Marginal Mormons: African Americans and Native Americans in the Nineteenth-Century LDS Church


ACLS Fellowship Program


Religious Studies


African Americans and Native Americans represented the largest American racial/ethnic minorities in the nineteenth-century Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormon, Church) and they occupied distinct places in the LDS cosmos. African Americans were denied access to the temple ceremonies that Mormons believed were necessary to reach the highest degree of glory after death; Native Americans, according to Mormon beliefs, were the descendants of ancient Israelites whose conversion was a necessary precursor to Jesus’s second coming. This study places the experiences of nineteenth-century African American and Native American Mormons alongside one another to show the specific ways in which racial/ethnic identity, gender, and religious experience shaped one another.