Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon

ISBN : 9780199338665

Quincy D. Newell
224 ページ
156 x 235 mm

"Dear Brother," Jane Manning James wrote to Joseph F. Smith in 1903, "I take this opportunity of writing to ask you if I can get my endowments and also finish the work I have begun for my dead.... Your sister in the Gospel, Jane E. James." A faithful Latter-day Saint since her conversion sixty years earlier, James had made this request several times before, to no avail, and this time she would be just as unsuccessful, even though most Latter-day Saints were allowed to participate in the endowment ritual in the temple as a matter of course. James, unlike most Mormons, was black. For that reason, she was barred from performing the temple rituals that Latter-day Saints believe are necessary to reach the highest degrees of glory after death.

A free black woman from Connecticut, James positioned herself at the center of LDS history with uncanny precision. After her conversion, she traveled with her family and other converts from the region to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the LDS church was then based. There, she took a job as a servant in the home of Joseph Smith, the founder and first prophet of the LDS church. When Smith was killed in 1844, Jane found employment as a servant in Brigham Young's home. These positions placed Jane in proximity to Mormonism's most powerful figures, but did not protect her from the church's racially discriminatory policies. Nevertheless, she remained a faithful member until her death in 1908.

Your Sister in the Gospel is the first scholarly biography of Jane Manning James or, for that matter, any black Mormon. Quincy D. Newell chronicles the life of this remarkable yet largely unknown figure and reveals why James's story changes our understanding of American history.


Cast of Characters
Chapter 1: When a Child (ca. 1820-1843)
Chapter 2: We Walked (ca. 1842-1843)
Chapter 3: The Beautiful Nauvoo (1843-1844)
Chapter 4: We got Along Splendid (1844-1848)
Chapter 5: Isaac James, Wife & Children (1847-ca. 1870)
Chapter 6: Desired to Do Right (1870-1877)
Chapter 7: Is There No Blessing for Me? (ca. 1880-1894)
Chapter 8: That Was Faith (ca. 1892-1908)
Chapter 9: I try in My Feeble Way to Set a Good Example for All (1908-present)
Appendix: Primary Sources


Quincy D. Newell is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Hamilton College. She has published several books and essays on the experiences of religious and racial/ethnic minorities in the American West. Among other honors, Newell received the 2018 Jane Dempsey Douglass Prize from the American Society of Church History and the 2017 Best Article in Mormon Women's History prize from the Mormon History Association for her work on Jane James.