Brigham Young is one of the most well-known figures in the history of the American West. But there are scores of lesser-known facts from his life that range from coining the term “pony express” to getting a bad rap in the Journal of Discourses. Similarly, many popular stories about Brigham Young fall into the realm of myth. For example, you won’t find his hearse at Disneyland—and he didn’t miraculously leave room in the Salt Lake Temple for elevators.
Brigham Young was known by many different names. To some, he was the Lion of the Lord or an American Moses. To others, he was simply “Brother Brigham.” In this interview, Chad Orton discusses the many ways he finds inspiration in the prophet’s life—and reveals what he’d include in a second edition of his biography of the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Joseph Smith Jr. has been a topic of conversation since his First Vision in 1820. Today, the discourse continues. Whether discussing the possibility of a Joseph Smith photograph or his relationship with Brigham Young, historians continue to learn new things about the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The relationship between Latter-day Saint women and the priesthood is complex. Joseph Smith famously “turned the key” during a Nauvoo Relief Society Meeting, but it’s unclear precisely what he meant. Church leaders have since taught different things about priesthood keys, authority, and power. Despite a surge of new prophetic teachings, the role of women and the priesthood remains an open question. In this interview, Lisa Olsen Tait explains the history of women and priesthood in the church.
Section 131 of the Doctrine and Covenants states that “in the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees.” Modern Latter-day Saints often view “celestial glory” as synonymous with “Celestial Kingdom.” However, the historical record suggests several potential problems with this interpretation—meaning that the current reading of D&C 131:1–4 may be an open question. In this interview, Bryan Buchanan expounds on Shannon Flynn’s research on the subject.
In a startling moment in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the First Presidency suggested that tithing should be suspended. This was in response to a decision that the Church’s tithing was a taxable income, resulting in an initial assessment of $59,338.51 that President Brigham Young was expected to pay. In this interview, Samuel Brunson discusses how the predicament came about, how Church leaders responded, and the surprising ending to the whole episode.
Zion’s Camp—also known as the Camp of Israel—was a formative experience in the life of 28-year-old Joseph Smith. However, like the Law of Consecration, it’s a pioneer experience rife with misunderstanding. In this interview, historian Matt Godfrey separates fact from fiction and discusses the purpose of Zion’s Camp.