The following thesis is a study of the founding years of the Mormon supplementary religious education between 1890 and 1930. It examines Mormonism's shift away from private denominational education towards a system of supplementary religious education programs at the elementary, high school, and college levels. Further, this study examines the role that supplementary religious education played in the changes between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. During the 1870s and 1880s, Utah's territorial schools became an important part of the battles over polygamy and the control of Utah. As the Federal Government began to wrest control of the schools from the Mormon community, the Church established a system of private academies. Economic problems during the 1880s and 1890s, however, made it difficult for the Church to maintain many of these schools, necessitating the Mormon patronage of the public schools. As a result, in 1890 the Church established its first supplementary religious education program, known as the Religion Class program. The Religion Class program suffered from a variety of problems and was criticized by both Mormon and non-Mormon officials. Despite the failings of the Religion Class program, the need for supplementary religious education became increasingly important during the first two decades of the twentieth century. In 1912, the Granite Stake established the Church's first high school seminary. Within ten years, the seminary program replaced the majority of the academies and became the Church's preeminent educational program. During the 1920s, the Church began extending supplementary religious education to its students in colleges and universities through the establishment of the institute program and the near-complete abandonment of its private colleges and schools. The successive establishment of these three programs demonstrates a shift in Mormon educational priorities and attitudes throughout this period. Whereas the academies and the Religion Class program emphasized a general fear of Americanization, the seminary and institute programs accepted the public schools and much of the Americanization that accompanied them, while at the same time providing means for the continued inculcation of Mormon values into the lives of Latter-day Saint youth.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History



Date Submitted


Document Type





Church and State, Educational History, Mormon History, Progressive Era, Religious Education, Utah History, Religion Class Program, Seminary, Institute, Depression of 1890, Fundamentalist Movement, Polygamy, Sexual Revolution, Granite Utah Stake, Joseph F. Merrill, Moscow Idaho, Salt Lake City Utah



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