As we enter our 50th year as an Association, I’ve been looking back at our beginnings. An inaugural announcement was made in the December 1972 Herald about the John Whitmer Historical Association:
Fourteen people met in Independence, Missouri on September 18th to form a Historical Society for people interested in Latter Day Saint history.
The group is temporarily being called the John Whitmer Historical Association, after the first historian of the church. The five-member steering committee is planning an official organization meeting at which permanent officers will be elected. The committee is chaired by Mark McKiernan of Nauvoo, Illinois, and also includes Robert Flanders of Southwest Missouri State College, Church Historian Richard Howard, and Barbara Higdon and Paul Edwards of Graceland College. People interested in this society should contact one of these people. Others participating in the meeting were Alma Blair, Larry Hunt, Warren Jennings, Garold Kruse, Grant McMurray, Gordon Mesley, Geoffery Spencer, W.B. (Pat) Spillman, and Bill Russell.
Most of the people who were present are members of the Mormon History Association. It was felt that physical distance from Utah makes it difficult for some people to participate regularly in that association. All those present were interested in seeing the John Whitmer Association work closely with the Mormon Historical Association in fostering research and discussion in the area of Latter Day Saint history.
Fifty years on, we are grateful to have several of the founders active still in the association. We’re also pleased that the temporary name of the association appears to have become permanent. The Program Committee has been hard at work planning for our Anniversary Conference in Independence, and we look forward to hearing from our founders as part of the program. The Call for Papers can be found here. Be sure to submit your proposal by April 6, 2022.