherst College in English and religion and completed a PhD in American history at Yale University. She taught previously at Amherst College, Yale University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she chaired the Religious Studies Department for five years. Her research and teaching focus on Mormonism, African American religions, religion on the Pacific borderlands of the Americas, and issues of intercultural contact. The recipient of numerous fellowships and grants and the editor or author of many books and articles, she has most recently published Setting Down the Sacred Past: African-American Race Histories (Harvard University Press, 2010); American Scriptures, a Penguin Classics anthology of sacred texts (2010); and Women’s Work, a coedited collection of writings by African American women historians (Oxford University Press, 2010).
Susan Holbrook Perdue,
a member of the Joseph Smith Papers National Advisory Board, is program director of Documents Compass, a newly created service that provides digital tools and methods to documentary editors. She is the current president of the Association for Documentary Editing. She was senior associate editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, associate editor of The Papers of John Marshall, and research and editorial assistant for The Papers of James Madison. She is the coeditor with Mary-Jo Kline of the third edition of A Guide to Documentary Editing.
Stephen J. Stein,
a member of the National Advisory Board of the Joseph Smith Papers, is Chancellor’s Professor, Emeritus, of Religious Studies and Adjunct Professor of American History and American Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. He holds a PhD degree from Yale University. He joined the faculty of Indiana University in 1970. Among his extensive writings are books dealing with Jonathan Edwards, alternative religions, and apocalypticism. He is the editor of three volumes in the Yale University Press edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards, and the third volume of The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism. He is the author of The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers and Communities of Dissent: A History of Alternative Religions in America. He is currently serving as the general editor of the projected three-volume The Cambridge History of Religions in America.
Harry S. Stout,
a member of the Joseph Smith Papers National Advisory Board, is Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Religious History at Yale University and Chair, Department of Religious Studies. He received a BA degree from Calvin College, after which he studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and University. He holds MA and PhD degrees from Kent State University. He taught at the University of Connecticut before joining the faculty at Yale in 1986. From 1991 until the present, he has served as the general editor, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, and general editor, Religion in America, a series with more than 30 books published to date. Among his published works, which include books, articles, review essays, and book reviews, are Jonathan Edwards at 300: Essays on the Tercentenary of His Birth (coedited with Kenneth Minkema and Caleb Maskell), the award-winning Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War, and Stories of Faith, Stories of America: Religion in United States History (with Randall Balmer and Grant Wacker).
GENERAL EDITOR BIOGRAPHIES
Matthew J. Grow
is director of publications at the Church History Department and a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. He has co-edited two recent volumes from the Church Historian’s Press: The First Fifty Years of Relief Society and The Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846. He has also authored or co-authored books with Oxford University Press and Yale University Press, including award-winning biographies of Parley P. Pratt and Thomas L. Kane. Grow has published in various scholarly journals, including Journal of the Early Republic,Church History,American Nineteenth-Century History, and Journal of Mormon History. He was previously an assistant professor of history and director of the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana. He received his PhD in American history from the University of Notre Dame.
Matthew C. Godfrey
is a general editor and the managing historian of the Joseph Smith Papers. He is also a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board. Matthew holds a PhD in American and public history from Washington State University. Before joining the project, he was president of Historical Research Associates, a historical and archeological consulting firm headquartered in Missoula, Montana. He is the author of Religion, Politics, and Sugar: The Mormon Church, the Federal Government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907–1921 (2007), which was a co-winner of the Mormon History Association’s Smith-Petit Award for Best First Book. He has also published articles in Agricultural History,The Public Historian,Pacific Northwest Quarterly,BYU Studies Quarterly,Mormon Historical Studies, and various collections of essays. He has presented papers at conferences of the Mormon History Association, the National Council on Public History, the American Society for Environmental History, and the Western History Association, among other organizations.
Mason K. Allred
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He earned a BA in history from Brigham Young University–Hawaii and an MA and PhD in German studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a cultural historian of media, historiography, and historical experience. As a Fulbright Scholar, he spent a year in the archives of Germany for his book, Weimar Cinema, Embodiment, and Historicity (Routledge, 2017), on the relationship between film and modern historicity. He was a contributor to the documentary sourcebook The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory 1907–1933 (University of California Press, 2016). His interdisciplinary work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Religion,Jewish Studies Quarterly, and The Journal of Popular Culture. He has also contributed chapters to Film and History (Bertz + Fischer, 2015) and Dorian: A Peculiar Edition (Peculiar Pages, 2015).
is a senior historian in the Church History Department and the senior research and review editor for the Joseph Smith Papers, where he also serves as a specialist in document analysis and documentary editing methodology. He holds a PhD in history from Arizona State University and has trained at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents. He has coedited several volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers and is the author of several articles on Joseph Smith and early Mormon history published in peer-reviewed journals and other scholarly venues.
is an assistant editor for the Church Historian’s Press. She earned both a BA in English and an MA in English, with a creative writing emphasis, from Brigham Young University. There she served as an editor for Insight magazine and Inscape journal. After completing an editorial internship for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she worked as an HR editor for Intermountain Health Care, handling all in-house employee communications, including compliance training, healthy-living initiatives, and employee handbooks. She has presented a paper on Henry David Thoreau and Galway Kinnell at Colorado State University at Pueblo, published an article for Concepts: Golden Key National Magazine, and published poetry in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.Christopher James Blythe
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He completed a PhD in American religious history from Florida State University, an MA in history from Utah State University, and BA degrees in religious studies and anthropology from Utah State University and Texas A&M University, respectively. He is currently revising his dissertation, “Vernacular Mormonism: The Development of Christian Apocalyptic among Latter-day Saints,” into a book manuscript. His published work has appeared in several journals, including the Journal of Mormon History, Communal Societies, Nova Religio, and the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal. Before coming to the Joseph Smith Papers Project, Blythe was a predoctoral teaching fellow at Utah State University.
is an assistant editor for the Church Historian’s Press. She typesets print volumes and assists in preparing document transcripts for publication on The Joseph Smith Papers website. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in mass communication and a certificate in interdisciplinary health communication. She has worked as an assistant metadata cataloger for the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah and as a web content intern for the LDS Church News.
Lee Ann Clanton
has worked as a full-time volunteer for the Church History Department since 2005. She serves as a transcription specialist for the Joseph Smith Papers, and in her ten years of service, she has transcribed more than 10,000 manuscript pages. She is an expert in deciphering nineteenth-century handwriting and is proficient in XML encoding. She is the mother of four, grandmother of sixteen, and great-grandmother of six. In her spare time, she enjoys cross-stitching.
Joseph F. Darowski,
with the Joseph Smith Papers since 2002, is a historian and web editor. He holds a BS from Cornell and an MA in history from Brigham Young University and has done additional graduate work at the College of William and Mary. He earned a diploma from the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Previously, he was a developmental editor for college textbooks.
is an associate web editor for the Joseph Smith Papers. She has a BA in history, coursework completed for an MA in history at Brigham Young University, and a diploma from the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has worked at Petersburg National Battlefield in Petersburg, Virginia, and the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. She has been a developmental editor and copy editor for college history textbooks, as well as for other books and articles. Previous to her current responsibilities, she supervised a team of student research assistants for the project at Brigham Young University.
Gerrit J. Dirkmaat
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2010 where he studied nineteenth-century American expansionism and foreign relations. His dissertation was titled “Enemies Foreign and Domestic: US Relations with Mormons in the US Empire in North America, 1844–1854.” He served as the senior assistant editor of Diplomatic History from 2003 to 2009.
Brett D. Dowdle
is a volume editor for the Joseph Smith Papers. His work will appear in the Documents series. He received a BA and an MA in history from Brigham Young University and is currently a PhD candidate in American history at Texas Christian University, where he is working to complete his dissertation entitled “‘Beyond the Pale of Human Sympathy’: Utah and the Reconstruction of the American West, 1848–1890.” His previous projects include assisting with research for numerous publications and Brigham Young University’s Education in Zion exhibition.
Nicole Christensen Fernley
is an editor for the Church Historian’s Press. She earned a BA in humanities with an emphasis in English and an MA in English at Brigham Young University. She began her editing career working as a technical writer and editor at a nuclear engineering laboratory. After working for nine years in the Publishing Services Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she spent several more years as a freelance editor. She has taught courses in English and business communication at Brigham Young University, Eastern Idaho Technical College, and LDS Business College.
Chad O. Foulger
has been employed by the Church History Department since 1993. He has served the department in several capacities, including research and writing for the volume The First Fifty Years of Relief Society. He spent several years researching and reviewing chapters for Massacre at Mountain Meadows and Mountain Meadows Massacre: The Andrew Jenson and David H. Morris Collections. He received a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in library and information science from Brigham Young University. He also received a JD from Drake University.
is an editorial assistant for the Joseph Smith Papers. Her primary responsibility is preparing content for the project’s website. She earned a BA in American studies and a minor in sociology from Brigham Young University. While at the university, she worked as a writer for the BYU Alumni Association, a research assistant in the Social Sciences department in the Harold B. Lee Library, and a legal assistant at a law firm.
is the product manager for the Joseph Smith Papers. He is responsible for coordinating the development and content releases of the josephsmithpapers.org site. Additionally, he manages marketing and promotion of the project. Prior to joining the Church History Department, he spent twenty years as a product manager and executive vice president of product development at several firms in the high-tech industry, including Apple. He spent several years managing international teams and development relationships in Europe and Asia. Ben has spoken across the United States and internationally on topics such as how technology can improve education, government, public safety, and documentary editing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Utah State University.
David W. Grua
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He holds a PhD in American history from Texas Christian University and a BA and an MA in American history from Brigham Young University. He has published scholarly articles on Mormon and Native American history in the Western Historical Quarterly, the Journal of Mormon History, Federal History, and other peer reviewed journals and edited volumes. In addition, he has presented papers at the annual conferences of the Western History Association, Mormon History Association, and other professional venues. Before joining the Papers, he worked as a historian for the Church History Museum. As a student at BYU, he was a research assistant for the Papers, where he contributed to the first and second volumes of the Journals series.
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He holds a BA in American studies from Brigham Young University and a PhD in modern American history from the University of Colorado, Boulder. His dissertation, titled “Beyond Barbed Wire: The Significance of Japanese American Labor in the Mountain West, 1942–1944,” explores the experiences of Japanese American laborers who temporarily left World War II incarceration camps to work in communities around the Mountain West. He previously worked as an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University, as a visiting scholar at Brigham Young University, and as an author and consultant for the Colorado History Education Initiative. He has presented research at conferences of the American Historical Association, Western History Association, and Association for Asian American Studies.
Sharalyn D. Howcroft
has been employed by the Church History Department since 2000 as an archivist and document specialist for the Joseph Smith Papers. She received a BA in English with a minor in Hebrew language from Brigham Young University. After finishing an intensive Hebrew program in the Middle East, she completed an intensive Arabic program that was part of a Middle Eastern languages consortium at the University of Utah. She received an MA in library and information science with an archival studies concentration from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists.
Robin Scott Jensen
is an associate managing historian and the project archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers and coedited the first three volumes in the Revelations and Translations series (published 2009, 2011, and 2015, respectively). He specializes in document and transcription analysis. He is also a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board. In 2005 he earned an MA degree in American history from Brigham Young University, and in 2009 he earned a second MA in library and information science with an archival concentration from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is now pursuing a PhD in history at the University of Utah. He completed training at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents in 2007. He has published several articles and edited documents and has presented papers at various scholarly conferences.
is an associate editor for the Church Historian’s Press. She previously worked as an editorial assistant for the Joseph Smith Papers. She received a BA in humanities with a minor in editing from Brigham Young University, where she wrote and edited for Stowaway magazine and served as an editorial assistant for BYU Studies.
Elizabeth A. Kuehn
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. She earned a BA with honors in history and a classical language certificate from Arizona State University, and an MA in European and women’s history from Purdue University. She is currently a PhD candidate in early modern European history at the University of California, Irvine. Before joining the project, she was an instructor in the history department and religious studies program at the University of California, Irvine. In 2016, she completed training at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents in New Orleans.
Riley M. Lorimer
is an associate editorial manager for the Joseph Smith Papers. She is also a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board. She coedited the second volume in the Revelations and Translations series (published 2011). She received a BA in English with a minor in editing from Brigham Young University and an MA in English, with an emphasis in British literature, from the University of Utah. She has written and edited for the New Era,BYU Magazine, and other publications. Her research has focused on the literature and history of the Renaissance in Britain; she has served as secretary of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association (RMMRA) and has presented papers at conferences of the RMMRA and the Society for Reformation Studies, among others. In 2011, she completed training at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents in Boston.
Jeffrey D. Mahas
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He was also a volume editor for Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846 in the Administrative Records series. He received his MA in US history from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Utah. Before joining the Joseph Smith Papers, he worked as collections manager of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at Brigham Young University. His work has appeared in the Journal of Mormon History and Mormon Historical Studies.
Spencer W. McBride
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He earned a PhD in history from Louisiana State University. His research interests include the intersections of religion and politics in early America, and his book, Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America (University of Virginia Press, 2017), examines the political activism of Protestant clergymen during the American Revolution and in the early American republic.
is an editorial assistant for the Church Historian’s Press. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English language and a minor in editing. Before working for the press, Jessica interned as an editorial assistant at the Religious Studies Center at BYU, worked for several student journals, and taught principles of teaching, studying, and time management to young adults. Her duties with the Church Historian’s Press range from proofreading to marketing to handing out candy. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing volleyball.
Sharon E. Nielsen
is the editorial lead for the Joseph Smith Papers website. Her primary assignment is preparing content for the project’s website. She received a BA in Near Eastern studies from Brigham Young University and an MA in ancient civilizations and biblical studies from the University of Michigan. Previously she worked as a manager of data collection for a Civil War research project directed by the Center for Population Economics, Chicago, and as an assistant editor for the Occasional Papers series at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, at Brigham Young University. She has also worked as an independent genealogist.
Rachel M. Osborne
is an associate editor and source checker for the Church Historian’s Press, training and overseeing a team of source checkers. The recipient of a BA in English from Brigham Young University, she is currently pursuing an MA degree in history from the University of Utah. She formerly worked as an editorial assistant for BYU Studies.
Jay A. Parry
is an editor for the Church Historian’s Press. He earned a BA in English from Brigham Young University, where he also apprenticed in the editorial department of BYU Press, and completed training at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents in Boston. He has served as editor or coeditor for Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers (2017); At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women (2016); and The Journals of George Q. Cannon: Hawaiian Mission, 1850–1854 (2014). He previously worked as an editor for Deseret Book Company and for the Ensign magazine. He is author or coauthor of more than a dozen books, including Joseph Smith: The Boy, the Prophet (1981); The Real George Washington: The True Story of America’s Most Indispensable Man (1991); Understanding Isaiah (1998); and Best-Loved Stories of the LDS People (three volumes, 1997–2000). He has been a presenter at the annual Campus Education Week at Brigham Young University from 1999 to the present.
is an assistant editor for the Church Historian’s Press. He helps research and source check reference material for the geographical and biographical directories. He received a BA in technical communication from Utah State University and is pursuing an MA in English at the University of Utah.
Brent M. Rogers
is an associate managing historian for the Joseph Smith Papers and a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board. He received a BA with honors in history from San Diego State University, an MA in public history from California State University, Sacramento, and a PhD in nineteenth-century United States history from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He previously served as a digital editor and research fellow for the Papers of William F. Cody and as an instructor in the history department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He has produced scholarship on digital history, history of the American West, and Mormon history.
is an associate editor and source checker for the Church Historian’s Press. She earned a BA degree in English with a minor in editing from Brigham Young University, where she worked as an editorial staff member on a student journal and spent time as a research assistant. After graduating, she interned for the Daily Caller, a news website based in Washington DC. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University.
is a volume editor of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers. A professor of linguistics and English language at Brigham Young University, he has been the editor of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project since 1988. In 2009, Skousen published with Yale University Press the culmination of his critical text work, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. Skousen received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1972. He has also taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, the University of California, San Diego, and, as a Fulbright lecturer, at the University of Tampere in Finland. In 2001, he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute in the Netherlands. Other publications include Analogical Modeling of Language (1989), Analogy and Structure (1992), and Analogical Modeling: An Exemplar-Based Approach to Language (2002).
Alex D. Smith
is a volume editor of volume two (published 2011) and volume three (published 2015) in the Journals series and volumes four (published 2016), seven, and nine in the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He received MA and BA degrees in history from Brigham Young University and is currently pursuing a PhD in history from the University of Utah. He was a research historian and document editor with the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, where he began working for the Joseph Smith Papers. His research interests focus on the history of the church in Nauvoo.
R. Eric Smith
is editorial manager of the Joseph Smith Papers Project and of the Publications Division of the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is also a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board. He was formerly an editor for the Curriculum Department, and before that he practiced law in Salt Lake City. With Matthew J. Grow, he coedited The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History (2017). He received a BA in English from Brigham Young University and a JD from the University of Utah.
is an associate editor for the Church Historian’s Press. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English language and a minor in editing. She has been on the editorial staff of various university journals, and she worked as an acquisitions intern for literary agent Amy Jameson. During her free time, she works as a freelance editor and writer.
is an assistant editor responsible for source checking for the Church Historian’s Press. He completed a BA in English from BYU, an MA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a second MA from Brown University, where he focused on nineteenth-century British literature as well as political philosophy. Jeremy is a former participant in the Maxwell Institute’s Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture and the Mormon Theology Seminar.
Nathan N. Waite
is an associate editorial manager for the Joseph Smith Papers and a member of the Church History Department Editorial Board. He received a BA in English from Brigham Young University and an MA in American studies from the University of Utah; he also received a graduate certificate in digital humanities from the University of Victoria and completed training at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents. He is coeditor of A Zion Canyon Reader (University of Utah Press, 2014) and Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel: The General Epistles of the Mormon First Presidency (Oxford University Press, 2017), and he has edited for BYU Magazine, the Liahona, and David R. Godine, Publisher.
Jordan T. Watkins
is a volume editor of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. He received a PhD in American history from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He also has a BA in history from Brigham Young University and an MA in history from Claremont Graduate University. His current book manuscript examines the ways in which antebellum biblical and constitutional debates over slavery brought awareness to the historical distance separating Americans from their hallowed biblical and Revolutionary past. His interest in American history stems from a lifelong fascination with Mormon history, and his work in that field has appeared in the Journal of Mormon History and in the edited volume Parley P. Pratt and the Making of Mormonism (Arthur H. Clark, 2011). He has presented at conferences of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, the African American Intellectual History Society, and the Western History Association. He taught U.S. history courses at Utah Valley University before joining the project.
is a general editor, along with Matthew J. Grow and Matthew C. Godfrey, of the Joseph Smith Papers. He served as the project’s managing editor until 2012. He received history degrees from the University of Utah, the University of Virginia, and Brigham Young University. From 1972 until 1980, he was part of the History Division of the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with assignments both as a researcher and writer and as an archivist. He moved to Brigham Young University in 1980 when the History Division was transferred there to become the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History. From 1986 through 2002, he served as managing director of that research institute and as a professor of church history and doctrine. From 1988 to 1991, he served as one of the editors for Macmillan’s Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Most of his publications have involved Brigham Young and early Utah or pre-Utah Mormon history, including Men with a Mission: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 1837–1841. Many of them also concern Joseph Smith and early Latter-day Saint leadership. He served as president of the Mormon History Association from 2006 to 2007.