Leonard J. Arrington

Leonard J. Arrington was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, on July 2, 1917. He grew up in an active Mormon farming household and planned an agricultural career. He attended the University of Idaho, where he studied agricultural science and then later switched to agricultural economics. He completed a PHD in Economics at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1952. Trained as an economic historian, Arrington eventually expanded his research into many aspects of history. His revised dissertation, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 was published by Harvard University Press in 1958 and has been a standard for Mormon and Western American economic history. Arrington taught at Utah State University until 1973, when he became the first holder of the Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. Chair of Western History, and the first director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University. At the same time he was called as historian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Arrington continued as the Redd Center director until his Church History division at the LDS Church Headquarters was transferred to BYU. He then became the director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History. He held the Redd Chair until his retirement in 1982. In that capacity he served as mentor for for many practitioners of the New Mormon History.