his LDS historian took grief for telling the truth about Mountain Meadows. Now she is being praised.

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his LDS historian took grief for telling the truth about Mountain Meadows. Now she is being praised.

Southern Utah conference will pay tribute to Juanita Brooks.

(The Salt Lake Tribune) Juanita Brooks, author of the acclaimed 1950 “Mountain Meadows Massacre.”

By Mark Eddington

  | March 23, 2023, 5:00 a.m.

| Updated: 12:51 p.m.


St. George • In the ideological minefield that is Mormon history, Juanita Leone Brooks ventured where few others dared tread, armed by the desire to tell the truth about one of the ugliest chapters in the history of the American West.

Before the 1950 release of her seminal work, “The Mountain Meadows Massacre,” historians say accounts of the Sept. 11, 1857, slaughter of approximately 120 members of the Baker-Fancher emigrant wagon train by Mormon militia members were divided between those hungering to pillory The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those seeking to shield the faith.

Brooks, who died at age 91 in 1989, chose neither approach.

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“I feel sure,” she wrote in the preface of her book, “that nothing but the truth can be good enough for the church to which I belong.”

Her commitment to the truth was noteworthy because Brooks often walked an academic tightrope. A single misstep could cause significant collateral damage — namely to her church standing and her relationships with community members, some of whose ancestors took part in the bloodbath 30 miles north of St. George.


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Despite disapproval of the book from some church authorities, Brooks outlasted and won over most of her critics. And today, 73 years after its release, historians and most Latter-day Saints are proud to embrace her as one of their own.

In fact, St. George’s Utah Tech University is hosting a Juanita Brooks Utah History Conference on Thursday through Saturday to remember the late historian, honor her legacy and build upon her scholarship.

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