Pulitzer Prize winning historian to lecture on Mormon diarists

Monday, November 9, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 2:56 p.m. CST, Monday, November 9, 2009

COLUMBIA— Imagine a religious group on an interstate trek in the mid-1800s. What if you could read the travelers' journals? Undoubtedly, they would have more than your average story to tell.

Harvard University history professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich will uncover the personal stories of Mormon diarists as they traveled from Nauvoo, Ill., to Council Bluffs, Iowa, when she speaks at 7 p.m. Monday at MU.

If you go

"Mud and Fire: Mormon Diarists Cross Iowa" by Harvard University professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • 7 p.m. Monday in Keller Auditorium, Geological Sciences Building, MU
  • Nearest parking garage is on Hitt Street, between Elm and University.

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"I believe I used about a dozen diaries, by men and women both, in this paper," Ulrich said in an e-mail about her recent research. "Some have been published, some digitized, some still in manuscript in various archives."

In a lecture titled "Mud and Fire: Mormon Diarists Cross Iowa," Ulrich will discuss some of the spiritual struggles faced by the group while on its treacherous journey. She will also discuss the Mormon historical connection to Missouri.

"But one of the things they were dealing with as an ideal of equality that included some men having multiple wives," Ulrich said in an e-mail.

Ulrich is the inaugural speaker in the Lewis Atherton Lecture Series, which is named in memory of a former MU history professor. The series will organize biennial lectures on a wide-range of U.S. history topics.

Ulrich is the 1991 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history for her biography "A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812." She is also president of the American Historical Association and well known for the following quote: "Well-behaved women rarely make history."

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