Pursuing 'the things of this world' : Mormon resistance and assimilation as seen in the furniture of the Brigham City Cooperative (1874-1888)
University of Delaware
After the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, Mormon leaders in Utah began to promote self-sufficiency and isolation from the eastern United States. The response involved a drive for cooperative economic schemes and an emphasis on the consumption of locally made products. Within this atmosphere, the Brigham City Cooperative (founded in 1864) established a Cabinet Making Shop in 1874. This paper examines the documents and furniture of this shop as evidence of consumption patterns. Despite initial enthusiasm to resist eastern encroachment, the research reveals that cooperative craftsmen were influenced by popular fashions. The account books show that the shop was sell ing 'homemade' versions of fashionable eastern forms. The shop was also selling eastern furniture at a lower price that the homemade products. The historical myth of a unified cooperative is revisited in light of these revelations. The paper also includes an Appendix that provides detailed examinations of extant furniture.