My friends Laura and Brian Hales join me for an informed, candid interview about the practice of early Mormon polygamy. A catalyst for our discussion is their recently published Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding—a distillation of Brian’s three-volume magnum opus Joseph Smith’s Polygamy (Brian has generously uploaded most of his documentation to Mormon Polygamy Documents: A Research Database). Our conversation covers a range of issues from polyandry and polygamy to misfires in rolling out plural marriage to secrecy that attended Joseph Smith’s sealings.
Laura is copyeditor of Mormon Historical Studies, the journal of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation. In a forthcoming edited anthology, she assembles a cadre of scholars who help readers navigate Mormonism’s more difficult historical terrain (Anchored in Truth: Faithful Answers to Sincere Questions, slated for release in spring 2016 under the imprints Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center). Brian is an accomplished anesthesiologist who works at Davis Hospital; he also volunteers for organizations such as Medical Reserve Corps and Utah Medical Outreach. He is the current president of the John Whitmer Historical Association and will deliver his presidential address at the 2016 JWHA conference in Kirtland, OH—and he has a message for listeners: “Attend or else!” (Okay, I just made that up… but you really should attend.)
Brian & Laura Hales trivia: Brian’s finely tuned vocal cords rocked the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, 1999–2013; Laura is a real-life grammar maven who has taught English on a college level.
(Intro and outro music: “History Song” performed by The Good, the Bad, & the Queen from their eponymous album.)