Anne Brontë’s Bicentennial

January 17, 2020 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of poet and novelist Anne Brontë. Anne, the youngest child in the Brontë family, was particularly close to her sister Emily, who was two years older. Anne was too young to attend the Cowan Bridge school where the eldest Brontë girls died (immortalized as Lowood School in sister Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre). She was largely educated at home alongside Emily by their aunt and later by Charlotte, Anne’s senior by four years.

Emily and Anne’s imaginary kingdom of Gondal, invented when the sisters were in their early teens, became an important creative force for both girls. Though none of the tales survive, many of Emily and Anne’s poems were written as part of their Gondal saga and Emily’s Wuthering Heights seems to have origins in the Gondal stories. Charlotte angered Emily by discovering her private poetry notebook in the autumn of 1845. To keep the peace, Anne revealed her own poems and helped Charlotte persuade Emily to publish a selection of all three sisters’ verse. The sisters chose masculine-sounding pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell – to deflect gender-based criticism. Though they only sold two copies, favorable reviews fed the Brontës’ ambitions to become authors.

Anne, like Charlotte, earned a living as a governess; the difficulties she encountered inspired her first novel, Agnes Grey (1847). Her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) shocked and enthralled Victorian audiences with its portrayal of a woman fleeing an abusive marriage. Both novels proved popular in spite of (or perhaps because of) criticism of their coarse realism, but Anne was not able to enjoy her success. She succumbed to tuberculosis in May 1849, only a few months after Emily’s death from the same disease. After her death Charlotte suppressed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in an attempt to protect her sister’s reputation, and over time, Anne’s work was compared unfavorably to that of her sisters. Today, both novels are regarded as major works of art for their expression of women’s independence and integrity, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is seen as a major feminist literary text.

Arabic manuscripts digitized

The L. Tom Perry Special Collections has recently digitized a small collection of about 50 Arabic manuscripts. The images can be accessed at The manuscripts date from the 13th to the 20th centuries, and include scientific, legal, grammatical, and religious texts (such as an 18th century Qur’an and several hadith and prayer books). A holdings list of the manuscript collection can also be found on the History of Printing Collection page.

Ansil Perse Harmon diary

Ansil Perse Harmon (1832-1908)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Ansil Perse Harmon diary (MSS 971).  This is a handwritten diary documenting Harmon’s daily activities as a farmer in Holden, Utah, from 1882-1885.  Also includes his patriarchal blessing.

Ansil Perse Harmon was born 5 April 1832 in Conneaut, Pennsylvania, to Jesse Perse Harmon and Anna Barnes. He was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 7 April 1840. His family was part of the exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, in the later 1840s, and eventually arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September 1848.  He would later be named a captain to two companies in 1861 and 1862, and helped bring others to Utah. He married Rosalind Chandler on 29 November 1862, and they had nine children. Harmon would move his family from Salt Lake City to Deseret, Utah that same year. He would later take four additional wives: Matilda Barnes, Mary Marcy, Harriet Mead Cole, and Lucy Marcy.

After moving to Holden, Utah, Harmon served a mission for the Church in the United States from 1874 to 1875. He served in the local bishopric in Holden for several years, and worked as a farmer in the community. Ansil Perse Harmon died on 12 September 1908 in Vermillion, Utah, and was buried in Holden, Utah.

Upcoming lecture on First Vision by Keith Wilson and Katy Sumsion

We are pleased to announce the next lecture in our series in conjunction with the exhibit on the 200th anniversary of the First Vision:

Title: The First Vision: A Comparative Analysis between the Community of Christ and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Keith J. Wilson, Brigham Young University faculty, Religious Education

Katy Pratt Sumsion, Brigham Young University student

Date and Time: Thursday, November 21, 2019 @ 2pm, HBLL Level 1, Alice Louise Reynolds Auditorium

Abstract: Most observers of the beginnings of Mormonism view the First Vision which young Joseph Smith received in 1820 as the wellspring of this religious movement.  However, up until the death of Joseph Smith, this event was seldom mentioned as the impetus for the Restoration.  Historians have shown that it was not until the late 19th Century before the Vision became institutionalized in the LDS and the RLDS churches.  Since then the Vision has at times dominated the narrative in both major branches of the Restoration.  But in more recent times the trajectory has tapered off for the LDS and has bottomed out for the RLDS/Community of Christ.  This presentation will chronical the path of the First Vision in both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the RLDS/Community of Christ and discuss the implications of these trajectories.

Come join us next Thursday for what will surely be an educational and inspirational opportunity to learn more about the tradition of this seminal event in Church history!


Digitized Japanese Rare Books

Around 50 titles from the HBLL’s Rare Japanese Book collection have been scanned and added to the BYU repository on the Internet Archive. The repository contains a number of illustrated books, manuscripts, and scrolls — including the well-known ghost scroll Bakemono no e, a portion of which is shown here. For more information about the library’s collection of Japanese rare books, visit the collections guide  on the L. Tom Perry Special Collections website.

Lectures by Peggy Bendroth – Congregational Library

We wanted to let anyone who may interested aware of a pair of lectures this week by Peggy Bendroth, executive director of the Congregational Library in Boston, Massachusetts. She will be giving the following lectures related to religious libraries, archives, historical research and careers in history:

  • Thursday, 14 November @ 1:30 – B092 JFSB* – “New Life from Old Stories: Faith and Scholarship in Anxious Time”
  • Friday, 15 November @ Noon – 2114 JFSB – “You Don’t Have to be a Professor: Alternative Career Strategies for History Majors”

These lectures are sponsored by the BYU History Department.

*Note: Place has been changed from the EIZ auditorium.

Joseph Smith Black autobiography

Joseph Smith Black (1836-1910)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Joseph Smith Black autobiography (MSS 742).  This is a handwritten autobiography that starts in the year 1877 when Black was living in Deseret, Utah, and gives an account of when he was in the Utah State Penitentiary for polygamy from 1889-1890. He writes about his life in Deseret, his avoidance of federal officials while resisting arrest for polygamy, and his subsequent incarceration in prison.

Joseph Smith Black was born 14 Jul 1836 in Lisburn, Ireland, to William Young Black and Jane Johnston. He was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in June 1844 by Parley P. Pratt. He married Nancy Cynthia Allred on 12 November 1855 in Ephraim, Utah.  They moved to Deseret, Utah, where Black was made bishop in 1877.  Black would eventually take three additional wives: Sarah Jane Barney, Caroline Petersen Thompson, and Louis Jane Stocks.  He would serve time in the Utah Penitentiary for polygamy. While in Deseret, Black built dams and a canal on the Sevier River and worked on the railroad.  During this time he also ran a large mercantile business.  Joseph Smith Black died on 13 August 1910 in Deseret, Utah.

The World of George Eliot

Special Collections is featuring the work of eminent Victorian novelist George Eliot (Marian/Mary Anne Evans) in a small case exhibit celebrating the 200th anniversary of her birth on Nov. 22, 1819. “The World of George Eliot” showcases first editions of her major novels, like Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and The Mill on the Floss. The exhibit will be on display in Special Collections’ reference room throughout the month of November.

History of the Doctrine and Covenants exhibit

It’s that time of year again!  Our annual “History of Doctrine and Covenants” exhibit is on display now in L. Tom Perry Special Collections. This exhibit takes the viewer through the history of the Doctrine and Covenants, from handwritten manuscripts to being published in book form in 1835. Later editions with significant additions or deletions are also displayed, including the 1845 edition (added the section on the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844), the 1879 edition (footnotes added by Orson Pratt and added Section 132 on plural marriage), and the 1921 edition (removed the Lectures on Faith, which had been there since 1835). Also shown is an 1835 letter from Oliver Cowdery to Newel K. Whitney regarding original copies of a revelation, and James E. Talmage’s journal where he documents revisions he was asked to make in 1921 as part of the Doctrine and Covenants Committee.

This exhibit will be on display in the Reading Room in Special Collections until the end of 2019. Come see this popular exhibit and learn more about this significant book of modern day scripture!

Hans Christian Sørenson diaries

Hans Christian Sørenson (1864-1925)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Hans Christian Sørenson diaries (MSS SC 2502).  This collections includes five handwritten diaries and notebooks kept in English while Sørensen served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sørensen was a native of Denmark and spent most of his time working in that country. Sørensen writes of his daily activities and about the condition of The Church of Jesus Christ in Denmark. Dated 1887-1889.

Hans Christian Sørensen was born on November 30, 1864, in Dostrup, Aalborg, Denmark to Mads Sørensen and Kirsten Larsen. He was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 2, 1875. He married Miranda Esplin and they had five children together. While living in Orderville, Utah, Hans was called as a missionary for the Church in May 1887 and served in the Scandinavian Mission, primarily in Denmark. He became bishop of the Mt. Carmel Ward in 1900. Hans Christian Sørensen died on April 3, 1925 in Orderville, Utah.

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