Ask An Expert: Relationships Between English Quakers and Mormons in 19th Century England?

Q: Having recently read Johnnie Glad’s study of the Latter Day Saints’ missions to Norway in the C19th I have become intrigued by the idea that the English Quakers who advised and supported the tiny number of Norwegian Friends in the C19th may have been aware of the LDS missions both in Norway and in England. I would therefore like to ask if there is evidence of LDS-Quaker interactions or indeed, of any LDS missions in North-east England in the C19th. There are several LDS churches in the North-east at present, but I have found it difficult to locate relevant archival material in order to date their congregations. I am trying to gain a sense of whether Quakers viewed the LDS as a rival both in Norway and in the NE (as they may have seen Methodists some decades earlier) or if they were unlikely to have known much about them (although I find this less likely, at least in the Norwegian context, as the LDS were in Stavanger, Norway at around the same time as the Quakers).

 

A: This was a tricky question for the MSSA as it is more historical than social scientific, but we had some excellent responses.

First, Benjamin Pykles noted that there is a very nice resource on the LDS Church’s website for historical queries: Ask a Librarian.  For individuals asking historical questions in the future, this is a good resource.

Second, Michael Nielsen contacted several individuals who are better connected on the historical side of things (Michael Van Wagenen and Matt Bowman) and here was the response from Matt Bowman:

Hey, folks – Mormon missiology is a sadly underdeveloped field. I don’t know this off the top of my head either, alas; the people it seems to me would be best to ask are David Whittaker (who just retired as manager of the Mormon collections in the BYU library’s special collections) or Ron Esplin (director of the Joseph Smith Papers documentary editing project). Whittaker’s done the most work on early Mormon missions of anybody I know, and he and Esplin co-wrote a history of the 1837-1841 mission of several Mormon leaders to the British Isles, which was both the first Mormon mission to the country and wildly successful. As I said, Whittaker just retired; the search to replace him is underway right now. His email at BYU was david_whittaker@byu.edu; I don’t know if he still checks it or not, alas. Esplin’s email, I believe, is rkesplin@ldschurch.org.

Finally, another MSSA member, Shawn Bennion, received a very helpful response from Michael Bennion, who provided a number of very useful links:

As well as a citation to a book that should be of help:

  • William Mulder, Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia, (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1957).

While the MSSA may not have answered the question directly, hopefully this will provide some useful directions for finding out more information.

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