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The primary responsibility of Brigham Young University’s Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History is to research, write, and publish Latter-day Saint history from the perspective of faith and according to the highest scholarly standards.

In 1972 the Church Historian’s Office was reorganized into the Historical Department of the Church, and Leonard J. Arrington, a historian from Utah State University, was called to head the new history division. He gathered a staff and over the next eight years launched an ambitious program of scholarly publication, producing numerous books and articles, contributing frequently to Church publications, and launching an extensive oral history program.

In 1980 it was decided that a university would provide a better setting for research and publication, so the history division became the Smith Institute and was moved to BYU. Arrington continued to serve as director until 1986, when Ronald K. Esplin succeeded him. In 1999 the Institute’s organization was broadened to include an executive committee, chaired by Richard L. Bushman, to direct the Institute’s scholarly program. The Institute became a center with expanded resources that helped support a network of Latter-day Saint scholars. To promote the publication and marketing of quality history and biography, the Institute added a publishing division under John W. Welch of BYU Studies and formalized an alliance with Deseret Book Company. A revitalized collaboration with the Historical Department of the Church increased resources available for documentary editing, one of the Institute’s major emphases.

Although Smith Institute faculty members teach history and Church history courses, their principal assignment remains the scholarly research and writing of the Latter-day Saint past. From time to time, other faculty members serve with the Institute on a temporary basis.


 

 



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