Leonard J. Arrington
Leonard J. Arrington

Celebrity Profile

Name: Leonard J. Arrington
Occupation: Historian
Gender: Male
Birth Day: July 2, 1917
Death Date: Feb 11, 1999 (age 81)
Age: Aged 81
Country: United States
Zodiac Sign: Cancer

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Weight: in kg - N/A
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Leonard J. Arrington

Leonard J. Arrington was born on July 2, 1917 in United States (81 years old). Leonard J. Arrington is a Historian, zodiac sign: Cancer. Find out Leonard J. Arringtonnet worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.

Brief Info

An influential Mormon historian, he wrote extensively about the settling of the American West, focusing especially on the Mormon leader, Brigham Young. His best-known works include The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (1979) and Brigham Young: American Moses (1985).


He wrote many of his books at a time when the Church of Latter-Day Saints allowed outside academics free access into its archives.

Does Leonard J. Arrington Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Leonard J. Arrington died on Feb 11, 1999 (age 81).

Net Worth

Net Worth 2020


Salary 2020

Not known

Before Fame

An agricultural scientist and economist by training, he earned degrees from the University of Idaho and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During World War II, he served in Italy and North Africa.

Biography Timeline


Leonard Arrington was born in Twin Falls, Idaho on July 2, 1917, the third of eleven children. His parents, Noah and Edna, were farmers and devout Latter-day Saints, the most well-known branch of Mormonism. Arrington grew up as an aspiring farmer and active member and one of the first national officers of the National FFA Organization. For his FFA independent project, he raised several hundred Rhode Island Red chickens and won a prize for them at the Idaho State Fair in 1934. The chicken project helped him win a Union Pacific Railroad scholarship.


Arrington's father offered to pay for Arrington to serve as an LDS missionary, but not for a university education. Arrington did not serve an LDS mission, but considered his educational endeavors a form of church service. Under a scholarship to the University of Idaho, Arrington studied agricultural science in 1935, later changing to agricultural economics. George S. Tanner, the director of the LDS Institute at the University of Idaho, was a progressive intellectual Mormon who taught Arrington that Christianity and science could be compatible and that other translations of the Bible could assist in its interpretation. One of the university's newest economics professors, Erwin Graue, taught the ideas of Alfred Marshall and influenced Arrington to see economics as a study of human relationships and not just mathematical economic forces. Marshall wrote that religious fervor could influence people to act altruistically.


Arrington graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1939. Arrington then began graduate work under a Kenan teaching fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. and married Grace Fort in 1942. Grace joined the LDS Church in 1946.


He was a professor at Utah State Agricultural College in Logan, Utah (which became Utah State University in 1957) from 1946 to 1972. He completed a PhD in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1952, taking a year's leave from teaching and moving to North Carolina to complete his coursework. Arrington easily completed the coursework and examinations, as he had already been teaching much of the material, and published several articles in the meantime.


In 1958, Harvard University Press published Arrington's Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900, based on his doctoral dissertation, Mormon Economic Policies and Their Implementation on the Western Frontier, 1847–1900. Great Basin Kingdom was published through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, which subsidized publication of books about economic history. Under the grant, all royalties went back into the fund to help publish more books; Arrington did not receive royalties from the book until the University of Utah reprinted it in 1993.

From 1958 to 1959, he was a Fulbright Professor of American Economics at the University of Genoa in Italy. After returning from Italy, Arrington arranged for donations from patrons to fund the writing of Mormon biographies. Much of these biographies were researched and written by graduate students and other assistants, but published under Arrington's name with acknowledgements of the student work. Also in 1959, Arrington wrote an article featured in the first issue of BYU Studies entitled "An Economic Interpretation of 'The Word of Wisdom.'" The article argued that Brigham Young's enforcement of the Word of Wisdom as a commandment was motivated by a desire to keep cash inside Utah (and not spent on luxury imports). BYU Studies was suspended for a year, which Ernest L. Wilkinson told Arrington was because of his revisionist history paper.


N. Eldon Tanner was made second counselor to the president of the LDS Church, David O. McKay, in 1963. Tanner met with the director of the BYU library at the time, S. Lyman Tyler, to coordinate LDS historians' work with the LDS Church Archives. Arrington began attending these meetings in 1966. In 1967, Arrington indicated that publisher Knopf was interested in publishing a general history of Mormons, and asked for unrestricted access to the LDS Church Archives, which he was granted in January 1968.


Arrington helped establish the Mormon History Association in 1965 and served as its first president from 1966 to 1967. After Arrington's article caused the suspension of BYU studies, BYU Studies was wary of publishing any controversial material. Arrington formed the Mormon History Association in part to make a place where controversial material could be discussed. The association welcomed anyone with an interest in Mormon history. Wesley Johnson attended the inaugural meeting, and proposed that the association could publish Mormon studies articles in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, a publication he helped form. Johnson's proposal was accepted and members of the Mormon History Association submitted papers to Dialogue.


From 1966 to 1967 he worked as a visiting professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. From 1972 to 1987 he was Lemuel H. Redd Jr. Professor of Western American History at BYU. In 1977, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Idaho (his alma mater), and in 1982 Utah State University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.


After McKay died in 1970, the LDS Church Historian Joseph Fielding Smith succeeded him as church President. This left the position of official Church Historian—which was traditionally held by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—vacant. Apostle Howard W. Hunter was chosen as the next Church Historian, and he formed a committee of prominent Mormon historians to discuss reorganizing the church history department. As part of this reorganization, Arrington was appointed official Church Historian of The LDS Church, replacing Howard W. Hunter, in January 1972. At the same time, Arrington was appointed as "Lemuel H. Redd Professor of Western History" and Founding Director of the "Charles Redd Center for Western Studies" at BYU; his historian position was funded half by the church and half by BYU. The Church Historian's Office was transformed into the church's Historical Department, and Arrington was made director of its research-oriented History Division. It was the first time a professional historian rather than an administrator was given a church historian position. He hired Jim Allen and Davis Bitton as assistant church historians, whose positions were also funded half by the church and half by their universities.


The open and idealistic ethos did not last. The History Division's immediate supervisors, Joseph Anderson and G. Homer Durham, failed to defend the division. Spies within the department, under the instruction of Mark E. Petersen, compiled what they believed to be heretical statements and passed them along to the Twelve Apostles and ultimately the offender's bishop (local ecclesiastical authority). In a meeting with the First Presidency in 1973, LDS Church President Harold B. Lee rejected proposals for a student research award and for a Friends of the Church History organization. Lee preferred that researchers clear sensitive archive research topics like polygamy with the First Presidency ahead of time. Staff historian D. Michael Quinn published an article in the LDS Church magazine, the Ensign, exploring the origins of the office of presiding bishop, and asserted that Edward Partridge was not the first incumbent. Although Quinn's research was correct, space in the Ensign did not permit a complete documentation of Quinn's research, and some readers felt the article insulted Partridge's memory. Apostle Spencer W. Kimball suggested that Arrington submit an apology to readers; Arrington sent a message to the publisher with his regrets that the article's format was unfortunate.


During research on his dissertation, Arrington found a manuscript from 1946 by Feramorz Fox about Mormon communitarianism. Arrington found the manuscript fascinatingly free of Marxist thought and together with Dean L. May, revised and expanded the manuscript under the title Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation among the Mormons. Deseret Book published the book in 1976. The book was received poorly at LDS Church Headquarters; Deseret Book was not allowed to reprint the book and Church News was not permitted to review it. Fellow historians found the book well-researched but too willing to give Mormonism credit for modern welfare programs.


G. Homer Durham, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, replaced Joseph Anderson as director of the Historical Department in 1977 and began restraining the History Division's activity. Durham required that all manuscripts go through him for approval before publication. He attempted to combine the Mormon History Trust Fund with the general department budget, but was prevented by Arrington. Durham also refrained from hiring new staff members to replace staff who had left. The multi-volume church history project was dropped, allowing the outside authors to seek publishers other than Deseret Book who would give them royalties and not be tempted to sanitize church history. Not all twelve authors completed their projects, but many books that started from the History Division project were later published through other publishers.


The church transferred its History Division to BYU in 1982, bringing the era of open LDS Church Archives to a close. Working in a new BYU division, the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, brought Arrington into a more static situation, as he no longer divided his time between Church Headquarters and BYU. In February 1982, he was privately released as Church Historian and director of the History Division. These positions were assumed by Durham, who said that moving the team would save them from the increasing hostility from the Twelve Apostles. At the April 1982 General Conference, the change was not formally announced and Arrington did not receive the traditional vote of thanks for his service.

In March 1982, Arrington's wife Grace died. Arrington married Harriet Horne, granddaughter of Alice Merrill Horne, in November 1983. Arrington continued on as director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History until 1986 and he retired in 1987. In 2005, the Institute was closed and the department's historians were returned to LDS Church Headquarters.

Arrington remained an active and devoted member of the LDS Church throughout his life. In 1982, his wife Grace Fort died, and in 1983 Arrington was remarried to Harriett Ann Horne. On February 11, 1999 at the age of 81, Arrington died of heart failure at his home in Salt Lake City.


Arrington also founded the Western Historical Quarterly and served as president of the Western History Association (1968–69), the Agricultural History Society (1969–70), and the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association (1981–82). For his distinction in writing American history he was awarded the Western History Association Prize in 1984 and he was made a Fellow of the Society of American Historians in 1986.


Starting in 1999 after his death, the Mormon History Association created the annual Leonard J. Arrington Award, awarded for distinguished and meritorious service to Mormon history. In 2002 he was posthumously awarded the first annual Lifetime Achievement Award by the John Whitmer Historical Association. In 2005, Utah State University created the Leonard J. Arrington Chair in Mormon History and Culture, which was sponsored by more than 45 donors. This chair is the first position at a public institution specifically for the study of Mormon history and culture. In Fall 2007, this chair was first filled by Philip Barlow. The university hosts the Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series, in which Arrington himself gave the inaugural lecture in 1995.


Before his passing, Arrington's children convinced their father to decrease the amount of time before making his diaries available from 25 years to 10 years. The diaries were made available in September 2010 at Utah State University. Arrington's collection of papers at Utah State's Merrill-Crazier Library adds up to 319 linear feet. It has been regarded as "one of the most important archival sources on twentieth-century Mormon history."

Family Life

Leonard was born in Idaho to farmer parents who belonged to the Mormon faith. Leonard was married twice and fathered two sons and a daughter.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Leonard J. Arrington is 105 years, 1 months and 13 days old. Leonard J. Arrington will celebrate 106th birthday on a Sunday 2nd of July 2023. Below we countdown to Leonard J. Arrington upcoming birthday.


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