Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog
 


Tabernacle Interior, 1880

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 12, 2015

Tabernacle acoustics have not always been as perfect as the stories of pin-dropping suggest. That loopy cable, whatever material it is made of, is just one of several early attempts to improve acoustics by hanging things from the ceiling (I don’t understand the principle). That is a water fountain you see in the middle of the seating; it was installed for the Sunday School Jubilee in 1880 and is probably the reason this photo was taken. I don’t know when it was removed — it stayed in place for several years, and once in a while you run across a reference to the cooling properties of fountain. It is surrounded by four stone lions. And of course, the organ looks a little odd because it had not yet been expanded to its current configuration with those huge iconic pipes on either side, crowned with carved woodwork.

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The Temple One-Year Rules

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 12, 2015

There are several “one-year rules” associated with temple attendance – practices that have no direct tie to the ritual, but merely to the administrative functions of the temple. These rules dictate that Latter-day Saints wait one year between Event A and Event B. This period seems arbitrary – the waiting periods could just as well be six months or five years. Latter-day Saints who do not understand the historical roots of these practices find them arbitrary in other ways – they sometimes don’t understand why any waiting period is mandated at all. In this post I hope to explain the historical reasons for those waiting periods.

This post will not be entirely satisfactory to anybody, including me. I cannot quote from material I have read, nor can I point to a specific date in any case to say “This rule was implemented on this day.” My understanding of these practices comes not from a single manuscript that documents these practices, but from my experience in reading tens of thousands of documents from the early 20th century – letters from Church members to Salt Lake authorities, minutes of meetings, discussions between leaders, circular letters sent to local officers, queries from mission presidents, correspondence between concerned people at all levels and throughout the world. I won’t try to convince the skeptical that I know what I’m talking about here – instead, I’m simply offering these ideas to readers as my best understanding of the conditions that gave rise to the policies.

One Year Between Baptism and Temple Attendance.

Like the other rules in this post, this one came into being to correct a problem that was only gradually recognized in the Church. In earlier days, local leaders could recommend temple attendance (subject to the approval of an apostle) whenever local leaders thought someone was ready. Very young teenagers, brand new converts, and others whom we wouldn’t expect today to hold a temple recommend were sent to the temple.

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I Wish —

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 11, 2015

This little oddity relates to the annual campaign to raise money for Primary Children’s Hospital

“I Wish — ”

By Clayton Crawford

I wish that I could run and play
With all the other kids all day;
I get so tired lying here
With legs so gosh darn weak and queer!

Mother says if I could go
To hospital, they’d fix me so
I’d be as good as anyone.
And gee! how I would leap and run!

I’d not mind if it pained a lot;
I’d show what spunk and grit I’ve got,
But we’re too poor to pay, and, oh,
How mother cries; it grieves her so!

There is a place where kids, they say,
Can go and do not have to pay.
But mother says it’s far too small
And they can’t take me in at all,.

Oh, God, please help them right away
To make it big enough so they
Can take in all the kids like me
That lie in pain and misery.

For if I can’t grow big and strong –
If I’ve to drag my life along
Like this, and weak and cripplied lie,
Dear God, I pray that I may die!

(1923)

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“I Take Up My Pen”: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1920

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 11, 2015

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A Few Minutes in the Ystrad Branch, British Mission, 1902

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 11, 2015

This set of minutes covers more meetings than I usually post in the “A Few Minutes …” series because it displays so well a phenomenon I’ve noticed about Church services “in the mission field”: This branch has a branch president (John Sparrow) who is a local member, not a missionary from Utah, at a time when most branches in the missions were directed by a constantly-changing parade of Utah men. Even so, the topics for sermons are virtually all drawn from a limited list of subjects with a missionary focus: The first principles, or a specific one of the first principles, the Great Apostasy, the Restoration. These are the subjects that missionaries are preaching to the general public; these are the topics they emphasize in their personal study, in preparation for doing their work as elders; these are the only topics local leaders have seen modeled in Church services once led by missionaries.

What might the Church experience have been like for members, especially ones who had been members for years, seldom to hear anything but the first principles? That is, you were obviously already converted to the necessity of baptism, and the form it takes in LDS practice. You understood baptism as well as any young missionary did. You had been baptized — what more could you do with the concept of baptism as it was being preached? Wouldn’t you have sometimes longed, whether consciously or subconsciously, to move along, to be taught the gospel in its fullness? Yet these people, so many of them, continued in their Church attendance and service, despite a constant diet of milk.

For me, this is one of the hardest, yet unremarked upon, aspects of the long delay in training converts to be leaders and allowing them to lead their own units. There will be sporadic attempts in the first half of the 20th century to turn branches over to local direction, but in almost all places and all decades, missionaries from Utah will continue to direct the branches until after World War II (I’m not speaking here of the occasional use of a missionary branch president even today; I mean when that was the default condition everywhere). This unwillingness or inability or unawareness or whatever it was, that resulted in mission presidents and missionaries clinging to the “but this is the way we have always done it” or “it’s just easier if we do it ourselves” outlook would cause some serious difficulties for the Church in the 1930s, not just in branches distant from Salt Lake, but even in branches a few hundred miles from “the stakes of Zion” in the western U.S., before Church leaders finally trusted local leaders in the missions to be as capable as local leaders in the stakes. But that’s for future posts. Just notice as you read these minutes how narrow the scope of teaching was in this branch in 1902:

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A Pattern for Christine

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 10, 2015

From the Relief Society Magazine, May 1949 –

A Pattern for Christine

By Dorothy J. Roberts

Christine blinked hard to clear her eyes. Two large tears rolled slowly down her smooth cheeks, leaving shining trails and forming two jagged pools on the golden oak of her mother’s old pedal sewing machine. Other girls had fathers and mothers for times like this. Christine had never known her father, and now Mama, who had always been so close to her, was gone. The surgeon’s knife, which was to have assured Mama, after her years of hardship, the quiet span of peace and abundance she deserved, had somehow failed in its not unaccustomed miracle. “So unnecessary,” her brothers had mourned, with added incentive for their medical studies. Even her brothers were too far away to be reached. Naaman and Don, two promising medical students at school in New York. A girl needed her mother at a time like this, with only a week to go.

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George Albert Smith, Gentleman

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 10, 2015

We recently looked at a 1922 photograph showing George Albert Smith in extraordinarily casual dress. I like the contrast in this 1949 photograph of a dapper gentleman in a relaxed pose.

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It’s Debatable

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 10, 2015

For much of the 20th century (into the 1950s, at least; I haven’t yet followed this forward in time) one of the MIA’s (Mutual Improvement Association = youth activities) regular actives was formal debate. Just as baseball might occupy a season in the summer, debate was a winter activity to which the young people would devote a month in addition to their usual classwork.

In 1921, that month was December.

Here are the instructions distributed to ward MIAs to guide their debate season in 1921.

A Debate.

Purpose—Debating as practiced in the associations should have two main purposes: First, to train the young men and women in public speaking, and, second, to train them in clear, logical thought based upon accurate information.

INSTRUCTIONS.

Before a debate, the two teams, or associations, or sides, should formulate a written agreement covering the following points:

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The Old Hooked Rug

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 09, 2015

The Old Hooked Rug

By G. Gwen Kelsey

In years to come you will see it there –
This old hooked rug by the rocking chair,
And all you will see is a faded rug,
Making the room look comfy and snug;
While I see mother bending there
Over the rug, with her silver hair,
Hooking a pattern of her joys and care,
Trying to ease the heartache and pain,
Looking back over the years again,
Unfolding the pictures and hooking them in,
Making the flowers as neat as a pin.
A soft old blue brings back memories dear;
Her work-worn hands brush aside a tear;
Then with a deep, soul-rending sigh,
She bows her head and begins to cry;
For the old coat sleeve she is hooking on
Was once worn by her soldier son;
So she tucks in the ends and makes them fast,
Colors and rags, so the rug will last.
You would never know, on seeing it there,
This old hooked rug by the rocking chair,
Of the years of living that are hooked between
The blues and browns, with the soft moss green.
The colors will fade with years, my son,
But the pattern within will never run.

(1946)

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“I Take Up My Pen”: The Banyan, 1941

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 09, 2015

(The Banyan is BYU’s yearbook.)

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