Conference celebrates 100 years of late Mormon scholar Leonard Arrington

Historians in the News
tags: religion, Mormon, LDS, Leonard Arrington



When Doug Anderson, dean of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, was a student at Utah State University, he almost didn’t get into an economics class taught by Leonard Arrington.

But when he did, Anderson found himself writing a paper about Utah’s dairy industry and found it curious when truck drivers tasked with supplying milk to Denver would come back home with nothing in their rigs.

The solution, Anderson learned, was for the truck drivers to haul back shipments of beer.

“Mormons were exporting milk and importing beer,” Anderson said to laughs from attendees at the Leonard J. Arrington Centennial Conference at USU on Wednesday. “Leonard loved that when I turned that paper in.”

Anderson’s recollection of Arrington’s days as a USU professor was just one of the many stories shared during the two-day conference meant to celebrate what would be the Mormon history scholar’s 100th birthday this year.

Arrington — a USU professor from 1946-72 and LDS Church historian from 1972-82 — put “Mormons on the map” as a topic of study and interest by non-Mormons, rather than it simply being “an academic backwater,” according to scholars The Herald Journal spoke with.

Further, Arrington mentored many professional and amateur scholars “whose contributions to the field continue in full force” almost two decades after his death in 1999. 

Arrington’s legacy is still felt at USU and in Logan today. His papers are housed in the university’s Special Collections and Archives office and every fall, a lecture in his name featuring a prominent scholar is held at the Logan Tabernacle. ...




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