The Next MHA

John Hamer conference, history, Mormon 12 Comments

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A number of the bloggernacle’s luminaries descended on the party town of Sacramento, California, last weekend for the 2008 conference of the Mormon History Association (MHA)—a theme many have blogged about.

If you missed all the fun, there’s no reason to be bitter because there’s always next year! And if you thought they couldn’t top Sacramento, hold onto your stove-pipe hats…next year, MHA’s going to Springfield…(wait for it)…Illinois!

“But why?” you ask. Short answer: There isn’t sufficient conference and hotel space in Nauvoo to accommodate a gathering as large as MHA. More upbeat answer: as far as namesakes to the Simpson’s everytown go, Springfield, Illinois, is a pretty sweet place to go!

Why should you make plans to goto Springfield a year from now, May 21–24, 2009? Here are five reasons:

#5. Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln. If you think Mormons are Joseph Smith crazy, wait til you see the professional crazies in Springfield, Illinois. These people are ape-nutz over Lincoln. Everything’s named Lincoln, including the conference hotel and convention center. That said, the Lincoln Presidential Museum & Library is a massive, modern museum, brimming interactive displays and an incredible collection. The museum and sites (Lincoln’s home, Lincoln’s office, Lincoln’s horse’s stable, etc.) are all in easy walking distance from the hotel. (BTW, 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.)

#4. Mormon history. It may surprise you how much Mormon history took place in Springfield. A lot of Mormon-era buildings remain, including the old State Capitol Building, which Joseph Smith and a number of early Mormons visited and where the Nauvoo charter was both passed and revoked.

#3. Nauvoo. A post-conference tour will extensively visit Nauvoo. Even if you’ve already been to Nauvoo, I can assure you that the experience is different when you tour with a group of historians. There’s a lot less Disney and a lot more history.

#2. The Mormon history conference experience. The Mormon history community is an extremely welcoming fellowship. It’s very easy to meet and share ideas with the very people who wrote the books on the topics of discussion. If you haven’t experienced it, you ought to.

#1. Bloggernacle meet-up. Sacramento ended up drawing a large group of Mormon bloggers. Online communities don’t always get a lot of opportunities to meet up IRL. Next year we’ll formalize a meetup at MHA with a “bloggernacle breakfast” or something like that.

By the way, don’t just plan on going; plan on presenting. MHA is eager to reach out to new voices, which bring different perspectives to the conversation. As a member of next year’s MHA program committee, I want to encourage all of you folks to consider making a proposal. If you haven’t done it before, I can assure you that giving a presentation at MHA isn’t as scary as you might think. If you decide to join the conversation IRL at MHA next year, email me (or the entire program committee) with your proposal and a brief bio. Hope to see you there.

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Comments 12

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    On a side note, my partner Mike called the above image that I made to illustrate the conference, “deeply disturbing.” What say you folks, does it weird you out too?

    By the way, the actual theme is “Mormonism and the Land of Lincoln: Intersections, Crosscurrents, and Dispersions.” Potentially less disturbing, but perhaps not as eye catching?

  2. The image is definitely reminiscent of this year’s NBA playoffs commercials, and yes, it’s kind of weird.

    I also think it’s kind of strange that they’re having it in Springfield this soon after JWHA’s 2005 Springfield conference, which also highlighted the Mormon connections to Lincoln and the city.

  3. I actually like the image.

    And John, if I wasn’t already convinced to attend next year, your enthusiasm would have done it itself.

  4. I admire all your work as well, John, except . . . well, the picture sort of creeps me out in the manner of the spines of the Hosea Stout journal dust jackets (which I can’t stand behind my back in the office – had to put them out in the living room). I feel like I’m being scrutinized and maybe judged by Jabraham Smithcoln, and that CAN’T be good, can it?

  5. Rick–I know what you mean, I grew up with those journals in my parent’s house, that eye staring at me, lol. Only later when my father bought me my own copies did I learn they were church related… it creeped me out even more then…

  6. I’m excited to have MHA in Springfield next year; an easy drive for me down from the Chicago area. I love the idea of a Bloggernacle Breakfast.

    I’ve never presented at one of these things; maybe I’ll have to think up something I could actually present on.

  7. John, your haunting juxtaposition of a presidential candidate with an inaugurated president is provocative and subject to numerous interpretations (including my use of “haunting”), which is precisely why it’s so appropriate. Thank you for putting a fresh design on what some see as a conclave for retired history buffs.

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