Leonard J. Arrington Diaries – “Aftermath”

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Yesterday in connection with the annual council meeting of the Redd Center, I discussed my position at BYU with Martin Hickman. He said that I would retain my chair at BYU if I wished, until age seventy. While the university could cut me off at 65 if they wished, that is true only until June 30, 1982. I will not reach 65 until July 2, 1982, therefore I come under the rule that the university is required to keep me until age 70 if I wish. Martin said that there are a number of options available whereby after age 65 a person may quit, or go half-time, or step down to half-time or no time year by year. He said the university is required to honor my wishes on the matter. He said that if I should quit my Church job it would ruin their budget for me to go full-time on the Redd Center, so in a way he was pleading with me to hold on to my Church job as long as possible. He inferred that if I quit the Church at age 65 it would be a favor to them for me to go half-time on the Redd Center so that the budget would not be altered. 

[LJA Diary, 15 Nov., 1979]

This afternoon at 2:30 Elder G. Homer Durham and I met with Jeff Holland,

Church commissioner of education and president-designate of BYU, in the latter’s office here in the tower. They indicated that the Board of Education of the Church and the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve have created the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History at BYU, and they have transferred to that institute the History Division of the Historical Department, with LJA as director and with all present staff as staff members of the institute. The staff will remain physically housed here until July or August of 1982, at which time we are to move to the Kimball tower or the Tanner building at BYU. Our budget, however, beginning September 1, will be with BYU, and my responsibility, after September 1, will be under the direction of either Martin Hickman or the new academic vice president of BYU, whose name will be announced next Wednesday. Nevertheless, there are certain functions that will remain permanently a part of the Historical Department, which, beginning September 1, will consist only of Library-Archives Division and Arts & Sites Division. Those few will be attached to the administration section of the Department, and they will include the James Moyle Oral History Trust Fund and its two regular staff members, Gordon Irving and Cindy Mark; Davis Bitton, who is presumed to be returning to the U. of Utah beginning in the fall of 1982, and Debbie Lilenquist; and also Dean Jessee, who will be attached to Archives. The Mormon History Trust Fund, of course, will be transferred to BYU, and will have no limitations on the amount which it can solicit.

I asked for a few days to think about this before we present it to the staff; they agreed, and we set a meeting of the staff for 10:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, July 1. And I don’t expect to get much sleep between now and then for thinking it all out. Ron Walker will presumably be placed with the Salt Lake Institute of Religion beginning in the fall of 1981, and will not move to BYU.

Elder Durham tried to give the impression that this was something which was desired and established by the General Authorities of the Church and BYU. My frank opinion, expressed here only in the diary, is that he himself is the master arranger of all this business and that he was not compelled to do it or even requested to do it, but that it was his way of placing the History Division under a university rubric, which he has believed all along it should be. The only thought in my mind is whether to take up the options that I have to go to the U of Utah or USU instead of running down to BYU in 1982. Or, maybe going up to a little two-and-a-half-acre plot on the family farm in Twin Falls and pitching hay and showing chickens. 

LJA Diary, 26 Jun., 1980]

There is one item of news I should tell you that affects my future. It’s not yet public, and until it is published you should mention it to no one. I was informed by Elder Durham and Jeff Holland last Thursday afternoon that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and BYU were casting about for some way to honor President Joseph Fielding Smith. Having already a Joseph Smith Building and a Joseph F. Smith Building, they couldn’t very well have a Joseph Fielding Smith Building. They might have created a lectureship, but the Brethren are always afraid that lecturers may say things that they would disapprove of–or at least wouldn’t want to put the color of Joseph Fielding Smith’s name on them. So they decided to create the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History. Then they decided to name me the director. Then they decided to place most of my staff with the Institute as Research Historians. But for the present they decided to leave us physically right where we are, doing exactly the things we are doing. Someday, maybe, they will want to move us physically down there, but that doesn’t make much sense since the materials we are working with are right here. I don’t know what all of this will imply. I suppose it means that we will be responsible primarily to Jeff Holland as new president of BYU rather than to Homer Durham and the Historical Department advisors. If so, it will mean less hassle with the Brethren, and leave us more free to pursue our research unhampered under my direction. It also means, I suppose, that the Church does not have to assume responsibility for what we research, write, and publish. It will be interesting. I am not fighting it, and of course I was not consulted on it so have no responsibility for the transfer. I’ll keep you informed on how things go. I’m sure they won’t touch any of our present arrangements until 1982 when I finish the Brigham Young book, and by then I may want to retire. 

[LJA to Children, 29 Jun., 1980]

Further Reflections on the News of Last Thursday about the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History

Having heard from several sources earlier that Elder Gordon Hinckley appears to have orchestrated the acceptance of Dallin Oaks resignation as president of BYU and appointed Jeff Holland to take his place, in order to remove any possibility that Elder Benson upon succession to the Presidency might have appointed a John Birch-type to that position, it now occurs to me that perhaps the creation of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History, the abolition of the History Division, and the transfer of our division to BYU may similarly have been orchestrated by Elder Hinckley in consultation with Elder Durham in order to keep our work alive, in order to avoid a situation in which the History Division may have been eliminated and the functions discontinued. That is a positive interpretation to place on the actions of last week–that Elder Hinckley and Elder Durham felt that they were doing us a favor and the Church a favor by assuring that by this transfer we will not be touched by a subsequent action of the next President of the Church.

Another positive thought is that we’ll remain here at our desks doing the same work under essentially the same conditions for the next two years and perhaps by then authorities will be willing to allow us to continue to remain here indefinitely. It may well be that in two years we could retain the services of Davis and Dean Jessee for an indefinite period. Indeed, it may well be that within a few years the History Division could be reinstated as a division of the Historical Department. 

Since our Mormon History Trust Fund is about exhausted, I’m also thinking that we might as well simply close it out here and not have anything to transfer to BYU where a different set of rules might apply. We can retain privately, of course, our account over in the bank and let that be the avenue of paying the help I am employing on the BY project.

I may not have made it clear in my entry for Thursday, but the budget of our History Division will be transferred to BYU as of September 1, of this year. Our professional staff members will be permitted–perhaps even encouraged where they have Ph D’s–to hold a professorship at BYU and teach a class or two. The people who are expected to remain here–Gordon Irving, Cindy Mark, Davis Bitton, Ron Walker, Dean Jessee, Debbie Lilenquist–will continue to be paid out of the administrative budget of the Historical Department and will be under the supervision of Earl Olsen. So they will remain on the payroll and on the 1981 budget as previously intended. It is expected that the History Division will vacate its space in August of 1982. But of course I’m hoping that we can persuade them to allow us to use some of this space for people to remain here to work with the materials here in the archives.

To Davis and myself, one positive result of this new arrangement is the greater freedom we will have in research, writing, and carrying out of projects. We assume we will have much greater freedom under Martin Hickman and Jeff Holland than we have had under Earl Olsen and Elder Durham and our advisers from the Twelve. 

[LJA Diary, 30 Jun., 1980]

Leonard Arrington September 26, 1980

Professor of History

Director, Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History

LETTER OF APPOINTMENT

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and President Holland, I am pleased to inform you that your salary for the school year beginning 26 August 1980 and ending 31 August 1981 will be $45,072. This salary will be paid in twelve (12) equal monthly installments, commencing 30 September 1980.

You will be entitled to one month’s vacation to be taken at such time as may be arranged with and is acceptable to the department chairman, dean, director, or other person having supervision over your work.

By your acceptance of this appointment, you signify that you have familiarized yourself with the enclosed memorandum and agree to comply with its terms as a condition of your employment.

If you do not wish to accept this appointment, please state this in writing within twenty days of the date of this letter.

The Board of Trustees and the Administration are most appreciative of the loyal service of the faculty of the University. We trust that a continued spirit of cooperation and devotion to duty will improve even further the quality of service of our students and our performance in our other duties.

Sincerely yours,

Jae R. Ballif

Form 4

(12-month appointment; continuing faculty status) 

[Jae R. Ballif to LJA concerning BYU appointment; LJA Diary, file 1 Jul., 1980]

This morning at 10:15 Elder Durham convened a meeting of the History Division staff, Jeff Holland, Florence Jacobsen, Glen Leonard, Don Schmidt (Earl Olsen is out of the office today) to announce the changes approved by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve and the Board of Trustees for BYU regarding the creation of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History.

He welcomed the group and introduced Bro. Holland, and mentioned that President Kimball would release a statement about it soon after this meeting, which was now in the hands of Brother Holland. Then he made two quotations which he said might be kept in mind: William Clayton, “There is hope smiling brightly before us;” and A. Tennyson, Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die.

The Board of Trustees of BYU has established the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church history at BYU, with Brother-Doctor-Professor Leonard J. Arrington as director. This means a transfer of functions and staff of the History Division to BYU. Some of the staff will have professorial rank; this will be negotiated individually by President Holland and counterparts.

Some exceptions to the transfer; the BYU and Dr. Holland and the Board realize that there are certain projects approved by the First Presidency (letter of April 5, 1978), to be continued. Elder Durham said he has tried, especially over the last months to screen other projects to leave the staff free to work on the approved projects. He has assigned Earl Olson, Ron Watt, Glenn Rowe to other minor tasks. Those who have had contacts with other Church units or other institutions will channel back into those: Davis Bitton to U of U, after July 1982; his complete obligation here until Aug. is available to Bro. Arrington.

The Mormon History Trust Fund is central to the function of the staff going to BYU. Since development services are at BYU, this fund can be developed and increased without restrictions it has had here. The Moyle Oral History Fund, however, has not been discussed with the family, for one thing; and it will remain here, with Gordon Irving and Cindy Mark. Dean Jessee will remain here, as will Debbie Lilenquist, with her services available to Bro. Arrington’s group until such time as BYU wants to pick up the position. Ron Walker had a place in the institute system of the Church and his project completion date is 1981. He will remain with the Historical Department group here until Sept. 1, 1981, then (subject to discussion) a post at the University of Utah institute, to continue his Heber J. Grant project here if it is not finished by that time. This is wise too because of his bishop’s responsibilities.

The History Division budget will be transferred Sep. 1 to correspond with the BYU fiscal year. Theirs will be the administrative line, too, as well as funding. BYU may increase the funding, but not decrease it. All involved with the Bro. Arrington group will occupy space here as at present, but between July 1 and August 31, 1982, the space will be vacated and ranking will be completed for BYU. Individuals will have had time to decide on commuting or moving their homes. New office space will be available either in the Kimball Tower, due for completion in Jan. of 1981, or the Tanner Building, completion date Aug 1982. There could be a piecemeal move of some persons from here to there, not all at once, where desirable.

Elder Durham then said he’d like to editorialize a bit. His first point was that this is a great thing for BYU. His second point was that it would preserve the writing and research and quality developed here under Bro. Arrington. These things are being distributed out of the general Church or discontinued altogether, since everything out of Church headquarters is subject to more direct criticism; not so at the university. Sensitivities are increasing about what comes from Church headquarters. BYU has some criticism, but it is in a neighborhood of extreme academic freedom–U of U being the pinnacle of that, and so the history institute being there would enjoy that advantage. Of course each writer takes responsibility for his own writing and research, but the university is a more appropriate umbrella.

He expressed his personal appreciation for association with Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton, and expressed great pride in their work. He said he had fielded some concerns for the staff that they didn’t know about, with considerable success, to assign chores to others to save staff time for First Presidency-approved projects, which have high priority to him.

Then he introduced Brother Holland. (Banter included Bro. Holland’s saying that St. George [his place of origin] isn’t the end of the earth, but one can see it from there.)

Elder Durham also commented that Davis Bitton could go on just as he is, with 26 months minimum to calculate his future, wherein many things can happen.

Bro. Holland commented that he felt like the returned missionary who bought a ring. When asked if he had a girl, he said no, but he might. He is hoping somebody will extend a finger and let him put the ring on.

He said that he’s had an idea of doing something more with Church history, at BYU. He felt that the field of history has its legitimate function at the university of the Church. He felt it was a great way to honor President Smith, and in the process avoid having another Joseph Smith building on campus. But he did not know it was under review from the Salt Lake end of the operation, too. He feels it is a providential development for BYU, a marvelous thing. He realizes it is a personal and professional blow to staff members at first. It will bring a spotlight to the campus. “You’re Church-broken enough to know we can’t do everything in the world there,” he said; we want to be as responsive as we can to the Brethren. But the nature of a university suggests some opportunities there that are not available here. The university stands for that, and wants to stand for more of it. He has a personal dream of what it can do and be.

He has no administrative team as yet, and so he has concerns that cannot be solved yet. But the resources are in hand. He sees no financial problems to taking on the Institute, which is often a major problem. And he is glad the two years allows time for handling other concerns, for reviewing the whole business of appropriate academic assignments and teaching positions; plans and wants to be open and warm in discussion and developing the institute and dealing with people.

Elder Durham explained that the Historical Department would have 3 divisions: administrative, Arts & Sites, Library-Archives. The people who will stay with the Department will be attached to the administrative section. Everyone else will be “as you are, but under new management.”

The principal relations for administration will be with Dean Martin Hickman. There will no doubt be lateral associations with Ellis Rasmussen and the academic vice president.

Elder Durham said he would plan to visit individually with staff who will remain part of the department about their positions. The appointments and ranking of the BYU people would move fairly fast–not by Sep. 1, so staff would continue as they are, doing what they are, until more can be done.

Elder Durham said the new policy of the archives will not affect those working on the Brigham Young project. Others, however, will be working as would be other faculty at BYU or U of U on restricted materials. 

The BYU group will have a budget of its own. Bro. Arrington brought up such costs as Xeroxing, which are general funds, not division funds now. Bro. Durham said the policy would be liberal; Xeroxing may go ahead as is. Details will be worked out.

Gordon Irving asked if the BYU funds could accommodate two more people. Elder Durham said that was still to be seen, that no discussion had been held with the family, and that later on, such a change (as moving the oral history program to BYU) may be possible.

In response to a question, he said that there would be some teaching and some research–primarily research. First in priority are the projects now approved by the First Presidency. But even later, there would probably be no one doing just teaching. There is a natural mix there in a university setting.

He commented that the psychology department would act as a lightning rod. The Institute staff would be released from routine items encountered here, such as walk-in requests.

Ron Walker asked how much flexibility exists–is there a possibility of negotiating and changing some of these assignments? Elder Durham and Brother Holland explained that the ideal is for those who came from other places to go back into those places, such as with Davis Bitton and Ron Walker. Immediately, this is the decision, but they would make negotiations and have discussion with each person.

Bro. Arrington asked that space be reserved in the Historical Dept. offices for 2 or 3 people to maintain offices for working from the archives. Elder Durham said perhaps, certainly consider the Archives search room & associated room.

Sister Jacobsen brought up a point about Arts & Sites working with oral history projects, and discussion will come about the eventual placing of that program.

Ron Esplin asked about the placement of Dean Jessee. Though he came from library-archives, his contribution to the History Division is vital, and others could do what Dean did in archives.

Earl Olson will talk with Harold Western about the transfer of funds, etc., and they will call on Leonard Arrington for consultation.

The publicity will stress the creation of the new institute, not the demise of the division. A sesquicentennial angle may also be put into that release.

The “directions” board downstairs will read “Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History,” and staff names will be under that.

Stenographic notes & transcription, Kathy Stephens 

[LJA Diary, 1 Jul., 1980]

Am sending a clipping about my new appointment. It won’t mean anything except a change in title for at least two years. At that point, according to the scenario, I and most of the staff are to move to a suite of offices at BYU. Davis will return to the U of U, Dean Jessee will remain here with the Library-Archives, and Gordon Irving and secretary will remain with the Oral History program. We’ll see how that goes. We may get a new Pharaoh within that period who will have different ideas. I am trying to be patient and cheerful. There will be a lot of meetings with BYU administrators during the next couple of months. I suppose I am most hurt by the failure of anyone to consult with me in advance of the action, and by the insistence that Davis not go with us to BYU if he preferred. On the other hand, I certainly will enjoy being in an academic setting once more, responsible to academic administrators rather than ecclesiastical officials. Jeff Holland has already announced a new academic team for BYU, including a new academic vice president and new associate academic vice presidents, all of whom we like. In the meantime, for at least two years, we are in our same offices, doing the same work, and trying to enjoy life as always.

[LJA to Children, 4 Jul., 1980]

Yesterday I received a telephone call from Ted Warner, chairman of the History Department at BYU. Ted expressed his pleasure on the announcement of the transfer of the History Division into the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History at BYU. He confessed to me that he had heard talk among BYU administrators of the negotiation which resulted in this transfer two or three months ago. He said Martin Hickman confessed to him before he went to Germany that negotiations were under way. He also said that Martin was notified by telephone in Germany of the change, and so I assume he is well aware of Jeff Holland’s intention to make him our administrative officer. Ted also stated that he heard a week or two ago about the imminence of the transfer, so he almost certainly knew about it before we did. All of this confirms in my mind that the arrangement was worked out by Elder Durham and Brother Holland and that the decision was a well-planned maneuver of Elder Hinckley in the Board of Education and Quorum of the Twelve meetings. Whether the initiative in the move was taken by Elder Hinckley or Elder Durham, one cannot be sure; it was probably the result of a joint discussion. It is very disconcerting to me to accept that (a) Elder Durham did all of this–over a several-months period!–without discussing it with me, and (b) that Elder Hinckley was a co-participant without ever once ascertaining my own feelings. These actions are a violation of the priesthood principle, duly revealed, that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Prov. 11:14) 

[LJA Diary, 7 Jul., 1980]

In the past few days I have been thinking about the transfer of the History Division to the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History at BYU, and various personal and professional aspects connected with it. Here are conclusions to which I’ve come to this point:

1. I assume–and have verified with Davis this morning–that at the same salary he would prefer to remain a full-time professor at the University of Utah to being appointed to a full-time professorship at BYU. There is only a slight preference in this direction, however, on his part.

2. I shall never expect to move our home to Provo. We expect to remain in our present home in Salt Lake City until other circumstances necessitate a change.

3. I do not expect ever to put in a 5-day-a-week work schedule at BYU.

At the most, I would expect to go to the office there three days a week–possibly as few as two days a week.

4. I suppose that BYU administrators and my staff would be satisfied with my directorship–would not be unduly critical–if I were to put in only two on three days in the office at BYU.

5. I would have a strong preference for maintaining my present office here indefinitely, together with secretary and with Richard Jensen as research assistant. The office at BYU of course will have to have a secretary, and this secretary might be Kathy or Kathy’s replacement if Kathy takes a position as editor for curriculum or Church magazines, in which case I could use Debbie Lilenquist or her replacement if she should replace Kathy or take any other position during the period I am here. I feel very strongly about Richard Jensen staying here to do research in the archives. 

6. At an appropriate time–say, the spring of 1981 when they are beginning to think about the 1982 budget–I expect to ask the president of BYU to write the managing director of the Historical Department, asking him to continue to provide indefinitely office and desk facilities for me and for Richard Jensen.

7. I have a strong feeling that the remainder of the former History Division people will probably move to BYU without much opposition–might even be enthusiastic about it. I think this would be true of Maureen Beecher, who would be pleased to operate in a university atmosphere, would probably want to teach, and would be “in her glory” at the Y. I would suppose also that Bill Hartley might enjoy it, and Ron Esplin certainly would, and Ron Walker most probably, and Carol Madsen might enjoy it for a year or two.

8. Strategy with regard to preserving Davis as a colleague: When

Davis and I finish the projects we are now working on–which we hopefully will be able to do by the end of the year–we shall start on two new projects. One of these would be the preparation of a series of essays under the general heading “In Defense of the Church and the Saints,” in which we would wrestle with the problems presented by the Tanners and others and try to provide historically sound and accurate answers. Secondly, we would start on the editing of some document or set of documents that would require us to work directly with material in the Church archives. This might be editing somebody’s diary or camp journal or some papers of Brigham Young or a collection of letters–something that would be welcomed by the General Authorities and Church readership.

9. In the spring of 1981, then, about nine months from now, I would ask the president of BYU to write a letter asking the managing director of the Historical Department to leave me in my office, to leave Richard Jensen at his desk, and to keep on the administrative staff Davis Bitton for another year or two until we can complete those books. Hopefully this will be very difficult for the managing director to turn down and would be a way of making it possible for me to have a headquarters in Salt Lake and for Davis to be retained by the Historical Department as a senior research associate, and presumably in his present office. This would not cost the Historical Department anything except of course these two offices and desks, which they will not need anyway for other purposes. This would also leave me in direction of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History. 

[LJA Diary, 15 Jul., 1980]

We had yesterday the first staff meeting of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History. Discussed lots of plans and procedures. My own plans are pretty much: Expect to remain in our home in SLC indefinitely; will try to induce the Church two years from now, when we are to establish offices in Provo, to keep all the staff; expect to carry out a vigorous program of research, writing, and publishing; expect to get another book or two underway within the two-year period of grace here; as of present intentions, do not expect to retire in 1982.

[LJA to Children, 18 Jul., 1980]

Maureen told me that George Durham, Homer’s son, had told her he understood that I had suggested to his father Homer the idea of creating the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute and transferring the History Division to them. Apparently his father had said I had suggested that several years ago. Of course that is not true. It may very well be that Elder Durham conceived the idea sometime in talking with me about various possibilities connected with the future of the History Division but on the occasions a year or two ago when he mentioned the possibility of transferring this “think center,” as he called it, to BYU I gave him all the reasons I could think of why it was a bad idea.

[LJA Diary, 21 Jul., 1980]

I am personally proud of your achievements and all you have accomplished. I am grateful for the decision of the Presidency and Twelve to shift the work of the division to the new Institute. In my opinion, that will guarantee permanence and continuation of the enterprise you launched under President Lee in 1972. The University auspices are highly appropriate for research and writing such as was your original “charter.” When that charter was modified, it may have become possible for the work to have been phased out so far as headquarters are concerned, in my opinion. Accordingly, the new situation and the physical move to BYU by August 1982 will assure many, many fine things which will come over the years ahead. They will advance the Kingdom and provide substantial basis for new scholarly interpretations of the Restoration in the world of scholarship, which has been limited and localized, despite the efforts of many, many people going back over a century. I know the dream of my father in the field of the musical arts, based on his sacrifice to gain five years of study at the New England Conservatory of Music; and the earlier dreams of Dr. John A. Widtsoe and the little group that went to Harvard a few months after the Manifesto. The dream has continually taken on shape, size and substance. 

[G. Homer Durham to LJA; LJA Diary, 5 Aug., 1980]

For the past day or two I have been quite depressed about the status and future of history in the Church.

Item: President Kimball and President Tanner, our staunch defenders in the past, are pretty well “out of it” in terms of the exercise of decision-making power. President Kimball is a pure soul, a man without guile, a sweet, loving, and lovable person. But his physical condition is such that he simply does not seem to understand complex issues. Or, if he does, he does not have the physical capacity and emotional force to “carry through.” With President Tanner, his Parkinson’s disease has progressed to the point that he seems incapable of concentrating on problems and decisions. The real decision-making comes from the Twelve, and the real decision-making there comes from persons who actively oppose the intellectuals and intellectualizing which historians are inevitably a part of: Benson, Petersen, Packer, McConkie. Elder Hinckley stands up for us, as had Elder Hunter before his heart attack and Elder Haight, but they do not run things, or at least they are not in a position to prevent certain things from happening.

Item: The sesquicentennial history volumes which have been approved and paid for–those by Bushman, Backman, and Britsch-have not been released for publication, and it appears that they simply sit on the shelf “until someone dies.”

Item: The elimination of the History Division and transfer to BYU is interpreted by the general public as an extension of approval of us, but it represents precisely the opposite. It is a demotion, an expression of lack of confidence.

Item: The arrogant manner in which we have been handled by Correlation. Last fall, when the World Conference on Records was planning its program, the planners thought I should give a paper on the history of the LDS family. I explained that I have no specialty in family history, did not want to give a paper, etc. But they felt to insist–the Church Historian must give a paper. I reluctantly agreed. About two months ago, I learned that they wanted an advance copy. Why? The underground told us that the Twelve had finally become aware of the program and were fearful some of the papers would contain material and statements of which the Church would disapprove, so they wanted to be sure all papers, were approved by Correlation. A few days later, the same underground sources said that the Genealogical people had pointed out that this was impossible and impolitic. After all, a large number of the participants–perhaps a third of all of them–were not LDS, and any attempt of censorship would boomerang. Genealogy still wanted the papers early, but in order to duplicate them and make them available for distribution.

On July 21 I was notified by Noel Barton that I would have to get my paper in. I worked on the paper over the long July 24 weekend, and it was sent to Noel on July 29, the last day before our trip to Hawaii. Noel later telephoned Kathy to say that he had read it with interest and thought it was fine. But he did not add that he had sent it to Correlation for their approval. I was informed yesterday that Correlation had read the paper, did not like it, and required various changes. I later received a letter sent to Royden Derrick, head of Genealogy, Roy Doxey, head of Correlation, saying that the paper did not support the purposes of the conference, and contained some eight or nine passages illustrative of its potentially harmful nature.

The paper is no great shakes, not an original contribution to the history of the LDS family, and is built around the theme that, while the Church has sometimes proved a divisive influence, it has also provided reinforcement to the family. Various historical examples are used to demonstrate this. What Correlation wanted me to leave out was, any implication that the Church had, in any respect, been divisive,–harmful to the family. If I could drop the whole business without harming the Church or the cause of history, I would do so in a minute. I have tried to make the minimum accommodation to Correlation. That they would insist on a paper which completely exonerated the Church for having created problems for many families is anti-historical. Everything in the Church’s past is sweet and lovely, or we ought, at least, to pretend so. I am angry, hurt, heartsick. 

[LJA Diary, 9 Aug., 1980]

I went to see Elder L. Tom Perry Friday morning. This was a prearranged appointment requested by me.

I explained to Elder Perry that I had come to suggest a Logan person as president of a mission, namely Newell Daines and his wife Jean. I pointed out that they are 50, that this is a good time in their life to undertake such a mission because they have just sold their home and will be moving out of it next summer, it is a good time in his life professionally to leave because there are other anesthesiologists in Cache Valley, and his last child will be leaving home this year. I mentioned the one problem of Jean’s mothor who is in her 80s and would need to be cared for by them.

Elder Perry responded very warmly and appreciatively to this suggestion. Said that he had grown up next door to the Newell Daines, Sr., family, knew them very well, had great respect for them, could see no problem in connection with them taking along the mother-in-law on the mission, said that he would suggest the name immediately. He wanted to know if Brother Daines could speak Spanish. I told him I wasn’t sure but I doubted it. Apparently there is a great demand for mission presidents who speak Spanish.

Elder Perry then wanted to make a few comments about the recent conversion of the History Division into the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History at BYU. He said that when this proposal came to the Twelve he was very much delighted because it offered a means of “preserving the professionalism of our historians.” He said that he had recognized the problem that we have of speaking for the Church as well as for history. Placing our historians within an academic atmosphere would help to preserve our professionalism and preserve the professional respect for the work that they do. We discussed this for perhaps 15 minutes. I pointed out that while there are some aspects of our history that may upset individual persons, such as the discovery that Brigham Young chewed tobacco, that all of our historians had strengthened their testimonies by studying the intimate details of our history and that I was not at all fearful about open scholarship and full disclosure because it was positive, heartwarming, and faith-promoting.

Elder Perry was very warm and genial and friendly. We parted on a very amicable basis, and he again thanked me for making this fine suggestion of Newell and Jean Daines.

[LJA Diary, 25 Aug., 1980]

History unit to stay in S.L.

The Church Historical Department is continuing its functions and will remain in its present headquarters in the Church Office Building, according to Elder G. Homer Durham, managing director of the department.

On July 2, formation of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute of Church History at Brigham Young University was announced. Since then queries have indicated that many people had interpreted this to mean that the Historical Department was being transferred to BYU.

A few members of the History Division, one of the divisions of the Historical Department, will join the institute staff and move their offices to BYU before Aug. 31, 1982, as space becomes available, Elder Durham explained.

Other members of the History Division staff will continue with the Historical Department in Salt Lake City with personnel from the Library-Archives Division, the largest element of the Historical Department, and the Arts and Sites Division, whose responsibilities include planning for the new Museum of Church History and Art. 

[Church News clipping; LJA Diary, 30 Aug., 1980]

General conference was Saturday and Sunday. I chose to watch it this time on TV. This is the first time I have done so since taking my position in 1972. Saturday I was just plain tired; Sunday we had guests, and anyway, considering my demotion from the History Division of the Historical Department to the Institute at BYU, I did not feel it was as important for me to be there as I had felt in previous years. 

[LJA Diary, 6 Oct., 1980]

Earl came by to see me this morning; said he’d just had an extended telephone call with Garth Mather, the budget officer of BYU. They decided the following things:

1. We would be given no budget for office supplies and all of our office supplies were to be supplied by the Historical Department. 

2. We will be given no budget for postage, and all of our mail is to go through the Church post office. If they don’t like our use of BYU stationery, they are to bill the administration of the Historical Department.

3. All of our equipment maintenance is to be handled by the Historical Department, and we will receive no budget for that. We are to go through Helen as if we belonged to the Department. 

So on office supplies, on mailing, and on equipment maintenance, we are once more back as a member of the Historical Department. 

[LJA Diary, 14 Oct., 1980]

Dear Children:

Each of you, during the past few weeks, has asked me, sometimes obliquely, “how things are going,” meaning, How do you feel about the transfer to BYU? So I propose in this letter to write to you in a straightforward manner giving my reactions. This will be a confidential letter, I will ask Mamma to read it before I send it, and trust that you will not allow others to read it or use the information in it too freely. This way I can be entirely free to write without measuring words.

Basically, I feel good about the change, even though I did not ask for it and would not have recommended it if I had been asked, which I wasn’t. First, let me mention the disappointing things:

1. Davis and Dean Jessee and Debbie Lilenquist were not transferred, which means that, according to the plan, Davis will return to the University of Utah in the fall of 1982; Dean and Debbie will remain with the Historical Department. I feel very strongly about Davis and will do my level best to get him put on a consulting basis with the Institute at BYU beginning in the fall of 1982. I think I will succeed in doing this.

2. We were informed that, to some extent beginning now, and to a full extent beginning in the fall of 1982, we shall be treated like any other BYU staff member in the availability and accessibility of manuscripts, charges for Xeroxes, etc. But in these years we have built up friendships with people here that will help us get better treatment than that indicates.

3. Moving to BYU sponsorship means that each of our staff will be expected to teach a class most semesters. That will take some time from our research and writing. On the other hand, that just may improve some of our research and writing. The give and play of the classroom situation is stimulating and helpful.

4. It hurt me not to have been consulted on this business, not to have been given a chance to make suggestions or raise problems. But that’s just pride, something which should not interfere with taking the best course offered by the circumstances. I’ve been hurt before; one accepts the hurts along with the joys and successes.

5. Finally, how long can we continue to make positive historical contributions if we are separated from the source of the materials? We’ll have to do a lot of traveling to SLC after 1982, which is a waste of time and money. Already, however, we’re squirreling away things to use when we make the change in offices.

Now, for the positive things:

1. All of us received increases in pay as we went to BYU, and most of these increases are, pretty substantial. For example, my annual salary was raised from $40,000 to $50,000. Our staff are well paid, in comparison with other BYU faculty. Nobody can say that the Church is not investing a lot in us.

2. Being responsible to BYU administrators, with faculty status, gives us the opportunity of being more professional. We won’t have to sign time cards, worry about taking annual leave (vacation time) every half day we decide to stay home and work, and so on. We’ll have time to do some professional improvement, be eligible for sabbaticals, have a full month vacation each year, and so on.

3. We’ll probably have better status professionally by being connected with a university. Fewer people will be apt to think “He/she is just a Church employee; doing what the Church wants done.”

4. In matters of freedom in writing and publishing, we’ll be one step removed from ecclesiastical control. While at no time have we ever wanted or sought to do anything to embarrass or hurt the Church, and would not want to, we shall be freer from rather stupid restrictions like, “Don’t publish that Brigham Young once chewed tobacco.” Or, “Heber J. Grant had plural wives but don’t ever say so.” I’m sure the Lord must get impatient with the overprotective recommendations of some of the bureaucrats at Church headquarters. We’ll now be one step removed from then.

5. There are other advantages of being connected with BYU. We are now inaugurating a lecture series, which will give us an additional outlet for our research and help in educating the Saints. We’ll start a monograph series, perhaps not this year, but in another year or two. We’ll be able to have internships, fellowships, and other arrangements which will be helpful to the cause.

6. We have the very finest Agent-Bishop, as they call him, to whom we report; i.e., Martin Hickman, Dean of Social Sciences and Family Life. He is an astute administrator, helpful, courageous, and well-respected. I can level with him, which is something new, and he levels with me, which is also something new.

There is one other aspect that is extremely important in our present stage. The First Presidency authorized, by letter, the Brigham Young project. This means that no one has a right to deny me any materials I want to use; it also means that I may use the staff to help with the project. So we get to see about everything we want to see, we use our time as we determine it ought to be used, and we have the opportunity of using an extraordinarily rich supply of documents, previously unused by any historian, which covers a whole generation. What happens when the book is finished? That remains to be seen, but you must imagine how exciting, how exhilarating, how inspiring, it is to work in depth in these materials. I have the most exciting job in the historical world, and I’m trying to make the most of it.

And it is not only a matter of the documents to which we are exposed each day, but of the people I work with. They are intelligent, good-willed, well-trained, loyal, and such a pleasure to work with. To have the opportunity of working with these wonderful people is not only a blessing–it is a blessing every day, every hour. Despite occasional administrative and financial frustrations, my professional life, like my family life, is one of recurring pleasure and happiness. I thank the Lord for my appointment and for my work.

Let me also say that while I regard some of the decisions that are made respecting us and other departments as being ill-advised, a product of ignorance or misplaced fear, I have experienced or observed nothing that would cause me to be less than enthusiastic about the Church, the Gospel, the Kingdom. I am a believer–and, I hope, a valiant and thoughtful member-of the Lord’s Church. I am neither cynical nor discouraged. 

Well, there you have it.

Love, Dad

[LJA to Children, 22 Oct., 1980]

Thursday we picked up our Christmas turkeys, given annually to the BYU staff. They had enough in SLC that they brought a truckload up here. Last night was the annual Christmas Party of the Historical Department. We don’t belong anymore, of course, but they invited us anyway. We had a nice dinner, program, and brief talks by Elders Hinckley and Durham. Theme: safeguard the records. That means, keep ‘em, but don’t let anybody see ‘em. Presumably the writing is done from inspiration. Fortunately, they allow us to see ‘em, so at least what we write is from the record. Be assured, it’s still honest history.

[LJA to Children, 13 Dec., 1980]

Dad’s response:

My first ambition, coming as early as when I was thirteen, was to achieve in the political world–to be a senator. And at various times in my youth I was often called “Senator,” so my associates must have known of this desire. To have done this I should have gone to law school, but our financial situation was such that the family would give me nothing, and it was out of the question. I did not seriously consider going to law school after my sophomore year of college. 

My second ambition, coming after my B.A., was to become a good teacher of economics. This remained my principal ambition until about 1966, when I went to UCLA as a visiting professor of western history. At that time, my ambition switched to the desire to write and teach good Western history. Economics became secondary.

My third ambition, beginning in 1972, was to establish a research and writing division of the Historical Department. This was forcefully taken away from me in 1980, and so my present ambition is simply to finish up the Brigham Young book and then to do other studies on Church history. When the BY book is finished, I might well wish to complete my memoirs.

My present ambitions are:

1. To prove that good LDS history can be written and successfully marketed.

2. To help my associates toward realizing their own professional goals.

3. To help Mamma and our children achieve their personal goals.

I have had to great failure. I have had a series of second-best finishes: second in the county spelling bee, second in the regional FFA public speaking contest; second in the regional Rhodes Scholarship competition; getting a second-place position with the discontinuance of the History Division and creation of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History. I have been completely satisfied with occupying a second place position, and therefore have accepted each of these.

Best trait: to be sensitive to the needs and desires of others.

Worst trait: to be insensitive to the needs and desires of others.

[Family meeting held 22 Dec., 1980; LJA Diary, 1 Jan., 1981]

Dean Martin Hickman 

College of Home, Family, Soc. Sciences 

136 FOB BYU 

Provo, Ut 84602

Dear Dean Hickman:

This is a report on the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute, as we see things as this moment, together with plans that we have. If you take exception to any of this, let me know so I can “be straight” with my administrative superiors.

Our major activity, as you have known all along, has to do with trying to get materials in preparation for writing the Brigham Young biography. Elder Durham has felt all along that this project was important enough to warrant all the attention we could give it, and he seems to be supported in that feeling by the advisers to the Twelve on historical matters and by the First Presidency. All of us also feel the importance of the project from the standpoint of the professional contribution we could make–to LDS history, to Western history, to American history.

I know that everyone wonders why such a large investment is necessary to produce one 500-page book. The reason can be summarized as follows: The Brigham Young Papers constitute one of the largest collections of papers of any nineteenth-century American. Ninety-nine percent of these have never been studied by any scholar before 1972. Just to properly organize, catalogue, and describe this material took several persons in our History Division and in the Church Archives six years. There are approximately 30,000 letters signed by Brigham Young; a 50,000-page manuscript history; several thousand pages of minutes of meetings; several hundred sermons; four diaries; diaries of several dozen persons closely associated with Brigham Young; seven telegram books of maybe 300 telegrams in each; the historical records of all the wards, stakes, colonies, and communities which Brigham Young supervised; and several hundred ledgers of business enterprises which he started.

It would be impossible for one person to cover all of this material, even in a lifetime, and so I’ve had Richard Jensen working through all of the material on immigration, Carol Madsen working through the material on women, Davis Bitton working through the sermons, and Bill Hartley working through the material on priesthood activities and government. All of this is important to Church history as well as to Brigham Young’s personal history, and will eventuate in articles which may be published by BYU Studies and other magazines and journals. Ron Esplin has been studying Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve in Nauvoo, and that will form a chapter in my biography and quite possibly a separate book authored by him. It is rich, interesting, inspiring, and all that’s being done needs to be done. We proposed at one time a six-volume biography of Brigham Young. This was neither accepted nor rejected, but simply pushed aside with the statement that for the present we need to have a good one-volume biography to replace that terrible book Lion of the Lord by Stanley Hirshson.

While we’ve made headway, I cannot see that we’re going to finish any sooner than when we expected to finish–which was the summer of 1982. Considering the probability that many materials in the Church Archives will be closed to us after we leave, we are naturally trying to get as much out of the archival material as we can while we have a chance. I am sure the Lord would expect us to be valiant in the callings which we have received and we are trying to do so.

With respect to teaching, I have always regarded my appointment to the Lemuel Redd Chair seriously and am teaching an economic history class this spring and an honors class this fall. And of course I would expect to teach again in the spring and fall of 1982. With respect to the others, here is a summary:

Richard Jensen. Richard is indispensable as my research assistant and therefore will not teach during the next year. In fact, with your permission, I should like to leave him in Salt Lake City for the time being to serve as a research assistant to myself and others in the Institute in order to cut down on our travels back and forth.

Ronald Esplin. Ron completed the defense of his thesis at BYU and therefore will be granted the Ph.D. in history in April. I have instructed him to continue his in-depth study of Brigham Young and the Twelve from 1841 (where he left off in his dissertation) to 1846. He will expect to teach one class at BYU either in the fall of 1981 or winter of 1982. We should try to list him as an assistant professor of history in the next budget.

Ronald Walker. Ron continues to work full-time on the Heber J. Grant papers, which are very extensive and have never been examined before by a scholar. He has the full authorization of the First Presidency to go through these papers and to do a biography of Heber J. Grant. Although he has done two or three papers, at my direction he is virtually full-tine going through the papers so that he will be finished by the end of the year. Then he can begin the writing, much of which can be done at BYU. Ron expects to sell his home here and move to Provo as soon as possible. He has talked with real estate agents here and at Provo, and it all depends on finding a satisfactory sale here and a satisfactory purchase there. That may occur this summer, fall, or early next year. In any case, he and I both hope it will happen by the summer of 1982. I have told Ron that I do not want him to teach until he finishes the Heber J. Grant papers. Thus, he may teach either winter or spring sessions of 1982. He is a fine teacher and will do well.

Carol Cornwall Madsen. Carol works only half-time and I have therefore instructed her to work with materials that are uniquely here until the fall of 1982, at which time she will expect to be half-time at the Y.

Bill Hartley. Bill lives in Sandy and may decide to commute to Provo from there, beginning this fall. I have assigned Bill, upon his completion of the Brigham Young project, to write or coordinate the writing of an administrative history of the Church. In the course of this research, of course, he will have to spend a certain amount of time at the Church Archives. He expects to teach a class this fall at the Y. He is a very good writer and has a number of promising essays in preparation.

Maureen Beecher. Maureen has been working on Eliza R. Snow materials in accordance with her assignment to do a biography of Eliza and to edit her diaries and poetry. She has not made much headway on the project simply because of her reading and editing the sesquicentennial volumes. But now that our role in that project has been eliminated, my instruction to her is “Full speed ahead on Eliza.” She is a kind of a Mother Hen for the women scholars of the Church. I’ve told her that it is appropriate for her, within limits, to continue serving women scholars as she has been doing. I instructed her to have a conversation with the BYU Comparative Literature director about teaching a class there during the next academic year, and they have tentatively scheduled her for winter semester, 1982. She will be a splendid teacher and will enjoy it.

In accordance with the agreement which you and I had earlier, we are expecting to occupy at least three offices next fall. Those will include an office for myself (but not my secretary), one for Maureen Beecher, and one for Bill Hartley. (And one for Ron Walker if he sells his home.) Sometime during the ensuing year (1982) offices should be provided there for Carol Madsen, Ron Walker, and Ron Esplin, and for my secretary. As I indicated above, I am hopeful you will agree to my recommendation that Richard Jensen remain here as an on-the-site research assistant with the Church Archives, serving myself and other writers in the Institute. If the Historical Department does not wish to leave him in his present space, then he can simply work at one of the tables in the Archives Research Room or in one of the little research rooms they provide for visiting scholars.

In terms of long-tern projects for the Institute, there are of course a number of books and many professional articles which are presently underway and on which we can work, all of which would be proper research and writing activities for the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute. Other projects which we will surely want to consider in the future when the Brigham Young project is completed are editing primary sources, biographies of important Church personalities, documentary histories of various periods, and essays in defense of the faith and the Saints. I continue to be hopeful that we will be able to find enough money in our budget to support Davis Bitton as a consultant (say, at the rate of $5,000 per year) to the Institute, and I continue to hope that we will be able to work out arrangements for having an occasional visitor in residence at the institute to work on a needed book or series of essays.

As you can see, we are striving for a balance that will be satisfactory to everyone. On the one hand, we are willing to do some teaching. This will be stimulating for our people and, I am confident, good for the students of BYU who take their classes. On the other hand, we have understood from the beginning that the Institute is primarily dedicated to the research and writing of Church history, and as long as important projects remain on the agenda I would expect our work in these areas to continue.

I feel very good about my appointment and my calling and feel that I have a hardworking and productive staff. My retirement might come as early as the summer of 1983 or as late as the summer of 1987, depending on your wishes and my own personal situation. I might say that Grace has not been in very good health this past year and if that should continue that will be an important consideration in our personal planning.

Sincerely,

Leonard J. Arrington 

[LJA to Dean Hickman; LJA Diary, 17 Feb., 1981]

On Tuesday I went in to ask Don Schmidt to let me into the vault to get the thesis of Robert Woodford on changes in the Doctrine & Covenants. We both looked for it and of course didn’t find it. Don said that he had bound all the copies that were in the vault and catalogued them and placed them in the library. There was heavy use of the thesis now that it had been released, and he needed all those copies. I told him that one of the copies was mine and that I expected to take it with us to the Institute offices in Provo. Don said he would investigate the situation, and let me know later.

Today I learn (not from Don) that Earl and Brother Durham and Glen Leonard and Don were having a meeting in Brother Durham’s office. The matter of turning over to LJA a copy of the Woodford dissertation was discussed at some length. Earl was strongly opposed to doing it. Glen Leonard, happening to be there for the discussion, pointed out that the dissertation had come to us by virtue of the fact that we had given him a fellowship and that one of the conditions for the fellowship was that he provide us a copy. And the dissertation was available in the BYU library anyway, that copies were circulating, and what was wrong with releasing one of the three copies in our library-archives to give to LJA? The discussion went on for some time, Earl arguing against, but Elder Durham then gave his clearance. Earl then tacked on a suggestion that before turning it over to me, they contact the Dean of the Graduate School at BYU to see if he had any objection. Presumably in a few days a copy will be decatalogued and given to us. 

[LJA Diary, 19 Feb., 1981]

Based on things I have heard, I do not suppose that my Brigham Young biography would be approved by those idiots in the middle management. But, thanks to Elder Durham’s switching us to BYU, I am independent enough that, while I am required to send them a copy of the manuscript, I am not required to pay attention to their suggestions. I also am entitled to personal revelation in connection with this assignment, and that revelation will be my primary guide, not the suggestions of the idiot fringe. I’m talking mighty brave, as you see, to keep up my courage. 

[LJA to Children, 15 Apr., 1981]

In almost every group to which I am invited to speak, the speaker introduces me as the Church Historian. When they ask me my position, I tell them of my BYU professorship and the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute directorship. And when they ask my secretary for a sheet to use in introducing me, I very clearly indicate the professorship and directorship. Yet they continually say Church Historian.

I have finally developed a rationale for this. For me personally it is significant that I was sustained as Church Historian by the general conference in April 1972 and have never been released by the general conference. Elder Durham says that I was released in 1978, and he and Earl Olson say that publicly, yet there has been no public statement from the First Presidency saying this, nor any letter to me saying so. My assumption is that Elder Durham wrote a letter for the First Presidency to himself, had them sign it, and this suggests in ambiguous terms that I was released in favor of the bureaucratic title Director, History Division. But in the minds of the Saints I am still the Church Historian.

It now occurs to me that this is part of a general church practice of continuing to refer to people by titles they have held for a considerable period of time, and which it is tradition to continue to call them by. Thus, once a bishop always a bishop, and people continue to call him Bishop Jones long after he is released. Or President Smith long after his release from a stake presidency. Students of USU who used to know me as counselor to President Reed Bullen continue to call me President Arrington. In that same sense then, people continue to call me Church Historian Leonard Arrington. From that point of view it is still true even if Elders Durham and Olson say it isn’t. And who is the Church Historian? Elder Durham? People would never do it-he was never sustained as such, never called that, never will be unless formally sustained as such. Without a replacement, it is natural for them to assume that I must still be Church Historian. 

[LJA Diary, 17 Apr., 1981]

LDS Historical Office

Y to get history division

Under the direction of the First Presidency of the LDS Church, BYU will become the new home of the Church History Division of the Church Historical Office in June.

The division will be in Knight Mangum Hall under the supervision of Martin B. Hickman, dean of the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences. The division will be renamed the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History.


It was renamed in honor of former LDS Church President Joseph Fielding Smith to recognize his contributions during the more than 50 years he served as church historian.

According to Leonard J. Arrington, former church historian and present director of the institute, church authorities believe that because of the academic nature of the institute and the resources BYU has to offer, the institute will function better as an affiliate of BYU rather than an affiliate of the Church Historical Office.

The main purposes of the institute will be to prepare books-including biographies of important church leaders and monographs of important historical events, and to edit and publish original manuscripts, Arrington said.

“Large quantities of primary source material in church and BYU archives previously have not been examined by scholars,” he said. “The institute’s primary task is to do this.”

The institute was formed last summer under the direction of the LDS First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, but was not able to be moved to BYU until June because of lack of space on campus.

[Article in Daily Universe; LJA Diary, 28 May, 1981]

Garth Jones was in yesterday and told me he has been working on an article on the Church in Indonesia. He said he would send me a copy when he is through. Although the Church has a right to be proud of its rapid growth in North, Central, and South America and certainly in other countries, we are not doing well in Indonesia. During periods when our own growth has gone from a handful to two or three thousand, the Catholic Church has grown from a few thousand to three million. The Baptist Church is growing very rapidly there and the Protestant Churches in general. In short we have done poorly in Indonesia. Reasons? One reason is the assignment as mission president of an insurance salesman from California who does not speak the language. Another reason is the failure to meet with most of the early members who have dropped out of the Church but who have good will toward the Church. Another reason is our failure to adapt the faith to Indonesian culture, but most of all it is due to our failure to become involved with the social, economical, political, recreational, and educational life of the people.

In the 19th century as mentioned in Great Basin Kingdom, we were fully involved with the whole life of the people. This was at a time when the Catholic and Protestant Churches were strictly Sunday religions and not in any way involved with the ordinary daily life of people. But now we have switched. We preach the gospel of personal salvation but we steer clear of any involvement socially, politically, economically, etc. The Catholic Churches and some Protestant Churches have switched in this century and have become involved with the people as in El Salvador and this is true in Indonesia, and so the membership of the Catholic Church has grown very rapidly and they are very influential in government policy. Our Church has gone from heavy involvement in the 19th century to none today. The Catholic Church has gone from none in the 19th century to close involvement today.

We do well in the Philippines primarily because the people are anti-Catholic and we are a good alternative. We do well in Korea for special reasons but we have done very little in Japan because of our failure to get involved in their daily life and culture. 

[LJA Diary, 28 Jul., 1981]

Elder Durham told ma on a confidential basis this morning that our staff must be extremely careful about giving any material to any person who is not a full-time member of our staff. We should not request any documents from the Archives except those related to the Brigham Young project. Nor should we assist any persons not members of our staff in getting access to archival material.

Since the shift of the Historical Department to the Twelve, Elders Benson and Petersen are very much in the saddle and they do not want archival material made available to anybody. Elder Durham said our switch to BYU was our salvation, that was the only way we could have continued our labors.

Elder Durham specifically said that henceforth Scott Kenney would be denied use of the Joseph F. Smith papers. He said that all of this is conveyed to me privately on the basis of our long-time friendship and is not to be mentioned to others.

I learned also, not from Elder Durham, that at the request of advisors from the Twelve, presumably Elder Packer, Elder Durham has placed a restriction (this was done several months ago) on B. H. Roberts’ The Truth, The Way, and The Life. So we are now back to the days of Joseph F. Smith and A. Will Lund. The intervening years of study, research and writing, however, have placed much new light on our history and have made many of the previously restricted materials available to scholars and the general public.

In connection with the above I have learned also from a private source that Ed Ashment is in the process of being terminated. Apparently the initiative has come from personnel. Apparently Ed did not have a temple recommend; and apparently he had not asked for one because he had not paid a full tithe. He had not done this because his wife was angry at the Church and disapproved of his paying tithing. However, he had paid part tithing representing himself. Personnel called him in and said he had to have a temple recommend to preserve his employment. They gave him a deadline of two days–today being the deadline. He said what if the Bishop or stake president are gone? They then gave him till Monday. He went to the Bishop, the Bishop approved and issued him a recommend. He found the stake president in American Fork and went there. As he started his interviewing with the stake president, the president was called by somebody at Church headquarters. They told him that he, the president, was not to sign the recommend on the basis of promises; “The Brethren” did not want him to sign so he did not. All of this sounds like a Catch-22 situation. You have to get a temple recommend but you visit with stake president who says he’s been ordered from the same people not to sign the recommend. However, the stake president was satisfied and would have signed if not instructed not to do so. Apparently there will be further investigation before there is definite termination. I should add that Ed’s wife gave her permission for him to promise and pay full tithing; she could see the wisdom of that. Ed, for the benefit of those who read this, works for translation. His supervisor is Brother Nydegger who fully supports him and has forcefully recommended that he not be terminated. 

[LJA Diary, 7 Aug., 1981]

Historical affairs have been moving ahead despite a mild reception. On the one hand Midgley, Packer and perhaps others believe that we are doing a disservice by writing history that is not always faith-promoting. On the other hand, hundreds tell us they support what we are doing and find their testimonies strengthened by honesty in reporting facts and by our professional approach. 

The opposition has not curtailed our research and writing. I have managed to complete a first draft of the BY biography and a few other projects Davis and I saw to publication, in the Saints Without Halos. In this we were ably assisted by Scott Kenney. I gave my JS Institute Lecture, which was published by Dialogue. A few forewords were prepared and published.

Davis has had some problems keeping up the momentum of his work because of his divorce and personal problems, but he has nevertheless helped on the BY editing and has finally gotten his images book with Bunker off to the U of U Press.

Maureen has had many things to do and not turned out as much as she had hoped. Dean Jessee has gone ahead slowly on his JS holographs and has finally produced a manuscript for me to approve. He did a super job as president of M.H.A. Ron Walker has proved to be productive, turning out several first class articles. Ron Esplin finally completed his Ph. D. with an outstanding dissertation on BY. But not much since. Richard Jensen has spent nearly all year working over the PEF but not much to show for it yet. Bill Hartley spent most of the first part of the year on the Christensen project and the last part on his course at BYU. So his productivity has not been up to his potential. Carol has been remarkably productive, considering that she is only half-time. She is a real worker.

All in all, I hope the staff are able to show more for their employment in 1982 than in 1981.

I think all of them would do more if I worked with them toward deadlines-if I helped them out to get things done like they have helped me in times past to get things done. 

[LJA Diary, 24 Dec., 1981]

We’ve heard rumors that Newsweek is coming out with an article on the Church and censorship. We’ ye also heard that they’ve ordered photos of Mike Quinn, B. H. Roberts, and myself. Nobody has contacted me about it, for which I can be thankful, I guess. I’m afraid it will be negative toward the Church. This will put us historians on the spot–do we go with the Church because of our loyalties there, or do we go with truthful historical writing because of our loyalties there? Actually, I don’t see things are as bad as some think. We still have a healthy Mormon History Association, publish most everything we wish in suitable places, and have good budget support from BYU. I hate for something to come up that may cause BYU to clamp down on us, or on Mike Quinn, or on research in the Archives on Church history. I wish these journalists would leave us alone to do our thing–which is research and writing, and which we are doing satisfactorily right now. My days of intrigue are past. I just wish people would let me alone to write, which I could do quite unobtrusively if people wouldn’t get upset about things that have happened. 

[LJA to Children, 13 Jan., 1982]

Dear Children:

From the time he was baptized in 1832, a principal theme of Brigham Young’s life was complete acceptance of what the future had in store. Complete faith that whatever was to transpire was the will of God. Equanimity about events. Calmness, composure, lack of agitation or disquiet. More than once he wrote somebody to quote from Matthew, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” which modern translators have rendered as “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries of its own.”

I have tried to adopt some of this philosophy in my own attitude since becoming acquainted with Brigham, but it has not penetrated very far yet. When I have to do some traveling in the winter, I worry about whether the roads are going to be hazardous. (I worry about that more than anything.) More immediately, I violated the no-worry rule in thinking about the impact of the article I wrote you about that is going to appear in Newsweek. I apologize for getting carried away in my last paragraph of the letter on Wednesday.

My mother was a worrier, and it has its advantages. You worry about whether you are doing the right thing, so you are concerned about always using good judgment. You worry if you are worthy, and this makes you humble. You worry whether you are doing enough, and this makes you productive. You worry about the future and so you make plans for every eventuality. You worry about what you will say in front of your class, so you prepare well.

But this can go too far; you become preoccupied with worries.

I now apologize for violating the Brigham Young rule. It now looks as though the Newsweek article, which has been delayed at least a week, may not be so bad after all. I should have anticipated that good, sound people would bring their influence to bear and assure that it would be fair and serve good purposes. I feel far better about things. 

[LJA to Children, 15 Jan., 1982]

I prepared a little statement to make for Newsweek in case Ken Woodward called to ask me for a statement. He has not called so I will put this into my diary record.

We have had many indications that there is an audience out there that respects what we do. Naturally, we can’t please everyone. And we don’t claim to be immune from criticism. Some think we betray a bias in favor of the church; others think we raise too many questions or show a willingness to appreciate the point of view of those outside the Church. As historians who have studied other faiths must know, it is a narrow line. All I can say is that we try to maintain a proper balance. We do our best. We have accomplished much in the past ten years and feel confident that the interest and activity in Mormon historical scholarship will continue. 

In case he asked for an additional statement I had prepared the following:

Those of us engaged in Mormon Church history have recognized a need to publish some of the important documents that have survived from the past century. We have also recognized the need for a fresh, scholarly approach to many individuals, periods, and problems in the history of the Church. 

If he raised a number of questions with me and wanted replies for attribution, I made the following notes: 

1. In addition to being one of the most brilliant and productive young American historians, Michael Quinn is also one of the most faithful and devout members of the Church. In his talk, given to a few senior honors students and graduate students in history, his sole purpose, as I understand it, was to express confidence in the work our historians are doing and to express his belief that it was being done in the interests of truth, the Church, and the building of the Kingdom of God.

2. Elder Packer’s talk was his own and does not necessarily represent agreed-upon Church policy.

3. Michael Quinn is loyal to the church and its best ideals. He was seeking primarily to express these in his response to Elder Packer’s talk.

4. The transfer of historians to BYU was designed to place them in an academic setting where they might feel more free.

5. The authors of the sesquicentennial volumes are free to publish elsewhere if the Church should not decide to publish them.

6. The Church continues to be committed to fair and accurate history and to the operation of its archives on a professionally responsible level. 

[LJA Diary, 25 Jan., 1982]

I spent most of a day, Wednesday, talking with Newsweek people about the article due to appear next Tuesday on History and the Church. Our own bureaucracy is something to behold, with their fear of doing anything that might resemble “cooperation” with a columnist in whom they have little trust. It is despicable, and works against the Church’s interest, even though it protects some individuals from criticism. But the Gospel is still true and we still have to keep working to preserve its noblest teachings and ideals. 

[LJA to Children, 29 Jan., 1982]

Which brings me to the Newsweek article. It was pulled from this week’s issue, probably because of the rescue of General Dozier, and is due to appear in next week’s issue, which comes out (here) on Tuesday. I’ve been told that Ken Woodward, author of the article, was angry at Church Communications for not cooperating in providing pictures, etc. I’ve also been told that it is a reasonably fair presentation. Maybe a little hard on Elder Packer, but gives praise to the efforts of our historians to tell an honest and yet edifying story of the Church. I feel sure Mike Quinn is in no danger, nor is our Institute and historians, and maybe the article, corning as it does from a prominent outside source, will help our cause of doing history the way it ought to be done. I have not seen the article nor heard it read, but this is my feeling about it based on the conversations I have had. In essence, Ken Woodward may be doing us a service. 

I have enjoyed reading some of the things our historians have produced in recent weeks and months and feel good about any role I may have played in getting “good” history written–by that I mean, accurate interpretive history. 

[LJA to Children, 3 Feb., 1982]

I’m enclosing a copy of the Newsweek article on “Apostles vs. Historians.” It came out yesterday here, so no time to get any reaction one way or the other. My own feeling is that it was fair and balanced, accurate, well-worded, with no low blows. It could have been much worse. In other words, it was responsible, informative journalism. And if Elder Packer didn’t like it, he shouldn’t have given the talk in the first place. I do not see the article as damaging to the Church, to Mike Quinn, or to our historical efforts. So I’m relieved, if not pleased. It gives due credit to Mike for “standing up” on a question very important to all of us. 

[LJA to Children, 10 Feb., 1982]

Dr. Leonard Arrington 

205 E LDS Church Office Building 

50 East North Temple 

Salt Lake City, UT 84150

Dear Leonard:

Let me respond to the issues you raised in your letter of February 2, 1982.

1. I think it would be wise to move the Institute and all of its personnel to Provo full time as of September 1, 1982, without exception. If, however, your request for an office in Salt Lake is granted, I suppose that some arrangement which provided for adequate coverage of the Institute’s office on campus might be worked out. On balance, however, I repeat my oft expressed belief that the Institute would be better served by a complete break with the Church History Division, despite the inconveniences that such a separation might entail. There are no benefits without costs my economist friends keep reminding me. 

[Martin B. Hickman to LJA; LJA Diary, 10 Feb., 1982]

Possible Responses to Ken Woodward if He Calls

1. On our present status:

Actually, those of us engaged in Mormon history have received a great deal of encouragement. We have recognized the need to publish some of the important documents that have survived from the past century, and we have done so. We have also recognized the need for a fresh, scholarly approach to many individuals, periods, and problems in the history of the Church, and we have done our best to meet that need. We have accomplished much in the past ten years and feel confident that the interest and activity in Mormon historical scholarship will continue.

We have had many indications that there is an audience out there that respects what we do. There are those who think we betray a bias in favor of the church; others think we raise too many questions or show a willingness to appreciate the point of view of those outside the Church. As historians who have studied other faiths must know, it is a narrow line. All I can say is that we have done our best to maintain a proper balance.

2. On Mike Quinn:

In addition to being a brilliant and productive historian who is struggling with these things, Michael Quinn is also a faithful and devout member of the Church. Sincerity and reality don’t necessarily agree with everything and how he said. In his talk, given to a few senior honors students and graduate students in history, his primary purpose, as I understand it, was to express confidence in the work our historians are doing and to express his belief that it was being done in the interests of truth, and the mission of the Church. 

3. On Elder Packer’s talk:

Nothing new. I see his talk as in the tradition of those who are concerned with scholarly history of religious experience. An understandable concern. Admonitions and cautions, and I believe this is what Elder Packer was trying to do. We have had no indication that this represents any change in Church policy. As far as I have been given to understand, the Church continues to be committed to fair and accurate history and to the operation of its archives on a professionally responsible level.

4. On our transfer to BYU:

The transfer of historians to BYU was designed to place them in an academic setting where they might feel more free in pursuing their research and writing projects.

5. On the sesquicentennial history:

The authors of the sesquicentennial volumes are free to publish elsewhere if the Church should not decide to publish them. 

[Possible Responses to Ken Woodward if He Calls; LJA Diary, file 15 Feb., 1982]

Apostles vs. Historians

Unlike other modern religions, Mormonism is a faith cast in the form of history. Not only is the Book of Mormon itself a collection of personal narratives and other records purporting to describe God’s dealings with an extinct race of pre-Columbian Americans, but the church’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., directed all Latter-day Saints to keep personal journals-which many Mormons still do-so that the church might have records of its own Acts of the Apostles. Today the LDS archives in Salt Lake City contain what may be the most extensive trove of historical data ever assembled about an American church-giving Mormon historians an unparalleled opportunity to sift their past and tell their history as it was. However, a major conflict is brewing between professional Mormon historians and a group of church elders who insist that LDS scholars write only “faith-promoting” accounts of the church.

In a series of lectures to Mormon teachers and writers, Elders Ezra Taft Benson, who is next in the line of succession to become the church’s “Prophet, Seer and Revelator,” and Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, have been harshly critical of the methods and motives of LDS scholars who attempt “objective” histories of the church. What particularly exercises Benson is the effort made by scholars to place what are supposed to be divinely inspired church doctrines in a relevant social and historical context. For example, he rejects the notion that Joseph Smith’s 1833 revelation on the evils of alcohol may possibly have been influenced by the non-Mormon temperance crusades of the time. Benson also objects to historians who link Smith’s theological ideas to the general nineteenth-century movement known as “Christian Primitivism.” And, as a staunch anti-communist, he is disturbed by historians who use the word “communitarianism” to describe Smith’s early social experiments in which all Mormons shared the ownership of their worldly goods.

The sharp criticisms from the church’s leaders have cast an intellectual pall over the extensive Mormon educational system. “Some of us who teach students from the better universities are wondering how we fit into the system,” says William Cottam, who teaches religion to Mormon graduate students attending Columbia University and New York University. “Our students are learning to think critically about their religion, and we teachers have to be intellectually honest. But it appears that we are being asked to indoctrinate and overlook uncomfortable facts.”

Saga: According to the dicta of Benson and Packer, Mormon history should be presented as a sacred saga so that students can-in Packer’s words-“see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now.” In a no-holds-barred lecture that has been distributed to all Mormon educators, Packer denounces the professional scholars who “write history as they were taught in graduate school, rather than as Mormons.” He enjoins LDS historians to write “selectively” about the church-especially the faults and contradictions of church leaders-and he directs them to defend the church with the dedication of corporation lawyers or soldiers at war.

To be sure, most religions begin by recounting their history as a sacred story in which every twist and turn is directed by God alone. But the guardians of sacred history eventually come to terms-however uneasily-with scholarship that deals in more mundane historical facts. Will the Mormons be an exception? In the past decade and a half, a number of distinguished Mormon historians have proved to hierarchs and scholars alike that they can write responsibly about their church. To date, however, only one of them has stood up publicly to the Benson-Packer attack.

In a stirring defense of intellectual integrity, historian D. Michael Quinn of Brigham Young University recently warned his school’s student history association that the “so-called ‘faith-promoting’ Church history which conceals controversies and difficulties of the Mormon past undermines the faith of Latter-day Saints who eventually learn of the problems from other sources.” Defying the demands of Benson and Packer, Quinn argued that Mormon historians would be false to church doctrine, human conduct and the documentary evidence “if they sought to defend the proposition that LDS prophets were infallible in their decisions and statements.” Such a history of “benignly angelic Church leaders…would border on idolatry,” declared Quinn, who at 37 is the most accomplished of the Church’s younger historians.

Duty: Although a few other LDS historians have complained privately to the apostles, Quinn did something far bolder: he violated the Mormon taboo that proscribes the faithful from publicly criticizing “the Lord’s Anointed” by name. In doing so he not only challenged the right of apostles to question the motives and faith of historians, he also defended the duty of Mormon scholars to challenge an apostle’s intellectual competence. “When apostles speak on a subject that involves secular knowledge, then what they say must be subject to scrutiny,” he says.

By last week it appeared that Quinn’s counterattack had put Benson and Packer on the defensive. Packer’s history-baiting speech was originally scheduled to appear in the February issue of the Ensign, an official church monthly. But when the magazine rolled off the presses, another apostle’s address appeared in its place. “The conflict is really between those apostles who are liberal-minded and politically conservative and those who are relatively more open,” says Mormon historian James Clayton of the University of Utah. That conflict is a long way from being settled, but the scholars may have the advantage. If faith in Mormonism means faith in the church’s history, then they would seem to have the edge over their adversaries.

KENNETH L. WOODWARD

[Article in Newsweek; LJA Diary, 15 Feb., 1982]

A friend informed me that a decision has been made that all of us in the History Division must vacate our offices by August 31. The space will be occupied by the Arts & Sites Division although Glen Leonard had previously indicated to me that he did not need the space of my office and Kathleen’s office and Richard’s desk. Elder Durham has apparently decided that they will nevertheless occupy the space and that we must vacate all the space and facilities. This decision is completely in accord with the wishes of Dean Martin Hickman so there is no way we can appeal it. Therefore, we will have to make the best adjustment we can. My plan is for Richard Jensen and myself to occupy desks in the Archives Search Room and for Kathleen to do her work for me at home as well as on certain days at her office at BYU.  

[LJA Diary, 18 Feb., 1982]

I have been told that I must definitely move out of my office August 31. Also, the Church Archives have put all the papers of the General Authorities on a restricted basis. Lots of complaints about the restrictive policies of the Church and Elder Durham. I can see most anything I want, and the same with Dean Jessee and to some extent Ron Walker. But we’re back to the days of A. Will Lund and Joseph Fielding Smith. This will certainly hurt our image among scholars, who have lauded our ten-year effort to open things up.

[LJA to Children, 27 Feb., 1982]

I instructed my secretary Kathleen Anderson to record the following in my diary:

Yesterday Debbie Lilenquist was on her way to the supply room (adjacent to Elder Durham’s office) to get some supplies. On his way out of the office Elder Durham noticed Debbie by Annette Tucker’s desk and rather sarcastically remarked to Annette, “Does she have a visa to be in here? You know she is a foreigner and shouldn’t be in here without a visa.”

[LJA Diary, 2 Mar., 1982]

Interesting to watch Elder Durham and Earl Olson background on the decision to close all papers of all General Authorities. We’re not far from where we were a few weeks ago. Wish they’d consult with people who could give them good advice.

[LJA to Children, 5 Mar., 1982]

In the afternoon 4:30-6:00 there was a plenary session for the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute at which each member of our staff gave a brief talk on what he was doing and finding. It was held in the LDS Institute chapel and because of the time of day we expected about 50 people. We were surprised to find about 400 present. I began by describing the evolution of the Church Historian’s office and the creation of the JFS Institute and then talked a little about my Brigham Young book. The other staff members talked about ten minutes each and did very well indeed. I was very proud and everybody seemed interested and pleased. We opened with Maureen Beecher and closed with Carol Madsen so that was a nice touch. Bill Hartley commented upon some of the slings and arrows of outrageous critics and said that as director I needed something more than a thick skin whereupon he presented me with a hard-hat which had been painted white in advance with the symbol of the flag of the Kingdom on the front, the initials LJA and LDS Historical Department and JFSI on the front and around the side the initials of every person who had worked with me in the History Division and in the JFS Institute. It was a very nice thing for them to do and applauded by the audience. I wore it the rest of the day. It was a complete surprise to me and I learned that the staff had talked about it and planned it earlier. I drove back with Davis that evening. 

[LJA to Children, 11 May, 1982]

Another comment on the honorary degree. American colleges and universities have traditionally bestowed honorary degrees as a way of noting academic or civic accomplishments, but particularly as a way of thanking philanthropists for their contributions (or hoping they will make contributions later), thanking alumni and public officials for efforts in behalf of the school, or to gather publicity through the presence of a celebrity (Bob Hope, for instance).

My honorary may have been intended to thank me for my long period of teaching and publishing, but it may also have been a way of making a statement to the community and church on the issue of history. I am a kind of symbol, to many people, of “honest” LDS history; of the necessity of giving a forthright and impartial look at our history. USU and Stan Cazier were telling the state, the culture, the church, that the university favors this kind of history, as opposed to the defensive, missionary-type of history previously approved. In granting me the honorary they were making a statement, taking a position, putting themselves on record. 

[LJA Diary, 5 Jun., 1982]

I have just one more week of my class at BYU. Give the final next Wednesday. We have moved most of our things to BYU now. Not many books left, and not many files. Some of the staff are entirely moved. It’s sad that we have to do it. Incidentally, I had a person from USU in my office this week to make a definite offer about returning there. (Not for public knowledge, you hear!) I told him I couldn’t consider if for at least a year, then I’d see how things were going. I don’t plan to do it, but might consider it if they treat me abominably. Which I don’t expect.

[LJA Diary, 18 Jun., 1982]

Dear Children,

So many things are happening to me this 65th year since my birth that I find it difficult to keep my equilibrium. It all seems like some sort of culmination, or beginning, or something. The gods are good to me, or they are setting me up for a fall. I feel undeserving, unmeriting, unequal. People are just too good to me. I keep having the feeling that they will find out my true (lack of) worth.

Well, anyway, that’s a long lead-up to the most recent item of news which came just today. First, there was the announcement of the creation of the Leonard J. Arrington Foundation for the Study of Mormon History. Second, the announcement of the honorary Doctor of Humanities at USU. Third, the invitation to lecture (and celebrate my birthday) at USU. Fourth, and now, it is the announcement that a group of friendly scholars have decided to write essays on Mormon history in my honor and publish them in a book, hopefully to be published next year by a university press. The book is to be titled, Faith of Our Fathers: Essays in Mormon History, A Festschrift in Honor of Leonard J. Arrington. Editors of the volume are Davis Bitton and Maureen Beecher. They informed me today. Apparently they have been planning it since last February. Some twelve persons in the field of Mormon history have already agreed to write essays for it; a few others have been invited to do so but have not yet replied. All the top people are in it, and all those who have been members of our staff. I’ll keep you informed on it as I learn anything. A complete surprise. A great honor. An unexpected kind of recognition. I couldn’t have been more surprised if they had asked me to talk in General Conference.

[LJA to Children, 8 Jul., 1982]

It is now ten years and one-half since I was appointed Church Historian and established an office in Church headquarters. My first office, established on January 14, was in A. William Lund’s office on the northeast corner of the Church Administration Building on 47 E. South Temple Street. I remained there until November 1972, when the entire Historical Department moved into the East Wing of the newly-completed Church Office Building. My office at that time was in the southeast wing of the second floor of the East Wing. We remained there for several months. Sometime in 1973 we were moved into the northeast wing, of the second floor, where we are still located. We are now forced to leave all of our offices in the Church Office Building. 

I requested the privilege of holding on to my office for another year, but this was denied. I requested the privilege of my secretary holding on to her office for another year, in order to have a “headquarters” office in Salt Lake City for the staff. This was denied. I requested one of the little ante-rooms in the Archives Search Room. This was denied. I then requested a table or desk for my secretary in one corner of the Archives Search Room. This was denied. We have now requested for Kathleen the privilege of using a vacant desk on the fifth floor of the Church Administration Building. We have not yet heard from that. One other possibility exists–a desk next to the Dialogue offices in the Boston Building. If neither of those options is available, then Kathleen will work out of her own home in Salt Lake four days a week and one day a week in Provo.

My principal regret in the new arrangement is that this is symbolic of the Church decision to “move out the historians” from the Historical Department and Church Headquarters. It means lack of confidence in our loyal historians. It means no Church-approved research, writing, and publishing. From now on, the writing of Church history will have to be done by university professors, seminary and Institute teachers, and private persons, all under private auspices. And all as essentially a labor of love. It means our great experiment in church-sponsored history has proven to be, if not a failure, at least not an unqualified success. The Church, of course, will control to some extent the things that are written and published by refusing access to documents in the archives, of which there will probably be a good deal. At worst, the Church Archives will cease to be a professional archive in the proper sense, and will become a private archive, to be used only by a small core of Church personnel.

One aspect that will be personally galling to me will be the gibes of my non-Mormon and anti-Mormon friends: “I told you so.” Some scholars, Mormon and non-Mormons alike, have contended that skeptical and critical methods of historical research and writing are incompatible with the maintenance of a firm testimony of the Gospel. I have felt confident that they were wrong, and I have said so publicly many times–in professional papers, talks, books, and private conversations.

It is true that Mormonism is a historical religion. Many of its claims are based on the historical facts it affirms. Jesus was a historical God-man figure who established an institutional church–“The Church of Christ.” Joseph Smith received from an angel plates of gold which he translated with divine help and produced the Book of Mormon, an authentic record of some inhabitants of ancient America. Angels ordained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the divine priesthood and gave them authority to establish the Restored Church. The Prophets of the Church received (and continue to receive) revelations from God in directing the Church and establishing its policies and doctrines. And so on.

I have contended that a Mormon can examine the truth of these and other facts connected with Mormon history with the same detachment and objectivity he would manifest toward other phenomena. If his faith is strong enough–and my own faith is certainly strong enough–he will take it for granted that, whatever the outcome of his research, he is not digging the grave of his own Church but, in the long run, is bolstering its structure by uncovering the truth. The faith of the historians I have been connected with, in the Church History Division, in the Mormon History Association (those that are active Church members) and in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute, is such that they pursue historical truth with both courage and confidence.

We have derided the misguided attempts of those with less faith who have tried to cover up historical truth in “defending the Kingdom.” Their sacrifice of scholarly integrity seems ridiculous. What did the Church gain by the order of one General Authority to the BYU Library to lock up and prevent the circulation of Robert Woodford’s Ph. D. dissertation on changes in the Doctrine and Covenants? How was the faith of members preserved by the decision of Deseret Book Company, as influenced by the Quorum of Twelve, not to publish a second and revised edition of Story of the Latter-day Saints? How did it affect testimonies adversely by presenting naturalistic explanations of some of the revelations and pronouncements of the guiding authorities? I have always been puzzled that as astute a person as Brigham Young thought he could successfully preserve historical truth by withdrawing and burning copies of ROUTE FROM LIVERPOOL and Lucy Mack Smith’s BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF JOSEPH SMITH.

Mormonism has always identified truth with faith. All the Prophets, from Joseph Smith to Spencer Kimball, have taught that any interference with truth is contrary to Gospel principles. Mormonism, proclaiming itself to be a restoration of true Christianity, has presupposed itself to be a progressive revelation of truth. Far from being inhibited by his loyalty to the Church from pursuing historical truth, the Mormon historian is committed to the discovery and unveiling of truth. He ought to be freer than the non-Mormon or doubting Mormon, who are already committed to a rejection of the Gospel, or at least to many of its claims. 

My staff of historians and I are committed to continue this search for Mormon historical truth. We expect under BYU auspices to carry out this task. We recognize that Elder Durham believes that he is facilitating our work by transferring us to BYU. On the face of it, the move to BYU seems stupid. Why move to BYU, where there are only limited materials on Church history, when we are already located on the Mother Lode? Actually there are advantages of being placed under the BYU rubric. No Church official is under obligation to “approve” our projects and publications. We are under academic auspices, and these are far freer than the ecclesiastical auspices we have been under. And we all live in Salt Lake City and can continue to work “as visiting scholars” in the Church Archives. Moreover, in the classes we teach at the “Y” we can communicate our findings to students and thus help to educate Church members about our history. We are also in a setting which enables us to earn higher salaries than would be possible under Church employment. In short, if some of the denials of our requests for certain holdover privileges seem petty and humiliating, we are certainly being welcomed and treated generously at BYU.

Leonard Arrington

It may seem that I should regret our move because it takes me away from a frequent and friendly association with the General Authorities. Actually, that association, which was so meaningful and positive for me from 1972 to 1976 was essentially halted by Elder Durham. After his assignment as Managing Director, I was not invited to meet with the advisors to the Twelve, I was not invited to attend Area Conferences, and I was not consulted by General Authorities on historical questions. And since July 1980 Elder Durham has not invited me once into his office to discuss historical questions. So there has not been that friendly association for the past two years–except of course occasional encounters at Cannon-Hinckley or in the halls or streets. 

LJA

[LJA Reflections on Leaving the Church Office Building; LJA Diary, 27 Jul., 1982]

It is difficult to be dispassionate when thinking about the experiences that started in 1972, when Leonard asked me to serve as one of the Assistant Church Historians. It was not very long ago that we had our early consultations in the old Church Office Building at 47 East South Temple. I remember going upstairs to be interviewed by Elder Alvin R. Dyer, the interruption when the phone rang and he had a brief conversation with “Taft” (Ezra Taft Benson) before concluding his friendly chat with me, and the positive response a few minutes later when he telephoned Leonard and reported that I passed muster. The talks between Leonard, Jim Allen, and myself were full of good spirits and optimism, and of course the same attitude spilled over into the activity and the meetings of our entire staff. As Wordsworth said, at least approximately, then was it very bliss to be alive.

And the positive achievement and sense of possibilities did not stop in 1972. For about five years, with only rare exceptions, the response seemed overwhelmingly encouraging. When Elder Boyd K. Packer indicated that he did not like an edition of the Brigham Young letters to his sons that included a mention of tobacco, when the initial meeting of the Friends of Church History was followed by a derailing of that plan, when Elder Thomas S. Monson admonished the authors of the sesquicentennial volumes “to measure twice and cut once,” these seemed like clouds no bigger than a man’s hand.

Then came the tenure of Elder G. Homer Durham as Managing Director of the Historical Department. Decline in numbers, admonitions to be careful, to keep a low profile, indications that we were a “think tank” of the kind that the Church should not have–such early indications of decline were followed by a refusal to approve new projects and, finally, a decision to move the History Division, under its new title, to BYU. We may never know all of the facts behind these decisions, but I personally hold Elder Durham responsible. Without being able to prove it, I am confident that he initiated the plan to phase out the History Division. If he did not initiate it, he approved it and implemented it. He was not a defender; he was an adversary, although he did try to maintain a paternal (verging on condescending) posture through it all.

So was it all worth while? Has the ten-year experiment proved a failure? Having been conditioned and trained by that incurable optimist Leonard Arrington, I am reluctant to think in such terms. Much has been accomplished. In its most concrete form the evidence is provided by the list of publications. In addition there have been innumerable conversations and talks and firesides and letters written that have added up to a sense that the Mormons were confident about their history. On a more personal level a certain number of individuals have been reinforced in their testimonies by the awareness that professional historians who knew the evidence were still strong in the faith.

In the sense that “official” sponsorship of a history-writing program has been abandoned, our hopes have been frustrated. But let us count the good that has been accomplished and be grateful for it. Furthermore, life is not over yet. The winds do change. I do have hope that there will be a return to a more healthy relationship between “the historians and the prophets.”

As for the immediate future, I am not thrilled with the arrangement that moves Institute people back and forth between Salt Lake and Provo. I do not think that the teaching obligation has been set up in a way to enhance the work of the historians but has rather been seen as a device for inhibiting their productivity. I am uneasy about the permanence (or the justification) of a system that verges on anarchy, each person doing his or her thing, coming or going as they choose, with little attention to priorities or deadlines. If the recently instituted system of interviews is followed up on, with reminders and perhaps even an incentive system of rewards for those who come through, then the program of the Institute can at least be more readily defended. My general feeling is one of temporary flux–that we are in a period of working out new patterns and relationships that will prove compatible with the Institute’s aims and the various deans and department heads who are interested.

Stepping back farther, trying to look at all of this from a lofty height, some of these little maneuverings seem fairly minor. Yes, I am irritated at pettiness and disappointed with what appears to me as lack of vision. But truth has a way of winning out in the long run. Was that not the motto that Heber C. Kimball saw in Preston when arriving there for his first missionary work? “Truth is mighty and will triumph.” He took that to mean that Mormonism would succeed. We might take it to mean that the cause of historical truth cannot be suppressed.

The fact is that the production of historians will continue, year in and year out. It should not all be sponsored by the Church. Some of it will be presented in a way that will seem unfavorable to the Church. Some of it will be slanted in a way to build testimonies while the opposite kind of slanting will also continue to go on. So be it; let a thousand flowers bloom.

If a decision is not made to re-establish a Church Historian who is in fact a professional historian or to bring something like the History Division back into existence, the one specific recommendation I have is that the Brethren have available to them a committee of advisors on matters historical. There has been groping in this direction, as when Elder Howard Hunter used to meet with some of us. But the make-up of such a group, as well as its role, needs to be carefully thought out. It should not be too large. There are perhaps a dozen, perhaps as many as twenty, historians who could render yeoman service, but the committee itself should be probably about six in number, with some rotation. It should not be primarily BYU religion people, not the Tom Truitts, not the Elden Watsons of the Church. What is needed is that combination, really not so common, of genuine historical competence, faith commitment, and common sense. Breadth and maturity are needed. Such advice should not be dependent on personal conversations or a buddy system of favorites.

In the meantime, I feel grateful for an exhilarating decade of my life and feel confident that, however unappreciated in certain quarters, we have done much that will hold up well under the scrutiny of those who come after.

Davis Bitton 

[Reflection After 10 Years-Davis Bitton; LJA Diary, 27 Jul., 1982]

Dear Children:

This seems an appropriate time, not only to write, but to comment on the approaching “move.” As you must be aware, we are required to vacate our offices by Tuesday, August 31. We have boxed up everything; I have brought home all the office equipment, files, books, and papers which I will need here; the rest will be taken to my office in 301 Knight-Mangum Hall at BYU on Tuesday. For ten years I have had three desks–one at home for my writing and family affairs; one at the Church Office Building for receiving visitors, conducting business, responding to calls, and supervising the staff; and one in the Redd Center in the BYU Library as a stopover office when I go to the Y to give a class, conduct interviews, or present a lecture. Now I must leave the Church Office Building and that office is moved to 301 Knight-Mangum.

The problem is, of course, that I shall no longer be 20 minutes away from my downtown office–an office to which I went Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and sometimes other days. I shall not have an office where people can phone me, get in touch with me, drop by to see me. Nor will my secretary have an office. I do not plan to go to my BYU office more than once or twice a week, so I shall operate out of my home. What will happen when people try to telephone me? Hard to say. What will my secretary do? She may work in her apartment or she may work in a small alcove in the Dialogue office in the Boston Building about 4th South and Main. It will be interesting to see how we work things out.

How do I feel? I feel that I am going into a separate stage of my life. There was first the life of a boy on the farm and school. Then the move to the University of Idaho for four years with a return to the farm three of the four summers. Then the move to Chapel Hill. Then the Army. Next, coming to Utah State. And then the move to Salt Lake City. Now another stage, with essentially no office for most of the purposes for which I’ve used the office. It’s sort of as if I had retired at age 65. As I say, I’m going to try to make the best of it. I am neither angry nor bitter; quite reconciled, and who knows but that the experience will be pleasant and productive?

Last Tuesday I went to the Retreat of the department heads in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, held at Sundance. Wednesday I drove Davis Bitton to Provo where we had an autograph party for our books in the BYU Bookstore. Met lots of old friends and interesting people. (Education Week was going on.) That night, Davis and I went with James and Lisa to “Charlie’s Monument,” which James had directed for Education Week. We enjoyed it immensely. James always does everything well, and this was no exception. We’re glad we went. Thursday I was packing at the office all day, and did my home teaching in the evening. James was in SLC for further research on J. Golden and he and I had lunch at Hotel Utah. Friday I went to the Sunstone Symposium opening lecture with Susan, and Saturday went to the Sunstone sessions all day with Dean. We had lunch at the Hotel Utah with Carol Lynn Pearson. Susan and Dean went home with the girls last evening.

I enjoyed especially a session of the Symposium on “Closet Doubters,” in which there were interesting comments by one who was and one who wasn’t. Very thoughtful and indeed, inspiring. I realized more than ever that I have become a kind of symbol to many people–people I do not know but people who know me from my writings. In a way, my life is not my own. Everything I do is watched and read and listened to by many people that I am not aware of. 

[LJA to Children, 29 Aug., 1982]

Time Magazine File

9/2/82

TO MANY MORMON HISTORIANS, ARRINOTON’S DEPARTURE SIGNALS THE END OF AN EXCITING ERA. UNTIL NOW, ARRINGTON, A RESPECTED ACADEMIC AND AUTHOR OF SEVERAL BOOKS ON MORMONISM, HAD HELD THE LOFTY TITLE OF CHURCH HISTORIAN, AN APPOINTMENT HE RECEIVED IN 1972. UNTIL THEN, CHURCH HISTORIAN HAD ALWAYS BEEN AN ECCLESIASTICAL POSITION RESERVED FOR “APOSTLES,” MEMBERS OF EITHER THE QUOROM OF THE TWELVE OR THE QUORUM OF THE SEVENTY.

ARRINGTON’S APPOINTMENT IN 1972 WAS PART OF A LARGER MOVE TO

“PROFESSIONALIZE” THE MORMON CHURCH: AROUND THE SAME TIME, THE CHURCH AUTHORITIES BEGAN HIRING PROFESSIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICERS, PROFESSIONAL REAL ESTATE BROKERS ETC. IN AN EFFORT TO MODERNIZE THE CHURCH BUREAUCRACY AND HELP IT COPE WITH THE DROVES OF NEW CONVERTS ENTERING THE FAITH AT THE STAGGERING RATE OF TK A YEAR. 

TO HISTORIANS, HOWEVER, ARRINGTON’S APPOINTMENT CHIEFLY SIGNALED THE CONSECRATION OF THE “NEW MORMON HISTORY,” A MOVEMENT TO EXPLORE THE UNCHARTERED WEALTH OF HISTORICAL MATERIAL IN THE CHURCH’S ARCHIVES, AND TRY TO PLACE THE MORMON FAITH IN THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIOLOGICAL CONTEXT OF ITS TIMES. THUS, IN 1965, THE INDEPENDENT “MORMON HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION” WAS FOUNDED, THE MAGAZINE “DIALOGUE: A JOURNAL OF MORMON THOUGHT” BEGAN EMPHASIZING INTERPRETIVE MORMON HISTORY IN 1966, FOLLOWED BY THE BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY STUDIES, WHICH BEGAN DEVOTING WHOLE ISSUES TO LDS CHURCH HISTORY AFTER 1969, AS WELL AS THE LAUNCHING OF THE EXCLUSIVELY HISTORICAL “JOURNAL OF MORMON HISTORY” IN 1974, AND THE ADDITION OF MORMON HISTORY TO THE FORMAT OF SUNSTONE MAGAZINE IN 1977.

ARRINGTON’S APPOINTMENT AS CHURCH HISTORIAN IN 1972 HELPED UNLEASH A VERITABLE FRENZY OF SCHOLARSHIP–A RENAISSANCE FOR MORMON INTELLECTUALS. DOZENS OF BOOKS, INCLUDING ARRINGTON AND DAVIS BITTON’S COLLABORATIVE EFFORT, “THE MORMON EXPERIENCE” AS WELL AS JAMES ALLEN AND GLEN LEONARD’S “THE STORY OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS.” THE CHURCH, UNDER ARRINGTON’S GUIDANCE, EVEN COMMISSIONED A 16 VOLUME HISTORY OF THE MORMON CHURCH, AS WELL AS OTHER DARING “NEW HISTORY PROJECTS.”

ACCORDING TO BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY HISTORIAN D. MICHAEL QUINN, THE FLOWERING OF “THE NEW MORMON HISTORY” PROVED DISQUIETING TO CHURCH OFFICIALS, TO SAY THE LEAST. LAST WEEK, AT THE SUNSTONE SYMPOSIUM, QUINN EXPLAINED, “CHURCH AUTHORITIES WERE ACCUSTOMED TO OFFICIAL HISTORY, IN OTHER WORDS, ‘THE’ (UNDERLINED) HISTORY, NOT ‘A’ HISTORY. YET THE CHURCH HISTORIAN’S OFFICE WAS PUBLISHING PROFESSIONAL INTERPRETIVE HISTORY: BY DEFINITION NOT MONOLITHIC. IT PUT THE AUTHORITIES IN AN AWKWARD POSITION.”

PROFESSOR D. MICHAEL QUINN WAS:ONE OF THE FIRST TO SOUND THE

ALARM WHEN CHURCH LEADERS BEGAN VOICING THEIR DOUBTS ABOUT THE EFFECT OF INTERPRETIVE HISTORY ON FAITH. AS MORE AND MORE “INTERPRETIVE,” SYMPATHETIC HISTORY CAME INTO PRINT, SUCH HIGH-RANKING CHURCH OFFICIALS AS EZRA TAFT BENSON, 83, (NEXT IN LINE TO SUCCEED CURRENT CHURCH PRESIDENT AND PROPHET SPENCER W. KIMBALL, 87) AND BOYD K. PACKER, 57, A MEMBER OF THE QUORUM OF TWELVE, BEGAN DELIVERING SPEECHES WARNING AGAINST “FAITH-DESTROYING” HISTORY. ELDER PACKER, FOR EXAMPLE, WARNED A BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY AUDIENCE IN AUGUST 1981, “CHURCH HISTORY CAN BE SO INTERESTING AND INSPIRING AS TO BE A VERY POWERFUL TOOL FOR BUILDING FAITH. IF NOT PROPERLY WRITTEN OR TAUGHT, IT MAY BE A FAITH DESTROYER.” PACKER MORE BLUNTLY CAUTIONED, “IN AN EFFORT TO BE OBJECTIVE, IMPARTIAL, AND SCHOLARLY, A WRITER OR TEACHER MAY UNWITTINGLY BE GIVING EQUAL TIME TO THE ADVERSARY.” PACKER CONTINUED, “IN THE CHURCH WE ARE NOT NEUTRAL. WE ARE ONE-SIDED. THERE IS A WAR GOING ON AND WE ARE ENGAGED IN IT. IT IS THE WAR BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL, AND WE ARE THE BELLIGERENTS DEFENDING THE GOOD.”

THE ADVERSARY THAT SO TROUBLED ELDER BENSON WAS NOT ARRINGTON,

A PRACTICING MORMON AS WELL AS SCHOLAR, OR HIS LIKE-MINDED COLLEAGUES, BUT “ANTI-MORMONS,” CHURCH DEFECTORS SUCH AS JERALD AND SANDRA TANNER WHO HAVE DEVOTED THE LAST 23 YEARS TO CHALLENGING THE MORMON FAITH WITH ALL THE FERVOR AND IRE OF EX-COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERS. WHEREAS MOST BELIEVING MORMON HISTORIANS ARGUE THAT HISTORY IS THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH, AND TRUTH CANNOT DESTROY FAITH BUT ONLY ENHANCE IT, THE TANNERS BELIEVE THAT AN UNEXPURGATED HISTORY OF THE MORMON CHURCH WILL REVEAL IT AS RELIGIOUS FRAUD. IRONICALLY, THOUGH DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED, THE TANNERS AND CERTAIN CHURCH ELDERS AGREE ON ONE THING: MORMON HISTORIANS ARE DELUDING THEMSELVES. PACKER LECTURED ON THE DANGERS OF WELL-MEANING HISTORIANS WHO “UNWITTINGLY” SUPPLY THE “ADVERSARY” WITH FAITH-DESTROYING WEAPONS. SANDRA TANNER, 41, LAST WEEK OBSERVED, “THE APOSTLES KNOW HOW THE MACHINERY WORKS, THEY KNOW THAT IN ORDETO KEEP UP TITHING AND ALL THE OTHER SACRIFICES THE CHURCH IMPOSES, MORMONS HAVE TO BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH 100 PERCENT. HISTORIANS ARE OPENING UP DOUBTS, THEY WANT TO REMAIN MORMONS, BUT NOT NECESSARILY BELIEVING EVERYTHING IN THE OFFICIAL DOCTRINE 100 PERCENT.” SANDRA TANNER CONCLUDES, “HISTORIANS THINK YOU CAN HAVE’ DOUBTS AND REMAIN MORMON, AND THEY ARE VERY NAIVE: THAT KIND OFCOMMITMENT IS BASED ON 100 PERCENT BELIEF.”

MOST MORMON HISTORIANS WOULD DISAGREE HEARTILY WITH SUCH A PREMISE, WHETHER DELIVERED BY ELDERS OR THEIR ADVERSARIES.

MORMON HISTORIAN JAMES L. CLAYTON, DEAN OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH GRADUATE SCHOOL, DELIVERED A SPEECH TO THE B.H. ROBERTS SOCIETY IN WHICH HE ANSWERED PACKER’S WARNINGS BY STATING, “THE BASIC PROBLEMS OF TEACHING ONLY WHAT IS UPLIFTING IS THAT THIS APPROACH LEAVES PEOPLE UNPREPARED TO FACE THE REALITIES OF LIFE. IT IS LIKE BUILDING A HOUSE WITHOUT A ROOF, THE RAIN WILL FALL WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT. WE SHOULD BE PREPARED WHEN IT DOES. RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTORS NEED TO STRENGTHEN THE ABILITY OF THE RELIGIOUS MEMBERSHIP TO FACE THE UNDERSIDE OF LIFE, NOT HIDE FROM IT.”

IN FACT, THE RAIN FELL UPON MORMON INTELLECTUALS: IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT ARRINGTON’S HISTORICAL DEPARTMENT WOULD BE RELOCATED TO BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, AND THAT FURTHERMORE, CERTAIN PORTIONS OF THE CHURCH ARCHIVES, MATERIALS DEALING WITH THE PRIVATE PAPERS AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OF FIRST PRESIDENTS, WOULD BE RESTRICTED. G. HOMER DURHAM, 71, NOW GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE HISTORICAL DIVISION AND DE FACTO “CHURCH HISTORIAN” NOW THAT ARPINGTON IS GONE, EXPLAINED THAT THE ARCHIVES WERE IN DIRE NEED OF “CLASSIFICATION” AND WOULD BE UNAVAILABLE FOR SOME TIME.

TO HISTORIANS, THE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS TANTAMOUNT TO CENSORSHIP. HISTORIAN D. MICHAEL QUINN WAS ONE OF THE FEW TO OPENLY CRITICIZE THE CHURCH’S POSITION IN A MUCH-NOTICED PAPER, “ON BEING A MORMON HISTORIAN” DELIVERED AT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY IN THE FALL OF 1981. QUINN NOT ONLY COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE BY REFERRING TO ELDERS BENSON AND PACKER BY NAME, HE DEFENDED HISTORIANS’ RIGHT TO QUESTION THE INFALLIBILITY OF MORMON PROPHETS PAST AND PRESENT.

TODAY, QUINN IS MORE TEMPERED. THE DECISION TO DEFUSE CONTROVERSY BY MOVING THE CHURCH HISTORY DIVISION TO A UNIVERSITY SETTING IS A SOUND ONE, ACCORDING TO QUINN. “THE MOVE IS A RESOLUTION TO A SITUATION THAT WAS HIGHLY UNUSUAL,” QUINN NOTED BENEEN LECTURES AT THE SUNSTONE SYMPOSIUM. “I LIKED IT, IT WAS REFRESHING TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL HISTORIAN IN SO IMPORTANT A CHURCH POSITION, BUT ALL OF US WERE AWARE OF THE AWKWARDNESS OF THE SITUATION, THE BURDEN OF RESPONSIBILITY. WE SAW THE PUBLICATION EFFORT UNDER ARRINGTON AS INTERPRETIVE HISTORY, BUT BECAUSE IT WAS UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE CHURCH, IT COULD APPEAR TO BE ‘THE FINAL WORD.’” MOREOVER, AFTER THE INITIAL SCARE OVER RESTRICTED ACCESS TO CHURCH ARCHIVES ABATED, QUINN AND OTHERS ESTABLISHED HISTORIANS, INCLUDING LEONARD ARRINGTON, DENY ANY PROBLEM GETTING TO MATERIALS THEY NEED FOR THEIR RESEARCH.

“CENSORSHIP,” CERTAINLY SEEMS TO STRONG A TERM FOR THE CHURCH’S CURRENT POSITION. YET EVEN THOUGH THE RESTRICTION OF ARCHIVES HAS PROVED LESS ONEROUS THAN ORIGINALLY SUSPECTED, SUSPICION OF THE

CHURCH’S INTENTIONS HAS LINGERED: AT THE SUNSTONE SYMPOSIUM, SUCH SUSPICIONS WERE ONCE AGAIN GIVEN VOICE.

DAVIS BITTON, IN HIS PAPER “LIKE THE TIGERS OF OLD TIME: HISTORY AND CENSORSHIP,” LISTED FIVE SEEMINGLY TRIVIAL WAYS IN WHICH THE CHURCH CAN TRY TO EXERCISE CONTROL OVER ITS HISTORY. LIMITING RESEARCHERS ACCESS TO PRIMARY MATERIALS IS ONE, “ENCOURAGING OR DISCOURAGING PUBLICATION THROUGH CHURCH CHANNELS: CHURCH MAGAZINES, BYU PRESS, DESERET BOOKS, AND BOOKCRAFT. (ALL CHURCH-SUPPORTED PRESSES), DISCOURAGING WORKS THAT HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED BY NOT CARRYING THEM IN THE CHURCH OUTLETS, LETTING IT BE KNOWN THAT CERTAIN WORKS THAT ARE PUBLISHED ARE SOMEHOW LESS THAN KOSHER (SIC)” ETC. LATER ON, BITTON ADMITTED THAT HE HIMSELF HAS “EXCELLENT ACCESS” AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN TREATED VERY COOPERATIVELY BY CHURCH ARCHIVISTS. NEVERTHELESS, HE NOTES THAT HE DOES FEEL THAT THERE HAS BEEN A RETRENCHMENT AFTER THE OPENNESS THAT CHARACTERIZED THE ARRINGTON YEARS. HE MENTIONS ONE NOTED HISTORIAN (NFA RON WALKER) WHO AFTER 4 OR 5 (6) YEARS OF UNLIMITED ACCESS TO THE PAPER OF FORMER FIRST PRESIDENT HEBER J. GRANT, HAS SUDDENLY BEEN DENIED ACCESS TO CERTAIN DIARIES

AND PAPERS HE HAD BEEN USING PREVIOUSLY. BITTON COMMENTS,

“RECATALOGUING CAN BE A FORM OF WITHHOLDING MATERIAL…THEY ARE BEING MORE CAREFUL WITH THE MATERIAL. DOLING IT OUT RELUCTANTLY, ONE DOCUMENT AT A TIME.”

ONE EXAMPLE OF TACIT CENSORSHIP OFTEN MENTIONED AT THE SYMPOSIUM IS THE 16-VOLUME HISTORY OF THE MORMON CHURCH WHICH THE CHURCH HAD COMMISSIONED UNDER ARRINGTON’S LEADERSHIP. THE CHURCH HAS QUIETLY CANCELLED THE CONTRACT. THE AUTHORS WILL BE PAID, BUT MOST PUBLISH THEIR WORK UNDER INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS: THE CHURCH’S PRESS DESERET BOOK, WILL NOT PUBLISH THE COLLECTION.

CHURCH OFFICIALS ARE NOTORIOUSLY RELUCTANT TO DISCUSS THE MATTER PUBLICLY. HIGH-RANKING ELDERS SUCH AS BOYD PACKER WERE UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT. G. HOMER DURHAM, A MEMBER OF THE QUORUM OF SEVENTY, AND NOW CHURCH HISTORIAN AFTER ARRINGTON’S REMOVAL, WAS BEARDED IN HIS OFFICE TO DISCUSS THE PROBLEM OF HISTORY VS. FAITH. HE NOTED FLATLY, “THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY.” ADDING ONLY THAT, “EVERY INSTITUTION HAS SENSITIVE PAPERS. WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO RESPECT THE PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS AND THEIR FAMILIES.”

HIS DEPUTY EARL OLSON, PROVED SLIGHTLY MORE FORTHCOMING, EXPLAINING, “CERTAIN MATERIALS ARE RESTRICTED BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN SENSITIVE MATERIAL–EITHER FAMILY-RELATED OR FINANCIAL. WE HAD NOT GONE THROUGH ALL OF THE MATERIAL BEFORE, SOME WAS IMPROPERLY CLASSIFIED BY RESEARCHERS. AS SOON AS WE SAID WE WOULD HAVE TO TEMPORARILY RESTRICT SOME MATERIAL, A FEW PEOPLE BLEW IT WAY OUT OF PROPORTION.” OLSON ARGUES, “YOU CAN’T GO TO A PRESIDENTIAL ARCHIVE AND GET ANYTHING YOU WANT. WE FUNCTION THE SAME AS ANY PRESIDENTIAL ARCHIVE.”

THE RESTRICTION OF CERTAIN DOCUMENTS IS BUT ONE MINOR EXAMPLE OF A LARGER CONTROVERSY, HOWEVER. ONE UNDERLYING THEME THAT CROPPED UP AT THE SYMPOSIUM — AN OTHERWISE ECLECTIC MIXTURE OF HISTORICAL, THEOLOGICAL, AND POLITICAL LECTURES AND DEBATES — WAS THE DIVORCE OF CHURCH HISTORY AND SECULAR HISTORY. MORMON HISTORIANS, IN THE RENAISSANCE OF THE “NEW MORMON HISTORY” OF THE SEVENTIES, HAD HOPED THAT THE TWO COULD SOMEDAY BE RECONCILED.

HEBER WOLSEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE CHURCH’S PUBLIC COMMUINCATIONS DEPARTMENT POINTS OUT, “THE CHURCH’S PRIMARY CONCERN TODAY IS BRINGING PEOPLE TO CHRIST, NOT ANSWERING INDIVIDUALS WITHIN THE CHURCH WHO HAVE DIFFERING POINTS OF VIEW.” D. MICHAEL QUINN, IN HIS OWN WAY, AGREES. “THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND HISTORIANS WAS OVERBLOWN, BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN TENSIONS THAT WILL NOT GO AWAY,” QUINN EXPLAINS, ADDING, “THE AUTHORITIES OF THE CHURCH ARE PREOCCUPIED WITH EXPANSION–THEY ARE CONCERNED WITH THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE, NOT THE PAST. THE MORMON RELIGION IS BASED ON A “CONTINUING SINAI.” HISTORIANS, ON THE OTHER HAND, WANT TO LEAD AN OPEN EXPLORATION OF THE PAST. IT IS A TENSION BETWEEN TWO DIFFERENT DESIRABLES THAT PROBABLY CAN NEVER BE RESOLVED.

HISTORIANS SUCH AS BYU HISTORY PROFESSOR MARVIN HILL, ADD ANOTHER DIMENSION. NOTING THAT ARRINGTON’S MOVE TO BYU MARKS THE CHURCH’S “DISASSOCIATION” WITH THE “NEW MORMON HISTORY,” HILL EXPLAINS SOME OF THE BITTERNESS AND SUSPICION THAT HAS ACCOMPANIED IT BY STATING, “THROUGHOUT MUCH OF ITS HISTORY CHURCH LEADERS WERE INVOLVED WITH THE RE-EVALUATING PROCESS. MEN LIKE B.H. ROBERTS AND JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH (FORMER CHURCH GENERAL AUTHORITIES WHO WERE ALSO CHURCH HISTORIANS) EXERTED LEADERSHIP IN TELLING THE MORMON PEOPLE WHAT THEIR PAST MEANT. NOW THERE ISN’T ANYONE FULFILLING THE FUNCTION. WHATEVER REINTERPRETATION THERE IS COMING FROM SCHOLARS–THEY ARE WITHIN THE CHURCH, BUT THEY DO NOT SPEAK FOR IT.”

INDEED, AN INCREASINGLY ELDERLY CHURCH LEADERSHIP PREOCCUPIED WITH AN EXPANDING CHURCH AND UNSETTLFD BY AN EVER-EXPANDING WEALTH OF HISTORICAL MATERIAL AND ANALYSIS, IS AT THE CORE OF THE CONTROVERSY. THERE ARE, AS D. MICHAEL QUINN POINTS OUT, “TENSIONS” THAT ARE PERHAPS IRRECONCILABLE. FOR THE TIME BEING, THE CHURCH AND ITS HISTORIANS ARE SEPARATING AMICABLY, BUT WITH LITTLE HOPE OF ACCOMODATION OF THE FUTURE.

TO MORMON INTELLECTUALS, A MINORITY WITHIN THE CHURCH THAT IS NONETHELESS INCREASINGLY VOCAL, SUCH A SEPARATION BODE ILL FORTHE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH. SUNSTONE’S PEGGY FLETCHER, A “DISSIDENT” WHO NEVERTHELESS RETAINS THE MORMON FAITH, VIEWS HISTORY AS AM IMPORTANT TOOL FOR REFORMING, OR AT LEAST CHECKING THE CHURCH. SAYS FLETCHER, “HISTORY IS ALL WE HAVE TO WATCHDOG THE INSTITUTION.” SHE WARNS, “IF THE RIFT BETWEEN INTELLECTUALS AND THE LEADERSHIP CONTINUES, INTELLECTUALS WILL LEAVE THE CHURCH IN DROVES. ALL THAT WILL BE LEFT IS A “CHURCH OF FOLK.” SHE ADDS, “WE ARE LOSING TOUCH WITH OUR MORMON PAST. THE RADICAL AND WONDERFUL EXPERIMENT THAT WAS MORMONISM IS BEING LOST. THE MORMON CHURCH IS TURNING INTO A WHITEWASHED VERSION OF MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA. SALT LAKE CITY WILL SOON BE JUST ANOTHER CITY LIKE PHOENIX, ARIZONA.”

CHURCH AUTHORITIES, ON THE OTHER HAND, WOULD ARGUE THAT BY SUBJECTING MORMON HISTORY TO INTERPRETIVE SCHOLARLY EXAMINATION, HISTORIANS ARE ATTEMPTING TO SECULARIZE MORMONISM. BYU HISTORIAN LOUIS C. MIDGLEY ECHOES THE CHURCH AUTHORITIES FEARS BY WRITING, “THUS THE RESTORED GOSPEL BECOMES, IN THE HANDS OF THE ‘NEW APOLOGISTS,’ JUST ONE MORE ECCENTRIC ELEMENT IN THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN RELIGION.” 

[Time Magazine Article written by Alessandra Stanley; LJA Diary, 2 Sept., 1982]

Time Magazine File

2 Sept. 1982

Jan Shipps is a professional historian and Director of the Center for American Studies at Indiana-Purdue at Indianapolis. She is also a historian of Mormonism but not a member of the church. Her bibliography is a long list of books and articles on Mormon history and represents countless hours of examining original documents relating to the church’s early history. She, like Time, had heard that the church’s archival collection in Salt Lake City, the scene of many of her professional labors, was to be closed to researchers. In response, she wrote a long and involved letter to Elder G. Homer Durham, now the official Church Historian, setting out for him the dangers of such an prospect and appealing to him as one academician to another. She says: “I told him that he could understand how this would be interpreted. People will think that some deep, dark secret has been found that can’t be revealed.” 

She also advised against restricting the documents to use on a piece-by-piece basis. Says she: “I’d have to give up Mormon history. There’s no way for anyone except those people who live in Salt Lake City to write Mormon history. If you’re working this way, you can do it, but you have to request a document, wait until it’s brought, take a look at it, and turn it back. It’s very time consuming.” Apparently this letter had some effect, for, Shipps would like to think, this is why the archives are still open. Says she: “Leonard Arrington (the former Church historian) said that my letter made a lot of difference and that it got through in a way that insiders couldn’t have.” The day her letter arrived in Salt Lake City, she got a call from Earl Olson, the Church Archivist, saying that policy hadn’t changed but that there would be stricter supervision of use due to a loss and destruction of some documents. Now, according to Shipps, the archive is making its collection available to proper scholars in a carefully supervised way in order to exercise more control over its holdings and to preserve them from depredation and injury. Says she: “It’s true that they have lost some items from the collection. There are all those ex-Mormons-for-Jesus types that would love to get their hands on documents. Now they’re exercising more care about who can use what. In all the years that I’ve been out there I have been denied the use of only one thing, an anti-Mormon tract, but it was easily available outside on the street.”

The question of the availability of historical records is of vital importance within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a church whose very roots and growth are secured in history. The Book of Mormon, the church’s second bible, is itself an historical record of the events of sacred history which transpired in the Americas. Joseph Smith, the church’s founder and recipient of divine revelation, was told in a vision in the early 1830s to keep records of events, a practice which he, in turn, enjoined on his followers. There are thousands of Mormon family histories, diaries and other first-hand accounts lying around in attic boxes and cellar trunks. Many of these documents were entrusted to the Mormon archives by church members for safekeeping and to complete the church’s historical record. But, until the early 1970’s, they lay about in boxes and on shelves, uncatalogued and, in great measure, forgotten.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, church authorities realized the need for a systematic way of retrieving and studying these valuable documents and began cataloguing what they had. But those same authorities were also aware that they might be opening a Pandora’s box of evils if documents, which might contradict official church teaching, were to fall into the hands of critical and even hostile researchers. Shipps, for instance, recalls her early days at the archives: “Before they moved into their new office building in the early 1970’s, it was very hard to use the archives. They had this ‘Gabriel-at-the-door’ and in 1963 I used to go there and spend half the day just talking to this guy to convince him that I needed to see a document. He would try to convince me that I didn’t. They didn’t have any real librarian doing the cataloguing and didn’t even know what was there.”

None of this is surprising. There is often a real tension built into the relationship between professional historians and church authorities. The guardians of religion often feel threatened by an objective recasting of the events of sacred history, which might set such events in the sociological, economic or psychological context of their day, and thus render them ordinary. Nor are professional historians always concerned to support unchallenged and undisturbed the claims a church might make to being the recipient of a unique and truthful revelation and the divinely-established guardian of that revelation. This is the basis of the tension between science and religion that is played out in public every so often. Yet because Mormon theology is Mormon history, this church is especially careful. Shipps claims that the new science of professionalism injected into Mormon historiography by the decision to catalogue the archives inevitably led to an unaccustomed sense of historical professionalism in how they were to be used. She claims that five years ago any historian could use the archives unimpeded.

Today, however, researchers may find using the archives more difficult. Shipps claims that a power vacuum has developed at the highest level of church authority. Spencer Kimball, the present Prophet and President of the church, is ill and failing. He will be succeeded in due course of events by Ezra Taft Benson, the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with the longest tenure. Benson is a strict traditionalist and the rallying point for the goodly number of similarly-minded traditionalists within the Quorum and at other high levels, especially Boyd K. Packer, also an Apostle. They believe that knowledge is a set of answers and are fundamentally opposed to the “modernists,” people like Leonard J. Arrington, former Church Historian, who believe that the church has nothing to lose from a full, objective account of its historical record and a use of its records according to the professional historian’s canons of research and investigation. They believe that knowledge is a set of questions. Already this battle between the children of light and darkness is shaping up in its first assaults and the arena is the Historical Department of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History. 

The L traditionalists are beginning to exercise their considerable power and to set policy for the church. In August 1981, Packer delivered a speech to employees of the Church Educational System’s symposium in which he held that Mormon historiography ought to be “faith-promoting.” He rejected any writing of history that might disillusion the faithful, impede missionary progress in conversations or bring scandal to the church. According to Shipps, G. Homer Durham, the Church Archivist, in order to curry favor with the higher-ups in hope of becoming an Apostle himself some day, cut off Mormon historians from the archives in order to make a good impression on his superiors. Durham was also privately designated by the denomination’s leaders as Church Historian, although Arrington had already received the call, had been set aside for that office, and had not been advised that he had been released from his duties. Instead, Arrington and his team of “modernist” historians were packed off to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, far from the archives and the sources of any real historical research they might want to conduct. Shipps believes that this University atmosphere is actually the proper locale for the Institute for Church History, but the decision to move the historians was done for the wrong reasons. According to Shipps, Arrington, always the gentleman, believes that the authorities were showing sensitivity to personal embarrassments that might unfortunately be uncovered by a no-holds-barred investigation into the archives. Church members had entrusted their private memoirs and records to the archives for safekeeping in good faith and no harm ought to befall them from unscrupulous use of the materials.

Shipps, while not a Mormon, is also very careful not to offend those in command. Her professional activity depends on being allowed access to the raw materials of her trade, the rich archival material held in Salt Lake City. Her caution and the likelihood that she will not directly contradict church authorities have paid off for her. Her statements to Time have been very cautious. Says she: “I can get hold of anything I want and I have a letter to that effect. I have no reason to believe I’m a special character. Any reputable historian with credentials would not be turned away. I don’t know if this has been tested recently, but I don’t think that someone of the stature, say, of Christopher Lasch, would be turned away. They are not as open these days as they were before and there would be more questions about what the material was to be used for. There are all kinds of ways to keep someone from seeing something. But the archives are definitely not closed.”

[Time Magazine Article; LJA Diary, 2 Sept., 1982]

We moved out on Tuesday. I left three filing cabinets in the Archives Search Room and one in Gordon Irving’s office, and had the rest taken to my BYU office. Most of my books are in the BYU office but of course many are at home. Many typescripts, notes, and manuscripts are also here at home. It is a commentary on the way they treated us that we had tried several times to get them to carpet our floor, with a flat turndown every time. “We can’t afford it.” But the very afternoon after we left they were in our area cutting out carpet to put on the floor. I’m going to let out that little bit of information to someone so it won’t be lost on posterity. A final indignity.

[LJA to Children, 6 Sept., 1982]

Elder Howard W. Hunter:

I think you would want to know that, as we continue to do our research, writing, and speaking, that all of us have had our testimonies strengthened. Not a single historian that has worked with us has had his testimony diminished or shaken. What we have done has been positive and uplifting.

I can give several examples of this impact on our readers. Davis Bitton and I have received perhaps two dozen letters from people who attribute the beginning of their interest in Mormonism to having read our book The Mormon Experience. Some of those who have been converted are now bishops and Relief Society presidents. We are proud to have helped them become interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We know there are some persons who have not agreed with everything we have written; we have written a great deal, and so it would be surprising if fault could not be found with some things we have published–or with the way we have written it up. But so many have thanked us for what we have done–and that includes members of the First Presidency–that we feel we are making contributions that the Lord would approve of.

Well, I just wanted to tell you that we continue to be loyal, active, and believing members of the Church, trying to carry out the assignment you and President Tanner and President Kimball and President Lee gave to us many years ago. I shall always be grateful to you for your support and encouragement. 

Sincerely,

Leonard Arrington

LJA to Howard W. Hunter; LJA Diary, 10 Oct., 1983]

I learned this morning from Brent Metcalfe’s stake president, David Grant, that he (Prest. Grant) regretted very much the firing of Brent by Church Security. He said that Brent had a fine attitude and spirit and a firm testimony, and that it was not improper for young people like him to speculate on doctrinal and historical matters. He said he had discussed the matter with President Hinckley and that President Hinckley had written Brent a personal letter apologizing to him on behalf of the Church, for what seemed a precipitous and unfair action. President Grant said that he (Grant) thought Church Security did him a favor by firing him, for Brent is too smart and well-educated a person to spend his life working for Church Security.

[LJA Diary, 13 Nov., 1983]

We’ve all been together since I wrote you last, which was December 20, but let me review all the exciting events. Harriet and I went to Cannon-Hinckley Church History Club at the Lion House on Tuesday, Dec. 20, and enjoyed sitting at the same table with Russell Nelson, his father, two guests of his (Don Doty and wife) and our own guests, Roy and Alberta Doxey. The speaker was Dan Ludlow on “The Greatest Gift of All.” We all expected a talk on the Holy Land, but he said that would take too tong, so he took too long talking about a series of cliches that he had no doubt put together for a seminary class graduation in 1957. Complete waste of time. No substance. And that is the chairman of the Correlation Committee. President Lee was very wise when he told us to avoid submitting any of our stuff to Correlation. “What do they know about history?” he asked, and then answered by saying, ”Very little, and what they do know is often wrong.”

[LJA to Children, 29 Dec., 1983]

It is interesting to observe the things now being said about Elder Petersen, who died on Thursday: “Kind,” “genial,” “friendly,” “man of vision,” “spiritual,” “true disciple of Jesus.”

Unquestionably he was a forceful and persuasive speaker and writer. Unquestionably he could be charming and winning. All of my experiences with him, however, were not positive.

Item: When I published in the first issue of BYU Studies my study, “An Economic Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom,” he saw to the suspension of that publication for a full year, and he always held it against me that I wrote the piece.

Item: The talk which he gave in 1963, “Race Problems As They Affect the Church,” opposing granting the priesthood to the blacks, a talk widely circulated, apparently with his approval, was one of the most bigoted and narrow-minded talks ever given by a “disciple of Christ.”

Item: That he should have received and encouraged the submission of the reports of Tom Truitt about the writings and speeches of our historians, and that he should have circulated these among the Twelve without once talking to any of us to check on their accuracy or intention, was unfair, a manifestation of suspicious attitudes, and partook of retribution.

Item: His calling the meeting with me to defend our action in writing Story of the Latter-day Saints, without prior notice so as to prevent us from preparing a defense, and with charges that were unfair and incorrect, shows his receptivity to rumormongers, the suspicious, the anti-intellectuals, and represents an attempt to embarrass us before the First Presidency.

Item: Elder Petersen is the authority who siced Tom Truitt and Roy Doxey on the historians last spring by calling their stake presidents and bishops to determine if they were loyal and active members of the church.  I have had a real concern that he might become President of the Twelve or, eventually, President of the Church. Now, at least, that will not happen. The Lord has preserved us from that kind of leadership.

[LJA Diary, 13 Jan., 1984]

Elder Petersen was buried yesterday. Speakers at his funeral in the Tabernacle included Elder Benson, Elder Hinckley, Elder Packer, and Elder Monson. Elder Monson spoke of his role with the Deseret News and Church News. He wrote editorials for 53 years. According to my understanding he has written all, or nearly all of the editorials in the Church News. Who will write them now? Will their character change?

People are beginning to speculate about the vacancy on the Twelve. There has existed one vacancy since LeGrande Richards died. Now there are two. If they couldn’t fill the vacancy of Elder Richards because President Kimball was not able to do it, will they be forced to fill both of them now? Who will write editorials for the Church News? Who will direct the church exhibits? Who will direct missionary work? Elder Petersen had enormous influence in many directions. Who will take over his work? 

[LJA Diary, 17 Jan., 1984]

Our present plan is to remain in our Salt Lake City home for the foreseeable future. If my health remains good, I plan to continue as director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute until BYU and I are agreed on a suitable replacement, and then remain as Lemuel Redd Professor and Senior Research Historian for the Institute and Redd Center until age 70, and then retire. My plan is to continue to research and write in the fields of Western and Mormon history until my health prevents me from continuing to do so. Harriet and I expect to do some traveling, and believe we can do this out of my savings. We think we can comfortably live off my social security and retirement, plus income from royalties and dividends. If, for any reason, I am blessed with unexpected income, I expect to use some of it to give to the Mormon History Trust Fund and the Leonard J. Arrington Foundation. If, on the other hand, we have unexpected expenses, I expect to sell the Twin Falls farm. If I have to do that, I hope the market for the land will be better than it is now. 

[Leonard J. Arrington Balance Sheet-December 1, 1984; 1 Jan., 1985]

Early this morning, shortly after 8 am, Gordon Irving called from the Historical Department to inform me that Elder Homer Durham had died during the night of cardiac arrest. He said Elder Durham had felt chest pains, had gone to the doctor, had a cardiac arrest while the doctor was examining him, was taken to the LDS Hospital, where he died around midnight.

I immediately telephoned Kathleen in Provo and asked her to inform Jim Allen and the staff. I also telephoned Davis Bitton, but he had already heard the news.

It occurred to me that a reporter might call me to get a reaction. I therefore prepared the following to say:

I have been acquainted with Elder Durham for the past thirty-five years and found him always to be intelligent, well-trained, and stimulating. He was friendly, industrious, and encouraged me in my studies. He was a good scholar, a skillful administrator, and a faithful Latter-day Saint leader. We will all miss his edifying influence. 

No reporter called me, however, even though I was home all the time except when Harriet and I took our brief walk. I also prepared some remarks to make at Cannon-Hinckley Tuesday night which I may or may not gin depending on what David Wirthlin does. 

Elder Durham’s funeral will be Monday at 12:30. I won’t be able to go since I’ll be giving a talk at that time in Logan. As I understand it, there will be no prior viewing at the mortuary.

Carl’s reaction to the news is worth recording. “I take solace in the fact that wherever Elder Durham may go, through whatever gate or tunnel or passageway, Grace will be waiting for him there to give him a piece of her mind.”

[LJA Diary, 11 Jan., 1985]

I have been asked to write an article once a month for the Church News, so I have finished the first one, presumably to appear the first Sunday in April. I’ll try to remember to send you copies of each one as they appear. Shows they don‘t have any prejudice against me, and have confidence that I can write faith-promoting history as well as analytical history.

[LJA to Children, 10 Mar., 1985]

Q: Let us suppose that a devout L.D.S. writer who places a high value on personal integrity encounters information of a historical nature which is uncomplimentary to the church. How should that information be handled?

A: …he’s free to use it if it’s important, if it’s significant… If it’s something that doesn’t have relevance, then of course it doesn’t go in [just as would be the case with favorable information]. You have to write honest history. There’s no point in writing public relations history. Let the public relations people do that. If you are a historian, you have to make your history honest, or people won’t have any confidence in you… You have to make your history realistic. You have to incorporate things that are unflattering as well as things that are favorable, or else people will know darn well that it’s a snow job. In my biography of Brigham Young I have to say things that are unflattering about him…since everybody has defects…our history has to be informative, it has to be credible, it has to be honest,…it has to be exhaustively researched. That’s the only kind of history that the Lord’s church deserves.

Q: You were the first church historian in over a hundred years who was not a general authority. At the time of his recent passing, Elder G. Homer Durham was in the presidency of the First Council of Seventy. Do you anticipate that his successor will be named from among the brethren?

A: His successor now has been named, and it’s Dean Larsen, and he is one of the seven presidents of the Seventy. I would assume, for the longtime future, that they have now gone back to the arrangement of having a general authority as church historian; and I think that’s fine. I think that when they asked me to come, they felt very strongly that the “old church historian’s office” as it was called, needed to be put on a professional basis; and so we employed a number of professional people to help us do this . . . .a professional librarian… a professional archivist… a group of professional historians to assist with the cataloging and organization of things… and in ten years we got everything more or less set up the way the first presidency wanted us to do. They transferred all of us to B.Y.U. to function in an academic atmosphere, but in the meantime they acquired a professional historian in Elder Durham who had the added advantage of being a general authority. I happen to believe it is a very good idea to have a general authority as historian, and never at any time would I have supposed that I should have remained forever there… When they moved me to B.Y.U., why, that was just fine. It wasn’t any disappointment to me.

Q: What other comments would you care to make which might be of interest to readers of the Ensign?

A: I think it’s important for everybody to realize that the historians who do research in the archives strengthen their testimonies… We have not lost a single L.D.S. historian to apostasy. All of them, within this little group of nine people which I direct…all of them are active, all are believers, all have strengthened their testimonies as a result of their research activities. It is not true that historical research, done in depth, will cause people to lose their testimonies or to become inactive or to lose their faith in God or the prophet or the general authorities. I think everybody needs to know that this is the Lord’s church, that we can demonstrate this by the materials we’ve worked with in the church archives, the most intimate things we have seen and held in our own hands — evidences of the role of the Lord in the history of the church. And so, what we have done helps to demonstrate the truth of the church, instead of the other way around. And that needs to be said in a setting in which we still recognize that there have been problems, that there have been some weaknesses of individuals; but the truth of the Gospel, the direction of the Lord, is still evident despite the problems that have come along in the process of implementing the Lord’s plan. 

[A Work of Enduring Value or Something More Significant by Evalyn M. Sandberg, 

article interviewing LJA; LJA Diary, 16 Mar., 1985]

Last night I talked to the Alta Club. Must have been 100 there-couples. Everyone elegantly dressed. Beautiful dresses and jewelry. Harriet said she had never seen so much invested in clothes at any SLC gathering. Fine hospitality. Everyone very friendly. Salt Lake’s top couples, if we exempt letters of the Church. No general authorities there, but several LDS. Wonderful food.

We sat at a table with Hack Woolley, who seems to be president of Alta Club, and Jules Dreyfus, who substituted for Dick Bennion in introducing me. This is the second of their quarterly get-togethers. The speaker at the first was a French professor at the U of U talking about France. I recognized people I knew from Rotary, Utah Westerners, Utah State Historical, and others.

I decided at the last moment to give a “light, entertaining” talk, rather than something heavy and serious.

BY stories: Salt the Lake, This is neither the time nor place, watermelon seeds.

From Lighter Side: Scandinavian stories.

From BY Letters: To David Candland, Elizabeth Green, son Joseph Mary Woolley Chamberlain, John Pulsipher

I must confess that I felt a little uncomfortable among these non-Mormons, some of them Mormon-haters; apostates, who enjoy poking fun at the Church; and solid church members, not many of the latter but some. I did not feel “clean” as I do coming from a Fast Meeting, or a fireside, or Cannon-Hinckley. I felt almost as a betrayer, a person who has gone out of his way to placate the enemy. But Harriet assured me it was o.k., and many persons told me the same. 

[LJA Diary, 24 Apr., 1985]

As many of us have observed your transfer to Provo and the events leading up to it, I admired you for the serene and dignified manner in which you complied with this move, your reaction and your spirit free of any rancor, but instead showing forth great loyalty and devotion to the cause. Like President J. Reuben Clark in the spring of 1951, you have set an unforgettable and stirring example to all of us.

Sincerely,

Max B. Zimmer

[Max B. Zimmer to LJA; LJA Diary, 11 Jun., 1985]

Perhaps as a result of Chris Arrington’s name being attached as “Reporter” to the piece on Time about Benson, some General Authority, perhaps President Benson, instructed Church News not to carry further articles by me once each month. I had published one on the organization of the Church and one on Women.

[LJA Diary, 18 Nov., 1985]

Thursday Tom Alexander and I met with Governor Norman Bangerter for an hour. His staff deputy has asked for the resignation of Mel Smith as director of the Utah State Historical Society and we wanted to protest the way it was handled and to assure they would allow us to participate in choosing a replacement. Let me confess at this point the pleasure I felt in meeting with the governor. It could have been tense and difficult, but he was very open, he listened to us, and he was friendly and accommodating. My last conferences of this type were with church officers—Homer Durham and Robert Hales and with others earlier. I couldn’t help but recall the contrast. The church people didn’t listen, were stiff rather than friendly, and, in the case of Elder Durham, at least, were arrogant and unyielding. As I recall my experience years ago, when I was at USU, those I met with seemed to be open and friendly and willing to listen. Maybe it was just Elder Durham that has given me a bad impression.

[LJA to Children, 25 Nov., 1985]

As I was riding on the plane, this thought occurred to me, to let you know that I feel a sense of fulfillment with my life. I feel that I have performed my basic mission. I’m glad to keep working and producing things, but basically I’ve done the things I hoped to do, and if the Lord should choose to take my at any time, I’d feel satisfied about everything. You are all doing well, and you are lovely people. You have lots of friends and are making worthy contributions to society. In a sense, I am a product of and felt particularly comfortable in a generation that is now phasing out. I don’t feel particularly comfortable with “modern” art, “modern” music, “modern” fiction, “modern” lifestyles, “modern” litigation, and the lack of community spirit because of the modern emphasis on the individual and his or her individual wishes. You-all have made a wonderful adjustment, and I’m delighted. I think I have adjusted, too. I’m happy; we’re happy, we keep productive and cheerful; but I at least think we are, in a sense, fighting a losing battle. And maybe that’s good. Our generation certainly has nothing to brag about, and hopefully yours will.

Love to all of you, and thanks for all you do.

Dad

[LJA to Children, 6 Dec., 1985]

Religious Ed Faculty Meeting

After handling several typical items of business, Dean Matthews began to talk about “a mid-course correction” as the ship travels the oceans–maybe course correction is not the right word, but at least a slight turning of the ship. Not 90 degrees, but maybe 10 or 20. He then proceeded to announce changes with the Religious Studies Center, significantly the addition of an area known as “Special Projects” to be headed by Jack Welch who will have a half-time appointment with Religious Ed.

[Bottom line seems to be that he anticipated concerns and perhaps resistance, if not for the changes then for the personality involved. At the time–and more after the meeting, several did respond with concern about Welch–saying that he thought he was too good for others, etc. The bottom line for most, however, seemed to be a recognition that in spite of shortcomings Welch had accomplished a great deal with FARMS, “made a dent,” said one, “and instead of complaining about his dent we should be in there making our own or team up with him to try to influence his. (Concern within Religious Ed about FARMS and the Welch approach is that it emphasizes linguistics, sociology, archaeology but never the message and power and doctrine of the Book of Mormon.) For Dean Matthews the bottom line was that he felt like Cornelius: “who am I to withstand them. . .” Elders Maxwell and Oaks made the decision; he had no say in the matter and would not complain. He added that he was old enough to know that when you marry a women you also marry the family; that FARMS was not part of his Religious Studies responsibility and not part of Religious Ed, but since Jack Welch was now, he couldn’t say what the relationship would actually be.]

Referred to a meeting last semester that some of them had with Elder Maxwell “where he talked with us about research and Religious Education,” suggesting some areas where he thought they could help. [Meeting was a lunch involving Maxwell, Matthews, Holland, Perkins, I believe, Millet and several other Religious Ed people.] Mentioned that there had a couple of follow-up meetings since then, including a breakfast meeting about three weeks ago attended by Elders Maxwell and Oaks, Jack Welch, President Holland. Matthews apparently responded with some surprise to Elder Maxwell’s suggestion that they ought to be actively involved in some of these areas, something to the effect that they had labored under the impression that the Brethren did not want them actively involved. “We want you to NOW,” was the response. Alluded to mention of McLellin writings, new documents, etc. Met with Elders Maxwell and Oaks again this week, “They want us involved in these things.”

Went on to say that the Religious Studies Center will play a more major role in some of these questions, that he assumed the requests would come from the Brethren to him as Dean and he would farm them out. He stressed that it was time, now, to move, to prepare selves by research and possibly by writing. Suggested that if any had an interest in any of these interesting and potentially useful questions they should be involved. 

So there would be no misunderstanding, he continued by stressing that teaching was still their major responsibility, adding however that “research can help make you a better teacher,” and that’s our business. Research can do two things: it can make you a better teacher, better informed, and do a service for the Brethren when they ask.

Talked about how we change as individuals, how he today advocates some things that a few years ago he was opposed to. People do change. “Whatever we thought before, I was moved and converted by Elder Maxwell. I wanted to enlist when he explained what he thought the problems and possibilities were . . . I heard the call, though I don’t quite know yet how to implement it.”

Milt asked about a rumor he heard that the Religious Studies Center was to be placed under a University umbrella rather than Religious Education, that large amounts of money were coming to it and the University wanted to be able to control it. “That’s more than a rumor,” responded Dean N., insisting nonetheless that it was not happening for that reason. The reasons was to have a university-wide council–suggested that many of the deans would be part of it–so that other areas would also feel a responsibility and would provide resources, make it possible for other faculty to be involved (with linguistics, translation, for example). “But someone has to hold the umbrella and we will always hold it.” [Though he conceded that things do not always work out in practice the way they look on paper.] “I don’t think Religious Studies Center will get away from us, but there will be others involved.”

Are the areas of concern (expressed by Elder Maxwell) a secret, it was asked? No! Then he mentioned: the kinds of “attacks you can read in the Tribune every Saturday,” the Emma book, polygamy, Alvin Smith and the plates, the Cowdery history. [all church history kinds of things]

“I told Elder Maxwell that I had more access to the RLDS Library than to our own. He said–‘that’s going to change!’” Then Dean Matthews quickly back-pedaled; “don’t say you heard anything from me; I’ll let President Holland make any announcements on that.”

He said he knew a year ago about some of this, that the plans were long in maturing, and “I am going to learn to like it whether I like it or not.” This may seem like turbulent waters; if so, it will be so more for me than for you, but I believe there will be more good come out of it than bad. Welch’s selection came up again. “We didn’t have a choice.”

[Other, unrelated discussion for a few minutes, then a wrapping up.] Over the history of the church certain things introduced by the brethren have been “just right” in terms of timing and ultimate impact–which impact is often not immediately evident, perhaps not for many years.

Over the years in Religious Ed there have been problems, phases, changes. “But I believe right now we have turned a corner that will be beneficial. It is favorable. Two of the Twelve have been paying close attention to us for months, and have made some changes. We and the Church will be the beneficiaries.” [final closing about grow most when times are hard; human relationships can be hard; but our work of great worth.] 

[Religious Ed Faculty Meeting; Ronald K. Esplin Notes, LJA Diary, 9 Jan., 1986]

Tuesday we had our monthly meeting of Cannon-Hinckley and, as usual, I had to 

present a historical vignette. I worked that up during the day and talked about Ruth May Fox, English migrant who later served as general president of the YWMIA. Wednesday we went to the annual dinner of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences of BYU. Rode down with Maureen Beecher. Friday we went to BYU for the monthly meeting of my staff. Had a meeting with the Dean in the hour before. He asked me at what point I wanted to step down from my job as director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute. I told him my preference was a year from this coming September. But if he wanted me to go to full-time teaching and research this September, I wouldn’t put up any objection. I told him I thought if they removed me this year it might create the impression that the University was trying to put down the historians. A bad time to do it. I frankly believe they will leave me in as director another year, but will let you know if there is any change. I can of course continue in my chair until I am 70, and I certainly have plenty to do. There are people they could employ as director of the Institute: Richard Bushman, Jim Allen, Ron Walker, Mike Quinn, Maureen Beecher, Ron Esplin, and so on. We didn’t get into any of that since the assumption is they will not discuss a replacement until they decide to replace me.

[LJA to Children, 28 Mar., 1986]

Leonard J. Arrington Diaries – Notebook #43

I truly enjoy life when I can, without any interference, pursue a topic I’m interested in, do the research, and do the writing.

We listened to conference again Sunday. Not a word said against (or for) historians. I thought it was a good conference. We were surprised that they did not appoint a new apostle, and we have various theories as to why not, but no confirmation on any of them yet. One of the new Seventies is our stake president, George Cannon. He is a strong supporter of our history and personally very kind to us, so we are encouraged by that. However, he will be assigned to directing an area in Asia with headquarters in Hong Kong, so we won’t see much of him.

[LJA to Children, 17 Apr., 1986]

I had a conference with Dean Stan Albrecht at BYU this morning. He was very warm and friendly, and very apologetic. He said the following:

1. He had managed to get a full-time slot for Carol Madsen. She would be made assistant professor of history and associate director of the Women’s Resource Center as well as half-time with the JFS Institute. This to begin Sept. 1.

2. Although he thought everything had been arranged for me to remain as director of the JFS Institute for another year, this had been overturned. I would therefore be released as director, presumably August 31 of this year. Ron Esplin will be appointed as the new director. I will be appointed senior research historian with the Institute and, because my birthday is after July 1, I will be able to remain two more years after my release as director. My salary will remain the same and I will continue on a 12-month basis.

3. Along with the changes in the Historical Department, the Twelve, specifically Elder Packer and Elder Oaks, will plan to make use of the Institute in historical searching. Elder Packer can work comfortably with Ron Esplin, and so can the Dean.

4. I suggested to the Dean the following, which he said he would check with the administration and see if possible:

a. Make Ron Esplin managing director for the present, instead of director.

b. Have a private talk with Ron Walker and Maureen Beecher, both of whom have seniority over Ron Esplin.

c. Have a meeting of the staff and explain it all to them at once.

d. That I retain my office until I retire in two years.

[LJA Diary, 18 Jun., 1986]

There is one bit of news that I want to inform you of before it hits the press. BYU, as I mentioned earlier, has been forced to adopt a regulation that all administrative personnel be released at age 65. I am the one exception to that regulation and the Board of Education of the Church, because of problems in other areas, has laid down a rule that no exceptions will be made. My dean had thought this was all worked out and informed me so in April that I would be carried as director for another year. But the Board of Education did not want to make exceptions–one breeds another. So BYU is releasing me as director of the Jos. Fielding Smith Institute, effective August 31 of this year, and are appointing me, in addition to the Lemuel Redd Professor of Western History and Senior Associate with the Redd Center, Senior Research Historian with the Institute. My salary remains the same, I’ll still be on full-time for 12 months, and, because of my birthday, they’ll be able to carry me two more years until retirement.

Ron Esplin, who has been managing director, will become director in the sense, really of being managing director. I will keep my office. Everything will be the same as before except I won’t have to go to meetings the Dean has with all the directors and department chairman, nor will I have to sign all the forms for this and that. Everybody will continue to regard me as the senior person on the staff, and I will be perfectly free to go ahead with my writing, etc. I presume, at least for this coming year, I will teach one class this fall, and maybe one next spring.

I feel very good about the new arrangement. I lose nothing and gain two advantages–two years before I retire instead of one, and no more meetings or responsibilities in connection with the Institute with administrative officials.

This is something you will have to keep under your hat until a public announcement is made, which might be within a week or two. Our staff will be told Tuesday. If anyone asks you about it after it becomes public knowledge, I hope you’ll point out that Dad feels good about it. This will give him a chance to finish up the 5 books he still wants to write before he retires. He wants to finish his biography of Harold Silver, do one of Bathsheba Smith; finish up Mothers of the Prophets and History of the Administrative Organization of the Church, and work with Heidi on a history of Utah’s Governors Mansion.

[LJA to Children, 21 Jun., 1986]

My Talk for a Staff Retreat, 29 August 1986

Here’s a list of ten things that we can all be especially proud of:

1. I am proud that we were able to be helpful in getting the Church employment rules changed to permit women to work after they have a baby. Maureen was, I think, the first one to be retained under this rule, after the birth of Daniel, and I think not only of what it meant to her and to us, but of all the hundreds of other women who now have the privilege of having babies and still working for the Church. The change in this rule permitted us to employ Carol, but think of the many others.

2. I am proud that we were able to get documents published that were published as they ought to be–with the highest scholarly integrity and honesty. I think of the precedent we set by publishing articles with uncorrected spelling in The Ensign; of the precedent of Dean Jessee’s article on Brigham Young for the Western Historical Quarterly, of Brigham Young’s Letters to His Sons, of the Brigham Young letters to his wife in Dean Jessee’s BYU Studies articles, the Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, and so on. Think what it meant to the descendants of the pioneers. They could now feel a pride in circulating and publishing as is the diaries and letters of their grandfathers and grandmothers. And think of what it has meant to get excerpts from the writings of pioneer women in Jill Derr’s Women’s Voices.

3. I am proud that we were able to get published two splendid histories of the Church—The Story of the Latter-day Saints and The Mormon Experience. I will not brag about the latter, but I will say that The Story of the Latter-day Saints is easily the best single volume history of the Church ever published. We have every reason to be proud.

4. I am proud that we were able to make a good start on LDS women’s history. I think of the work of Maureen, Carol, and Jill; of Linda Wilcox, Linda Newell, Val Avery, Claudia Bushman and the Cambridge group, Vickie Burgess-Olson and her contributors, Chris Waters. And not only women but other historians as well. Ron Walker’s article on Rachel, Richard Jensen on the Indian Relief Societies, Bill Hartley in his exemplary Kindred Saints, Ron Esplin on Mary Fielding Smith, Dean Jessee and Jeff Johnson on Brigham’s wives, and many others. We can be proud that we started a ball rolling that will, we hope, continue to roll forever.

5. I am proud that we were helpful in getting a good start on the internationalization of Mormonism. Spencer Palmer’s The Expanding Church, which we sponsored, (and should have put in the list of books that we sponsored), Richard Jensen’s things on Danish and Norwegian LDS history, Doug Tobler’s things on Germany, Lanier Britsch on Hawaii, the South Sea Islands, and the Far East, Evan Wright on the South African Mission, Jim Allen & Tom Alexander on Britain, and now, with Maureen’s encouragement, all of us are working on Britain for the MHA meeting at Oxford.

6. I am proud that we initiated the sesquicentennial history project. So far, five volumes have been published, Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, which I thought was a great first volume; Mick Backman’s The Heavens Resound: History of the Church in Ohio, a splendid second volume, Lanier Britsch’s history of the Saints in the South Seas, Tom Alexander’s history of the Church 1896 to 1930, and Richard Cowan’s church in the 20th century. Other volumes have been prepared and are awaiting publication: LeMond Tullis’ history of the Church in Mexico, Reed Durham’s history of the crossing of the Plains, Max Parkin’s history of the Church in Missouri, and others that are still being worked on. They will be used and quoted for generations.

7. I am proud that we were able to establish and maintain an atmosphere of openness that encouraged many people, Mormons and non-Mormons, to do research that otherwise would have been scared off as Hirschson was scared off by Brother Lund in the 1960s. I am also proud that we were able to establish such a good case for honest scholarship that Mike Quinn, for example, has not had to make any concessions to keep his job at the Y, Leo Lyman was encouraged to go ahead with his project, Breck England, Jan Shipps, and so many others who have made substantive contributions.

8. I am proud that we have, in effect, created a community among LDS historians–a community in which we share ideas, materials, documents, and concerns. This comes out in MHA, but our example has helped to establish and perpetuate this tradition of community–not only among our own church members, but also with the RLDS, and also with such non-Mormons as Jan Shipps, I am so proud of this!

9. I am proud that we have demonstrated to some Church officials, not to all, but to some, that objective, scholarly treatments are “the way to go,” and that such history reflects credit on the Church and its image and mission.

10. Finally, I am proud that all of you have strengthened your testimonies and have continued to be active, believing members of the Lord’s Kingdom, and that you have continued to be cheerful and productive members of the Church and the community.

Although I am proud of nearly everything we did, there are a few things we failed to do that I have regrets about. Let me mention three things that, in my judgment, we should have done, but didn’t, with consequences that were harmful to the cause of Church history.

1. We should have prepared and distributed to General Authorities a monthly Newsletter telling of things we had found, things we were doing, and so on. This would have emphasized the positive side of our activity and would have kept General Authorities informed. It would have diffused the regular reports that Tom Truitt sent to Elder Petersen and Elder Benson.

2. President Tanner was the one who established our group to begin with. I should have made a point of going to see him at least twice each year to inform him of what we were doing, problems we were having, and so on. Specifically, I should have gone to see him after the Richard Marshall episode. 

3. I should have kept control over our budget, the business side. I left all of this to Earl, deliberately. I had full confidence in him. But that proved to be a mistrust. Ultimately, he did us in. I could have prevented that, I think, by keeping an ore in at the administration level.

Now, for my counsel for the future:

1. I hope we can continue to encourage studies on the women.

2. I hope we can continue to encourage scholarship on overseas Saints.

3. I hope we can continue to encourage biographies and essays on Latter-day Saints who were not General Authorities.

4. I hope we can continue to encourage analytical studies of our history.

5. I hope we can continue to encourage studies of community history.

6. I hope we will continue to submit articles to The Ensign.

7. I hope we will continue to encourage contributions to the Mormon History Trust Fund. It has been extremely helpful in past years and can continue to be in the future.

8. I hope we will continue to emphasize our LDS heritage of cooperation, of working together, of equality and oneness. This is surely one of the leading themes of our history, and I hope we will continue to feature it.

9. I hope we will continue to encourage studies of our intellectual and doctrinal history. The Prophet Joseph left us a marvelous heritage of intellectual and artistic creativity. We should keep calling attention to it and try to keep it alive.

10. Finally, I hope all of you will continue to write and publish, to leave the historical community exemplary essays and books that demonstrate the skill and craft we have developed within our community of historians. 

[My Talk for a Staff Retreat; LJA Diary, 29 Aug., 1986]

As I wrote you some time ago, I am trying to work out how to leave my personal and professional papers and books. I have asked for proposals from USU, BYU, and the U of U, and these will be coming soon. I’ll send them on to you for any recommendations you may have. I’m trying to approach this from the standpoint of what is best for their use. Comments:

USU: Much of my papers and books were generated when I was there. My heart is there, and so is my diary up to 1980—one copy. I think they’ll provide a room, the Arrington Room, and keep the collection intact.


BYU: They material will be better used there. Makes everything easily available for my Joseph Fielding Smith Institute associates.

U of U: Easily available to nearly all scholars, and they have lots of other materials closely related. They will not exercise quite the same supervision or control. Material will be copied and published, possibly, by anti-Mormons here.

Here are some considerations and problems:

1. What do I have that you would want? I ought to give it to you before placing it in a collection.

2. I would stipulate that any of you would have access to anything and everything.

3. The more personal things, like my diary, I would restrict for 25 years.

4. What should I do with documents like my certificates of honorary degrees, awards, etc.

5. All of your letters to me and my letters to you, should they be a part of it? If so, would you want Xerox copies of them for your own files. If not, would you permit Xerox copies to be made of those with pertinent information to be put in the collection?

6. Take all of my books. Would you each like to have some. If so, which ones should I reserve for you and which give to the library?

7. I’m not thinking of giving very many things now. But I want to enter into an agreement and make it a part of my will so everything will be provided for.

8. What about my stamp collection? Any of you want it, or should that be part of the deal?

9. My money collection? In the will I have left that to Carl. Do you want it, or should that be part of the collection?

10. My genealogy book?

11. My complete collection of Relief Society Mag, Improvement Era, Ensign, New Era, Dialogue, Sunstone, BYU Studies, Exponent II, 7th East Press, and professional journals?

Clearly, I want to do right by you, I want to do right by Harriet, I want to do right by USU, by the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute, etc. Better that we start thinking about all these things before it’s too late!

[LJA to Children, 2 Oct., 1986]

Sunday we listened to conference in the morning and most of the afternoon session, and about 4 pm Susan and Dean and the girls returned to Hyde Park. We had a wonderful visit this time, and Harriet provided some good food. The girls seemed to have a good time playing, listening to a cassette, and dressing up in old clothes. We also enjoyed listening to conference, thought the elevation of Elder Wirthlin to Apostle an excellent choice (he’s a friend), and were delighted that nothing derogatory was said about historians. Every sign suggests that we are respected.

[LJA to Children, 12 Oct., 1986]

RE: Retirement Issues

In response to our discussion of a couple of weeks ago, I requested an interpretation from the University regarding retirement policy for those who occupy endowed chairs. Basically, what I have learned is the following: As indicated by the University Handbook, retirement for all personnel is mandatory by the end of the school year (August 31) in which an employee reaches ago 70 (see Brigham Young University Handbook, Section 10.613). Since no provisions are made for exceptions to the policy, it is interpreted as applying to endowed chairs as well as special professorships or any other positions associated with the university.

Let me again reiterate that while this means you would officially retire from the university this coming August, we are committed to do all we can to support your continued professional activities. This will include the granting of Emeritus status, the provision of office space and secretarial support, and whatever else we might do to assure that the next several years of your life continue to be productive and self-fulfilling.

As I also implied during our earlier visit, I will invite you to advise me as we begin a review of potential candidates for the Redd Chair.

[Stan L. Albrecht to LJA; LJA Diary, 14 Oct., 1986]

My Experiences as Church Historian

1. Biggest disappointment. Not being consulted on historical matters. Blame that on Elder Petersen, who was always suspicious of educated people, especially historians.

2. Greatest satisfaction. The way Elder Dyer worked to support us and help us. But then he has a stroke. Elder Lee’s & Elder Kimball’s love.

3. Another disappointment. Elder Durham, who was determined to put us down. 

4. Moments of pleasure and happiness: Getting Davis and Jim Allen approved as assistant historians. Revelation on blacks. Change in rules permitting Maureen to continue working despite having her baby. Coming out of Dean Jessee’s book, Brigham Young’s Letters to His Sons. Article in Ensign with correct spelling; article in Ensign mentioning polygamy.

5. Most embarrassing experience. Organization of Friends of Church History; and the subsequent suspension and discontinuance.

6. An aspect. Many people came in to tell me stories that had never been recorded. I put them in my diary. Still there.

7. Most satisfying. During 15 years we had published 15 books, 300 articles and papers. Vignettes in Church News. Articles in Ensign. Articles in professional journals. Encyclopedias. Started the 16-volume history of the church. Biographies—real biographies: J. Reuben Clark, Brigham Young, Edwin D. Woolley, shorter: Eliza Snow, Emmeline B. Wells, Susa Young Gates, Sister Saints.

Helping younger scholars: Mike Quinn, Gene Sessions, Jill Derr, Linda Newell & Val Avery. Helping non-Mormon scholars. We gave the Dept a kind of warmth.

[My Experiences as Church Historian; LJA Diary, 26 Oct?., 1986]

Ron Esplin telephoned today to say that Elder Dallin Oaks had telephoned him to say that the First Presidency had today approved the proposal he had presented to allow us (the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute) to publish the diaries of Joseph Smith. This includes the diaries of Willard Richards, and the portion of his diary in the First Presidency vault in the Law of the Lord book. Elders Packer and Oaks to be liaison with us to forward the project. Deseret Book to be the publisher. To be delivered to them in 1987. Dean Jessee to be the editor.

Ron was almost ecstatic, and said he was confident President Jae Ballif of BYU would be equally so. This is the first time the First Presidency have given us the go-ahead on anything since Elder Packer attacked the historians for being too negative. 

[LJA Diary, 18 Dec., 1986]

In the meantime, I watched conference on Saturday and Sunday and enjoyed all of it. I liked especially the talks by Elder Paul Dunn, Neal Maxwell, and Russell Nelson. Not a word this time about history or historians, so we can relax a little, I guess.

[LJA to Children, 13 Apr., 1987]

Last evening I met with the board of the David Evans Award, which has been transferred by the family from BYU to USU. Ross Peterson is the executive chairman, and the board includes: Stan Cazier, Chase Peterson, Chas. Peterson, Bruce Clark, Ted Evans, Vella Evans, Davis Bitton, Dean May, and perhaps one or two others that weren’t at the meeting, which was held at the Ted Evans home here. We’re delighted the Award will now be given thru USU. No more worries about whether the prize-winner would be pleasing to Church officials.

[LJA to Children, 10 Sept., 1987]

6. Referring to Mike Quinn’s down-beat assessment of the prospects for Mormon history, Ron Walker asked rhetorically: “Can we have professional history written in the Church today?” Leonard’s response was that we can and we are and that we have to keep trying.

Leonard thinks there are many good signs, reasons to be optimistic; that things are slowly changing for good, and that this certainly was not the “A. Will Lund” era. Everyone seemed to agree with Ron that the most positive signal that could be sent would be to re-open important collections in the Archives. Dean Jessee observed that things were not as bad at the Archives as some thought. “Perhaps we have too short a fuse,” he suggested, and aren’t patient enough to work through this together. He compared the situation to what Don Moorman and Henry Wolfinger encountered when they first arrived at the Archives in the 1960s. At first turned off and discouraged, they felt it was hopeless; but they decided to be patient and stay with it, and eventually they had access to about everything they needed. Today is better than then and we can give people the same counsel today.

Leonard agreed that this kind of discussion has been going on among Mormon historians for many years. Far from being discouraged, however, he thought things much better today. The generation just before ours, for example, those working in the 1930s (and he named 8-10 individuals as examples) all lost their faith. What he finds most encouraging today is that we have producing scholars who are loyal and committed, who have found ways of accommodating scholarship and faith.

[JFS Institute, Gathering with Mike Quinn, LJA Home; LJA Diary, 17 Feb., 1988]

Dad, I feel comfortable writing to you about these things because I know you have spent your life defending and propagating honest history. You have been the only one out of all of this who I believe acted with a pure heart. I haven’t always understood or agreed with everything you have done or written, but I have never for a moment doubted your motivations.

Camelot is gone and it seems the road to Avalon has been covered over with Bensonian barbs. But someday there will be a Mormon spring again—methinks after a coming winter. And as the days grow longer, the sun will shine on the blossoms that have grown from seeds planted in days of yore. And the names of the roses will be Great Basin Kingdom, Brigham Young: American Moses, The Mormon Experience, Building the City of God. Beet Sugar in the West—who knows?

What I become increasingly sure of is that the truly great are given to toil and struggle in this mortal coil and then, miraculously, their tiny lights they have nurtured and protected in life begin to grow ever more incandescent in the dark firmament of history.

Much love,

Carl

[Carl to LJA and Harriet; LJA Diary, 13 May, 1988]

It is clear that Mormon history is now passe’. Not a single reporter was assigned to cover the MHA meetings in Logan. Not a single article about it being held in either Deseret News or Salt Lake Tribune. While pages devoted to a local real estate convention. Not a word on the historians. Nor was there any mention of the Great Basin Kingdom Symposium. Oh, well…

[LJA to Children, 18 May, 1988]

Dear Carl,

Your letter of September 5 came more than three weeks late, but glad to have it. Very thoughtful.

In accordance with the readings you suggested I have tried to pay more attention to dreams. I don’t dream often, or if so promptly forget them but I have had four since you left that I could recall. Three involved church rituals—blessing of a baby, a baptism, a Sacrament Service. The other involved the Army. In each dream there was some frustration. Somebody didn’t show up for the blessing, so we waited and waited. No water for the baptism so we struggled and tried to get some. The Sacrament Service had someone giving the wrong type of talk. For the Army, Grace didn’t get up, I was late, and everything went wrong.

What do they mean? I think the Mormon dreams are a reminder to me, as I get less involved with the Church, that the Church is part of my life, inevitably and surely, and I cannot leave it behind. I am a product of Mormon culture; I am emotionally tied to its rituals, practices, and beliefs; and it is an indelible part of my life and thought.

Frustrations are also inescapable, more so since I retired. No secretary to help out with this and that, no helpers around, no one to do little chores. I undertake tasks, thinking I can do them without sweat, and then have trouble carrying through because of the lack of someone to help. Precious time is used up in doing little jobs. Maybe I ought to find some young person to work a few hours a week just doing odd jobs. It may be that as I get older I do not have the energy or patience to do little things that I did without thought when I was younger. Maybe that is a characteristic of people beyond 70. 

I accepted the world as it was when I was younger, but there are more and more things that irritate me. Is it the changing world or changing me? So many things today that irritate me: “modern” poetry, “modern” music, “modern” lifestyles, the lack of discipline, the lack of respect for authority, the lack of community spirit, the litigiousness, the addiction to drugs, the preoccupation with sex, the disregard for trusted values.

Or maybe it’s just the intimacy of broadcast journalism that keeps bombarding us with activities that once were unknown or far removed.

I am enjoying what I do, but may be too ambitious. Maybe I should do one project at a time and take it easier. Like someone who remembers the depression I am a sucker for a project that offers another $10,000. Do I really need it? What would I do different if I had it? I am really not that interested in traveling. I would like to take a trip to Scandinavia, but can’t think of any other trip I’d like to take. Would like to spend more time with my children—in New York, Orem & Hyde Park. Will try to do that as I get these books done.

[LJA to Carl; LJA Diary, 2 Oct., 1988]

JFSI Retreat

Allen/Frost Cabin

6 October 1988

Attending: Ron Esplin, Leonard Arrington, Maureen Beecher, Jill Derr, Bill Hartley, Richard Jensen, Dean Jessee, Carol Madsen, Marilyn Parks, Ron Walker, Jim Allen, Tom Alexander

A discussion followed on the “environment” of the Church Office Building: open doors, central gathering place, mingling, eating lunch together, etc.

WGH – What is or should be our mission? Group or individual projects? How can we best help the university community?

LJA – At the Huntington, scholars come from all over to work on separate projects, but each day they all have lunch together, and the interaction is constructive.

CCM – Virtually none of the seminal articles in women’s history were produced in an office and sent to a publisher. Many articles have “indebted to …” at length, acknowledging help and ideas and critiques. We don’t seem to use the other 8 or 9 minds available to us. How do I dare assume that I can do this all on my own?

WGH – In Salt Lake, we had contact with scholars coming in to do research and we knew what was being done. Could Mormon history scholars gather once a month in Salt Lake, possibly at Utah State Historical Society? Nothing formal, but to share ideas. Visiting scholars could come over. We had a start last year with Richard organizing the brown bag professional development, but we need more.

RWW – We all sense a need and we all sense a loss. But repeatedly we’ve tried things in Provo. The question is, “Why isn’t it working?” There are too many conflicts of interest demanding time. The most effective times were the informal times. I’m not sure that can be recreated.

MUB – We keep our doors closed; don’t know who’s in. Visiting scholars see only the person they visit; no open doors.

JMD – Perhaps we could have a day each week when we’ll always do something–either lunch, or someone to come in to talk or a staff meeting.

RKE – The forums on campus that have been working are the ones held on a regular basis.

JMD – Something like that would help me to calendar out things. I would be able in advance to commit to the important things: staff meetings, retreats, etc.

RWW – We don’t even gossip together anymore.

[JFSI Retreat; LJA Diary, 6 Oct., 1988]

We were also shocked and saddened by the death of our High Priest teacher and Sunday School Supt., George Johnson. An architect, age 65, and the state champion handball player. A veteran of WW II. Died of a massive heart attack while playing handball with his son. People used to ask me how I get my exercise now that I am retired. I used to reply, “I get plenty of exercise going to the funerals of my athletic friends.” It’s now a pretty sick joke. We were at George’s home for a Christmas party this year.

[LJA to Children, 29 Jan., 1989]

My understanding is that Dean Mathews, head of Religion at BYU, is being released. If Don Cannon replaces him, it will be a step forward. Mathews was responsible for the rule that religion people were not to participate in MHA.

[LJA to Children, 3 Apr., 1989]

Leonard J. Arrington 

2236 S. 2200 E. 

Salt Lake City, Utah 84109

Dear Leonard,

You have gone the extra mile again. Thank you so much for your careful report on the genesis of the Brigham Young biography. It represents really helpful information.

Your reference to the shifting of historians to the Smith Institute at BYU raises for me the question of my father’s role in that decision. Armand Mauss suggested to me that Dad might have engineered it as a political compromise between allowing the historian’s office to go on as before and radically curtailing its activities. Are you aware of Dad’s role and can you tell me about it?

Your attribution to him of encouraging your work and of being concerned with your scholarly credibility and steering you away from “Correlation” suggests that he might have preferred things to go on as they did during the first years of his presidency.

The change might mean either (1) that he was uninvolved (because of poor health or distraction by other responsibilities), or (2) that he affirmatively desired the change (to protect you against the burden of being official spokesperson or because he was uncomfortable with how much openness had been evidenced), or (3) that he felt the move to BYU was all he had the energy to salvage of the earlier “Camelot,” which was under attack.

I know my questions impose on your good nature, but they are important to the story I want to tell of my father’s life, particularly his presidency years. Are there others I should also ask about the changes that took place in my father’s administration and his role in them?

Most sincerely yours,

Edward L. Kimball 

[Edward L. Kimball to LJA; LJA Diary, 16 Jun., 1989]

Several impressions. Young people seem to be coming into Mormon history, so the future of MHA seems to be assured. The Religion group at BYU do not have the dean (Robert Mathews) who opposed MHA, so they are now permitted to come. At least one did. Our Joseph Fielding Smith Institute people are still the core of MHA–all were there and gave papers or comments. Next year’s conference will be at Snowbird in May; the Tanner lecturer will be Howard Lamar of Yale. The president is David Whittaker. Our secretary has been Ann Buttars of USU, but because of Jeff Simmond’s death she could not attend the convention. If they make her the replacement for Jeff she will have to give up the secretaryship, I suspect. Special Collections has not been in good shape the past two years because of Jeff’s poor performance, so much needs to be done. 

[LJA to Children, 30 Jun., 1995]