Mormon Administrative and Organizational History: A Source Essay
In A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration, ed. David J. Whittaker and Arnold K. Garr (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 611–95.
David J. Whittaker is the curator of Western and Mormon Manuscripts, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, and associate professor of history at Brigham Young University.
One of the great strengths of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its institutional vitality. Expanding from six members in 1830 to fourteen million in 2010, its capacity to govern and manage an ever-enlarging membership with a bureaucracy flexible enough to provide for communication and growth but tight enough to ensure control and stability is an important but little-known story. The essential functions of the Church were doctrinally mandated from its earliest years, and the commands to keep records have assured that accounts of its activities have been maintained. Such historical records created the essential informational basis necessary to run the institution. These records range from membership to financial to the institutional records of the various units of the Church, from the First Presidency to branches in the mission field.
The study of Latter-day Saint ecclesiology has been a challenge until recently. As yet, the best studies remain in scholarly monographs, often unknown or unavailable. It is the purpose of this essay to highlight this emerging literature by complementing the essays assembled in this volume.
The Succession Crisis
Statistical and Demographic Studies
Organization of the Gathering and Emigration
Colonization and Settlement
Meetinghouses and Temples
The Mormon Sabbath
The General Pattern
Prophet, Seer, and Revelator
Councils and Conferences
The First Presidency
Scribes and Clerks
The Presiding Patriarch
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The First Quorum(s) of Seventy
The Presiding Bishop
Regional and Area Leaders
The Female Relief Society
Woman and Authority
Young Women’s and Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Associations
The Primary Association
Church Educational System
Family History Department/
General histories. To date, this volume is the most comprehensive one-volume history of Church administration. A corrective to earlier notions that the real administrative genius of Mormonism was Brigham Young is the careful study of Joseph Smith’s organizational abilities in Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), especially 109–26, 251–69. D. Michael Quinn has produced two volumes on the major presiding quorums: The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books with Smith Research Associates, 1994) and The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books with Smith Research Associates, 1997). Quinn’s studies have been influenced by Michel Foucault’s work and tend to overemphasize raw administrative power (such as its use of violence and extended marriage relationships) to maintain and expand its control. His scholarship, while important, tends to move the Mormon story to peripheral areas such as criminal behavior, gender issues, and the folk beliefs of the membership. Quinn’s earlier studies foreshadowing these include “Organizational Development and Social Origins of the Mormon Hierarchy, 1832–1932” (master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1973); “The Mormon Hierarchy, 1832–1932: An American Elite” (PhD diss., Yale University, 1976); “From Sacred Grove to Sacral Power Structure,” Dialogue 17 (Summer 1984): 9–34; and other articles to be noted in specific sections of this essay.
The essays of William G. Hartley gathered into My Fellow Servants: Essays on the History of the Priesthood (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2010) focus our attention on the more central areas of administrative history, as do the variety of articles on all aspects of Church administration in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 5 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992). These articles were gathered into one volume entitled Priesthood and Church Organization: Selections from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995). A useful appendix (no. 5), “General Church Officers, A Chronology,” was published in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1678–85. Mormon organization begins with and remains anchored to the visionary experiences and directives of Joseph Smith and his successors. The key accounts of these foundational events have been gathered into Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844, ed. John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson (Provo, UT: BYU Press; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005). See also John A. Tvedtnes, Organize My Kingdom: A History of the Restored Priesthood (Bountiful, UT: Cornerstone Publishing, 2000).
Other studies which are useful for understanding the foundational structures are Neil K. Coleman, “A Study of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an Administrative System, Its Structure and Maintenance” (PhD diss., New York University, 1967); Edward Allen Warner, “Mormon Theodemocratic Elements in Early Latter-day Saint Ideology, 1827–1846” (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1973); and Mario DePillis, “Mormon Communitarianism, 1826–1846” (PhD diss., Yale University, 1961).
Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982) was devoted to Church administrative history. The introductory essay is called “An Introduction to Mormon Administrative History” (14–20). James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), the best one-volume history of the Church, devotes adequate space to the unfolding story of the Church administration. It also has an extensive bibliographical essay (673–762). A useful guide to the published work on Mormon ecclesiastical history can be found through various topics in James B. Allen, Ronald W. Walker, and David J. Whittaker, Studies in Mormon History, 1830–1997: An Indexed Bibliography (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000); see the index for references to ecclesiastical topics, 617–24.
1829–44. A detailed account of the earliest years is Larry C. Porter, A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2000). The development of Mormon leadership from a loose, somewhat informal grouping to a more formal hierarchy is detailed in D. Michael Quinn, “The Evolution of the Presiding Quorums of the LDS Church,” Journal of Mormon History 1 (1974): 21–38. See also Wesley P. Lloyd, “The Rise and Development of Lay Leadership in the Latter-day Saint Movement” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1937); and Maurice L. Draper, The Founding Prophet: An Administrative History of Joseph Smith (Independence, MO: Herald House, 1991). For the extensive literature on Joseph Smith, see David J. Whittaker, “Studying Joseph Smith, Jr.: A Guide to the Sources,” in Joseph Smith Jr.: Reappraisals after Two Centuries, ed. Reid L. Neilson and Terryl L. Givens (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 221–37.
The events of April 6, 1830, are detailed in Porter, “Study of the Origins of the Church,” 243–53; Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Who Were the Six Who Organized the Church on 6 April 1830?,” Ensign, June 1930, 44–45; Anderson, “The House Where the Church Was Organized,” Improvement Era, April 1980, 16–25. Larry C. Porter, “Was the Church Legally Incorporated at the Time It Was Organized in the State of New York?” Ensign, December 1978, 26–27, provides a useful overview of this topic, but for a closer look at the incorporation of the Church, see David Keith Stott, “Legal Insights into the Organization of the Church in 1830,” BYU Studies 49, no. 2 (2010): 121–48.
A short history of the changes to the names of the Church is given by Richard Lloyd Anderson in “I Have a Question,” Ensign, January 1979, 13– 4. Depending somewhat on Porter’s pioneering study, but adding his own research and insights, is Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984). An important area of divergence between Porter and Bushman is the dating of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood: Porter’s position of pre–April 1830 is fully presented in “Dating the Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” Ensign, June 1979, 5–10; Bushman’s review of post–April 1830 is in his books Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, 240–41, and Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 118, 265–66, 588n35. See also the study by Gregory A. Prince, Having Authority: The Origins and Development of Priesthood during the Ministry of Joseph Smith (Independence, MO: Herald House, 1993); Orson Pratt, “Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek and Priesthoods,” Millennial Star, April 25, 1857, 258–61; John D. Giles, “Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” Improvement Era, June 1945, 338–39, 371–74; Carter E. Grant, “Along the Susquehanna River,” Improvement Era, May 1960, 306–9, 336–44; Robert L. Marrott, “History and Functions of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Offices of Priest, Teacher, and Deacon in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1829–1844” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1976); Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Second Witness of Priesthood Restoration,” Improvement Era, September 1968, 15–24; Mario S. DePillis, “The Quest for Religious Authority and the Rise of Mormonism,” Dialogue 1 (Spring 1966): 68–88; and Mario S. DePillis, “The Social Sources of Mormonism,” Church History 37 (March 1968): 50–78.
Developments during the Ohio period (1830–38) are detailed in Milton V. Backman Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983), 237–61, 275–82; and Mark Lyman Staker, Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009). Other studies that address in various ways the early organizational history are Davis Bitton, “Kirtland as a Center of Missionary Activity, 1830–38,” BYU Studies 11 (Summer 1971): 497–516; Donald Q. Cannon, “Licensing in the Early Church,” BYU Studies 22, no. 1 (Winter 1982): 96–105; Gustive O. Larson, “New England in the Rise and Progress of the Church,” Improvement Era, August 1968, 81–84; William G. Hartley, “Every Member Was a Missionary,” Ensign, September 1978, 21–24; D. Michael Quinn, “Echoes and Foreshadowings: The Distinctiveness of the Mormon Community,” Sunstone 3 (March–April 1978): 12–17; Davis Bitton, “The Waning of Mormon Kirtland,” BYU Studies 12 (Summer 1972): 455–64; and Robert J. Woodford, “The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants” (PhD diss., BYU, 1974). Lyndon W. Cook’s The Revelations of Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985) is a valuable commentary on the scriptural volume that has numerous revelations and instructions relating to organizational and administrative matters. It was the first study to take advantage of access to Woodford’s dissertation on the Doctrine and Covenants.
Early economic organizations growing out of the doctrines of consecration and stewardship and showing the close connection between temporal and spiritual matters in the Church are described in Leonard J. Arrington, Dean L. May, and Feramorz Fox, Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation among the Mormons (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976). See also Joseph Geddes, The United Order among the Mormons (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1924); L. Dwight Israelsen, “An Economic Analysis of the United Order,” BYU Studies 18, no. 4 (Summer 1978): 536–62; Leonard J. Arrington, “Early Mormon Communitarianism: The Law of Consecration and Stewardship,” Western Humanities Review 7 (Autumn 1953): 341–69; and Lyndon W. Cook, Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration (Orem, UT: Grandin, 1985). Most fully, Max Parkin examines the initial developments in both organization and leadership prior to the emergence of high-level leadership quorums in “Joseph Smith and the United Firm: The Growth and Decline of the Church’s Master Plan of Business and Finance, Ohio and Missouri, 1832–1834,” BYU Studies 46, no. 3 (2007): 4–66. The later nineteenth-century developments and their interweaving into all aspects of temporal Mormonism are analyzed in Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958).
The Kirtland Bank as a Church organizational entity is detailed in D. A. Dudley, “Bank Born of Revelation: The Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Co.,” Journal of Economic History 30 (December 1970): 848–53, and most fully in Marvin S. Hill, C. Keith Rooker, and Larry T. Wimmer, “The Kirtland Economy Revisited: A Market Critique of Sectarian Economics,” BYU Studies 17 (Summer 1977): 391–475. A larger view of the Kirtland conflict is presented in Marvin S. Hill, “Cultural Crisis in the Mormon Kingdom: A Reconsideration of the Cases of Kirtland Dissent,” Church History 49 (September 1980): 286–97, which sees early dissent growing out of the Zion’s Camp march to Missouri in 1834.
Early Mormon city planning as evidenced in the Mormon village is detailed in Richard H. Jackson, “The Mormon Village: Genesis and Antecedents of the City of Zion Plan,” BYU Studies 17 (Winter 1977): 223–40; Stephen L. Olsen, “The Mormon Ideology of Place: Cosmic Symbolism of the City of Zion” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1985); Leonard J. Arrington, “Joseph Smith, Builder of Ideal Communities,” in The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith, ed. Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 115–37; and C. Mark Hamilton, Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). Mormons gathered converts throughout the nineteenth century into these centers to be near their prophet and to apply the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives: the goal of these Mormon communities was to provide sacred space for the making of Saints. While the ward replaced the village ideal in the twentieth century, the goals have remained the same.
The organizational aspects of the move of many of the Kirtland members to Missouri in 1838 is the subject of Gordon Orville Hill, “A History of Kirtland Camp: Its Initial Purpose and Notable Accomplishments” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1975).
The Church’s military or quasi-militia organizational history must include Zion’s Camp’s march to Missouri. See Wilburn D. Talbot, “Zion’s Camp” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1973); Roger D. Launius, “Zion’s Camp and the Redemption of Jackson County, Missouri” (master’s thesis, Louisiana State University, 1978); Warren A. Jennings, “The Army of Israel Marches into Missouri,” Missouri Historical Review 62 (January 1968): 107–35; and Peter Crawley and Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Political and Social Realities of Zion’s Camp,” BYU Studies 14, no. 4 (Summer 1974): 406–20. Brigham Young would later say that he learned to lead modern Israel from the lessons of Zion’s Camp. The so-called Danite Band in the late Missouri period is considered from an apologetic perspective in Leland H. Gentry, “The Danite Band of 1838,” BYU Studies 14 (Summer 1974): 421–50, an abridgment of a chapter in his “A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 to 1839” (PhD diss., BYU, 1965); as a more sinister group in Stephen C. LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987); and in a larger context and a more positive sense in David J. Whittaker, “The Book of Daniel in Early Mormon Thought,” in By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh Nibley, ed. John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: FARMS, 1990), 1:155–201. The Nauvoo Legion is the subject of John Sweeney Jr., “A History of the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1974); most fully in Richard E. Bennett, Susan Easton Black, and Donald Q. Cannon, The Nauvoo Legion in Illinois: A History of the Mormon Militia, 1841–1846 (Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark, 2010). The history of the Mormon Battalion’s activities in the Mexican War is Sherman L. Fleek, History May Be Searched in Vain: A Military History of the Mormon Battalion (Spokane, WA: Arthur H. Clark, 2006). The Utah version of the Nauvoo Legion is described in Ralph Hansen, “Administrative History of the Nauvoo Legion in Utah” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1954). For later Mormon connections with the US military, see Joseph F. Boone, “The Roles of the Church in Relation to the United States Military, 1900–1975” (PhD diss., BYU, 1975).
Specific Church administrative developments during the Nauvoo period are treated in William G. Hartley, “Nauvoo Stake, Priesthood Quorums, and the Church’s First Wards,” BYU Studies 32, no. 1 (Winter/
The succession crisis. The crisis in the Church at the time of Joseph Smith’s sudden death in June 1844 can be explained in large measure by the evolutionary nature of Church government prior to 1844. Joseph Smith had apparently thought of at least eight different ways or modes of succession as reflected in the changing nature of Church administration. While recent study shows that the most immediately viable leadership mode was by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, their position at the time was not publicly obvious to everyone. This public administrative uncertainty helps explain other leadership claims after 1844.
D. Michael Quinn surveys eight different modes of succession in “The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844,” BYU Studies 16, no. 2 (Winter 1976): 187–233. Essays specifically addressing the special blessing motif are D. Michael Quinn, “Joseph Smith III’s 1844 Blessing and the Mormons of Utah,” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 1 (1981): 12–27, reprinted in Dialogue 15 (Summer 1982): 69–90); and Roger Launius, “Joseph Smith III and the Mormon Succession Crises, 1844–1846,” Western Illinois Regional Studies 6 (Spring 1983): 5–22. Both essays were written with the assumption that a recently found account of the blessing was authentic, but the item turned out to be a Mark Hofmann forgery. These are included here because there were special blessings or rumors of such when Joseph Smith was alive, and these, no doubt, will be the topic of future research.
The semisecret Council of Fifty, organized by Joseph Smith in 1844 and for years thought to be the real administrative and political power behind the scenes, has been the subject of a number of studies. The first were James R. Clark, “The Kingdom of God, the Council of Fifty, and the State of Deseret,” Utah Historical Quarterly 26 (April 1958): 131–48; and Hyrum L. Andrus, Joseph Smith and World Government (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1958). In 1967 the most scholarly study appeared: Klaus J. Hansen, Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1967). All these presented a monolithic model of a religio-political machine actively seeking for world domination. But the availability of new documents has forced a major revision in the understanding of this organization, beginning with D. Michael Quinn, “The Council of Fifty and Its Members, 1844 to 1945,” BYU Studies 20, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 163–97; and Andrew F. Ehat, “‘It Seems Like Heaven Began on Earth’: Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God,” BYU Studies 20 (Spring 1980): 253–79. See also Marvin S. Hill, “Quest for Refuge: An Hypothesis as to the Social Origins and Nature of the Mormon Political Kingdom,” Journal of Mormon History 2 (1975): 3–20, and Peter Crawley, “The Constitution of the State of Deseret,” Friends of the Harold B. Lee Library Newsletter 19 (1982), reprinted in BYU Studies 29, no. 4 (Fall 1989): 7–22. Current thinking suggests that this council was more symbolic than actual; perhaps a kind of contingent millennial organization in Mormon thinking given their expectations of the possible ending of the governments of the world. All of this must remain speculative until the original minute book of the Council of Fifty, owned by the Church, is made available for research.
Another group, known as the Quorum of the Anointed, was also semisecret in Nauvoo before Joseph Smith’s death. Andrew F. Ehat suggests how central the temple and its sacred ordinances were for those claiming succession in “Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1982). For more information on those Joseph Smith invited into this initial select group, see Devery S. Anderson, “The Anointed Quorum in Nauvoo, 1842–45,” Journal of Mormon History 29 (Fall 2003): 137–57; and Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842–1845: A Documentary History, ed. Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005).
More recent scholarship has shown that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were the key leaders of both the Council of Fifty and the Quorum of the Anointed. Ronald K. Esplin looks at the development of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841” (PhD diss., BYU, 1981). Esplin brings the story past 1841 in “Joseph, Brigham and the Twelve: A Succession of Continuity,” BYU Studies 21 (Summer 1981): 304–41; and in “‘A Place Prepared’: Joseph, Brigham and the Quest for Promised Refuge in the West,” Journal of Mormon History 9 (1982): 85–111. The full story of the first apostolic missions to the British Isles and their impact on the preparation and emergence of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to Church leadership is presented in great detail in James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, and David J. Whittaker, Men with a Mission: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 1837–1841 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992). Other studies of apostolic-prophetic succession include Reed C. Durham Jr. and Steven H. Heath, Succession in the Church (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970); Steven H. Heath, “Notes on Apostolic Succession,” Dialogue 20 (Summer 1987): 44–57; and B. H. Roberts, Succession in the Presidency of the Church, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1900); Hoyt W. Brewster Jr., Prophets, Priesthood Keys, and Succession (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991); and Brent L. Top and Lawrence R. Flake, “‘The Kingdom of God Will Roll On’: Succession in the Presidency,” Ensign, August 1996, 22–35. See also Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, “The Prophet’s Final Charge to the Twelve, 1844,” in Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 495–524; and Alexander L. Baugh and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, “‘I Roll the Burthen and Responsibility of Leading This Church Off from My Shoulders on to Yours’: The 1844/
The events of Winter Quarters and the 1847 sustaining of Brigham Young as the second president of the Church are treated in Richard E. Bennett, “‘I Am Going to Go It, the Lord Being My Helper’: The Reestablishment of the First Presidency,” in Mormons at the Missouri: Winter Quarters, 1846–1852 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), 199–214; Bennett, “Winter Quarters: Church Headquarters, 1846–1848,” Ensign, September 1997, 42–53; and William G. Hartley, “Council Bluffs/
1847–77. No complete study exists that deals with Brigham Young as an administrator. The early attempt in Utah in the 1850s under Brigham Young’s direction to establish the law of consecration, its general failure, and the subsequent Mormon Reformation to recommit members to their covenant obligations in 1856 are important to understanding both the deep religiosity of President Young and the zeal and rhetoric that were a part of the sermonizing of the time. These matters are discussed in Paul H. Peterson, “The Mormon Reformation” (PhD diss., BYU, 1981); Peterson, “The Mormon Reformation of 1856–57: The Rhetoric and the Reality,” Journal of Mormon History 15 (1989): 59–87; Peterson, “Brigham Young and the Mormon Reformation,” in The Lion of the Lord, Essays on the Life and Service of Brigham Young, ed. Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995), 244–61. The first appearance of catechisms for teaching the children of Mormon families first appeared during this time. They were published by John Jaques, Catechism for Children. . . . (Liverpool: Franklin D. Richards, 1854). They were printed in large editions into the 1870s. See also Davis Bitton, “Mormon Catechisms,” in Revelation, Reason, and Faith, Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, ed. Donald W. Perry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 407–32; and the essay by Ken Alford in this volume. For a useful introduction of administrative structures in England, see William G. Hartley, “LDS Pastors and Pastorates, 1852–1855,” in Mormons in Early Victorian Britain, ed. Richard L. Jensen and Malcolm R. Thorp (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1989), 194–210.
Additional insights on Young’s administrative skills are provided in Leonard J. Arrington and Ronald K. Esplin, “The Role of the Quorum of the Twelve During Brigham Young’s Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Task Papers in LDS History, no. 31 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979); Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses (New York: Knopf, 1985), especially 192–209; Eugene England, Brother Brigham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 193–230; and William G. Hartley, “Brigham Young and Priesthood Work at the General and Local Levels,” in Lion of the Lord, 338‑70. Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), considers the many religious/
Aaronic Priesthood callings, held mostly by adult males during this period, are detailed in William G. Hartley, “Ordained and Acting Teachers in the Lesser Priesthood, 1851–1883,” BYU Studies 16, no. 3 (Spring 1976): 375–98; Douglas Gene Pace, “The LDS Presiding Bishopric, 1851–1888: An Administrative Study” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1978); Douglas Gene Pace, “Community Leadership on the Mormon Frontier: Mormon Bishops and the Political, Economic, and Social Development of Utah Before Statehood” (PhD diss., Ohio State University, 1983); and Douglas Gene Pace, “Changing Patterns of Mormon Financial Administration: Traveling Bishops, Regional Bishops and Bishop’s Agents, 1857–88,” BYU Studies 23, no. 2 (Spring 1983): 183–95. Also valuable are the essays on Bishop Edward Hunter by William Hartley and on Elijah Sheets, the longest-serving bishop in Mormon history (forty-eight years!) by Gene Pace in Donald Q. Cannon and David J. Whittaker, eds., Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1985). Until the end of the 1850s, Mormon wards had two leaders: a bishop with Aaronic Priesthood functions and a presiding high priest with Melchizedek Priesthood functions. Having two leaders did not always work out well, and Brigham Young finally combined the two functions under one office, a pattern that has continued down to the present. Tensions and challenges to Brigham Young’s policies are suggested in a number of studies, including Gary James Bergera, Conflict in the Quorum: Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002); Gary James Bergera, “The Orson Pratt-Brigham Young Controversies: Conflict within the Quorums, 1853 to 1868,” Dialogue 13 (Summer 1980): 7–49; C. LeRoy Anderson, For Christ Will Come Tomorrow: The Sage of the Morrisites (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1981); and Ronald W. Walker, Wayward Saints: The Godbeites and Brigham Young (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998).
The major administrative changes at the end of Brigham Young’s life are treated in Gary James Bergera, “Seniority in the Twelve: The 1875 Realignment of Orson Pratt,” Journal of Mormon History 18 (Spring 1992): 19–58; Todd Compton, “John Willard Young, Brigham Young, and the Development of Priesthood Succession in the LDS Church,” Dialogue 35 (Winter 2002): 111–33; and William G. Hartley, “The Priesthood Reorganization of 1877: Brigham Young’s Last Achievement,” BYU Studies 20, no. 1 (Fall 1979): 3–36. See also Dale Glen Wood, “Brigham Young’s Activities in St. George during the Later Years of his Life” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1963). The influence of Thomas L. Kane, a non-Mormon adviser to Brigham Young, on such areas as education and finances is suggested in David J. Whittaker, “‘My Dear Friend’: The Friendship and Correspondence of Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane,” BYU Studies 48, no. 4 (2009): 193–225.
1878–1918. William G. Hartley discusses the important changes to the Seventies during John Taylor’s administration in “The Seventies in the 1880s: Revelations and Reorganizing,” Dialogue 16 (Spring 1983): 62–88. Two recent studies give good coverage to these critical years: Edward Leo Lyman, Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); and Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), both of which suggest the various ways the leadership of the Church sought accommodation with American political culture and various challenges of modernization. Specialized studies which illuminate changes and tensions in LDS administrative history during this period include Thomas G. Alexander, “‘To Maintain Harmony’: Adjusting to External and Internal Stress, 1890–1930,” Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982): 44–58; D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890–1904,” Dialogue 18 (Spring 1985): 9–105; Victor W. Jorgensen and B. Carmon Hardy, “The Taylor-Cowley Affair and the Watershed of Mormon History,” Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Winter 1980): 4–36; Kenneth Cannon III, “Beyond the Manifesto: Polygamous Cohabitation among the General Authorities after 1890,” Utah Historical Quarterly 46 (Winter 1978): 24–36; Cannon, “After the Manifesto: Mormon Polygamy, 1890–1906,” Sunstone 8 (January–April 1983): 27–35; James B. Allen, “‘Good Guys’ vs. ‘Good Guys’: Rudger Clawson, John Sharp, and Civil Disobedience in Nineteenth-century Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Spring 1980): 148–74; and Edward Leo Lyman, “The Alienation of an Apostle from His Quorum: The Moses Thatcher Case,” Dialogue 18 (Summer 1985): 67–91. See also B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992); and Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001).
Church financial and administrative challenges during this period are surveyed in Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 353–412; Leonard J. Arrington, “The Settlement of the Brigham Young Estate,” Pacific Historical Review 21 (February 1952): 1–20; Ronald W. Walker, “Crisis in Zion: Heber J. Grant and the Panic of 1893,” Arizona and the West 21 (Autumn 1979): 257–78; Walker, “Young Heber J. Grant and His Call to the Apostleship,” BYU Studies 18, no. 1 (Fall 1977): 121–26; and Walker, “Grant’s Watershed: Succession the Presidency, 1887–1889,” BYU Studies 43, no. 1 (2004): 195–229.
The continuing changes to the priesthood structures (especially in the emergence of the Aaronic Priesthood as a useful avenue for the training of the young men as missionaries and for leadership responsibilities) beginning with the administration of Joseph F. Smith are detailed in David J. Whittaker, “Joseph B. Keeler, Print Culture, and the Modernization of Mormonism, 1885–1918,” in Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America, ed. Charles L. Cohen and Paul S. Boyer (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008), 105–27; William G. Hartley, “The Priesthood Reform Movement, 1908–1922,” BYU Studies 13, no. 2 (Winter 1973): 137–56; Vernon L. Israelson, “Changes in the Numbers and the Priesthood Affiliation of the Men Used as Ward Teachers in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1920 to 1935” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1937); Dale C. Mouritsen, “A Symbol of New Directions: George F. Richards and the Mormon Church, 1861–1950” (PhD diss., BYU, 1982); Shirlee H. Shields, “History of the General Activities Committee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (PhD diss., BYU, 1986); Gary L. Phelps, “Home Teaching: Attempts by the Latter-day Saints to Establish an Effective Program during the Nineteenth Century” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1975); and James N. Baumgarten, “The Role and Function of the Seventies in L.D.S. Church History” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1960), 52–72.
1919–2000. No comprehensive study exists on the creation of the Corporation of the President in 1921 or Zion’s Security Corporation in 1922, or for that matter any of the corporate structures that dominate the administrative structure of the contemporary Church. Some of the basic information is presented in Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985). This work includes information on Church education, the building programs, welfare programs, missionary work, correlation, and much information on Church statistics. Another useful volume of information is Richard O. Cowan and Wilson K. Anderson, The Unfolding Programs and Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints During the Twentieth Century (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1974).
The Church has selectively borrowed and adapted from other organizations programs that seem to offer assistance for its goals. For example, the Methodist Sunday School program was brought into the Church by British converts and remains an important program today. Another study of the impact of non-Mormon programs on the Church is found in Thomas G. Alexander, “Between Revivalism and the Social Gospel: The Social Advisory Committee, 1916–1922,” BYU Studies 23, no. 1 (Winter 1983): 19–39. The adoption of the Boy Scout program by the Church, its largest corporate sponsor today, is another example. See, for example, Orval Leonard Nelson, “A Study of Boy Scout and Aaronic Priesthood Activity (Boys Age Twelve to Fourteen) in Selected L.D.S. Wards” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1964)
Richard O. Cowan looks at important developments under Heber J. Grant in “The Priesthood Auxiliary Movement, 1928–1938,” BYU Studies 19, no. 1 (Fall 1978): 106–20. D. Michael Quinn’s biography Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002) has much information on Clark’s key role in the administration of the Church from the 1930s to the 1960s. The leadership of the eighth President of the Church is studied in Glen R. Stubbs, “A Biography of George Albert Smith, 1870 to 1951” (PhD diss., BYU 1974). G. Homer Durham provides two contemporary scholarly studies on Church organization: “Administrative Organization of the Mormon Church,” Political Science Quarterly 57 (March 1942): 51–71; and “Coordination by Special Representatives of the Chief Executive,” Public Administration Review 8 (Summer 1948): 176–80. See also F. R. Johnson, “Mormon Church as a Central Command System,” Review of Social Economy 37 (April 1979): 79–94.
Students of the welfare program of the Church must begin with the programs of Joseph Smith. The best place to begin to study the developments from the 1930s on is with Arrington, Fox, and May, Building the City of God, 337–58. The Church Securities Program of 1936, which launched the modern Mormon welfare program, can be understood as more of a Utah complement to the New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt rather than as alternative to them. See also Albert L. Fisher, “Mormon Welfare Programs: Past and Present,” Social Science Journal 15 (April 1978): 75–99; Jessie L. Embry, “Relief Society Grain Storage Program, 1876–1940” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1974); David R. Hall, “Amy Brown Lyman and Social Service Work in the Relief Society” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1992); Bruce D. Blumell, “Welfare Before Welfare: Twentieth Century LDS Church Charity before the Great Depression,” Journal of Mormon History 6 (1976): 89–106; Leonard J. Arrington and Wayne K. Hinton, “Origin of the Welfare Plan of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” BYU Studies 5, no. 2 (Winter 1964): 67–85; Maylo Rogers Wiltenberger, “Some Aspects of Welfare Activities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (master’s thesis, Tulane University, 1938); and Betty L. Barton, “Mormon Poor Relief: A Social Welfare Interlude,” BYU Studies 18 no. 1, (Fall 1977): 77–82. The most comprehensive study is Garth Mangum and Bruce Blumell, The Mormons’ War on Poverty: A History of LDS Welfare, 1830–1990 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993); see also Dean L. May, “Body and Soul: The Record of Mormon Religious Philanthropy,” Church History 57 (September 1988): 322–36. Recent activities of the Church in such areas as international relief for victims of earthquakes or floods, or in the work of the recently established Perpetual Education Fund are clearly building on earlier examples and divine directives.
An early examination of the modern temporal affairs of the Church was E. E. Erickson, “The Church and Business,” in his Psychological and Ethical Aspects of Mormon Group Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922), 66–72. Recent overviews are Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, “The Temporal Foundations,” in The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (New York: Knopf, 1980), 262–83; and, more critically, Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley, America’s Saints: The Rise of Mormon Power (New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1984), 95–128; and John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, The Mormon Corporate Empire (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985). See further D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Finances from the 1830s to the 1990s,” Sunstone 19 (June 1996): 17–29.
More recent developments are treated in Gordon Irving, “Administration of President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Ensign, August 1972, 40–41; James B. Allen, “Harold B. Lee: An Appreciation, Both Historical and Personal,” Dialogue 8 (Autumn–Winter 1974): 14–17; H. Brent Goates, Harold B. Lee: Prophet and Seer (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985); “A Decade of Growth [1973–1983],” Ensign, January 1984, 10–15; Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005); and Boyd K. Packer, “President Spencer W. Kimball: No Ordinary Man,” Ensign, March 1974, 21–31.
The Priesthood Correlation Program was announced to the Church by Harold B. Lee in 1961: “New Plan of Coordination,” Improvement Era, January 1962, 34–37. Some of the background is described in Jerry J. Rose, “The Correlation Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints During the Twentieth Century” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1973), and in the essay by Michael Goodman in this volume. A more millennial interpretation is given in Dale C. Morritsen, A Defense and a Refuge: Priesthood Correlation and the Establishment of Zion (Provo, UT: BYU Publications, 1972). Other studies include John P. Fugal, comp., A Review of Priesthood Correlation (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1968); and Gottlieb and Wiley, America’s Saints, 56–64, much of which appears as “The Lee Revolution and the Rise of Correlation,” Sunstone 10, no. 1 (1984–85): 19–22. An especially valuable study is Bruce D. Blumell, “Priesthood Correlation, 1960–1974” (unpublished manuscript, copy in Church History Library). See also Carol H. Cannon, comp., “Correlation Chronology as Reflected in Minutes of Correlation Executive Committee Meetings, 1960–1971” (unpublished manuscript, copy in Church History Library). Armand L. Mauss has studied the background and consequences (some intentional, some not) of the correlation program on all levels of Church administration and membership in The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994). Mauss, like O’Dea before him, seeks to understand the dynamic tension of Mormonism’s struggle to maintain its unique claims and status as a “peculiar people” while at the same time seeking to be “in the world.” O’Dea found the Mormon ability to avoid sectarian stagnation by keeping at least one foot in the pioneer heritage and ideals of the nineteenth century, which allowed members to combine the sacred with the secular in their daily lives; Mauss sees modern Mormonism seeking to maintain its identity by drawing closer to Protestant fundamentalism, and in effect, coming dangerously close to losing its historic identity. For Thomas O’Dea’s ideas, see The Mormons (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957); and “Sources of Strain in Mormon History Reconsidered,” in Mormonism and American Culture, ed. Marvin S. Hill and James B. Allen (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), 147–68. The issues are too complex to discuss here, but the bibliography in Mauss’s work will lead the researcher to the larger literature.
The extending of the priesthood to all worthy males (June 1978) is treated historically and sociologically in a volume of collected essays: Lester E. Bush Jr. and Armand L. Mauss, eds., Neither White nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1984), which also has an extensive bibliography. The larger story is presented in Armand L. Mauss, All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).
Reflections on the recent developments to simplify Church programs are James B. Allen, “‘Course Corrections’: Some Personal Reflections,” Sunstone 14 (October 1990): 34–40, as well as the essays by J. Lynn England and Marie Cornwall in the same issue. See also John P. Livingstone, “Establishing the Church Simply,” BYU Studies 39, no. 4 (2000): 127–63. While there are important reasons for the simplifying of Church meetings and activities to a three-hour block on Sunday, Armand Mauss has argued that the reduction in Church meetings, which in the past could require almost daily Church meetings and activities has significantly challenged and thereby weakened the Mormon historic sense of community.
No historical study exists which surveys the addresses and various contemporary publications on the priesthood and Church government. A useful essay is “Mormon Imprints as Sources for Research: A History and Evaluation,” in Ronald W. Walker, David J. Whittaker, and James B. Allen, Mormon History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 199–238. The earliest material can be found in the revelations and addresses of Joseph Smith. These include several key sections of the Doctrine and Covenants: 13, 20, 84, 105, 107–112, 121, 124, 127–29, 132. Several unpublished revelations of Joseph Smith are also important, including those dated March 1832 (in Newel K. Whitney Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU), January 5,  (in Church Archives), and January 12, 1838 (three on this date in “Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith,” manuscript in Church History Library). Most are available in Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Manuscript Revelation Book, vol. 1 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2009). The difficulty of communications in the earliest years (but which continued to be a reality through much of the nineteenth-century) is described in William G. Hartley, “Letters and Mail between Kirtland and Independence: A Mormon Postal System, 1831–1833,” Journal of Mormon History 35 (Summer 2009): 163–89.
Joseph Smith’s administrative leadership can be seen in the various minute books of early Church and quorum meetings and conferences and in his correspondence, but he also addressed a number of priesthood and administrative matters in his sermons. Many can be found in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, comps., The Words of Joseph Smith (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1980), under the following dates: August 8, 1839; October 5, 1840 (the only known address Joseph specifically prepared a text for); January 5, 1841; January 29, 1843; August 27, 1843; March 10, 1844; April 7, 1844; May 12, 1844; and June 16, 1844. There are also his more private addresses to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, many of which are contained in the journals and notebooks of Willard Richards and Wilford Woodruff, manuscripts in the Church History Library.
Some of the Prophet’s addresses and editorials appeared in early Mormon publications such as The Evening and the Morning Star, the Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, the Elders’ Journal, and the Times and Seasons; some were reprinted in the Millennial Star in England. Several of Joseph Smith’s early followers also published on these topics. One of the earliest and perhaps the most influential was Parley P. Pratt, who issued his Voice of Warning in New York City in 1837. Chapter 3, “The Kingdom of God,” influenced a number of writers and pamphleteers in early Mormonism, including his brother Orson as well as Benjamin Winchester, a Church leader in Philadelphia, whose A History of the Priesthood from the Beginning of the World to the Present Time (Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking, and Guilbert, 1843) was the first book-length study of the subject. Orson Pratt’s pamphlet series on Divine Authority, or the Question, Was Joseph Smith Sent of God? (Liverpool: R. James, 1848) and The Kingdom of God (Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1848–49) were probably the main channels through which Joseph Smith’s and Parley Pratt’s ideas reached the majority of Latter-day Saint converts in the nineteenth century.
Brigham Young also left a mountain of documentary records which detail his administrative and organizational leadership. For his sermons, see The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, ed. Richard S. Van Wagoner, 5 vols. (Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2010). Administrative record books, financial records, and extensive correspondence will provide some future historian all the material needed to tell the full story.
John Taylor, the third President of the Church, was the author of three works on this topic: The Government of God (Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1852), Items on Priesthood Presented to the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, 1881), and Succession in the Priesthood, a discourse of October 7, 1881 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1902).
Many of these publications came as a result of a growing need within the Church for more information and internal coordination on various aspects of Church administration as it grew in size and complexity. Writers and editors of Church publications had tried at various times to address various questions relating to Church governance. While no survey of their work has been done, the following are representative of these attempts: Erastus Snow, “On Priesthood,” Gospel Reflector (Philadelphia), April 15, 1841, 204–12; Thomas Ward, “On the Correction of Errors in Priesthood,” Millennial Star, February 1842, 157–58; Ward, “On the False Prophets of the Last Days,” Millennial Star, April 1842, 177–84; Orson Spencer answered various administrative questions in the mission field in Millennial Star, June 1, 1847, 167–71; John Taylor, “On Priesthood,” Millennial Star, November 1, 1847, 321–26; Thomas Smith, “Questions and Answers for the Children of the LDS School,” Millennial Star, June 15, 1848, 183–84; Orson Pratt, “Power and Eternity of the Priesthood,” The Seer, October 1853, 145–52; and Wilford Woodruff, The Keys of the Kingdom . . . the Prophet’s Last Instructions to the Quorum of Apostles. Remarks Made at Young New Improvement Conference, Sunday, June 2, 1889 (Salt Lake City, 1889). More lengthy works which addressed administrative questions included John Jaques, Catechism for Children. Exhibiting the Prominent Doctrines for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Liverpool, 1854); Joseph Young, History of the Organization of the Seventy (Salt Lake City, 1878); John Jaques, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Its Priesthood Organization, Doctrines, Ordinance, and History (Salt Lake City, 1882); and B. H. Roberts, Succession in the Presidency (Salt Lake City, 1894).
A rich source of contemporary addresses of Church leaders is the Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool: R. James, 1854–1886). Most of the official statements of the Presidents of the Church to 1951, many of which deal with administrative and organizational matters, are gathered in James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75). Addresses of Church leaders after about 1880 were printed as Conference Reports, at first irregularly, but generally twice a year after 1900 to the present. In more recent years, the May and November issues of the Ensign are devoted to the April and October conferences respectively. Reports were also published for the Area Conferences held throughout the world in the 1970s. The importance of Church conferences for administrative history cannot be overemphasized, for in these public settings new programs were announced and counsel for success in the older ones were given. Important studies include Jay R. Lowe, “A Study of the General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (PhD diss., BYU, 1972); Kenneth W. Godfrey, “150 Years of General Conference,” Ensign, February 1981, 66–71; and the studies of Gordon and Gary Shepherd: A Kingdom Transformed: Themes in the Development of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984); “Mormonism in Secular Society: Changing Patterns in Official Ecclesiastical Rhetoric,” Review of Religious Research 26 (September 1984): 28–42; and “Modes of Leader Rhetoric in the Institutional Development of Mormonism,” Sociological Analysis 47 (Summer 1986): 125–36.
One of the key factors in the vitality of the Church is the notion of living prophets, leaders that hold the keys of authority and revelation. Catholic and Protestant views of a closed canon have given rise to suspicion of the Mormon view of living prophets and an open canon, but these beliefs are critical to understanding Mormon administrative history and much more. General conference has been one of the major channels of the institutional glue for the Mormon community, a biannual meeting of all members where counsel, direction, new programs, and spiritual food are offered to the membership. A reporter from Harper’s Weekly caught the meaning of these conferences early when it reported that these meetings were “the post-office, newspaper, legislature, Bible, almanac, temporal, spiritual, and social director of the people” (Harper’s Weekly, December 4, 1858, 781, in Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 31). For a historical perspective of these matters, see James B. Allen, “Line upon Line: Church History Reveals How the Lord Has Continually Added to His People’s Knowledge and Understanding,” Ensign, July 1979, 32–39. For an overview of the physical locations of Church headquarters, see Keith W. Perkins, “From New York to Utah: Seven Church Headquarters,” Ensign, August 2001, 52–58. See also D. Michael Quinn, “LDS ‘Headquarters Culture’ and the Rest of Mormonism: Past and Present,” Dialogue 34 (Fall–Winter 2001): 135–64.
Members regularly sustain their leaders by voting in Church meetings and conferences. The idea of “common consent” is not fully democratic, as members are in reality sustaining the decisions already made by their leaders. But the notion of giving approval to the decisions always implies the option to not give it. For the larger picture, see Wilson K. Anderson, “Voting within the Restored Church of Christ,” in Hearken, O Ye My People: Discourses on the Doctrine and Covenants (Sandy, UT: Randall Book, 1984), 65–77; Martin B. Hickman, “Reciprocal Loyalty: The Administrative Imperative,” in To the Glory of God: Mormon Essays on Great Issues (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 181–96; Neal A. Maxwell, A More Excellent Way (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1968); Matthew O. Richardson, “The Law of Common Consent,” in Doctrine and Covenants, a Book of Answers: The 25th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Provo, UT: Religious Education, BYU, 1996), 75–83; and Hugh W. Nibley, “Criticizing the Brethren,” in Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994), 407–48. The topics of discipleship and dissent are also treated in Robert A. Rees, “‘Lord, to Whom Shall We Go?’ The Challenges of Discipleship and Church Membership,” Dialogue 39 (Fall 2000): 103–14; Nathan B. Oman, “A Defense of the Authority of Church Doctrine,” Dialogue 40 (Winter 2007): 1–28; and Matthew B. Bowman, “Toward a Theology of Dissent: An Ecclesiological Interpretation,” Dialogue 42 (Fall 2009): 21–36. By the turn of the century, as the membership was moving out of the villages and rural settings of the nineteenth century, it was clear that a more systematic approach was needed for administrative matters in the Church. Thus the first Church handbooks began to appear at this time. The important work of Joseph B. Keeler must be seen in this light. Keeler produced four significant works at the turn of the century: The Bishop’s Court: Its History and Proceedings (Provo, UT: Skelton, 1902); The Lesser Priesthood and Notes on Church Government; also a Concordance of the Doctrine and Covenants, for the Use of the Church School and Priesthood Quorums (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1904); First Steps in Church Government: What Church Government Is and What It Does; A Book for Young Members of the Lesser Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1906); and Notes on Lesser Priesthood and Church Government (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1929). Several of these works went through many editions and were even adopted as manuals for the Aaronic Priesthood by the Church. Keeler’s work was an important influence on the appearance and content of John A. Widtsoe, comp., Priesthood and Church Government (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939). Keeler’s contributions are discussed in Whittaker, “Joseph B. Keeler.”
Priesthood quorums of the Church at first selected their own course of study. The first seventy’s quorum study guide was B. H. Roberts, The Seventy’s Course in Theology (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907). Appendix 3 in Widtsoe’s Priesthood and Church Government (1965 printing), 370–73, gives the study courses for the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums from 1908 to 1963. Since the 1960s, the Church has issued manuals for study in the priesthood quorums. Most recently, they have focused on the teachings of the presidents of the Church.
In addition to Church Correlation–produced manuals, more recent publications on this topic include Harold Glen Clark, Millions of Meetings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1955); Oscar W. McConkie Jr., The Kingdom of God (Salt Lake City: The Presiding Bishopric, 1962); Oscar W. McConkie Jr., God and Man (Salt Lake City: The Presiding Bishopric, 1963); Bruce R. McConkie, Common Consent (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973); Lee A. Palmer, Aaronic Priesthood through the Centuries (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1964); Sterling W. Sill, Leadership, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958–1978); Harold Glen Clark, The Art of Governing Zion (Provo, UT: BYU, 1966); Bruce R. McConkie, Let Every Man Learn His Duty: The Ten Commandments of Priesthood Correlation and the Home Teaching Constitution (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976); Priesthood (essays by the General Authorities of the Church) (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981); Rulon G. Craven, Called to the Work: Guidelines for Effective Leadership in the Church (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985); and M. Russell Ballard, Counseling with Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997). Hugh Nibley’s classic essay still serves as a useful reminder of the challenges of leading versus managing and of the key importance of the role of the Spirit in Church government: “Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift,” Dialogue 16 (Winter 1983): 12–21.
Given the Latter-day Saint belief in living prophets and the regular printing of the counsel given by their leaders on organizational and administrative matters, it is not possible to provide more than a few examples here. A sampling, mostly from more recent LDS general conferences, include Bruce R. McConkie, “Only an Elder,” Ensign, 1975, 66–69; Ezra Taft Benson, “Church Government through Councils,” Ensign, May 1979, 86–89; Benson, “To the Home Teachers of the Church,” Ensign, May 1987, 48–51; Gordon B. Hinckley, “The State of the Church,” Ensign, May 1991, 51–54; Hinckley, “The Shepherds of the Flock” Ensign, May 1999, 51–53; Boyd K. Packer, “The Bishop and His Counselors,” Ensign, May 1999, 57–63; Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Stake President,” Ensign, May 2000, 49–51; Spencer W. Kimball, “President Kimball Speaks Out on Administration to the Sick,” New Era, October 1981, 45–50; Dallin H. Oaks, “Priesthood Blessings,” Ensign, May 1987, 36–39; Oaks, “Healing the Sick,” Ensign, May 2010, 47–50; Oaks, “Spiritual Gifts,” Ensign, September 1986, 68–72; Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, November 1999, 78–80; Boyd K. Packer, “Reverence Invites Revelation,” Ensign, November 1991, 21–23 ; Packer, “The Unwritten Order of Things” (devotional address, BYU, October 15, 1996); Packer, “A Defense and a Refuge,” Ensign, November 2006, 85–88; Packer, “The Weak and the Simple of the Church,” Ensign, November 2007, 6–9; Packer, “The Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2010, 6–10; Russell M. Nelson, “Keys of the Priesthood,” Ensign, November 1987, 36–39; and James E. Faust, “The Lord’s Day,” Ensign, November 1991, 33–35.
The various manuals for the priesthood quorums for the Church, especially those since the mid-1960s that have been especially written by Church writing committees, can be found in the Church History Library or the Harold B. Lee Library. Also valuable are the addresses by General Authorities at special seminars for regional representatives of the Twelve and for mission presidents, most of which are available in the Church History Library. The early issues of the Improvement Era regularly published a series “Priesthood Quorum Table,” which kept leaders and members informed regarding administrative matters. Finally, the in-house communication bulletins, including those issued by the Presiding Bishop’s office, Progress of the Church (monthly, 1938–43), and The Messenger (monthly, 1957–64), and following the introduction of priesthood correlation in the 1960s, the Priesthood Bulletin (1965–74, issued six times per year) and Bulletin (1980–present) are important sources for more recent developments. A detailed index to the ten volumes of the Priesthood Bulletin prepared by Thomas G. Alexander is available in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library. Also important are the various editions of the General Handbook of Instructions (1976–2006), and various handbooks issued in recent years for each organization and priesthood leadership unit in the Church. In November 2010, two new Church Handbooks of Instruction were issued by the Church (see Ensign, November 2010, 74–75). Manuals remain important guidelines for leaders throughout the Church, but they are never to take the place of the scriptures or the critical role of continuing revelation in the Church. As President Packer explains, “There is a spiritual element beyond the procedures in the handbook. . . . There are principles of the gospel underlying every phase of Church administration. These are not explained in the handbooks [italics in original].” See Boyd K. Packer, “Principles,” Ensign, March 1985, 6-8.
General Authorities. In addition to the thesis and dissertation by D. Michael Quinn cited above, see his “From Sacred Grove to Sacral Power Structure,” Dialogue 17 (Summer 1984): 9–34, for a group portrait of the General Authorities to the 1930s. Most of the biographies of Church leaders have been “gestas,” or life histories that subordinated the organizational history itself. Thus most of the biographies written of General Authorities have lacked detailed information on administrative history. The exceptions are worth noting: D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1983); Andrew Karl Larson, Erastus Snow: Pioneer and Missionary for the Early Mormon Church (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1972); G. Homer Durham, N. Eldon Tanner, His Life and Service (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982); Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses; David Dryden, “Biographical Essays on Three General Authorities of the Early Twentieth Century” and “Biographical Essays on Four General Authorities of the Early Twentieth Century,” Task Papers in LDS History, nos. 11 and 12 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976); and Edward Leo Lyman, Amasa Mason Lyman, Mormon Apostle and Apostate: A Study in Dedication (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2009). Biographical studies of more recent Church Presidents include The Presidents of the Church: Essays on the Lives and Messages of the Prophets, ed. Leonard J. Arrington (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1986); The Presidents of the Church: The Lives and Teachings of the Modern Prophets, ed. Craig Manscill, Robert Freeman, and Dennis Wright (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2008); Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005); Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Spencer W. Kimball: Twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977); L. Brent Goates, Harold B. Lee: Prophet & Seer (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985); Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987); Eleanor Knowles, Howard W. Hunter (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994); Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996); Heidi S. Swinton, To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010). Francis M. Gibbons has written a multi‑volume biographical series on the Presidents of the Church, including some of the more recent Presidents that he knew personally, and his volumes do treat administrative history. See also Joseph Anderson, Prophets I Have Known (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1973). Both Gibbons and Anderson served as secretaries to the First Presidency. There have been over seven hundred individuals called to be General Authorities of the Church. Biographical information on many of them can be found in Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jensen History, 1901–39); Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1904), vol. 4; Lawrence R. Flake, Mighty Men of Zion: General Authorities of the Last Dispensation (Salt Lake City: Karl D. Butler, 1974); Wilbur D. Talbot, The Acts of Modern Apostles (Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985); Michael K. Winder, comp., Counselors to the Prophets (Roy, UT: Eborn Books, 2001); and Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 2001). For a listing of “Biographical Register of General Church Officers” and of “General Church Officers, A Chronology,” see Appendices 1 and 5 in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1, 631–51, 1, 678–85. See the annually issued Deseret News Church Almanac (Salt Lake City: Deseret News) for recent callings and releases and short biographical information. A biographical index to published biographies can lead the researcher to information on just about all the Church leaders to the 1980s: Marvin E. Wiggins, comp., Mormons and Their Neighbors: An Index to Over 75,000 Biographical Sketches from 1820 to the Present, 2 vols. (Provo, UT: Harold B. Lee Library, 1984). Little serious research has been done on the leadership levels below the highest presiding quorums. One useful study is Joseph Walker, “A Statistical Look at Regional Representatives,” Church News, January 16, 1983, 8–10. Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1941) contains much information on Church administration and leaders to the time of its publication. Steven Sorensen has written an administrative/
Other studies include Dean R. Louder, “A Distributional and Diffusionary Analysis of the Mormon Church, 1850–1970” (PhD diss., University of Washington, 1972); Paul Timothy Johnson, “An Analysis of the Spread of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Salt Lake City, Utilizing a Diffusion Model” (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1966); Lowell C. Bennion, “Mormon Country a Century Ago: A Geographer’s View,” in Thomas G. Alexander, ed., The Mormon People, Their Character and Traditions (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1980), 1–26; D. W. Meining, “The Mormon Culture Region: Strategies and Patterns in the Geography of the American West, 1847–1864,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 55 (June 1965): 191–220; Lowell C. Bennion, “The Geographic Dynamics of Mormondom, 1965–95,” Sunstone 18 (December 1995): 21–32; and Ethan R. Yorgason, Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003). See also Lee L. Bean, “The Mormon Historical Demography Project,” Historical Methods 11 (Winter 1978): 45–53; and G. Wesley Johnson and Marian Ashby Johnson, “On the Trail of the Twentieth-century Mormon Outmigration,” BYU Studies 46, no. 1 (2007): 41–83. There are a number of essays related to the current dynamics of the Church in Contemporary Mormonism, ed. Marie Cornwall, Tim B. Heaton, and Lawrence A. Young (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994). See also Claudia L. Bushman, Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006).
Key sources for studying these matters are in the Church History Library. A useful overview is Gladys Noyce, Guide to Sources for Studies of Church Statistics (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d.). A historical overview of the Church reporting forms is Dennis H. Smith, “Formal Reporting Systems of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1975” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1976). See also Floyd A. Hill, “Keeping Track of the Lord’s Sheep,” Ensign, July 1990, 14–17.
Missiology. Mormon history is mission history. From the Church’s earliest days, converts were commissioned to preach the gospel, and they gradually spread into the villages and hamlets of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and Upper Canada. By 1837, Mormon missionaries were moving into the larger cities and in 1837 undertook the first mission to England. The success of their missionary efforts forced leaders to address a variety of institutional and organizational matters. It was in a missionary context than many of the Church’s programs were first tried. Thus organization, emigration, publication, and finances were natural outgrowths of missionary work. There are many studies devoted to Mormon missiology. The first scholarly study was S. George Ellsworth, “A History of Mormon Missions in the United States and Canada, 1830–1860” (PhD diss., University of California–Berkeley, 1951); a more recent study with much information on the makeup of the early missionary force is Rex Thomas Price Jr., “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1991). Gordon Irving, “Numerical Strength and Geographical Distribution of the LDS Missionary Force, 1830–1974,” Task Papers in LDS History, no. 1 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1975), is a very useful compilation of missionary statistics. An extensive guide is David J. Whittaker, “Mormon Missiology: An Introduction and Guide to the Sources,” in The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, ed. Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), 459–538. The growing trend among scholars to use economic models to understand the growth and development of religious movements has only recently been applied to the Church. To see prophets as religious entrepreneurs and investigators as potential consumers for whom the gospel must be “packaged” to obtain their market share can be seen as offensive or at least an incomplete way of understanding the process to most Latter-day Saints. This is especially so when they believe in the key role of the Holy Spirit in the conversion experience. A useful introduction to all these matters is Larry Witham, Marketplace of the Gods: How Economics Explains Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
Much of the more recent scholarship on the growth of the Church has taken a closer look at the diversity of both members and those called to lead them. In the 1970s, a time when the first large-scale surveys were beginning to be done, one study compared the beliefs and attitudes of a ward in the Oakland, California, with a ward on the Wasatch Front in Utah. Among other things, the survey found more liberal political and social attitudes (for example, on birth control, labor unions, and war) among members of the Bay Area ward than among the Utah ward. The survey also found a growing tendency of the Church to call white-collar workers rather than blue-collar laborers to leadership positions. Here, time constraints and educational backgrounds seem to have been a factor in their callings. This survey was based on a small sampling, but these matters are important for those who study Mormon organizational and administrative matters. For an overview, see the appendix “Survey Methods and Measurements” in Mauss, The Beehive and the Angel, 215–28. For the early studies, see Armand L. Mauss, “Moderation in All Things: Political and Social Outlooks of Modern Urban Mormons,” Dialogue 7 (Spring 1972): 57–69; Mauss, “Saints, Cities, and Secularism: Religious Attitudes and Behavior of Modern Urban Mormons,” Dialogue 7 (Summer 1972): 8–27; and J. Kenneth Davies, “The Accommodation of Mormonism and Political-Economic Reality,” Dialogue 3 (Spring 1968): 42–54. See also Marie Cornwall and Perry H. Cunningham, “Surveying Latter-day Saints: A Review of Methodological Issues,” Review of Religious Research 31 (December 1989): 162–72; and Mauss, “Flowers, Weeds, and Thistles: The State of Social Science Literature on the Mormons,” in Ronald W. Walker, David J. Whittaker, and James B. Allen, eds., Mormon History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 153–97.
The growing scholarship on international Mormonism, with essays that focus on a variety of administrative topics, includes Dean L. Larsen, “The Challenges of Administrating a Worldwide Church,” Ensign, July 1974, 18–22; Garth N. Jones, “‘Acres of Diamonds’: Studies of Development Administration and the Mormon Experience,” in Portraits of Human Behavior and Performance: The Human Factor in Action, ed. Senyo B-S. K. Adjibolosoo (Lanham, NJ: University Press of America, 2001), 271–313; and Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century, The 29th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000); and Global Mormonism in the Twenty-first Century, ed. Reid L. Neilson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 2008). See also Reid L. Neilson, “Authority, Organization, and Societal Context in Multinational Churches,” Administrative Science Quarterly 38 (December 1993): 653–82; and Jessie L. Embry, Asian American Mormons: Bridging Cultures (Provo, UT: Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, BYU, 1999).
Communications and public relations remain important topics for administrative history. How the Church presents itself to the world, how it responds to criticism, and especially how it has used the most current forms of mass communication since its founding are important subjects of study, even though they are just beginning to go on the agendas of scholars. Several publications by Sherry Pack Baker will lead researchers to this literature: “Mormon Media History Timeline: 1827–2007,” BYU Studies 47, no. 4 (2008): 117–23; and “Mormons and the Media, 1898–2003: A Selected, Annotated and Indexed Bibliography,” BYU Studies 42, nos. 3 and 4 (2003): 125–89 (with Daniel Stout). Especially useful is James B. Allen, “Technology and the Church: A Steady Revolution,” in Deseret Morning News 2007Church Almanac (Salt Lake City: Deseret Morning News, 2006), 118–58. For the larger American context, see Communication and Change in American Religious History, ed. Leonard I. Sweet (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), particularly in the essay by Sweet, “Communication and Change in American Religious History: A Historiographical Probe,” 1–49.
Grass roots. Following similar trends in the study of social history, Mormon scholars have been turning to new methods and sources to recover the lives and experiences of common members of the Church. Much of this has centered on the local community where Saints were gathered and shaped through much of Mormon history. Here the values of Mormonism were taught and fostered in the village of the nineteenth century and in the wards of more recent times. Mormon group solidarity and loyalty in the nineteenth century came from extended family connections, temple sealings, and a sense of being part of a covenant community. Its focus on the small community meant that there was less need for either an extensive bureaucracy or coordinated programs. This changed as membership grew and gradually came to be settled in more urban and modern locales, making the ward less autonomous and more connected to the larger centralized structure. One of the consequences of the correlation movement in the 1960s was the gradual loss of local autonomy and the standardizing of lesson materials prepared by centralized Church writing committees.
One of the main ways that members and their leaders, both local and general, have kept in touch with each other is the home teaching program. As a program for teachers (mostly adults in the nineteenth century) “watching over the Church” (D&C 20:53, 84:111), it has gone by various names: block teaching, home missionaries, ward teaching, and home teaching. Mostly informal in the earliest years, the concern of Church leaders in the 1850s to more systematically visit and teach members during the Mormon Reformation saw the program more firmly established. Concern with the laxness of members entering into the consecration program as well as a concern with some members wishing to leave the fold, pairs of priesthood holders would visit various homes to maintain contact with and to watch over those families assigned to them. These home missionaries worked to get members recommitted to their covenants and to help them reevaluate their spiritual worthiness. Using printed catechisms, these teachers would, by asking questions, encourage personal repentance and renewed dedication. Most members were rebaptized during this period as part of this effort at reformation. As a program for caring, teaching and communication, it remains a major channel for Church leaders to feel the pulse of the membership; locally, it provides the bishops with regular contact with ward members, and if done right, can lift some of the burdens of leadership and administering from the bishop’s shoulders. Useful sources on this program include Gary L. Phelps, “Home Teaching: Attempts by the Latter-day Saints to Establish an Effective Program during the Nineteenth Century,” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1975); Rex A. Anderson, “A Documentary History of the Lord’s Way of Watching over the Church by the Priesthood through the Ages” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1974); Vernon L. Israelsen, “Changes in the Numbers and the Priesthood Affiliation of the Men used as Ward Teachers in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1920 to 1935” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1937). For the Mormon Reformation, see Paul H. Peterson, “The Mormon Reformation of 1856–1857: The Rhetoric and the Reality,” Journal of Mormon History 15 (1989): 59–87. The Church has issued guide lines for home teaching throughout the twentieth century, and the importance of the program has been regularly addressed in general, stake and ward conferences. At its heart was always the strengthening of the family in matters relating to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A sampling of the home teaching literature includes David O. McKay, Suggestions on Ward Teaching (Salt Lake City: Presiding Bishop’s Office, General Committee on Priesthood Outlines, 1912); Bryant S. Hinckley, Ward Teachers Handbook, 1946 (Salt Lake City: Presiding Bishop’s Office, 1946); Suggestions for Home Teachers, 1965 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1964); Priesthood Home Teaching Handbook of Instructions (Salt lake City: Priesthood Home Teaching Committee, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1972); Guidelines for Priesthood Home Teaching (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980); The Home Teaching Visit: A Guide for Home Teachers (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1983); Bruce R. McConkie, Let Every Man Learn His Duty: The Ten Commandments of Priesthood Correlation and the Home Teaching Constitution (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976); Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Home Teachers of the Church” Ensign, May 1987, 48-51; Thomas S. Monson, “Home Teaching—A Divine Service,” Ensign, November 1997, 46–48; and Richard J. Marshall, Home Teaching with Purpose and Power (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990). A similar program, coordinated by the ward Female Relief Society, is visiting teaching, wherein women in pairs are assigned to visit their sisters in the ward each month. Monthly messages from Church leaders for both programs are contained in the Ensign.
Like their biblical models and their Puritan forebears, Mormons stressed the covenant in their relationships with each other and with their God. An understanding of this is central to studying Mormon history. An overview of the concept in the Church is presented in David J. Whittaker, “A Covenant People,” in The Seventh Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium: The Doctrine and Covenants (Provo, UT: Religious Instruction, BYU; Salt Lake City: Church Educational System, 1979), 196–216; and in shorter form in Ensign, August 1980, 36–40. See also Rex Eugene Cooper, Promises Made to the Fathers: Mormon Covenant Organization (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990).
The early attempts of Mormons to establish their own communities are studied in Warren A. Jennings, “Zion Is Fled: the Expulsion of the Mormons from Jackson County, Missouri” (PhD diss., University of Florida, 1962); Backman, The Heavens Resound, 63–81, 125–74, 262–83; David E. Miller and Della S. Miller, Nauvoo: The City of Joseph (Santa Barbara, CA; Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1974); Robert B. Flanders, Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965); and Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: BYU Press, 2002). The organization of gathering and emigration. The great ability of Mormon organizational skill is no better seen than in the nineteenth-century programs for bringing new converts to the Great Basin and then settling them in some 450 communities in the West. We mention only a few of the numerous studies on this topic. The key areas of Britain and Scandinavia are treated in Philip A. M. Taylor, Expectations Westward: The Mormons and the Emigration of Their British Converts in the Nineteenth Century (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1966); and William Mulder, Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1957). An early study of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company is Gustive O. Larson, Prelude to the Kingdom: Mormon Desert Conquest, a Chapter in American Cooperative Experience (Francestown, NH: Marshall Jones, 1947). More recent studies by Stanley B. Kimball, William G. Hartley, and Fred E. Woods can be located in Studies in Mormon History (2000). The story of the Mormon exodus west in 1846–47 is told well in two books by Richard E. Bennett: Mormons at the Missouri, 1846–52: “And Should We Die . . .” (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987); and We’ll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846–1848 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997). For detailed studies of the organized Mormon emigration, see Conway Sonne, Ships, Saints and Mariners: A Maritime Encyclopedia of Mormon Migration, 1830–1890 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987); Sonne, Saints on the Seas: A Maritime History of Mormon Migration, 1830–1890 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983). Andrew Jenson provided yearly summaries of Church emigration from 1840 to 1860 in a series of twenty-three articles published in the Contributor, vols. 12–14 (June 1891–September 1893). See also William G. Hartley, “LDS Emigration in 1852: The Keokuk Encampment and Outfitting Ten Wagon Trains for Utah,” Mormon Historical Studies 4 (Fall 2003): 43–76; Hartley, “The Great Florence Fitout of 1861,” BYU Studies 24, no. 3 (Summer 1984): 341–71; John K. Hulmston, “Transplain Migration: The Church Trains in Mormon Immigration, 1861–1868” (master’s thesis, Utah State University, 1985); Don H. Smith, “Leadership, Planning and Management of the 1856 Handcart Emigration,” Annals of Iowa 65 (Spring/
Of particular value are the recent studies that look at the function and organization of Mormon towns. A good place to begin is with Dean L. May, “The Making of Saints: The Mormon Town as a Setting for the Study of Cultural Change,” Utah Historical Quarterly 45 (Winter 1977): 75–92, and Wayne L. Wahlquist, “A Review of Mormon Settlement Literature,” Utah Historical Quarterly 45 (Winter 1977): 3–21. Other studies include Lowry Nelson, The Mormon Village: A Pattern and Technique of Land Settlement (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1952); Mark P. Leone, “The Evolution of Mormon Culture in Eastern Arizona,” Utah Historical Quarterly 40 (Spring 1972): 122–41; Wilfrid C. Bailey, “The Social Organization of the Mormon Village” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1955); Dean L. May, “People on the Mormon Frontier: Kanab’s Families of 1874,” Journal of Family History 1 (December 1976): 169–79; May, “Utah Writ Small: Challenge and Change in Kane County’s Past,” Utah Historical Quarterly 53 (Spring 1985): 170–83; Cindy Rice, “Spring City: A Look at a Nineteenth Century Mormon Village,” Utah Historical Quarterly 43 (Summer 1975): 260–77; Lester D. Campbell, “Perception and Land Use: the Case of the Mormon Culture Region” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1974); Michael S. Raber, “Religious Polity and Local Production: The Origins of a Mormon Town” (PhD diss., Yale University, 1978); Charles S. Peterson, “Life in a Village Society, 1877–1920,” Utah Historical Quarterly 49 (Winter 1981): 78–96; Peterson, “A Mormon Village: One Man’s West,” Journal of Mormon History 3 (1976): 3–12; and Larry M. Logue, A Sermon in the Desert: Belief and Behavior in Early St. George, Utah (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988). In the twentieth century, the form of the Mormon community shifted from the village to the ecclesiastical ward. An interesting perspective is provided in Douglas D. Alder, “The Mormon Ward: Congregation or Community?” Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978): 61–78. See also James B. Allen, “The Mormon Search for Community in the Modern World,” The Restoration Movement, 307–40; Jan Shipps, Cheryll L. May, and Dean L. May, “Sugarhouse Ward: A Latter-day Saint Congregation,” in American Congregations, vol. 1, Portraits of Twelve Religious Communities, ed. James P. Wind and James W. Lewis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1994), 293–348; Ron Molen, “Franchising the Faith: From Village Unity to the Global Village,” Sunstone 10 (August 1986): 30–37; and Mario S. DePillis, “The Persistence of Mormon Community into the 1990s,” Sunstone 15 (October 1991): 28-49.
Colonization and settlement. Until recently both Mormon and non-Mormon historians have seen Latter-day Saint western colonization as a monolithic process directed by Brigham Young from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. According to this scenario, Young established a firm base along the Wasatch Front and gradually expanded the Mormon settlements north and south, eventually penetrating the interior valleys. As an administrator and empire builder, Young wished to further control the main points of entry into the Great Basin, so he established further colonies at Las Vegas and San Bernardino to the southwest, in Carson Valley to the west, and in southern Idaho to the north. In all, Brigham Young is said to have established or planned about 360 settlements by his death in 1877. The traditional story is told most fully in Milton R. Hunter’s works, and especially in Brigham Young the Colonizer, 4th ed. (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1973).
One of the first scholars to challenge the traditional view was Eugene E. Campbell, “Brigham Young’s Outer Cordon—A Reappraisal,” Utah Historical Quarterly 41 (Summer 1973): 220–53. Campbell pointed out that most of the outer settlements were not initially established under Brigham Young’s direction nor as part of a concerted effort at empire building. Some were established by disaffected members acting on their own, and others were established to control threats from Indians. Richard Sherlock, “Mormon Migration and Settlement after 1875,” Journal of Mormon History 2 (1975): 53–68, shows that later colonization was often undertaken by the initiative of various local leaders who felt the need to acquire new locations for their own rising generations.
Other studies have modified or changed traditional views such as the “trackless wilderness” as they have shown that the Mormons did not blaze any new trails in their westward immigration, nor did they find the Salt Lake Valley to be a treeless desert in 1847. See, for example, Lewis Clark Christian, “A Study of Mormon Knowledge of the Far West Prior to the Exodus (1830–February, 1846)” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1972); and Richard H. Jackson, “Myth and Reality: Environmental Perception of the Mormons, 1840–1865: An Historical Geosophy” (PhD diss., Clark University, 1970).
All of this is not to discredit Brigham Young’s administrative genius. As a colonizer he has no peers in American history, and a student of organizational history must not ignore this major dimension of early LDS history, for here few details were left to chance. From immigration and exploration to initial colonizing missions, Young did preside over the rapidly increasing settlement process. To say that not all colonies were under his direction is not to diminish his large accomplishments. Little wonder that almost all of his life was spent in administering the multitude of details of the Mormon settlement of the West. The variety of problems he confronted were intimately related to the evolving structure of the institution itself. Brigham Young’s extensive correspondence files in the Church History Library provide the details.
John Reps, Town Planning in Frontier America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), is an excellent comparative study which allows the student to grasp the larger organizational picture. Studies which bring the Mormon settlement patterns into clearer focus include the essays in Richard H. Jackson, ed., The Mormon Role in the Settlement of the West (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1978); Joel E. Ricks, Forms and Methods of Early Mormon Settlement (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1964); Wayne L. Wahlquist, “Settlement Processes in the Mormon Core Area, 1847–1890” (PhD diss., University of Nebraska, 1974); Richard H. Jackson, “Mormon Perceptions and Settlement,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 68 (September 1978): 317–34; Charles L. Sellers, “Early Mormon Community Planning,” Journal of the American Institute of Planners 28 (1962): 24–30; Richard V. Francaviglia, “The Mormon Landscape: Existence, Creation and Perception of a Unique Image in the American West” (PhD diss., University of Oregon, 1970; New York: AMS Press, 1974); Francaviglia, “The City of Zion in the Mountain West,” Improvement Era, December 1969, 10–17; Francaviglia, “Passing Mormon Village,” Landscape 22 (Spring 1978): 40–47; and Dean L. May, “A Demographic Portrait of the Mormons, 1830–1980,” in After 150 Years: The Latter-day Saints in Sesquicentennial Perspective, ed. Thomas G. Alexander and Jessie L. Embry (Provo, UT: Charles Redd Center for Western Studies; Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983), 37–69.
Steve Olsen has written on the Mormon theological sense of place in “Community Celebrations and Mormon Ideology of Place,” Sunstone 5 (May/
Meetinghouses and temples. The first structures built for worship were temples, and they and the sacred ordinances performed therein remain at the core of Mormon theology. The first structures for regular worship were not constructed until the Utah era. These meetinghouses varied in size and structure, being first built of wood, then brick, and then stone. The first large structures were tabernacles, temporary structures at first, then more solid buildings in Utah. The best place for a history and visual presentation of these important facilities for both worship and recreation is Richard W. Jackson, Places of Worship: 150 Years of Latter-day Saint Architecture (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 2003). For a valuable guide to both ecclesiastical and vernacular structures of the Latter-day Saints, see Brad Westwood, “Mormon Architectural Records,” in Mormon Americana: A Guide to Sources and Collections in the United States, David J. Whittaker, ed. (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 1995), 336–405. The Church expends a significant portion of its resources on ecclesiastical structures for its membership and its larger mission, including not only the construction of chapels, temples, mission homes, but also their maintenance throughout the world. The first chapels were constructed in Utah, and for over a century the major responsibility for their financing and construction lay with the members, who were expected to provide both the funding and the labor. In recent years the Church has taken over the building and maintenance of the chapels. Insights to this potential rich topic for future researchers are in David W. Cummings, Mighty Missionary of the Pacific: The Building Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Its History, Scope and Significance (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1961); Edward A. Geary, “The Last Days of the Coalville Tabernacle,” Dialogue 5 (Winter 1970): 42–50; Dennis L. Lythgoe, “Battling the Bureaucracy: Building a Mormon Chapel,” Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982): 68–78; Brad Westwood, “Historic Tabernacles,” Ensign, October 1997, 32–37; Ronald W. Walker, “The Salt Lake Tabernacle in the Nineteenth Century: A Glimpse of Early Mormonism,” Journal of Mormon History 32 (Fall 2005): 198–240; Westwood, “Houses of the Lord,” Ensign, June 1997, 9–17; and Westwood’s study of Utah’s first trained architect: “The Early Life and Career of Joseph Don Carlos Young (1855–1938): A Study of Utah’s First Institutionally Trained Architect to 1884” (master’s thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1994).
The Mormon Sabbath. Before about 1852, Mormon Sunday meetings were less structured, and because there were no meetinghouses, meetings were usually held in the largest homes of members (much like the house churches of the New Testament). Larger meetings, where members could be instructed by their leaders, occurred in the Kirtland Temple, in barns of members, or in open areas, such as the “Grove” adjacent to the Nauvoo Temple. In 1852, Mormon meetings were standardized and were held on a community-wide basis in the tabernacle at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The nineteen bishops in Salt Lake City took turns administering the sacrament during the afternoon meeting. One Thursday of each month, the ward met separately for fast and testimony meeting. This was the only time the members took the sacrament as a ward. Unlike today, the sacrament was prepared and passed to the congregation while the speaker gave his remarks to those assembled. In Edward Hunter’s ward, the speaker spoke while the bread was passed, and if he finished, the congregation sang a hymn while the water was being passed. After the sacrament came the closing prayer and the dismissal of the congregation. This summary is taken from Leonard J. Arrington, From Quaker to Latter-day Saint: Bishop Edwin D. Woolley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 326–29.
To better understand the Mormon Sabbath, see Russel J. Thomsen, “History of the Sabbath in Mormonism” (master’s thesis, Loma Linda University, 1968); William G. Hartley, “Mormon Sundays: A Historian Looks at How We’ve Observed the Sabbath Since 1830,” Ensign, January 1978, 19–25; Hartley, “Common People: Church Activity during the Brigham Young Era,” in Nearly Everything Imaginable: The Everyday Life of Utah’s Mormon Pioneers, ed. Ronald W. Walker and Doris R. Dant (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1999), 249–95; and Ronald W. Walker, “‘Going to Meeting’ in Salt Lake City’s Thirteenth Ward, 1849–1881: A Microanalysis,” in New Views of Mormon History: A Collection of Essays in Honor of Leonard J. Arrington, ed. Davis Bitton and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 138–61. For contemporary accounts, one in the Oakland, California, area and the other in Delaware, see Claudia L. Bushman, “The Sunset Ward,” Dialogue 22 (Summer 1989): 119–30; Susan B. Taber, “Becoming Mormon: The Elkton Branch, 1876–81,” Dialogue 25 (Fall 1992): 87–112; and Taber, Mormon Lives: A Year in the Elkton Ward (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993). See also Claudia L. Bushman, Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006).
General pattern. Before April 1830, Joseph Smith, with help from Oliver Cowdery, had outlined key doctrines and Church organization in a document now known as Doctrine and Covenants section 20. They drew heavily from the Book of Mormon. Having been given the necessary priesthood authority from heavenly messengers, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery officially organized the Church according to laws of the state of New York on April 6, 1830.
For the first few months, government for the infant organization was informal. Joseph Smith was recognized as the prophet and leader; Oliver Cowdery was his assistant and spokesman. The first years of Mormon history are the story of the growth from this informal government to an “oligarchy of leading elders.” By 1835, the basic contours of the Church’s administrative structure, the presiding quorums, were in place.
The Church began with five priesthood offices in 1830: Apostle, elder, priest, teacher, and deacon. The offices of bishop and high priest were added in 1831. But all of these early positions were local, held by lay members with no presiding authority. By 1831, Joseph Smith’s ecclesiastical position had been more clearly defined, but it was not until January 1832 that he was formally sustained by a conference vote as “president of the high priesthood.” Two weeks later he officially chose and ordained Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon as counselors. The Mormon hierarchy officially began with these March 8, 1832, calls. Early revelations and instructions from Joseph Smith established this First Presidency as the supreme authority on all matters relating to the Church.
The next major development was the organization of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on February 14, 1835. While men had been earlier ordained as Apostles, this act established a special unit of Church government. Although their responsibilities as a “traveling high council” were limited during the next six years to areas outside organized stakes, in time this quorum stood next to the First Presidency, and its senior member has become, upon the death of every president beginning with Joseph Smith, the new leader of the Church.
The third presiding quorum in the Mormon hierarchy, the Seventy, was organized in 1835, two weeks after the organization of the Apostles into a quorum, when Joseph Smith began ordaining men to the office of Seventy. Their task was missionary work. They were organized into quorums of seventy men, with the first quorum as the presiding quorum and its first seven members as presidents of all the seventies in the Church. From the beginning, they were to receive instructions and directions from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles but were to “form a quorum equal in authority” to them (D&C 107:26). During the nineteenth century, most of the Church’s proselyting missionaries were seventies, yet with the exception of the Patriarch, the office of the Seventy in Church history is least understood. In 1985, all local seventies quorums were discontinued, but the first and second quorums were expanded and filled with General Authorities who have been given greater responsibility in managing the affairs of the Church worldwide. This pattern has continued with eight quorums in the Church today.
The fourth presiding unit in the Church hierarchy is the Presiding Bishopric. Edward Partridge, called on February 4, 1831, was the first bishop in the Church. He was joined in 1831 by Newel K. Whitney. Only gradually did their responsibilities become known to them and to the Church. Very early they were assigned to “watch over the Church” and to take an interest in the poor, with the special assignment of administering the donations received for the needy. By 1835, Joseph Smith had revealed that the bishops should also be judges in the Church and were to be responsible to the First Presidency. They were to preside over the lesser priesthood offices of deacon, teacher, and priest, and were to be increasingly concerned with the “temporal” or economic affairs of the Church (see D&C 107:15–17, 68–76, 88; Joseph Smith later added vv. 76–93 to this section). By 1839, two more bishops were called, but each had geographical responsibility (Missouri and Ohio) for a loose group of members. Presiding authority remained undefined.
It was during the Nauvoo period (1839–46) that, originally for voting and labor tithing purposes, wards were first organized. In time these subdivisions became useful ecclesiastical units over which a bishop took responsibility. The office of Presiding Bishop was first designated in 1840, but no Presiding Bishop functioned until 1847.
A useful overview of the general contours of these early developments is D. Michael Quinn, “The Evolution of the Presiding Quorums of the LDS Church,” Journal of Mormon History 1 (1974): 21–38.
Prophet, seer, revelator. In a revelation to the Church on April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith Jr. was designated “a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (D&C 21:1). The Hebrew word for prophet is nabi and literally translates as “to bubble, or to boil,” and seems to be related to the Akkadian nabu “to call, or announce.” Hence the title is given to one who is called or one who announces, as in revealing the divine will. The Old Testament speaks of certain individuals who were called of God, those who spoke to and for God. In his perceptive study of the prophets of ancient Israel, Abraham Heschel spoke of the prophet as a witness, a messenger, and an assayer. His greatness “lies not only in the ideas he expressed, but also in the moments he experienced.” Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets: An Introduction (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), 1:20–22.
The Old Testament suggests a development from ecstatic seers to prophets (1 Samuel 9:9). As Joseph Smith sought to understand his gifts, he surely looked to the Bible and Book of Mormon for models of religious leadership. It should not surprise us that his own sense of calling was worked out within the context of Biblical precedents as he received additional revelation and divine tutoring on specific matters. This helps explain the heavy emphasis on the Old Testament in the earliest years of Mormonism, for it was there that the clearest prophetic models were found. Also critical was the Book of Mormon, as John Welch’s essay herein clearly shows. Joseph only gradually moved the Church from a loose, rather democratic movement to a more hierarchical, pyramidal structure, the outlines of which were in place by 1835.
Thus the Hirum Page episode in September 1830 (see D&C 28) is best seen as the first serious challenge to Joseph’s leadership, when a follower had his own seer stone through which he was receiving revelation. This was consistent in the early years, as everyone stood somewhat equal in these matters. But in section 28, Joseph’s revelations were to be given priority over everyone else’s for the Church as a whole. This was surely a necessary development, if for no other reason than to keep some order in the growing movement. But it also helped to push the early democratic elements back. Early associates of Joseph Smith came to interpret this growing authoritarianism as a serious breach of the origins of the movement. On Hirum Page, see Bruce G. Stewart, “Hiram Page: An Historical and Sociological Analysis of an Early Mormon Prototype” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1987); for the attitudes of the Whitmers, see David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ (1888); John Whitmer, From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer, ed. Bruce N. Westergren (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995). For further analysis of this point see Whittaker, “The Book of Daniel in Early Mormon Thought.”
From an administrative perspective, these changes not only reveal Joseph Smith’s organizational genius but also surely enabled the movement to survive and grow during periods of strong criticism and forced moves throughout the nineteenth century and to adjust to the changing world of the twentieth century.
Councils and conferences. In the earliest months following the organization of the Church, Joseph Smith regularly gathered members into meetings that he identified as conferences (the term was also used for geographical divisions in the mission field). In these meetings, business was conducted, various matters were discussed and voted on, and individuals were given various Church assignments. On a smaller scale, these meetings were called councils (in the beginning, these terms were interchangeable), and a leader was appointed to preside over these meetings, as was a clerk to take minutes of the proceedings. In 1831, twelve conferences were held in about three months in addition to a general conference in November. In these meetings men were trained in administrative matters and also brought to accountability for misconduct. In these meetings, members were to seek revelation for themselves as they made decisions regarding administrative matters. As Richard Bushman suggests, it was these councils that made the Church self-governing, as Joseph Smith did not need to be present for the councils to function.
As the Church membership grew and as Joseph identified two centers of gathering, it was necessary to expand the governing capacity of these councils. The first step was to form high councils (composed of twelve high priests, with a president and two counselors) to regulate Church affairs in two locations: the Kirtland high council was organized in February 1834, and a few months later a second high council was organized in Clay County, Missouri. The Kirtland high council seems to have been intended as a council for the whole Church, and it seems that both high councils were intended to function as city councils for the two centers of Mormon gathering. These two governing bodies were to provide leadership where the Church was established, but there still remained two problems for the Church organization to address: what group should have jurisdiction in the mission field, and just what was the relationship of these high councils to Joseph Smith? Developments after 1834 addressed many of these concerns. For more information on the early councils and conferences, see Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 251–69; Bushman, “The Theology of Councils,” 433–45; Kathleen Flake, “From Conferences to Councils: The Development of LDS Church Organization, 1830–1835,” in Archive of Restoration Culture: Summer Fellows’ Papers, 1997–1999 (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Latter-day Saint History, BYU, 2000), 1–8; David Holland, “Priest, Pastor, and Power: Joseph Smith and the Question of Priesthood,” in Archive of Restoration Culture, 91–96; Jason Lindquist, “‘Unlocking the Door of the Gospel’: The Concept of ‘Keys’ in Mormonism and Early American Culture,” in Archive of Restoration Culture, 29–42; J. Spencer Fluhman, “Authority, Power, and ‘Government of the Church of Christ,’ 1835,” in Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 2010), 195–231; and the essay by Joseph F. Darowski in this volume.
The First Presidency. On January 25, 1832, Joseph Smith was officially sustained by a Church conference as president of the high priesthood. On March 8, 1832, he chose Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon as his counselors, and with these calls the Mormon hierarchy began. Together they comprised the First Presidency. The early revelations clearly established this quorum as the top administrative unit in the Church, with final say on all matters regarding the Church (see D&C 107:8, 22, 79–80).
Early direction to the office of counselor was given in a revelation dated March 15, 1832, to Jesse Gause (see D&C 81). Frederick G. Williams replaced Gause the next year, and Gause seems to have disappeared from history. Two studies that discuss the life of the first man called as a counselor in the First Presidency are Robert J. Woodford, “Jesse Gause—Counselor to the Prophet,” BYU Studies 15, no. 3 (Spring 1975): 362–64; D. Michael Quinn, “Jesse Gause: Joseph Smith’s Little-Known Counselor,” BYU Studies 23, no. 4 (Fall 1983): 487–93; and most completely, Erin B. Jennings, “The Consequential Counselor: Restoring the Root(s) of Jesse Gause,” Journal of Mormon History 34 (Spring 2008): 182–227. On Williams, see Frederick G. Williams, “Frederick Granger Williams of the First Presidency of the Church,” BYU Studies 12, no. 3 (Spring 1972): 243–61.
The first real challenge to Joseph Smith’s claims to hold the keys, or directing and presiding authority, of the priesthood came shortly after the organizing of the First Presidency. In early July, 1832, with Gause absent on a mission and Joseph Smith living in Hiram, Ohio, Rigdon called a meeting in Kirtland in which he claimed that the Church no longer had the keys of the priesthood. Hyrum rode south to get Joseph, who returned to Kirtland and spent the next few weeks doing damage control. Rigdon was released from the First Presidency, and Joseph spent part of the month thinking about these matters. Joseph’s first autobiographical statement was prepared during this time, and it centers on his right for claiming the keys of the priesthood: “the Keys of the Kingdom conferred upon him” was a forceful if short summary of the visionary experiences that brought the heavenly keys to him (in it he outlines his revelatory experiences: a testimony from on high, the ministering of angels, the reception of the holy priesthood, and a confirmation and reception of the holy priesthood), and it provides the only account we have of his First Vision in his own hand. For the text of this history, see Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. and ed. Dean C. Jessee, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: BYU Press, 2002), 9–20; on Rigdon’s release and reinstatement, see Joseph Smith to William W. Phelps, July 31, 1832, in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 273 (“after repenting like Peter of old, has been restored to his high standing”), and Hyrum Smith, diary, July 29, 1832, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU). The scribe for this early history was Frederick G. Williams, who would become Joseph Smith’s counselor the next year, replacing Gause.
Few good studies have been done on the men who have served as counselors to the President of the Church. Important exceptions are Jeffrey S. O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith: A Life of Integrity (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003); Andrew F. Smith, The Saintly Scoundrel: The Life and Times of Dr. John Cook Bennett (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997); Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981); Kimball, “Brigham and Heber,” BYU Studies 18, no. 3 (Spring 1978): 396–409; Gene A. Sessions, Mormon Thunder: A Documentary History of Jedediah Morgan Grant (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982); Michael K. Winder, John R. Winder: Member of the First Presidency, Pioneer, Temple Builder, Dairyman (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1999); D. Michael Quinn, Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002); Eugene E. Campbell and Richard D. Poll, Hugh B. Brown: His Life and Thought (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1975); G. Homer Durham, N. Eldon Tanner: His Life and Service (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982). See also N. Eldon Tanner, “The Administration of the Church,” Ensign, November 1979, 42–48; and Gordon B. Hinckley, “In . . . Counselors There Is Safety,” Ensign, November 1990, 48–51.
The office of Assistant or Associate President in the early Church also provided extra counselors for the President. Oliver Cowdery was appointed as Assistant President on December 5, 1834. The next day Joseph Smith Sr. and Hyrum Smith were called to the same position. Of the three, only Oliver’s calling was one of joint leadership with Joseph Smith with rights of succession. See Quinn, “Evolution of the Presiding Quorums,” 25. Also valuable is Robert Glen Mouritsen, “The Office of Associate President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1972).
Scribes and clerks. An important dimension in Mormon administrative history is the critical role that clerks and scribes and secretaries played in the creation and maintenance of Church records. Joseph Smith depended on personal scribes and secretaries during his presidency, as have his successors. One could almost suggest the existence of a scribal culture in Mormonism, from the important work of Oliver Cowdery in the earliest years to those who continue this nonpublic function in Mormon organizational/
The presiding patriarch. Probably the least understood office in the Church, the first patriarch was designated by Joseph Smith in December 1833 or 1834. In a blessing on his own father’s head, Joseph said “he shall be called a prince over his posterity, holding the keys of the patriarchal Priesthood over the Kingdom of God on earth, even the Church of the Latter-day Saints.” “Patriarchal Blessing Book,” 1:9–10, manuscript, Church History Library. That same day, December 18, Joseph Smith Sr. was ordained “Patriarch and President of the High Priesthood.” There is some question as to the exact date of these events, whether it was December 1833 or December 1834, the earliest mention of Joseph Smith Sr. actually giving patriarchal blessings. It is unclear just whom he was to preside over; perhaps this is why he was also called as an Assistant President. See Irene M. Bates, “Patriarchal Blessings and the Routinization of Charisma,” Dialogue 26 (Fall 1993): 1–29. The undefined nature of the presiding role of the Church Patriarch came into focus at Joseph Smith’s death and during the succession crisis that followed. William Smith’s claims that his position as Church Patriarch made him the new leader was denied by Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The potential tension remained in the Church until recently, when Eldred G. Smith was made patriarch emeritus in October 1979 and no replacement was called.
The history of the office of Church Patriarch is found in the following studies: Andrew Jenson, “Presiding Patriarchs,” Historical Record 5 (August 1886): 89; Ernest M. Skinner, “Joseph Smith, Sr., First Patriarch to the Church” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1958); Pearson H. Corbett, Hyrum Smith, Patriarch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1963); Thomas Jay Kemp, The Office of Patriarch to the Church, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Stanford, CT: Thomas J. Kemp, 1972); Irene M. Bates, “William Smith, 1811–93: Problematic Patriarch,” Dialogue 16 (Summer 1983): 11–23; Bates, “Uncle John Smith, 1781–1854: Patriarchal Bridge,” Dialogue 20 (Fall 1987): 79–89; E. Gary Smith, “The Patriarchal Crisis of 1845,” Dialogue, 24–35; Paul M. Edwards, “William B. Smith: Persistent ‘Pretender,’” Dialogue 18 (Summer 1985): 128–39; and most comprehensively, Irene M. Bates, “Transformation of Charisma in the Mormon Church: A History of the Office of Presiding Patriarch, 1833–1879” (PhD diss., UCLA, 1991); and Irene M. Bates and E. Gary Smith, Lost Legacy: The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996).
The office of stake patriarch has continued to function in the Church from its earliest days. Following the calling of the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835 they were told in a revelation that “It is the duty of the Twelve in all the branches of the Church, to ordain evangelical ministers [defined by Joseph Smith as patriarchs] as they shall be designated unto them by revelation” (D&C 107:39). Their calling includes pronouncing special blessings, revealing or assigning lineages connected with the House of Israel, and giving inspired counsel to Church members. While worthy fathers are also patriarchs to their families and in that role can give blessings to their family members, stake patriarchs also serve as fathers to those who lack either a living or an active earthly father. See Boyd K. Packer, “The Stake Patriarch,” Ensign, November 2002, 42-45.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As early as 1830 the calling of Apostle was referred to in the revelations (see D&C 18:26–39; 20:2–3). In February 1835, following the New Testament pattern, twelve men were called to constitute a quorum of Church government. At first they were not given any presiding authority over already-organized stakes, but by 1842 Joseph brought the quorum into its position of key importance next to the First Presidency. After the initial years in the Great Basin, Brigham Young geographically decentralized the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by assigning them to preside over various areas of Mormon settlement or on various missions. It was only in the 1890s that the quorum returned to its earlier unified structure. The full story of these early years is told in Quinn, “The Evolution of the Presiding Quorums,” 26–31; T. Edgar Lyon, “Nauvoo and the Council of the Twelve,” in The Restoration Movement: Essays in Mormon History, comp. F. Mark McKiernan, Alma Blair, and Paul M. Edwards (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1973), 167–205; Ronald K. Esplin, “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841” (PhD diss., BYU, 1981); Wilbur D. Talbot, “The Duties and Responsibilities of Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1835–1945” (PhD diss., BYU, 1977); and Talbot, The Acts of the Apostles (Salt Lake City: Randall Books, 1985).
A few of the individual Apostles have received scholarly treatment. Among the more important studies, beyond those already cited above, include Merlo J. Pusey, Builders of the Kingdom: George A. Smith, John Henry Smith, George Albert Smith (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1981); Leonard J. Arrington, Charles C. Rich: Mormon General and Western Frontiersman (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1974); Breck England, The Life and Thought of Orson Pratt (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1985); Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography (New York: Russell, 1874); David S. Hoopes and Roy Hoopes, The Making of a Mormon Apostle: The Story of Rudger Clawson (Lanham, MD: Madison Books, 1990); Myrtle Stevens Hyde, Orson Hyde: The Olive Branch of Israel (Salt Lake City: Agreka Books, 2000); and Edward Leo Lyman, Amasa Mason Lyman: Mormon Apostle and Apostate (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2009). Lucile C. Tate authored several biographies of modern Apostles: LeGrand Richards: Beloved Apostle (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982); David B. Haight: The Life Story of a Disciple (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987); and Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1995).
The First Quorum(s) of Seventy. Shortly after the first Quorum of Twelve Apostles was called, Joseph Smith began calling men to be Seventies. On March 28, 1835, a revelation spelled out their duties: “The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witness unto the Gentiles in all the world—thus differing from other offices in the church in the duties of their calling. And they form a quorum equal in authority to that of the Twelve special witnesses or Apostles just named” (D&C 107:25–26).
From 1835, the Seventy were considered subordinate to the Quorum of the Twelve (see D&C 107:25–26). Seven men were to preside as presidents over the quorum (see D&C 107:93–96). The fascinating history of this quorum has yet to be fully told. A useful general history is James Norman Baumgarten, “The Role and Function of the Seventies in L.D.S. Church History” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1960). See also Quinn, “The Evolution of the Presiding Quorums,” 31–32; Lyndon W. Cook, A Tentative Inquiry into the Office of the Seventy, 1835–1845 (Provo, UT: Grandin Book, 2010); Joseph Young, History of the Organization of the Seventies (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1878); Hartley, “The Seventies in the 1880s,” Dialogue 16 (Spring 1983): 62–88; S. Dilworth Young, “The Seventies: A Historical Perspective,” Ensign, July 1976, 14–21; Bruce Van Orden, “Preparing for a Worldwide Ministry,” Ensign, October 1999, 33–39; L. Aldin Porter, “A History of the Latter-day Seventy,” Ensign, August 2000, 14–20; Earl C. Tingey, “The Saga of Revelation: The Unfolding Role of the Seventy,” Ensign, September 2009, 54–60; and Richard O. Cowan, “Administrating the International Church,” in Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and Richard O. Cowan (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 482–501. A valuable chronological compilation of documents on the history of the Seventies to 1970 is John L. Lund, “An Extensive Annotated Bibliography of Literature Relative to the Office and Calling of the Seventy” (unpublished manuscript), L. Tom Perry Special Collections. Recent developments, including the expansion of the First Quorum and the organization of the Second and others that followed, can be traced in Church News, especially November 8, 1975; October 9, 1976; and October 16, 1975, and in subsequent general conference reports. Also Spencer W. Kimball, “The Reconstitution of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, November 1976; “Organizational Principles Pertaining to the First Quorum of the Seventy,” manuscript in Church History Library, dated December 7, 1978.
The best-known members of the Seventy are the subjects of Truman G. Madsen, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980); and J. Claude Richards, J. Golden Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966).
The Presiding Bishop. There was no functioning Presiding Bishop while Joseph Smith was alive. While Edward Partridge was appointed bishop on February 4, 1831, and Newel K. Whitney was called in December 1831, neither man was given authority over the other. Rather, they had regional responsibilities, one in Ohio, the other in Missouri. Only gradually did their duties become defined: they were to answer to the First Presidency; they were to preside over the lesser offices of deacon, teacher, and priest; and they were to concern themselves exclusively with the temporal affairs of the Church.
The first man to be designated as Presiding Bishop of the Church was Vinson Knight. This was in 1841, but his name was never presented to the Church for a vote, and it is clear he never functioned in this capacity before his death in July 1842. While there was some seniority ranking among the other bishops during the Nauvoo period, Newel K. Whitney was sustained as the first functioning Presiding Bishop in April 1847. He was succeeded by Edward Hunter in April 1851.
The complex details of these early events are told in Quinn, “The Evolution of the Presiding Quorums,” 32–38. See also Quinn, “Was Edward Partridge the First Presiding Bishop?,” Ensign, December 1972, 32; Donald Gene Pace, “The LDS Presiding Bishopric, 1851–1888: An Administrative Study” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1978); Larry N. Poulsen, “The Life and Contributions of Newel Kimball Whitney” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1966); D. Brent Collette, “In Search of Zion: A Description of Early Mormon Millennial Utopianism as Revealed through the Life of Edward Partridge” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1977); William G. Hartley, “Edward Hunter: Pioneer Presiding Bishop,” in Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and David J. Whittaker (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1985), 275–304; William E. Hunter, Edward Hunter, Faithful Servant (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press for the Hunter Family, 1970); D. Gene Pace, “Changing Patterns of Mormon Financial Administration: Traveling Bishops, Regional Bishops and Bishops Agents, 1851–1888,” BYU Studies 23, no. 2 (Spring 1983): 183–92; Janet Burton Seegmiller, “Be Kind to the Poor”: The Life of Robert Taylor Burton (Salt Lake City: Robert Taylor Burton Family Organization, 1988); and Michael E. Christensen, “The Making of a Leader: A Biography of Charles W. Nibley to 1890” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 1978). A useful biographical compilation is Michael R. Winder, Presiding Bishops (Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2003). Two unpublished manuscripts in the Church History Library are also useful: Elden J. Watson, “Early Development of the Presiding Bishopric”; and Ronald G. Watt, “The Presiding Bishopric to 1888.”
Regional and area leaders. Reflective of the growth of the Church in the twentieth century was the creating of large geographical units to help facilitate the administration of the Church worldwide. Supervised and staffed by members of the Seventies quorums and responsible to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, these regional leaders have proved essential for the governing of an ever-enlarging Church. An earlier attempt to provide General Authority leadership came in 1941, when Assistants to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were first called. Some thirty-eight men served in these callings before it was merged with the expansion of the Seventies quorums in 1976. A number of those who served as Assistants to the Twelve were later called into the Quorum of the Twelve. See John A. Widtsoe, “Assistants to the Twelve,” Improvement Era, May 1941, 288; and Spencer W. Kimball, “The Reconstitution of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, November 1976, 9.
The best overview of the current developments is Kahlile B. Mehr, “Area Supervision: Administration of the Worldwide Church, 1860–2000,” Journal of Mormon History 27 (Spring 2001): 192–214. The shifting boundaries and those who are called to lead these areas can be followed in the Deseret News Church Almanac and in the Ensign. There is also much useful information in Francis M. Gibbons, The Expanding Church: Three Decades of Remarkable Growth among the Latter-day Saints, 1970–1999 (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1999).
The history of the calling of mission president has received little attention in Mormon scholarship. There is much indirect information in the many histories of Mormon missions, easily located in Whittaker, “Mormon Missiology.” Very useful profiles of those who served missions, a number of whom later became mission presidents themselves, is William E. Hughes, “A Profile of the Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1849–1900” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1986); and Rex Thomas Price Jr., “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1991). For more specific studies of the leadership, see George D. Pace, “The Effectiveness of Mission Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Measured by Six Selected Criteria” (DRE dissertation, BYU, 1976), part of which was published in Review of Religious Research 19 (December 1978): 209–19. For several perspectives on what can go wrong, see D. Michael Quinn, “I-Thou vs. I-It Conversions: The Mormon ‘Baseball Baptism’ Era,” Sunstone 16 (December 1993): 30–44; Richard Mavin, “The Woodbury Years: An Insider’s Look as Baseball Baptisms in Britain,” Sunstone 19 (March 1996): 56–60; Kahlile Mehr, “The Trial of the French Mission,” Dialogue 21 (Fall 1988): 27–45. Fortunately, these have been the exception in Mormon mission history. A useful introduction to Mormon missiology is R. Lanier Britsch, “Mormon Missions: An Introduction to the Latter-day Saints Missionary System,” Occasional Bulletin of Missionary Research 3 (January 1979): 22–27, and Britsch’s essay in this volume.
Stake presidents. The organization of stakes, with a president and two counselors and a high council of twelve members, dates from 1834. The first wards were created in 1839, through the gradual movement to their modern function took a little time. Both organizations were fluid geographically, and while these governing units began to coalesce during the Nauvoo period, it was not until the Saints settled in the Salt Lake Valley that they came to function like today. But there were still changes and modifications. For example, the Salt Lake Stake functioned as the center stake, with a higher status than other stakes, until 1876, when Brigham Young announced that all stakes were to be considered on equal footing. The rich history of stakes, still not fully told, can be seen in two essays by William G. Hartley: “Organization of Wards and Stakes: A Historical Approach,” in Religious Educators Symposium on LDS Church History (Salt Lake City: Church Educational System, 1977), 53–55; and “Nauvoo Stake, Priesthood Quorums, and the Church’s First Wards,” BYU Studies 32, nos. 1–2 (1992): 57–80. Donald Q. Cannon studies the powerful nineteenth-century president of the Salt Lake Stake in “Angus M. Cannon: Pioneer, President, Patriarch,” in Supporting Saints, 369–401.
Bishops. The most important grassroots leader in the Church is the bishop. In the modern Church his responsibilities center in five areas, (1) acting as the presiding high priest or father of the ward; (2) acting as head of the Aaronic Priesthood in his ward, (3) caring for the needy as he administers the welfare program on the local level, (4) overseeing ward finances, and (5) acting as a common judge in Israel. These are summarized in the March 22, 1974, oral history interview of J. Thomas Fyans, in the James Moyle Oral History Program, Church History Library. These five areas were made the core of the Bishop’s Self-Help Training Course in the Church (ca. 1980).
Written revelations of the Church specified that the bishop was divinely authorized to administer the temporal and financial resources of the Church, in addition to certain other duties. The precise jurisdiction of the office of bishop was not specified, and the Presidents of the Church often distinguished various types of bishops. The student should be aware of the following titles used in Church history: (1) ward bishop—a lay leader whose jurisdiction was limited to a local ecclesiastical unit called a ward. This type of bishop has been recognized in Latter-day Saint terminology and practice from 1839 to the present; (2) regional presiding bishop—a leader who served as bishop over a region, generally a county or a stake. The regional presiding bishop was responsible for the regional storehouse, in which the voluntary donations of Church members were received and disbursed. This designation was used from the early 1850s to 1877; (3) bishop’s agent—an agent of the Presiding Bishop who was directly responsible to the Presiding Bishop for the condition of the resources and records in the stake to which the agent was assigned. The title and function date back to 1831, when one of the general bishops had an agent as authorized in a written revelation, but the number of such officers was largest after 1851. An organized system of bishop’s agents was used extensively in Utah during the period 1877–1888; (4) Presiding Bishop—a bishop who was responsible for the administration of temporal affairs of the entire Church and who presided under the First Presidency over the entire Church. He and his two counselors comprised the Presiding Bishopric. As stated earlier, there was no functioning Presiding Bishop while Joseph Smith was alive. Newel K. Whitney was sustained as the first functioning Presiding Bishop in April 1847. He was succeeded by Edward Hunter in April 1851; (5) Assistant Presiding Bishop—bishop who served as an assistant to the Presiding Bishop of the Church. When sustained by the vote of the general membership of the Church, these assistants were also General Authorities. This title was first designated in 1851, lasted from one to two years, and became firmly established in 1856 as permanent counselors to the Presiding Bishopric; (6) traveling bishop—a bishop whose jurisdiction was not limited to a ward or stake. The traveling bishop was to be as “a father to the people” and to supervise temporal matters in the settlements he visited. This position was authorized in a written revelation of 1830, and men periodically served in this role for the next several decades; (7) traveling agent for the General Tithing Office—a traveling auditor who gave instruction on bookkeeping to the ward bishops, compiled financial summaries, and helped with the supervision of temporal affairs in the areas he visited. Traveling agents for the General Tithing Office were used from 1860 to 1876. This summary of bishops’ roles is taken from D. Gene Pace, “Changing Patterns of Mormon Financial Administration: Traveling Bishops, Regional Bishops, and Bishop’s Agents, 1851–1888,” BYU Studies 23, no. 2 (Spring 1983): 183–95.
The historical roles of bishops can be seen in the following studies: Dale F. Beecher, “The Office of a Bishop: An Example of Organizational Development in the Church,” Task Papers in LDS History, no. 21 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1978); Beecher, “The Office of Bishop,” Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982): 103–15; D. Gene Pace, “Community Leadership on the Mormon Frontier: Mormon Bishops and the Political, Economic and Social Development of Utah before Statehood” (PhD diss., Ohio State University, 1983); Steven J. Sorenson, “Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction of LDS Bishops and High Council Courts, 1847–1852,” Task Papers in LDS History, no. 17 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977); Jerry C. Higginson, “Abraham Alonzo Kimball: A Nineteenth Century Mormon Bishop” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1963); Blaine M. Yorgason, “The Impact of Polygamy upon the Life of James Yorgason: A Nineteenth-century Mormon Bishop” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1980); D. Gene Pace, “Elijah F. Sheets: The Half-century Bishop,” in Cannon and Whittaker, Supporting Saints, 255–73; Leonard J. Arrington, From Quaker to Latter-day Saint: Bishop Edwin D. Woolley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976); Alan P. Johnson, Aaron Johnson, Faithful Steward: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1991); William G. Hartley, My Best for the Kingdom: The History and Autobiography of John Lowe Butler, a Mormon Frontiersman (Salt Lake City: Aspen Books, 1993); William G. Hartley and Lorna Call Alder, Anson Bowen Call: Bishop of Colonia Dublan (Provo, UT: Lorna Call Alder, 2007); William G. Hartley, “The Miller, the Bishop, and the ‘Move South,’” BYU Studies 20, no. 1 (Fall 1979): 99–105; William G. Hartley, “Ward Bishops and the Localizing of LDS Tithing, 1847–1856,” in New Views of Mormon History 96–114; Dean L. May, “Brigham Young and the Bishops: The United Order in the City,” in New Views of Mormon History, 115–37; P. T. Reilly, “Kanab United Order: The President’s Nephew and the Bishop,” Utah Historical Quarterly 42 (Spring 1974): 144–64; and Leonard J. Arrington and Richard Jensen, “Lorenzo Hill Hatch: Pioneer Bishop of Franklin,” Idaho Yesterdays 17 (Summer 1973): 2–8. William G. Hartley’s forthcoming biography of Albert King Thurber focuses on his service as a bishop in Spanish Fork for fourteen years and then as a stake president in Richfield from 1875 to 1888.
Four of the seven interviews of William Woolf taken in 1973–74 by William G. Hartley for the oral history program of the Church Historical Department detail Woolf’s experiences as the bishop of the Manhattan Ward in New York in the 1940s. They are frank and contain good insights into the role of a more contemporary urban bishop. Valuable insights are in Pilar Rich (pseud.), The Saints of Snowville: Story of a Mormon Bishop (New York: Exposition Press, 1970). The rural ward discussed here was in Star Valley, Wyoming. A guide to nineteenth-century bishops is Ronald G. Watt and Rachel Whitmore, comps., “LDS Bishop’s Directory, 1848–1890” (unpublished manuscript, Church History Library, 1979). A contemporary look at the history of one ward in Delaware for one year is Susan Buhler Taber, Mormon Lives: A Year in the Elkton Ward (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993). See also Jessie L. Embry, Mormons Wards as Community (Binghamton, NY: Global Publications, Binghamton University, 2001). Lorin K. Hanson and Lila J. Bringhurst’s history of the Fremont, California, stakes provides an overview of the growth of one area outside the Wasatch Front to branches and districts and then to stakes and wards: Let This Be Zion: Mormon Pioneers and Modern Saints in Southern Alameda California: From a Colony of Refugees in Gold Rush California to “Stakes of Zion” in a World-wide Church (Newark, CA: Fremont California and Fremont California South Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1996).
The key role of the bishop as a common judge in counseling members, hearing confessions of members, and assisting members of his congregation with the repentance process is discussed in great detail in Lester E. Bush Jr., “Excommunication and Church Courts: A Note from the General Handbook of Instruction,” Dialogue 14 (Summer 1981): 74–98; Edward L. Kimball, “Confession in LDS Doctrine and Practice,” BYU Studies 36, no. 2 (1996–97): 7–73; and Kimball, “The History of LDS Temple Admission Standards,” Journal of Mormon History 24 (Spring 1998): 135–79. See also R. Collin Mangrum, “Furthering the Cause of Zion: An Overview of the Mormon Ecclesiastical Court System in Early Utah,” Journal of Mormon History 10 (1983): 79–90. While ward bishops have counseled their ward members since the earliest days of the Church, due to its private and generally confidential nature, very little study has been done on this aspect of their job. Recent studies, of uneven quality, include Peter Wendel Johnson, “Counseling Attitudes of Bishops and Seminary Instructors of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” (EdD diss., Boston University, 1973); Franklin Kelso Meadows, “A Study of the Status, as Counselors, of One Hundred Bishops in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1958); Philip Dayton Thorpe, “The Brigham Young University Ward Bishops and Professional Counselors as Helping Persons” (PhD diss., BYU, 1967); and Jerry Allen Wilson, “A Fault Free Approach to Analysis of Counselor Training for Bishops in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (EdD diss., BYU, 1976). The Church has commissioned a variety of studies on wards and on bishops, but almost none of them have been made public. The growing interests and concerns of professional counselors, many of whom are used by bishops in referral situations, can be seen in the publications and meetings of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists (AMCAP). See also Scott Ashby Speakman, “A History of the Youth Guidance Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1968); Harold C. Brown, “New Developments in L.D.S. Social Services,” AMCAP 7 (January 1982): 11–13, 31, 32. See also Eric Gottrid Swedin, Healing Souls: Psychotherapy in the Latter-day Saint Community (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).
From Mormon institutional beginnings, women have been encouraged to participate in Church government. They were to vote in conferences on matters of policy and doctrine, and Mormon scripture never suggested that revelation or inspiration was a function of one’s gender. From the earliest days, women have played a major role in virtually all aspects of Latter-day Saint history, but their lives and contributions have only begun to catch the attention of scholars. This judgment is true whether the topic is a single biography, women organized, or in the more sociological areas of the role and function of sisterhood in the Mormon experience.
A good place to begin is with Carol Cornwall Madsen and David J. Whittaker, “History’s Sequel: A Source Essay on Women in Mormon History,” Journal of Mormon History 6 (1979): 123–45. An updated listing of studies since 1977 has been compiled by Patricia Lyn Scott and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, “Mormon Women: A Bibliography in Process, 1977–1985,” Journal of Mormon History 12 (1985): 113–27. See also Karen Purser Frazier, compiler, Bibliography of Social, Scientific, Historical, and Popular Writings about Mormon Women (Provo, UT: Women’s Research Institute, BYU, 1990). These bibliographies contain material on the administrative and organizational dimensions of women’s activities. A useful overview of women in Church history is Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (New York: Knopf, 1979), 220–40. Valuable essays are gathered in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavina Fielding Anderson, eds., Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987); Mormon Sister, Women in Early Utah, Claudia L. Bushman, ed. (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1997); and Vicky Burgess-Olson, ed., Sister Saints (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1978). See also Jill Mulvay Derr and C. Brooklyn Derr, “Outside the Mormon Hierarchy: Alternative Aspects of Institutional Power,” Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982): 21–43;
The Female Relief Society. The most important women’s organization has been the Relief Society. History of the Relief Society, 1842–1966 (Salt Lake City, 1966) was published by the General Board of the Relief Society, but it covers only the essential programs and highlights in the development of this organization. Insights into its origin are in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and James L. Kimball Jr., “The First Relief Society: A Diversity of Women,” Ensign, March 1979, 25–29; and Jill Mulvay Derr and Carol Cornwall Madsen, “Preserving the Record and Memory of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 1842–92,” Journal of Mormon History 35 (Summer 2009): 88–117. The life of the first president is treated in Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984). Emma’s use of the Relief Society to condemn plural marriage led Brigham Young to suspend its operations after Joseph Smith’s death. Its history to 1868 when it was again organized more fully by Brigham Young is considered in Richard L. Jensen, “Forgotten Relief Societies, 1844–67,” Dialogue 16 (Spring 1983): 105–25. Biographical information on the presidents is in Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt, Elect Ladies (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990); and Janet Peterson, Faith, Hope and Charity: Inspiration from the Lives of General Relief Society Presidents (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2008). Economic responsibilities after 1868 are studied in Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), 251–54; and Jessie L. Embry, “Grain Storage: The Balance of Power between Priesthood Authority and Relief Society Autonomy,” Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982): 59–67.
Other studies which reveal the richness of the organizational experiences of the Relief Society are Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, “The Leading Sisters’: A Female Hierarchy in Nineteenth Century Mormon Society,” Journal of Mormon History 9 (1982): 26–39; Beecher, “Women at Winter Quarters,” Sunstone 8 (July–August 1983): 11–19; Jill Mulvay Derr and Susan Staker Oman, “The Nauvoo Generation: Our First Five Relief Society Presidents,” Ensign, December 1977, 36–43; Derr, “These Three Women: They Presided over Relief Society in the Twentieth Century,” Ensign, February 1978, 66–70; Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, “Priestess among the Patriarchs: Eliza R. Snow and the Mormon Female Relief Society, 1842–1887,” in Religion and Society in the American West: Historical Essays, ed. Carl Guarneri and David Alvarez (Lanhan, MD: University Press of America, 1987), 153–70; Carol Cornwall Madsen, “A Mormon Woman in Victorian America [Emmeline B. Wells]” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 1985); Dixie Shaw Huefner, “Survey of Women General Board Members,” Dialogue 6 (Summer 1971): 60–70; Carol Lois Clark, “The Effect of Secular Education upon Relief Society Curriculum, 1914–1940” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 1979); Lorretta L. Huefner, “The Decade Was Different: Relief Society’s Social Services Department, 1919–1929,” Dialogue 15 (Autumn 1982): 64–73; Jill Mulvay Derr, “Changing Relief Society Charity to Make Way for Welfare, 1930–1944,” in New Views of Mormon History, 242–72; David R. Hall, “From Home Service to Social Service: Amy Brown Lyman and the Development of Social Work in the LDS Church,” Mormon Historical Studies 9 (Fall 2008): 67–88; Hall, “A Crossroads for Mormon Women: Amy Brown Lyman, J. Reuben Clark, and the Decline of Organized Women’s Activism in the Relief Society,” Journal of Mormon History 36 (Spring 2010): 205–49; Tina Hatch, “‘Changing Times Bring Changing Conditions’: Relief Society, 1910 to the Present,” Dialogue 37 (Fall 2004): 65–98; Jean Anne Waterstradt, “Relief Society’s Golden Years: The Magazine,” Dialogue 37 (Fall 2004): 99–107; and Barbara B. Smith, “The Relief Society Role in Priesthood Councils,” Ensign, November 1979, 83–85. For its more complete history, see Jill Mulvay Derr, Janath R. Cannon, and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992).
Women and authority. To date, the administrative priesthood is held only by males, but there have been interesting aberrations in Mormon history. See Linda King Newell, “A Gift Given, A Gift Taken: Washing, Anointing, and Blessing the Sick among Mormon Women,” Sunstone 6 (September–October 1980): 16–24; Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, “Sweet Counsel and Seas of Tribulation: The Religious Life of Women in Kirtland,” BYU Studies 20, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 151–62; Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, “A Decade of Mormon Women in the 1870s,” New Era, April 1978, 34–39; Gail Farr Casterline, “‘In the Toils’ or ‘Onward for Zion’: Images of the Mormon Woman, 1852–1890” (master’s thesis, Utah State University, 1974); Dixie Shaw Huefner, “Church and Politics and the IWY Conference,” Dialogue 11 (Spring 1978): 58–75; Linda Sillitoe, “Women Scorned: Inside Utah’s IWY Conference,” Utah Holiday, August 1977, 26ff; and Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley, America’s Saints, 187–213. An important essay on a relevant topic is Linda Wilcox, “The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven,” Sunstone 5 (September–October 1980): 9–15. See also Maxine Hanks, ed., Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992). For a study of a divorced, single, professional Latter-day Saint woman who was able to work within the Church and was able to influence some temple clothing designs and missionary approaches, see the biography of a world-famous swimsuit designer, Carole Reid Burr and Roger K. Petersen, Rose Marie Reid: An Extraordinary Life Story (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 1995). The history of Mormon women missionaries and Church policy is surveyed in Calvin S. Kunz, “A History of Female Missionary Activity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1830-1898,” (master’s thesis: BYU, 1976); Rebecca L. Johns, “A Study of Coded Messages in the Personal Narratives of Female Mormon Missionaries” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 2001); Jessie L. Embry, “LDS Sister Missionaries [1930–70]: An Oral History Response,” in Journal of Mormon History 23 (Spring, 1997), 100–139; and Tania Rands Lyon and Mary Ann Shumway McFarland, “‘Not Invited, But Welcome’: The History and Impact of Church Policy on Sister Missionaries,” Dialogue 36 (Fall 2003): 71–101.
In recent years, scholars have been looking more closely at the historical and scriptural record on women and priesthood ordination. These include Anthony A. Hutchinson, “Women and Ordination: Introduction to the Biblical Context,” Dialogue 14 (Winter 1981): 58–74; Nadine Hanson, “Women and the Priesthood,” Dialogue 14 (Winter 1981): 48–57; Melodie Moench Charles, “Scriptural Precedents for Priesthood,” Dialogue 18 (Fall 1985): 15–20; Linda King Newell, “The Historical Relationship of Mormon Women and Priesthood,” Dialogue 18 (Fall 1985): 21–32; Meg Wheatley-Pesci, “An Expanded Definition of Priesthood: Some Present and Future Consequences,” Dialogue, 33–42; and Shane B. Inglesby, “Priesthood Prescription for Women: The Role of Women as Prescribed in Aaronic Quorum Lesson Manuals,” Sunstone 10 (March 1985): 28–33. Also valuable are Jill Mulvay Derr and C. Brooklyn Derr, “Outside the Mormon Hierarchy: Alternative Aspects of Institutional Power,” Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982): 21–43; and Ian G. Barber, “The Ecclesiastical Position of Women in Two Mormon Trajectories,” Journal of Mormon History 14 (1988): 63–79.
Young Women’s and Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Associations. The Young Women’s organization began in November 1869 as the Cooperative Retrenchment Association, when Brigham Young organized his own daughters into the group. Initially concerned with matters of dress and deportment, it was supervised by Eliza R. Snow. By 1870, each ward in Salt Lake City had a women’s organization, and in 1871 it was renamed the Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association. In 1875, a similar organization for the young men was organized. A useful summary is Elaine Anderson Cannon, “Young Women,” in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1616–19. Susa Young Gates wrote the first history of the YWMIA: History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, November 1869 to June 1910 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1911). In 1955, Marba C. Josephson brought the history up to date in her History of the Y. W. M. I. A. In 1969, the General Board of the YWMIA published a chronological pictorial collage entitled A Century of Sisterhood. A useful study which treats both the men’s and women’s MIAs is Scott Kenney, “The Mutual Improvement Association: A Preliminary History, 1900–1950,” Task Papers in LDS History, no. 6 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976). For information of the young men’s organization, organized under the direction of the Priesthood, see Leon M. Strong, “A History of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, 1875–1938” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1939); John Kent Williams, “A History of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association 1939 to 1974” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1976); and Elbert R. Curtis, “The Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association,” Improvement Era, November 1956, 802ff. See also Asael T. Hansen, “The Role of the Auxiliary Organizations in the Mormon System of Social Control” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, 1930). See further, Richard Ian Kimball, Sports in Zion: Mormon Recreation, 1890–1940 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).
Primary Association. Under the direction of President John Taylor, the Primary Association began in 1878, and by the 1880s this organization for young children was functioning in most Mormon wards. Until recently, the only history of the Primary was the personal history of the founder, Aurelia Spencer Rogers, Life Sketches of Orson Spencer and Others, and History of Primary Work (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1898). While this work is valuable, the serious student will want to read Carol Cornwall Madsen and Susan Staker Oman, Sisters and Little Saints: One Hundred Years of Primary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979), and Janet Peterson, Children’s Friends: Primary Presidents and Their Lives of Service (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996). See also Jill Mulvay Derr, “Sisters and Little Saints: One Hundred Years of Mormon Primaries,” Task Papers in LDS History, no. 20 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1978); Susan Staker Oman, “Nurturing LDS Primaries: Louie Felt and May Anderson, 1880–1940,” Utah HistoricalQuarterly 49 (Summer 1981): 262–75; Susan Oman and Carol Cornwall Madsen, “One Hundred Years of Primary,” Ensign, April 1978, 32–43; and Conrad Afton Harward, “A History of the Growth and Development of the Primary Association of the LDS Church from 1878 to 1928” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1976). The official magazine of the Primary Association was published as the Children’s Friend from 1902–1970 and as the Friend from 1971 onward.
Sunday Schools. There is no adequate one-volume history of the Church’s Sunday School programs. Borrowed from British-Canadian examples in the 1830s and first established in the Salt Lake Valley in 1849, the Sunday Schools were formally centralized in 1867 when Brigham Young established the “Parent Sunday School Union Society.” Thereafter the organization was modified and its name was changed to the Deseret Sunday School Union. In 1971 its name was changed to its current form, the Sunday School of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Sunday Schools have remained important channels for weekly socialization and gospel instruction for all ages in the Church beyond Primary. Two publications have served as official organs of the organization: the Juvenile Instructor (1866–1930) and the Instructor (1931–70). For many years the lessons and guidelines for the classrooms and organizations were printed in these magazines. Since 1944 separate manuals have been issued for the various classes.
The American context is explored in Anne M. Boylan, Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution, 1790–1880 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988). An early history was published by George Reynolds and Levi W. Richards, “Historical Review of the Deseret Sunday School Union,” Juvenile Instructor, October–November 1884, three-part series. In 1900 the first book-length history was published: Jubilee History of Latter-day Saint Sunday Schools, 1849–1899 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union). Other, shorter studies are A. Hamer Reiser, “Latter-day Saint Sunday Schools,” Improvement Era, April 1935, 241, 262–6 3; “Sunday School Centennial Edition, 1849–1949,” Instructor 84 (December 1949); and J. N. Washburn, “‘Ye Have Need That One Teach You’: A History of the Sunday Schools of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Instructor, January–November 1949.
Church Educational System. From its earliest years, Church leaders have fostered education among its members. Schools were established in Kirtland and Nauvoo, which were followed by others in the Great Basin. Academies or high schools were organized in the 1880s and some became colleges or universities later. Religious education remains a paramount concern as reflected in the existence of seminaries for high-school-age youth and institutes for college-age today. The student of Mormon educational programs should begin with the sources surveyed in David J. Whittaker, “Bibliography: History [of the] Educational System of the LDS Church,” Mormon History Association Newsletter, no. 68 (April 1988): 2–5. Basic works include Orlen Curtis Peterson, “A History of the Schools and Educational Programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ohio and Missouri, 1831–1839” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1972); Paul Thomas Smith, “A Historical Study of the Nauvoo, Illinois, Public School System” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1969); John Danel Monnett, “The Mormon Church and Its Private School System in Utah: The Emergence of the Academies, 1880–1892” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 1984); Milton Lynn Bennion, “The Origin, Growth, and Extension of the Educational Program of the Mormon Church in Utah” (PhD diss., University of California–Berkeley, 1935); Leonard J. Arrington, “The Founding of the LDS Institutes of Religion,” Dialogue 2 (Summer 1967): 137–47; William E. Berrett, A Miracle in Weekday Religious Education: A History of the Church Educational System (Salt Lake City: printed by the author, 1988); Frank M. Bradshaw, “The Administrative Organization of the Latter-day Saints’ Institutes of Religion” (PhD diss., University of Southern California, 1966); Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, Brigham Young University, A House of Faith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985); John L. Fowles, “A Study Concerning the Mission of the Weekday Religious Educational Programs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1890–1990: A Response to Secular Education” (PhD diss., University of Missouri–Columbia, 1990); and Thomas W. Simpson, “Mormons Study ‘Abroad’: Latter-day Saints in American Higher Education, 1870–1940” (PhD diss., University of Virginia, 2004).
Introduction. As the Church increased in size and complexity, various administrative units were either created or given additional responsibilities. At the beginning of the twentieth century, as American society was modernizing and bureaucratizing, the Church moved in the same direction by creating specialized departments to handle various chores of the kingdom. Today many of the day-to-day functions of the Church are carried out by these departments. Hence no student of administrative history can ignore these bureaucracies that seek to implement the directives from Church leaders.
Corporate structure. Today the corporate structure of the Church is controlled by the Corporation of the President, which was created in 1921. Under this lead corporation are three major corporations: (1) the Cooperative Security Program, which runs the vast welfare program of the Church, including Deseret Industries, Deseret Mines and Elevators, Deseret Transportation, and about 650 separate corporate welfare related corporations; (2) Deseret Trust, which administers all the nontaxable ecclesiastical Church properties, including chapels, temples, mission homes, and other nontaxable properties; and (3) Deseret Management Corporation, which is responsible for a variety of income-producing properties. The three major subsidiaries of Deseret Management Corporation are (1) Zion’s Securities Corporation created in 1922, which was responsible for such entities as ZCMI, Beneficial Development Company, Utah Home and Fire, U & I Sugar, Utah Hotel Corporation, Beneficial Life, and other properties and securities; (2) Bonneville International, the major communications arm of the Church, which includes BEI Productions, Bonneville Productions, twenty-eight affiliate radio and TV stations and two shortwave stations; and (3) Deseret News, which includes Deseret Press, Deseret Book Company, and Deseret Enterprises LTD. A diagram of this corporate structure at the time of the Church’s sesquicentennial is in Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982): 16. Deseret Trust and Deseret Management Corp. were mistakenly reversed on the printed chart. Very little scholarly attention has been devoted to these corporate structures, which have continued to grow and change, including the 2009 formation of two new operating divisions of Deseret Management Corporation: KSL Broadcasting (split off from Bonneville International and focusing only on KSL-TV and KSL News Radio), and Deseret Digital Media (which will manage the websites and business operations of Deseret News, Deseret Book, and new KSL Broadcasting subsidiaries). Thus Deseret Management has begun to function as an active operating company rather than as a holding company, as it had in the past. See Deseret News, September 10, 2009, for the announcement. With the creation of these new divisions, Deseret Management Corporation now comprises nine for-profit divisions: Bonneville International, Deseret Book, Deseret Digital Media, Deseret News, KSL Broadcasting, Beneficial Financial Group, Temple Square Hospitality, Hawaii Reserves Inc., and Zion’s Securities. A useful overview in 1979 is in Arrington and Bitton, “The Temporal Foundation” in The Mormon Experience, 262–83. The key role of N. Eldon Tanner in Mormon administrative and financial history is suggested in G. Homer Durham, N. Eldon Tanner, His Life and Service (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982).
The Church has not released financial figures for public consumption since 1952. The veil over the financial dealings has led to all kinds of misunderstanding, particularly among the critics of the Church. Studies that attempt to penetrate this veil include Bill Beechan and David Briscoe, “Mormon Money and How It’s Made,” Utah Holiday, March 22, 1976, 4–11; “Change Comes to Zion’s Empire,” Business Week, November 23, 1957, 103–16; Jeffrey Kaye, “An Invisible Empire: Mormon Money in California,” New West, May 8, 1978, 36–41; Gottlieb and Wiley, America’s Saints, 95–128; “Leaders of Mormonism Double as Overseers of a Financial Empire,” Wall Street Journal, November 9; 1983, H. Henderson, “Managing the Mormon Millions,” Executive, November 1976, 32–35; Randall Hatch, “The Mormon Church: Managing the Lord’s Work” MBA, June A Firm Foundation 1977, 33–37; Fred Esplin, “The Saints Go Marching On: Learning to Live with Success,” Utah
Holiday 10 (June 1981): 33–48; John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, The Mormon Corporate Empire (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985); “Mormons Inc.: Finances and Faith,” a four-part series, Denver Post, June 30–July 3, 1991; “Mormons Inc.: The Secret of America’s Most Prosperous Religion,” Time Magazine, July 28, 1997; and D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Finances from the 1830s to the 1990s,” Sunstone 19 (June 1996): 17–29.
A full study of the financial affairs of the Church must begin with Joseph Smith, the first trustee-in-trust. There are insights on Joseph Smith’s financial affairs and philosophy in Lyndon W. Cook, Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration (Provo, UT: Grandin Book, 1985); Max Parkin, “Joseph Smith and the United Firm,”; Dallin H. Oaks and Joseph T. Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo,” BYU Studies 19, no. 2 (Winter 1979): 167–99; and Edwin B. Firmage and R. Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts: A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988). Brigham Young’s financial activities are treated in David James Croft, “The Private Business Activities of Brigham Young, 1847–1887,” Journal of the West 16 (October 1977): 36–51; Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom; Arrington, “Mormondom’s Financial Records,” This People, Summer 1991, 46–47; Arrington, “Mormon Finance and the Utah War,” Utah Historical Quarterly 20 (July 1952): 219–37; Arrington and Ralph W. Hanson, “Mormon Economic Organization: A Sheaf of Illustrative Documents,” Utah Historical Quarterly28 (January 1960): 41–55; Arrington, “The Settlement of the Brigham Young Estate 1877–1879,” Pacific Historical Review 21 (February 1952): 1–20; Dwight L. Israelsen, “Economic Stabilization Through Tithing Prices: Utah 1855–1900,” Encyclia 54, no. 1 (1977): 75–88. With the stability of Mormon settlement in the Great Basin, more formal administrative structures were established. Because economic prosperity was vital, the organizational devices for managing economic programs were often 1977, 33–37; Fred Esplin, “The Saints Go Marching On: Learning to Live with Success,” Utah Holiday 10 (June 1981): 33–48; John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, The Mormon Corporate Empire (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985); “Mormons Inc.: Finances and Faith,” a four-part series, Denver Post, June 30–July 3, 1991; “Mormons Inc.: The Secret of America’s Most Prosperous Religion,” Time Magazine, July 28, 1997; and D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Finances from the 1830s to the 1990s,” Sunstone 19 (June 1996): 17–29. A full study of the financial affairs of the Church must begin with Joseph Smith, the first trustee-in-trust. There are insights on Joseph Smith’s financial affairs and philosophy in Lyndon W. Cook, Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration (Provo, UT: Grandin Book, 1985); Max Parkin,“Joseph Smith and the United Firm,”; Dallin H. Oaks and Joseph T. Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo,” BYU Studies 19, no. 2 (Winter 1979): 167–99; and Edwin B. Firmage and R. Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts: A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988). Brigham Young’s financial activities are treated in David James Croft, “The Private Business Activities of Brigham Young, 1847–1887,” Journal of the West 16 (October 1977): 36–51; Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom; Arrington, “Mormondom’s Financial Records,” This People, Summer 1991, 46–47; Arrington, “Mormon Finance and the Utah War,” Utah Historical Quarterly 20 (July 1952): 219–37; Arrington and Ralph W. Hanson, “Mormon Economic Organization: A Sheaf of Illustrative Documents,” Utah Historical Quarterly 28 (January 1960): 41–55; Arrington, “The Settlement of the Brigham Young Estate 1877–1879,” Pacific Historical Review 21 (February 1952): 1–20; Dwight L. Israelsen, “Economic Stabilization Through Tithing Prices: Utah 1855–1900,” Encyclia 54, no. 1 (1977): 75–88. With the stability of Mormon settlement in the Great Basin, more formal administrative structures were established. Because economic prosperity was vital, the organizational devices for managing economic programs were often incorporated into the ecclesiastical structure. In “The Six Pillars of Utah’s Pioneer Economy,” Encyclia 54, no. 1 (1977): 9–24, Arrington identified six organizational devices: the office of trustee-in-trust; the department of public works; the tithing office (later the Presiding Bishop’s Office); the Perpetual Emigration Fund; the Relief Society; and the office of Brigham Young, who, as both President of the Church and as a private entrepreneur, sought to apply correct spiritual principles to all areas of life. Each of these institutions needs further study.
The economic wealth of the Church has always depended heavily on the tithes and offerings of individual members. In the nineteenth century tithing came in three forms: cash, commodity, and labor. Since cash was hard to come by, commodities and personal labor (ideally every tenth day individuals or wards donated their labor for a Church-assigned project) were the most common forms of capital. Thus the tithing house was the main economic institution. Its early functions are the subject of Arrington, “The Mormon Tithing House: A Frontier Business Institution,” Business History Review 28 (March 1954): 24–58. As Arrington shows, the functioning of tithing houses delayed the development of commercial banking in Utah. See further, William G. Hartley, “Ward Bishops and the Localizing of LDS Tithing,” in New Views of Mormon History, 96–114; L. Dwight Israelsen, “Economic Depression, Tithe paying and the Mormon Debt Problem of the 1890s,” Encyclia 70 (1993): 115–22; E. Jay Bell, “The Window of Heaven Revisited: The 1899 Tithing Reformations,” Journal of Mormon History 20 (Spring 1994): 45–83; and O. Kendall White Jr., “The Institutionalization of Mormon Tithing: Tithing Settlement, Worthiness Interviews, and Temple Recommends,” Virginia Social Science Journal 31 (Winter 1996): 38–52.
The Cooperative and United Order movements under Brigham Young are studied in Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 293–349; and more fully in Arrington, Fox, and May, Building the City of God. The movement to a centralized economic board under John Taylor, Zion’s Central Board of Trade, is detailed in Leonard J. Arrington, “Zion’s Board of Trade: A Third United Order,” Western Humanities Review 5 (Winter 1950–51): 1–20; and Building the City of God, 311–35.
Corporate responses to the economic challenges of the twentieth Century are the subjects of a variety of studies: Albert L. Fisher, “Mormon Welfare Programs: Past and Present,” Social Science Journal 15 (April 1978): 75–99; Jessie L. Embry, “Relief Society Grain Storage Program, 1876–1940” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1974); Bruce D. Blumell, “Welfare before Welfare: Twentieth-Century LDS Church Charity before the Great Depression,” Journal of Mormon History 6 (1979): 89–106; Betty L. Barton, “Mormon Poor Relief: A Social Welfare Interlude,” BYU Studies 18, no. 1 (Fall 1977): 66–88; Wayne K. Hinton, “Some Historical Perspective on Mormon Responses to the Great Depression,” Journal of the West 24 (October 1985): 19–26; Leonard J. Arrington and Wayne K. Hinton, “Origin of the Welfare Plan of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” BYU Studies 5, no. 2 (Winter 1964): 67–85; Paul C. Child, “Physical Beginnings of the Church Welfare Program,” BYU Studies 14, no. 3 (Spring 1974): 383–85; Vearl Gordon McBride, “The Welfare Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (master’s thesis, Arizona State University, 1970); M. Randall Rathjen, “Evolution and Development of the Mormon Welfare Farms” (PhD diss., Michigan State University, 1969); Dan Larue Free, “The Sources, Organization and Operation of the Mormon Welfare Program in Utah and Colorado, 1936–1959” (master’s thesis, Denver University, 1961); Garth L. Mangum and Bruce D. Blumell, The Mormons’ War on Poverty: A History of LDS Welfare, 1830–1990 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993); William G. Hartley, “Saints and the San Francisco Earthquake,” BYU Studies 23, no. 4 (Fall 1983): 430–59; Bruce D. Blumell, “The Latter-day Saint Response to the Teton, Idaho, Flood, 1976,” Task Papers in LDS History, no. 16 (Salt Lake City: Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976); Blumell, “The LDS Response to the Teton Dam Disaster in Idaho,” Sunstone 5 (March–April 1980): 35–42; and Janet Thomas and others, eds., That Day in June: Reflections on the Teton Dam Disaster (Rexburg, ID: Ricks College Press, 1977).
From 1982 to 1984, the whole system of welfare farms was reevaluated by Church leaders and in November 1984 it was announced that about 70 percent of these farms were to be sold or leased to avoid competition with private farmers. The shift of the Church membership to the south of the United States border in recent years has also witnessed changes in the administration of welfare programs. See Bradley Walker, “Spreading Zion Southward: Improving Efficiency and Equity in the Allocation of Church Welfare Resources,” Dialogue 35 (Winter 2002): 91–109; Walker, “Spreading Zion Southward, Part II: Sharing Our Loaves and Fishes,” Dialogue 36 (Spring 2003): 33–47; and Walker, “First, Mothers and Children: A Postscript to ‘Moving Zion Southward, Parts I and II,’” Dialogue 36 (Fall 2003): 217–23.
Major Departments. Today, the administrative structure of the Church is directed by Church leaders through a number of professionally staffed departments. These departments include Audiovisual, Church Auditing, Church Educational System (includes BYU, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, and LDS Business College, in addition to the extensive Seminaries and Institutes of Religion programs), Church Security, City Creek Reserve Inc., Correlation, Curriculum, Temporal Affairs, Family and Church History Department (including the Church Museum), Finance and Records, Human Resources, Information and Communication Systems, Investment Properties, Investment Securities, LDS Family Services, LDS Philanthropies, Materials Management, Missionary, Perpetual Education Fund, Physical Facilities, Priesthood (which oversees military relations, Music and Cultural Arts, Primary, Relief Society, Sunday School, Young Men, and Young Women), Public Affairs, Tabernacle Choir, Temple Department, Translation, and Welfare Services. In addition, there is an office of General Counsel. This organizational reality reflects the size and breadth of the Church, but it also suggests that the initial organization under Joseph Smith was flexible enough to permit growth and adjustment to new challenges. It all remains under the leadership of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, just as it did under Joseph Smith by 1844.
Here we can only look at two departments; we focus on them because of their critical role in record keeping.
Historical Department. On the day the Church was organized, Joseph Smith revealed to his followers a commandment that a record should be kept of the movement (D&C 21:1). While personal records have been maintained, large quantities of institutional records have been kept on just about every aspect of the Church. Most of these records are now housed in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
Various individuals have received assignments to be the Church historian and recorder since Joseph Smith’s day. The Office of Church Historian has been given the major responsibility of record keeping, the writing of histories, and the care and preservation of these records. The existence of a large quantity of records today testifies to their dedication and hard work.
No one study covers the entire history of this department. An overview of its activities in the nineteenth century is in Charles D. Adams and Gustive O. Larson, “A Study of the LDS Church Historians Office, 1830–1900,” Utah Historical Quarterly 40 (Fall 1972): 370–89. A list of Church historians and general Church recorders was compiled by Leonard J. Arrington in Dialogue 3 (Summer 1968): 66. An overview, with detailed bibliography, of the history of Mormon historical writing which considers both institutional and private Mormon histories and historians within the larger context of American historical work is found in Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormons and Their Historians (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1988); and Ronald W. Walker, David J. Whittaker, and James B. Allen, Mormon History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002).
The more recent years are surveyed in Peggy Fletcher, “Church Historian: Evolution of a Calling,” Sunstone 10, no. 4 (April 1985): 46–48; Leonard J. Arrington, “Joseph Fielding Smith: Faithful Historian,” Dialogue 7 (Spring 1972): 21–24; Arrington, “Historian as Entrepreneur: A Personal Essay,” BYU Studies 17 (Winter 1977): 193–209; “History Is Then and Now: A Conversation with Leonard J. Arrington, Church Historian,” Ensign, July 1975, 8–13; Davis Bitton, “Ten Years in Camelot: A Personal Memoir,” Dialogue 16 (Fall 1983): 933; and T. Edgar Lyon, “Church Historians I Have Known,” Dialogue 11 (Winter 1978): 14–22. See also Leonard J. Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998); and Marlin K. Jensen, “Church History: Past, Present and Future,” Journal of Mormon History 34 (Spring 2008): 20–42.
As assistant Church historian, Andrew Jenson was responsible for a variety of projects that are important for students of administrative history. During his tenure in the Historical Department (1893–1941), he traveled extensively and compiled histories of wards, stakes, missions, and organizations of the Church, many of which remain unpublished. A useful study of Jenson’s work is Keith W. Perkins, “A Study of the Contributions of Andrew Jenson to the Writing and Preservation of LDS Church History” (master’s thesis, BYU, 1971). More broadly, see Richard E. Turley, “Assistant Church Historians and the Publication of Church History,” in Preserving the History of Latter-day Saints (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, BYU; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 19–47.
Family History Department/
Central to its divine mission are three goals that have been enunciated in recent years: to preach the gospel, to perfect the Saints, and to redeem the dead. See Spencer W. Kimball, “A Report of My Stewardship,” Ensign, May 1981, 5. A fourth goal, always implied but more recently stated, is to care for the poor. Everything else the Church as an organization does is subsumed by and subordinated to these four central areas. All were preached during Joseph Smith’s presidency, and while the programs used to achieve them have been changed and modified in the years since, they remain the core vocation and errand of its leaders and members. These goals, founded on the rock of revelation and restored priesthood authority, remain the firm foundation of the Church. As President Gordon B. Hinckley noted in 2005: “The remarkable organization of the Church was framed by him as he was directed by revelation, and no modification or adaption of that organization is ever considered without searching the revelations set forth by the Prophet” (Ensign, December 2005, 2).
From its earliest years, Joseph Smith’s approach to Church government was to combine divine direction with a deep love for the membership. “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves,” Joseph Smith is reported to have taught, according to John Taylor (“The Organization of the Church,” Millennial Star, November 15, 1851, 339). He further said, “Sectarian priests cry out concerning me, and ask, ‘Why is it that babbler gains so many followers, and retains them?’ I answer, it is because I possess the principle of love” (Discourse, July 9, 1843, in Joseph Smith diary, kept by Willard Richards, Church History Library). He also said, “A man of God should be endowed with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, in order to teach and lead the people of God” (June 11, 1843, in Wilford Woodruff, journal, Church History Library). Faithful Latter-day Saints strongly believe that their leaders are the men of God Joseph spoke of.
At the heart of all these concerns about organization was Joseph Smith’s teaching that it was the purpose of the priesthood “to direct man to godliness” (Joseph Smith discourse, May 12, 1844, report of Thomas Bullock, cited in The Words of Joseph Smith, 366), to have the divine authority to administer the saving ordinances and correct teachings for mankind to be exalted. An early revelation (June 1830) informed Joseph Smith that it was God’s purpose “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
Wilson K. Anderson, who taught a course on priesthood and Church government at BYU for years, suggested that the priesthood could be studied under five definitions: (1) priesthood is authority, the exclusive right, recognized and commissioned by God, to act in his name; (2) priesthood is an organization, a brotherhood, a government, organized by quorums and conducted by councils; (3) priesthood is the divine channel of communication; (4) priesthood is a divine physical and spiritual power delegated to intelligences; and (5) priesthood is the foundation of the rights, powers, and privileges of the family, both in time and in the eternities. Each of these aspects could be the subject of a book, as each lay at the heart of Mormon administrative history. With Brigham Young, we could say:
There is no other people on this earth under such deep obligation to their Creator, as are the Latter-day Saints. The Gospel has brought to us the holy Priesthood, which is again restored to the children of men. The keys of the Priesthood are here; we have them in our possession; we can unlock, and we can shut up. We can obtain salvation, and we can administer it. We have the power within our own hands, and this has been my deepest mortification, one that I have frequently spoke of, to think that a people, having in their possession all the principles, keys and powers of eternal life, should neglect so great salvation. We have these blessings, they are with us.(in Journal of Discourses, 4:299, discourse of March 29, 1857)
I would like to thank Arnold K. Garr, William G. Hartley, and James B. Allen for their reviews of an earlier draft of this essay.