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Historians have used a variety of touchstones to describe the Mormon experience—polygamy, communal associations, and corporatization among others—but none has provided a long-term, large-scale, interpretation of Mormon leisure and recreation. Focusing on the period of 1890 to 1940, Richard Ian Kimball describes the most significant changes that occurred in Latter-day Saint recreation practices and ideology.
Following the contours of recreation thought in progressive America between 1890 and 1940, leaders and members of the Church employed recreation as a tool to socialize adolescents into the faith. Concerned with the problems posed by rapid urbanization and industrialization, Mormons attempted to ameliorate the problems of the city by inculcating morals and values through sports and recreation programs. The effects of these programs are still visible in the Church today. This dissertation represents a pioneering work in early twentieth-century Mormon social history.