Guillermo Balderas is a key figure in Latter-day Saint history who is virtually unknown. He was a Mexican, refugee, bishop, and missionary. While he faced racism, he remained faithful to the LDS Church and worked throughout his life to change a hegemonically white institution to better serve Latino saints. My work examines Balderas in context and argues that his life is exceptional and will expand historians' understanding of Latino leadership in the early-modern LDS Church. This research answers the question: how should we write about the roles that people of color played in the 20th century? This project examines why important people of color (""the other"") are not discussed in American religious history. Traditionally, the space has been occupied by ""great men."" This idea has rightly been challenged by modern schools of thought; indigenous studies, women's studies, and queer studies are examples that challenge the traditional narrative. I argue the problem historians face is not one of exceptionalism but rather of scope. There are many great people who have been forgotten for not fitting a certain profile. Guillermo Balderas' contributions to his community and church make him an exemplary individual, and important in the historiography of Latino leaders in American religious movements. This project places will consider how we write about the expansion of the LDS Church into Latino communities, how historians write about Latino Christians in the United States, and the impact that Guillermo and other Latinos had on the LDS Church. My research and presentation draw from several primary sources, namely his papers and unpublished autobiography, as well as secondary sources from historians such as Elisa Pulido, Aron Sanchez, Jorge Iber, and Ignacio Garcia. Ultimately, it provides the audience with an example of a non-white hero and expands Mormon historiography by examining ""the other"" in history.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Format: In Person
SESSION B (10:45AM-12:15PM)
Area of Research: Humanities
Faculty Mentor: Ignacio Garcia
Location: Union Building, ROOM 312 (11:25am)