50 years ago today - Dec 7, 1972

[Michael Quinn]
Dr. Arrington said [that] he had something to discuss with me about my article on Young University. [LDS Church Commissioner of Education] Neal Maxwell had returned the MS and had closed his letter with a statement something like this: "I have nothing to suggest about the article on Young University. Concerning the treatment of the conflict between [Church] Presidents [ John] Taylor and [Brigham] Young, I assume that you and your department are the best judges of how to handle such a subject." Dr. Arrington said, "I think I am being warned about that passage in the article on the personal conflicts between [LDS general authorities] John Taylor and Brigham Young. To protect you and to protect me and the department, I think we had better go over this section again to make sure it says nothing beyond what we want it to say. I am in a position now to give these kinds of warnings more heed than I perhaps have in past years." We went over the passages in question, and I agonized silently for a while that he would ask me to eliminate all references to a possible conflict between Brigham Young and John Taylor. I feel that the issue of their disagreements was a crucial part of explaining the history of Young University, and I explained how careful I had been not to say that they had opposed each other in their official activities (which in fact they had done), but to say it was in items of personal projects. Finally, he made some word additions which softened the passage and made the discussion of the conflict more tentative. I was relieved that he did not ask me to change it substantively. … This experience causes me to wonder how much difficulty I will have [in] saying what I feel needs to be said in my prosopographical study of the Mormon Hierarchy, 1833–1933 [proposed MA thesis at the University of Utah]. [Quinn's article "The Brief Career of Young University at Salt Lake City" appeared in the winter 1973 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly, pp. 69–89.]

[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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