Richard Bushman on Mormon scholarship

A recent symposium at the Springville, Utah, Museum of Art honored Richard Lyman Bushman on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Bushman is an American historian and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University. He recently completed an appointment as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling," a biography of the Prophet, and serves as one the three general editors of the Joseph Smith Papers project.

Bushman spoke at the June 18 conference on the state of Mormon history and scholarship, telling his audience that Mormon scholarship is flourishing and that we are living in the “Golden Age” of Mormon history. He described a progression from the “Camelot Age,” when LDS Church history was under the direction of Leonard Arrington, and sometimes had a sanitized cast to today’s “Age of Full Disclosure.” Today there is the belief that Joseph Smith can “stand up for himself” and that history thrives when historians are free to pursue truth — including the warts as well as glories.

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