JWHA 50th Anniversary: A Legacy of Restoration History


Temples, Race, and Gender

On September 18, 1972 a group of 15 individuals gathered at the home of RLDS Church Historian Richard and Barbara Howard to organize what would become the John Whitmer Historical Association—“an independent not-for-profit corporation organized along the lines of typical societies of professional historians.”*

Much has changed in the fifty years since that first gathering. The RLDS church has a new name. A growing focus on temples resulted in Community of Christ building a long-dreamed-of temple in Independence, Missouri and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now has temples dotting the globe.

Priesthood ordination was extended to include men of African ancestry in The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, and women and LGBTQ members in Community of Christ.  International expansion generated a growing awareness of cultural differences and complex questions surrounding contextualization of the gospel.

Professionally written church histories, obscure historical sources, and the latest church history conspiracy theory are all one click away. The rise of post-modern religious thought is reflected in the increased questioning of authority and institutions.

Many historical milestones have been commemorated in the last fifty years, including the bicentennial of Joseph Smith’s birth and the First Vision, the 175th anniversary of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and the exodus from Nauvoo, and the sesquicentennial of the Restoration.

Being a witness to history has its challenges; surely it’s easier to pick out the most important Restoration events in the 19th century than it is the 20th and 21st , but let’s try. You are invited to explore our recent past, the hopes of childhood, the realities of adulthood, the wisdom that age brings. What would you like future generations to know about the past 50 years of the Restoration?

Papers presented at the 50th Anniversary Conference will be eligible for acceptance into the special Golden-Year publication of the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal in 2023.

Please submit your 100-200 word proposals for consideration as soon as possible, but not later than April 6, 2022, to proposals@jwha.info.



* “The Origin of the John Whitmer Historical Association,” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 1 (1981):63. This brief, informal, unsigned history of the Association was written by William  D. Russell upon the request of Imogene Goodyear, the first editor of the journal.