35 years ago today - 35 years ago - August 16, 1985

[Michael Quinn]
[From Quinn's 2009 memoir:]

Another Apostle joins the anti-historian chorus.

My article on post-Manifesto polygamy was the subtext of remarks that Dallin H. Oaks made during the Sperry Symposium sponsored by BYU's College of Religious Instruction. This was three months after his angry letter to me about its publication in Dialogue. His letter of May 1985 had accused me of underhandedly obtaining restricted documents at LDS Archives and of preparing to publish the article without notifying my 'file leaders' or the custodians of those documents. In response, I immediately mailed to Elder Oaks a summary of my conversations about this research into post-Manifesto polygamy-with HDC's Managing Director G. Homer Durham and with First Presidency Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley-and explained to Oaks that I had specifically informed each of them YEARS IN ADVANCE of my hopes to publish a detailed article about it. With this letter, I included photocopies of my numerous letters about this research to Durham, to President Spencer W. Kimball, to the First Presidency as a whole, and to Counselor Hinckley directly. From 1979 to 1982, those letters had gone to the highest-ranking custodian of HDC's manuscripts and to my highest 'file leaders' in the Church. But in 1985 Apostle Oaks seemed angry that I hadn't told HIM during 1977-80, while he was BYU's president (as a non-General Authority) and when was promoting me for J. Reuben Clark's biography. But he had NEVER asked me

for reports about ANY details of my research back then. Nor did anyone else, yet I had volunteered those details to the General Authorities who had a right to know-a NEED to know about my knowledge of post-Manifesto polygamy. After a month without a reply to the May 1985 letter, I phoned his secretary in the LDS Church Office Building to inquire whether Oaks had received it. She confirmed in June that my letter arrived with its attached documents, that he had looked at them all, and that he would undoubtedly contact me again when he returned from a trip. He didn't. Instead, despite the information and documentation I provided him in May 1985, Apostle Oaks told numerous people during the next two decades that I had allegedly 'misused' my research-access at HDC, that I had allegedly done 'unauthorized' research about post-Manifesto polygamy there, and that I had allegedly 'deceived' manuscript-custodians and Church leaders about my plan to publish that research. Several of his listeners would report this to me. This August, his talk warned against those who 'criticize or deprecate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true.' Words to gag on.

[From the diaries and memoirs of D. Michael Quinn, in 'On Writing Mormon History, 1972-95,' edited by Joseph Geisner, Signature Books, 2020]

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