45 years ago today - Sep 14, 1978-Thursday

[Leonard Arrington]

Reminiscences Things I Have Done as Church Historian Since 1972 That I Am Most Proud Of

... Proud that we were able to break the old rule of personnel and Church employment which required women to be terminated after six months of pregnancy. We were able to break this rule through Maureen [Ursenbach] Beecher. Once having been broken, it is now general policy that women may work until they wish to quit. But the next step was even more difficult-to get Church personnel to agree to allow women a few weeks leave, after which they might resume employment. We were able to get them to do this for Maureen and thus the pattern was set for other women in Church employment as well. ...

Proud that we were able to produce the wonderful one-volume history The Story of the Latter-day Saints, by Jim Allen and Glen Leonard. I recognize that this has been under somewhat of a cloud because of Brother [Ezra Taft] Benson's and Brother [Mark E.] Petersen's objections, but others of the Quorum of the Twelve and other General Authorities are very complimentary, and this includes President [Spencer W.] Kimball himself, who says he read it, thought it was splendid, and could not understand why Brother Benson and Brother Petersen did not like it. This is a major step forward in understanding this book and a major step forward in LDS history and is a milestone in LDS historiography.

5. Proud of our arranging the contracts for the 16-volume sesquicentennial history-that each of the sixteen persons we asked agreed to sign; and proud despite the cloud over the work of the History Division that these contracts have been reaffirmed and the work is proceeding satisfactorily. We have one of these manuscripts already completed and others expected to be completed by the end of the year, the remainder in 1979 and 1980. [This project was cancelled by Boyd K. Packer]

6. Proud that we have been instrumental in the preparation of other books which make important contributions to LDS history [books listed] ... this with full knowledge and approval of my associates and all of us have felt that this tactic was for the good of the Church and kingdom. Nevertheless it is my desire to be open and honest and it has troubled my conscience to have to resort to the diplomatic deception. ... 10. I regret that my own services or the services of my colleagues have not been used by the First Presidency, Church authorities, and Church departments as consultants on historical matters. We have not been invited, for example, to give historical addresses at the dedication of important buildings, plaques, sites, etc. These have usually been given by the prophet, by Elder Petersen, or by Wendell Ashton, and these have not consulted us in the preparation of the talks they have given. This seems to me unthinkable and inexcusable-that those of us who know intimately our history have not been involved in the preparation of historical addresses. This means that many myths have been perpetrated and perpetuated, which means that the next generation of historians will have the problem of correcting these myths.

[Regrets the failure of organizing a 'Friends of Church History' group] ... Bro. Hunter telephoned me and told me not to do anything until we got the approval of the First Presidency. I then presented this matter at our next meeting with President Lee and counselors and they gave us some counsel but did not caution us against organizing, just expressed some misgivings. ... So the whole "brilliant idea" was dropped and the momentum of enthusiasm that had been built up fell like a ton of lead. We were embarrassed, humiliated, and set back in our public relations and good will and simply not able to get the idea back to the First Presidency for their stamp of approval because of the misgivings and cautions of our advisers and our managing directors. ...

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

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