Published Books

The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States (co-editor with Terryl L. Givens). New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

This anthology offers rare access to key original documents illuminating Mormon history, theology, and culture in the United States from the nineteenth century to today. Brief introductions describe the theological significance of each text and its reflection of the practices, issues, and challenges that have defined and continue to define the Mormon community. These documents balance mainstream and peripheral thought and religious experience, institutional and personal perspective, and theoretical and practical interpretation, representing pivotal moments in LDS history and correcting decades of misinformation and stereotype. The authors of these documents, male and female, not only celebrate but speak critically and question mainline LDS teachings on sexuality, politics, gender, race, polygamy, and other issues. Selections largely focus on the Salt Lake–based LDS tradition, with a section on the post–Joseph Smith splintering and its creation of a variety of similar yet different Mormon groups. The documents are arranged chronologically within specific categories to capture both the historical and doctrinal development of Mormonism in the United States.



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A Zion Canyon Reader (co-editor with Nathan N. Waite). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2014.

Zion National Park is one of the country’s most-visited and best-loved national parks. For the first time, lovers of the park have in one volume the best that has been written about the canyon. A Zion Canyon Reader is a collection of historical and literary accounts that presents diverse perspectives on Zion Canyon—and the surrounding southern Utah region—through the eyes of native inhabitants, pioneer settlers, boosters, explorers, artists, park rangers, developers, and spiritual seekers. Through the pages of this book, both the newest visitors to Zion and those who return to the park again and again will come to understand what this place has meant to different people over the centuries.  Among the works included are well-known historical accounts of exploration by John Wesley Powell, Clarence Dutton, and Everett Ruess. Writings by Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, Juanita Brooks, and others enlighten and excite in numerous memorable chapters. Here and there the book bears witness to conflicting viewpoints on controversies associated with the national park, especially development vs. preservation and locals vs. outsiders. 



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Exploring Book of Mormon Lands: The 1923 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson (co-editor with Justin R. Bray). Provo: Religious Studies Center, 2014.

Described as "the most traveled man in the Church," Andrew Jenson was a lifelong globetrotter since his emigration as a young boy from Denmark to Utah in 1866. Jenson's mounting interest in the whereabouts of ancient Nephite and Lamanite ruins peaked in 1923 when he and his traveling companion, Thomas P. Page, embarked on a four-month exploration to remote areas of Latin America. Jenson returned with a powerful impression that the latter-day gospel should be spread south, beyond the borders of Mexico. His letters help readers better understand events and experiences that seemingly led to the reopening of the South American Mission in 1925. This book covers this important period in both Jenson's life and Church history, which has rarely been told and is virtually unknown by most Mormon historians.



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Religion, Food, and Eating in North America (co-editor with Benjamin E. Zeller, Marie W. Dallam, and Nora Rubel). New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

The way in which religious people eat reflects not only their understanding of food and religious practice but also their conception of society and their place within it. This anthology considers theological foodways, identity foodways, negotiated foodways, and activist foodways in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Original essays explore the role of food and eating in defining theologies and belief structures, creating personal and collective identities, establishing and challenging boundaries and borders, and helping to negotiate issues of community, religion, race, and nationality. Contributors consider food practices and beliefs among Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists, as well as members of new religious movements, Afro-Caribbean religions, interfaith families, and individuals who consider food itself a religion. They traverse a range of geographic regions, from the Southern Appalachian Mountains to North America’s urban centers, and span historical periods from the colonial era to the present.



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Go Ye Into All the World: The Growth and Development of Mormon Missionary Work (co-editor with Fred E. Woods). Provo: Religious Studies Center, 2012.

Just as the risen Christ charged his Apostles, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” he also charged his latter-day followers to do likewise. Using the Prophet Joseph Smith as his instrument, the Lord created his missionary system early in the Restoration. The Prophet received many revelations regarding missionary work and its urgency. Over the years, policies and procedures of missionary work have varied and grown a great deal, but it is always done under the direction of the Lord. The missionary system today is founded on principles based on revelation. The Church has used every righteous means available to take the gospel to the world, and the ways and means continue to expand. The outreach of the Church through missionary work is nothing short of amazing. This volume focuses on the growth and development of Mormon missionary work since the early days of the Restoration.



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Tales from the World Tour: The 1895-1897 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson (co-editor with Riley M. Moffat). Provo: Religious Studies Center, 2012.

In 1895, an ambitious part-time employee of the Church Historian's Office named Andrew Jenson set off on an unprecedented global fact-finding mission. With the blessing of Church leaders, he visited nearly every non-North American branch of the Church over the course of two years, gathering records and standardizing local record-keeping practices. As he circumnavigated the globe, Jenson recorded his travels in letters sent home and published in the Deseret News. Saints back home in Utah could follow his adventures and read about the Church's growth in the Pacific, Asia, and Europe. He wrote not only about the missionary work and membership of the Church around the globe, but also about the people, places, and cultures he met in his travels, from the Polynesians of the Pacific to the birthplace of Christianity in Palestine to his own native home of Denmark.



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Exhibiting Mormonism: The Latter-day Saints and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (author). New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

The 1893 Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World's Fair, presented the Latter-day Saints with their first opportunity to exhibit the best of Mormonism for a national and an international audience after the abolishment of polygamy in 1890. The Columbian Exposition also marked the dramatic reengagement of the LDS Church with the non-Mormon world after decades of seclusion in the Great Basin. In the first study ever written of Mormon participation at the Chicago World's Fair, Reid L. Neilson explores how Latter-day Saints attempted to ''exhibit'' themselves to the outside world before, during, and after the Columbian Exposition, arguing that their participation in the Exposition was a crucial moment in the Mormon migration to the American mainstream and its leadership's discovery of public relations efforts. After 1893, Mormon leaders sought to exhibit their faith rather than be exhibited by others.



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To the Peripheries of Mormondom: The Apostolic Around-the-World Journey of David O. McKay, 1920-1921 (editor with author Hugh J. Cannon). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2010.

The year-long fact-finding mission of apostle David O. McKay and his traveling companion Hugh J. Cannon to places historian Leonard J. Arrington has called the geographic and organizational periphery of Mormondom was one of the most significant moments of the twentieth century for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the contemporary LDS Church has grown to become a global presence, the early decades of the last century found missionaries struggling to gain converts abroad. Cannon's rich and vivid account of his and McKay's 61,646-mile around-the-world journey illustrates the roots of Mormonism's globalization. The account is without doubt one of the more significant texts in the historical cannon of global Mormon studies. 



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In the Whirlpool: The Pre-Manifesto Letters of President Wilford Woodruff to the William Atkin Family, 1885–1890 (editor). Norman: Arthur H. Clark Company at the University of Oklahoma Press, 2011. 

Political and religious turmoil in the late 1800s plagued the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders. As Utah statehood loomed, Congress aggressively moved against Mormons who engaged in polygamy. More than a thousand men were jailed and others were forced into hiding. One of those who went into hiding in 1879 was Wilford Woodruff, who became church president in 1887. Woodruff sought sanctuary with the family of William and Rachel Atkin and others throughout the 1880s. This never-before-published collection of Woodruff's letters to the Atkins, edited by Reid L. Neilson, reveals the church leader's political and spiritual conflicts in the five years leading up to his 1890 Manifesto, which officially disallowed polygamy. Woodruff's nearly 60 letters reproduced here depict a man "in the midst of a whirlpool." The church leader believed he and his people were being denied the basic American right to practice the religion of their choice, yet he recognized that polygamy was incompatible with American society. The letters also reveal Woodruff's humanity—his longing to be with friends, his sorrow over the loss of his first wife, and his struggle with illness.



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Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924 (author). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2010. 

In 1901 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent its first missionaries to Japan. Just over 20 years later, the Church temporarily retreated from evangelizing in Asia. In Early Mormon Activities in Japan, 1901-1924, author Reid L. Neilson sheds light on why those first representatives were sent to Japan, how they functioned as “strangers in a strange land,” and what led to the church’s brief withdrawal from Japan and the rest of East Asia. He argues that the same nineteenth-century LDS theology, practices, and traditions that gave rise to the early LDS Japan Mission in 1901 were paradoxically also responsible for the eventual demise of the mission in 1924. Utilizing a case study of the equally ill-fated 1854 LDS mission to China, Neilson works to provide an understanding of why the standard LDS missionary approach of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was so poorly suited for evangelizing non-Christian, non-Western peoples. 



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Joseph Smith Jr.: Reappraisals after Two Centuries (co-editor with Terryl L. Givens). New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Mormon founder Joseph Smith is one of the most controversial figures of nineteenth-century American history, and a virtually inexhaustible subject for analysis. In this volume, fifteen scholars offer essays on how to interpret and understand Smith and his legacy. Including essays by both Mormons and non-Mormons, this wide-ranging collection is the premier survey of contemporary scholarly opinion on the extraordinary man who started one of the fastest growing religious traditions in the modern world.



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Proclamation to the Pacific: Nineteenth-Century Mormonism and the Pacific Basin Frontier (co-editor with Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2008.

Seven years before Mormon leaders set foot in Utah Territory, they had already breached the Pacific basin by arriving in Australia by 1840. While religion has played an important role in Pacitic history, giving rise to a literature on Protestant and Catholic missions in the region, the study of the LDS Church’s expansion into the Pacific has remained largely outside of the bounds of non-LDS study. The Pacific basin has been a crucial part of LDS Church history for nearly the entire lifespan of Mormonism. This volume brings the Pacific history of the LDS Church into focus by exploring the range and meanings of the church's settlement and movement, and by suggesting contrasts, linkages, and parallels between LDS and other missionary activities.


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Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: The Pacific Isles (co-editor with Steven C. Harper, Mary Jane Woodger, and Craig K. Manscill. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University, 2008.

When most Latter-day Saints conjure up images of Church history, their minds are filled with pictures of the sacred sites and peoples of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Utah. But years before Brigham Young declared the Salt Lake Valley to be the site of future gathering in 1847, Church members had already pushed even further west into the Pacific Basin frontier. The Pacific Isles have played a major—and early—role in the unfolding of global Mormonism. This volume includes essays on the introduction of Mormonism to Tubuai, the influence of Jonathan Napela in Hawaii, the receptivity of Tongans to the gospel, the Oahu Tabernacle, the contributions of educational missionaries to Kiribati, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s performances in the Pacific Islands, and the destructive fire in the Apia Samoa Temple.



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Global Mormonism in the Twenty-First Century (editor). Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University, 2008.

Since 1990 the LDS International Society has hosted an annual conference on the globalization of Mormonism at Brigham Young University. Noted speakers such as President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder John K. Carmack addressed topics including Joseph Smith and the world, missionary work in a global village, humanitarian outreach and the Latter-day Saints, Church education initiatives in an era of globalization, and international challenges facing the Church. This volume offers an unprecedented view of how a fledgling American church continues to mature into a significant international religious movement.


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Reflections of a Mormon Historian: Leonard J. Arrington on the New Mormon History (co-editor with Ronald W. Walker). Norman, Okla.: Arthur H. Clark Company at the University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.

Leonard J. Arrington rose to prominence during the so-called “flowering of Mormon history.” In a precedent-breaking move, he was made LDS Church Historian in January 1972, the first professional historian to serve in the position. His ideas, as expressed in the essays collected here, helped to determine how Mormon history was written during the last part of the twentieth century. Arrington sought a middle way between the extremes of defending or attacking faith claims—two forces that drove most nineteenth-century and even much twentieth-century writing on the Mormons. He not only adopted a neutral stance in his writing as LDS Historian, his name became connected inseparably with the New Mormon History because of his personality and the quality of his work. The fourteen essays offered here are autobiographical, reflective, analytical, personal, and prophetic. Together, they constitute an illuminating study of the challenges faced by all who study history and face the conflicts its telling involves.


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The Mormon History Association's Tanner Lectures: The First Twenty Years (co-editor with Dean L. May). Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

The Tanner lectures, now firmly entrenched as an institution at the annual Mormon History Association meetings, were established in 1980 as a means of providing scholars of Mormonism with a valuable new perspective for their historical record. All twenty-one lectures are presented by well-known non-Mormon scholars that were invited to prepare presentations in their own specialties that also encompass some aspect of Mormon history. In the course of preparing their talks, the presenters are expected to immerse themselves for a year in current historical writings on Mormons and Mormonism. As this collection amply demonstrates, when these scholars do their homework, the results are enlightening. 


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Taking the Gospel to the Japanese, 1901-2001 (co-editor with Van C. Gessel). Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2006.

The first Mormon missionaries to Japan encountered formidable language, religious, and cultural barriers. After considerable efforts, Church officials closed the mission in 1924. Later, the gospel was reintroduced in mid-century, when it took root. Since that time, Mormon missionaries have baptized many believers, several missions have opened, auxiliary organizations such as the Relief Society have been instituted, and two temples have been constructed. This volume chronicles the LDS Church’s first hundred years among the Japanese. The articles explore such issues as the Japanese presses’ portrayal of Mormonism and answer questions such as what the historical and cultural challenges are to successful missionary work in Japan; why the Book of Mormon needed to be translated three times in one century; and whether Latter-day Saint converts hail from specific areas based on the region’s religious traditions.


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The Rise of Mormonism (editor, with author Rodney Stark). New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Will Mormonism be the next world faith, one that will rival Catholicism, Islam, and other major religions in terms of numbers and global appeal? This was the question Rodney Stark addressed in his much-discussed and much-debated article, “The Rise of a New World Faith” (1984), one of several essays on Mormonism included in this new collection. Stark examines the reasons behind the spread of Mormonism, exploring such factors as cultural continuity with the faiths from which it seeks converts, a volunteer missionary force, and birth rates. He explains why a demanding faith like Mormonism has such broad appeal in today's world and considers the importance of social networks in finding new converts. Stark's work also presents groundbreaking perspectives on larger issues in the study of religion, including the nature of revelation and the reasons for religious growth in an age of modernization and secularization.


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Believing History: Latter-day Saint Essays (co-editor with Jed Woodworth, with author Richard Lyman Bushman). New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

The eminent historian Richard Bushman here reflects on his faith and the history of his religion. By describing his own struggle to find a basis for belief in a skeptical world, Bushman poses the question of how scholars are to write about subjects in which they are personally invested. Does personal commitment make objectivity impossible? Bushman explicitly, and at points confessionally, explains his own commitments and then explores Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon from the standpoint of belief. Believing History offers many surprises. Believers will learn that Joseph Smith is more than an icon, and non-believers will find that Mormonism cannot be summed up with a simple label. But wherever readers stand on Bushman’s arguments, he provides us with a provocative and open look at a believing historian studying his own faith.


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The Japanese Missionary Journals of Elder Alma O. Taylor, 1901-10 (editor). Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Studies Press and The Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, 2001.

Alma O. Taylor was called to the Japan Mission at age eighteen, and his parents would have been shocked had they known his mission would last nearly nine years. Alma, the eighteen-year-old lad, would return a twenty-seven-year-old man, having served one of the longest continuous missions in LDS Church history. For eight and a half years (August 1901–January 1910), Alma worked with intense fervor, keeping a detailed journal of his experiences and impressions. Alma's journal recaptures early Mormonism in Japan through the eyes of a young missionary. His many accomplishments included learning both the spoken and written Japanese word; assisting in the translation of missionary tracts, Church hymns, and the Book of Mormon; serving as president of the Japan Mission from his early to late twenties; opening new proselyting areas throughout Japan; and finding, teaching, converting, and strengthening many of the early Japanese Saints.
 

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