MHA in Vermont

I am planning on attending the MHA Conference in Killington, VT, May 26-29. For details, see here. I see that T&S blogger Kristine is presenting; is anyone else from the Bloggernacle going to be there?

I first joined MHA maybe a decade ago so that I could get the Journal of Mormon History. I don’t consider myself a Mormon historian; my efforts have always been focused more on LDS scripture than history. But I decided to teach an Institute class on early LDS history (mostly the New York period; I’ve taught that same class twice now), and so decided I had better start boning up on the history literature, and thus joined MHA. I wanted to teach the history class because I realized it would force me to learn more about the subject, which I have always been interested in. I tend to overprepare as a teacher and so I learn a lot about whatever subject I teach.

I really had no intention of ever actually attending an MHA Conference; I just wanted to get their Journal. But a couple of years ago they held their Conference in Kirtland, and that is a nice road trip from where I live in the Chicago area, and there were a lot of restored buildings that I hadn’t seen yet. So I decided to go. And I had an absolutely terrific time. (I also got to have dinner with T&S blogger Nate, sitting at the same table as James Allen and Dan Peterson.) Jan Shipps’ hotel room was right across the hall from me, and it was fun to rub elbows with all of the big names I had been reading. The presentations were generally very well done, informative and interesting. And the tours–there are always tours–were great. I also sang in the MHA choir (about 100 voices), and got to sit in the corner pews of the Kirtland temple for our Sunday morning worship service (we sang the songs from the original dedication and a few others from the period–really fun stuff!).

So I was hooked. Last year I went to the Provo Conference, this year I’m going to Vermont (I’ve never been there), and I intend to go annually from now on.

It’s a little bit pricey. Between airfare (since I live by O’Hare Airport I can fly directly into Burlington; most people have to fly to Boston to get there), a rental car, the hotel and the conference registration I’ll probably put out about $1,000. The demographic at these things tends to skew towards older, more affluent Saints. But it is so much fun, I think it is well worth the cost.

I’ve already gone through the preliminary program (which you can see at the MHA website I linked to above) to get a sense for which sessions I’ll go to. And I’m looking forward to the tour of the various places I taught my students about where the Smith family lived and farmed while trying to keep their heads above water, including Sharon, Joseph’s birth place.

I hope to see some of you there!

15 comments for “MHA in Vermont

  1. Kevin: I wish that I had the time and money to go. I have good memories of my experience in Kirtland, including the dinner. My father is going to be presenting a paper on Mormon folk art. Say hi to him. Also, I think that Rosalynde and Melissa are both going to be presenting papers.

  2. I will be on a panel on “Mormons and the Body.” My part is “BYU and the Body.”

    I went to BYU, and I have a body, so I guess that makes me an expert.

  3. I quickly scanned over the online program and found these:

    “Self-Consciously Constructed Theologies or Creative Attachment to One’s Tradition:
    A Comparative Look at Mormon and Evangelical Women”
    Melissa Proctor, Brown University

    “Songs of Eliza R. Snow: Creating and Celebrating Mormon Identity”
    Note: This session continues into Session 7, and will include musical performances
    Karen Lynn Davidson, Salt Lake City
    Jill Mulvay Derr, Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History
    Kristine Haglund Harris, Swampscott, MA
    Jennifer Reeder, New York University

    I didn’t see Rosalynde’s name on the program, but I may have missed it.

  4. It sounds like a great party! I hope I may be able to go . . . can I justify both MHA and the a herf=””>JS LOC conference? Maybe I’ll drive out in my van and sleep under the stars. May in Vermont must be dreamy.

  5. I’m giving very serious thought to going. In fact I also have my eye on the post-MHA road trip — I think they call it Pilgrims, Witches and (the Boston) Pops. Something like that. I’ve never attended one of those post-event road trips but I’ve heard they’re quite enjoyable. Once again, a major part of it is rubbing shoulders with all those folks whose books and articles you’ve been reading over the years.

  6. Sounds like maybe we should have a pre- or post-MHA bloggernacle party at my house!

  7. I’m flying in to Burlington early Thursday morning. My understanding is that it takes an hour and a half to drive to Killington. That means I’ll be there like at 10:30 or 11:00 a.m.; too late for the preconference tour, but too early to check into the hotel. I was going to use that time to go to Sharon, but I’ve signed up for the conference tour that is going to cover that.

    So any suggestions for what I should do with myself in the area that day? (A friend told me there are some Oliver Cowdery sites nearby, so that is one possibility.)

  8. I merely lurk occasionally, but I’m the Matt Bowman presenting the Bigfoot/Cain paper for the Mormons and the Paranormal panel. Alan Morrell, our panel’s Bear Lake Monster expert, lurks sometimes as well.

  9. I saw your paper on the program, Matt. If I go (I’m still not sure if I can fit it in, because I’m going to the Library of Congress event May 6-7, doing a full week of scout camp, and taking the kids to Williamsburg this summer), one of the main reasons would be to see your panel (another would be to see Dan Vogel’s panel).

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