My Experiences as Church Historian
1. Biggest disappointment. Not being consulted on historical matters. Blame that on Elder [Mark E.] Petersen, who was always suspicious of educated people, especially historians.
2. Greatest satisfaction. The way Elder [Alvin R.] Dyer worked to support us and help us. But then he has a stroke. Elder [Harold B.] Lee's and Elder [Spencer W.] Kimball's love.
3. Another disappointment. Elder [G. Homer] Durham, who was determined to put us down.
4. Moments of pleasure and happiness: Getting Davis [Bitton] and Jim Allen approved as assistant historians. Revelation on blacks [in 1978]. Change in rules permitting Maureen [Beecher] 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 [nineteenth-century] 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, and Val Avery. Helping non-Mormon scholars. We gave the Dept a kind of warmth.
[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]