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American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940 $
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Thomas W. Simpson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469628639

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469628639.001.0001

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Brigham Young’s Romance with American Higher Education, 1867–1877

Brigham Young’s Romance with American Higher Education, 1867–1877

(p.11) 1 Brigham Young’s Romance with American Higher Education, 1867–1877
American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940 

Thomas W. Simpson

University of North Carolina Press

In the late 1860s, Mormons began knocking at the doors of American colleges and universities. Reversing the course of the westward-bound pioneer ancestors, these academic emigrants sought to retrieve what their forerunners had left behind, by force or by choice: their access to higher education. In the earliest cases, church leaders like Brigham Young sent the students as missionaries, but not to proselytize. Rather, they tapped these women and men for specialized training in professions ranging from law, medicine, and engineering to education. Mormons saw education in "Gentile" universities as a means to realize a corporate hope: a kingdom of God in the Mountain West. The goal was, in the words fo Brigham Young, to gather the world's knowledge to Zion, to help build the perfect society in the "latter days" before God's millennial reign. Unwittingly, church leaders had helped set the stage for American universities to become sites of a profound transformation of Mormon consciousness and identity.

Keywords:   Mormonism, Mormon History, Brigham Young, Polygamy, Higher Education, University of Michigan, Medicine, Law, Engineering, Nation-Building

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