Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Graduate News History

History PhD candidate presents work for Beinecke Library Research Fellowship

Check out History PhD candidate Ashton Reynold’s work during his Beinecke Library Research Fellowship.

Six visiting scholars, recipients of Beinecke Library Research Fellowships, recently gave riveting presentations about their research in the Beinecke Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Collection. The six scholars are among fifty fellows that the library has welcomed back this year after a hiatus in the program, due both to a planned restructuring of the program and the university’s COVID restrictions for visitors. Applications are now being accepted for 2023–24 fellowships.

T. Ashton Reynolds, a PhD candidate in history from Southern Methodist University, is tracking the different sects of Mormonism that spun off after the murder of Joseph Smith. Smith, who was killed in 1844, was the charismatic leader and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Reynolds is conducting much of his research this summer in the James Jesse Strang collection. Strang believed Smith had designated him as successor and founded a new sect known as the Strangites. He renounced the practice of polygamy and declared himself “king of the Kingdom of God.” When Strang changed his stance and took a second wife, however, his followers rebelled. Reynolds’s research also led him to the papers of Mary Louisa Sanger, one of Strang’s early and avid followers, who also became disillusioned. Reynolds discovered that Sanger—one of the few women’s voices in the Strang correspondence—was particularly bold in expressing her dismay at Strang’s inability to live up to her expectations of what a prophet should be. Read the full article.