50 years ago today - Jun 11, 1973-Monday

[Leonard Arrington]
Davis, Jim, and I had lunch with Brian Kelly and Lowell Durham of the New Era, and we were interested in some of their experiences with regard to correlation and censorship. It appears that the cover of the December issue was most objected to by the secretary of Bruce McConkie. She took the liberty of tearing off the cover from the copies of the New Era on the desks and sofas in the general Church Administration Building, and she sent copies of it to members of the First Presidency and others with a letter asking, "Isn't this horrible?" Nobody knows whether she did this with or without the consent of Brother McConkie, but in any case she stirred up enough opposition that the editors of the New Era were called in and given a severe dressing down for running the cover even though Doyle Green had previously approved it.

In my article on Arizona women they had to change the word coffee grinder to small mill. They also had to change the word adultery to infidelity. [[Arrington's article appeared in the April 1974 issue of the New Era as "Latter-day Saint Women on the Arizona Frontier."]] In the special mission issue, they had hoped to run a splendid article on missionaries' experiences in the Philippines, and he had started out by saying he hadn't been prepared for the cockroaches. They had to eliminate that because nobody wanted the mothers to know that their missionary sons would be sent out where there were cockroaches.

They said Church News does not have to go through Church Correlation, so they are somewhat freer. They said they plan to run a review of Carol Lynn Pearson's book Daughters of Light. They said it is impossible to run an unfavorable review of any book. They try to do some selecting in advance of books which they would feel comfortable about having a favorable review. They cannot publish articles that discuss problems or conflicts although they say that they just got through correlation the use of the term braless in one of their articles, "To go braless is not healthful." That had originally been stricken, and they asked how they could say it any other way.

We also learned through Brian Kelly and Lowell Durham at lunch that the Church News a week ago last Saturday, June 2, had distributed a few copies of an issue then the copies were all pulled back and came out again a few hours later. One of those who kept a copy of the original compared it with the reissued copy and discovered the item omitted on page 13 was entitled "Which: Genesis or Geology?" by William Lee Stokes. Apparently when the issue was first distributed somebody saw this, objected to it, and it was eliminated, and two other items were substituted for it on the bottom of page 12.


Davis and Jim and I discussed for an hour or more the concerns we have with relation to Michael Quinn's thesis. It is an outstanding job of organization and research and writing. It features a historian at his best and its contributions include not only the insight he is able to provide on many aspects of Church history but also a first-time use of many heretofore restricted and unknown sources. He cuts right through the mass of evidence to come out with definite interpretations and insights. ... much intimate material appears which was previously not only unknown but no one would have dared publish it if it had been known. ...

Because of these concerns we are trying to work out some alternatives:

(1) Is it possible that the University of Utah will allow Mike to restrict the thesis so that no one can see it without his approval? ...

(2) Is it possible that Mike could be induced to delay the final completion of the thesis for a year or two until we can accustom the Mormon reading public to this kind of an approach and to the sources?

(3) Is it possible we could induce Mike to [go] with this material as the basis for a later book and use for his present thesis three or four essays which he has written or might in the future write?

(4) Is it possible Mike might be satisfied to get a master's degree without thesis as some have done at the university?

We feel reasonably certain that if the thesis is completed this September as Mike expects and if it is made immediately available, it will prove so shocking to historians, students-members and non-members alike ....

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

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