Just recently our youngest son returned from a weeks’ worth of humanitarian service in Mexico. He, along with many members from various stakes in Utah, built a number of homes. He said he enjoyed the dedicatory prayers that was offered on each house at its completion. He said that he was able to translate the prayers so that the receiving family could understand. This tradition is strong in the LDS faith. Many things are dedicated. We’re use to temple dedications and re-dedications, also the dedication of lands for missionary work. Chapels and homes are dedicated to the Lord, as are graves. In 1873, the Salt Lake City 9th ward dedicated what?
a. The ward mascot
b. The Bishopric and Relief Society presidency
c. The Sacrament trays and vessels
d. The ward choir and hymn books
c. Home literature
In the 1890s, Mormondom reached a demographic turning point: more new members were added by birth than by baptism. This was a reversal of the pattern of conversion that had worked to established the community in its first sixty years, and the new trend would continue for another fifty years. Moreover, the generation of young people coming of age in the 1890s was an exceptionally large cohort. According to historian Davis Bitton, by the 1880s about 54 percent of the population of Utah was teenage or younger, and nearly 18 percent was age four or less. The 1880 census found that “Utah has more children under five years old, in proportion to its population, than any other division in the country.” These children were the teenagers and young adults of the 1890s.
These young people—the assumed audience for Home Literature—were, like their parents, native-born Mormons, but in their early years the distinguishing features of the community were increasingly under pressure. They never knew isolation and insularity to the same extent as their parents, and the trappings of consumer culture were increasingly available to them, as were education and cultural refinements. In many cases, their parents began to prosper, providing a level of material comfort and social opportunity previously unknown. Meanwhile, these children grew up in a time of intense disruption and uncertainty brought on by the federal antipolygamy campaign. Even those whose parents were not polygamous must have experienced a great deal of insecurity and turmoil in their youth, only to be told, as they became teenagers and young adults, that they were not measuring up to the sacrifices of their elders.
Within this context, the reading material of young Latter-day Saints received particular attention. Suspicion of fiction was of course a time-honored sentiment in the United States, even as novels became the preferred reading of millions; the Mormon case is one example of how that sentiment died out unevenly and flared up occasionally throughout the century. By the late 1880s, however, a new generation of Latter-day Saints envisioned the development of a Mormon literature through which authoritative messages could be delivered by means of entertaining stories. An ardent sermon by charismatic young bishop Orson F. Whitney solidified the name of the movement—Home Literature.
Lisa Olsen Tait, The 1890s Mormon Culture of Letters and the Post-Manifesto Marriage Crisis, BYU Studies, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2013, 105.