Portal:History of the Latter Day Saint movement

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History of the Latter Day Saint movement

An 1893 engraving depicting Joseph Smith's description of receiving artifacts from the angel Moroni.

The Latter Day Saint movement is a religious movement within Christianity that arose during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century and that led to the set of doctrines, practices, and cultures called Mormonism, and to the existence of numerous Latter Day Saint churches. Its history is characterized by intense controversy and persecution in reaction to some of the movement's doctrines and practices and their relationship to mainstream Christianity (see Mormonism and Christianity). The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the different groups, beliefs, and denominations that began with the influence of Joseph Smith.

The founder of the Latter Day Saint movement was Joseph Smith, who was raised in the burned-over district of Upstate New York, and claimed that, in response to prayer, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, as well as angels and other visions. This eventually led him to a restoration of Christian doctrine that, he said, was lost after the early Christian apostles were killed. In addition, several early leaders made marked doctrinal and leadership contributions to the movement, including Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Brigham Young. Modern-day revelation from God continues to be a principal belief of the Mormon faith.

Mormon history as an academic field is called Mormon studies.

Selected article

"Charge of the Danites" in the 1838 Mormon War also known as the Missouri Mormon War

The Mormon War is a name that is sometimes given to the 1838 conflict which occurred between Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and their neighbors in the northwestern region of the US state of Missouri. This conflict is also sometimes referred to as the Missouri Mormon War to differentiate it from the Utah Mormon War (also known as the "Utah War") and the lesser known Illinois Mormon War.

The specific dates of the war are from August 6, 1838, (the Gallatin election battle) to November 1, 1838, when Joseph Smith surrendered at Far West. During the conflict 22 people were killed (three Mormons and one non-Mormon at Crooked River, one Mormon prisoner fatally injured while in custody, and 17 Mormons at Haun’s Mill). An unknown number of non-combatants died due to exposure and hardship as a result of being expelled from their homes in Missouri.

The conflict was preceded by the eviction of the Mormons from Jackson County, Missouri, in 1833. Read more...

Selected biography

Leonard Arrington 1950s.jpeg

Leonard James Arrington (July 2, 1917 – February 11, 1999) was an American author, academic and the founder of the Mormon History Association. He is known as the "Dean of Mormon History" and "the Father of Mormon History" because of his many influential contributions to the field. He was the first Church Historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1972 to 1982, and was director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History from 1982 until 1986.

Arrington grew up in a large family in Idaho, where he and his family were members of the LDS Church. After high school, he studied agricultural economics at the University of Idaho and continued studying economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While teaching at the Utah State Agricultural College in Logan, Utah, Harvard University Press published his book Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 in 1958. After a Fulbright professorship at the University of Genoa in Italy, Arrington raised funds to pay for research and writing on LDS (Mormon) biographies. He taught Western American History at Brigham Young University (BYU) from 1972 to 1987.

In conjunction with his teaching appointment at BYU, Arrington was also appointed as the first Church Historian for the LDS Church from 1972 to 1982. It was the first time a professional historian was given this job. Arrington and his team of researchers, forming the church Historical Department, began many projects to document LDS Church history, ranging from articles for the church's official magazine to scholarly books written for a non-LDS audience. The Historical Department was not subject to the church's Correlation Program and enjoyed some freedom of research. However, over time, various church members and apostles disliked the historical articles. The new director of the Historical Department, G. Homer Durham, required that all publications go through him and halted the hiring of new employees. In 1982, the LDS Church released Arrington as Church Historian and transferred the History Division to BYU, creating the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History. Arrington published over 20 books and articles, including several biographies, with the help of many research assistants. Read more...


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