40 years ago today - Dec 7, 1981-Monday

[Leonard Arrington]

Answers to Questions from Lavina [Fielding Anderson] about 197462

... I think Reed Durham gave that [Mormon History Association] presidential address because we were meeting in Nauvoo and he had done a good deal of research on the topic.65 We didn't know what he was going to discuss; when we [History Division] heard the talk we were disappointed that he did not consult us in advance. For one thing he was incorrect on some key matters that we could have set him straight on, for another thing we could have helped him word certain materials in a way that would have been more discreet and helpful. He showed great courage but also a lack of good judgment. We found it impossible to defend him very strongly because we could not defend what he said. It simply was incomplete and misleading. He was required by his superior to write a letter of apology to those attending MHA [Mormon History Association] bearing his testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He did write such a letter. All of us regarded it as unnecessary and rather silly. In fact, he bore his testimony at the MHA meeting in Nauvoo the very next morning and in my judgment that took care of it. Reed has never been an effective Church history researcher since that date.

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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