Mission, Purpose, and History of BYU Studies
Our Mission

BYU Studies is dedicated to publishing scholarly religious literature in the form of books, journals, and dissertations that is qualified, significant, and inspiring. We want to share these publications to help promote faith, continued learning, and further interest in our LDS history with those in the world who have a positive interest in this work.

Our Purpose

In order to accomplish our mission, we have a few key objectives. Publications are selected from highly qualified authors who share the same goals and objectives as we do. Our editors and staff are experienced, educated, and trained in their respective positions.

As an outlet for BYU Studies literature, we accept mail, phone, and web orders for a variety of products. The BYU Studies journal is our most prominent publication. We provide subscriptions which allow each publication to be mailed to your door. The journal is complimented by a strong collection of relevant books and dissertations about subjects requiring more discussion and content than our journal has room to provide. Most of our books are also endorsed by the BYU Press. Recently, a collection of selected archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been produced on a set of DVD's. These DVD's provide an important resource for researchers and collectors. In addition to these great resources, we also provide comprehensive databases of article references by author, subject, title, and category to help you in any manner they can. Each reference will provide a link if its corresponding article is available in download, reprint, or journal form.

Key Aims and Objectives

The mission of this publication is to be faithful and scholarly throughout, harmonizing wherever possible the intellectual and the spiritual on subjects of interest to Latter-day Saints and to scholars studying the Latter-day Saint experience. To achieve this goal, BYU Studies strives to be:
  • Accurate - to ensure that information is well grounded
  • Selective - to choose articles of lasting value
  • Interesting - to present new discoveries and insights
  • Respectful - to respect reasonable points of view
  • Expansive - to pursue a wide range of academic inquiries
  • Clear - to make ideas readily understandable
Our History

Since its inception in 1959, the BYU Studies organization has been led by a group of scholars devoted to seeking truth by study and also by faith. Past editors-in-chief have been Clinton Larson (1959–67), Charles Tate (1968–83), and Edward Geary (1984–91). Each has had his influence in making BYU Studies a high-caliber academic journal.

Clinton Larson remembers envisioning BYU Studies:

Three of us stood in a field to the north of Temple Hill. Darrel Taylor said, “I want to establish a language training center for missionaries of the Church.”. . . And I thought of the possibility of a magazine for the university, as it might be, drawing its breath from the influence of ages past, from literature and the books wherein [Truth] lies.

A short time later, the magazine soon named BYU Studies, was born, with Clinton Larson as the first editor-in-chief and only staff member. Now the journal consists of full professional staff, an advisory board, and an intern program.

Charles Tate’s vision for BYU Studies was that articles found therein would “not just tear down the wrong thing,” but build the right thing. This led to the publication of many stellar issues of BYU Studies including several on the origins of the Church: “The articles in that issue showed that when scholars do their homework they find that Joseph Smith was telling the truth about what was happening around him historically.” Because of this perspective, BYU Studies has become a premier journal that looks at Mormon history, religious studies, and many other topics with an eye of faith.

During Edward Geary’s tenure, several issues came up that delved into serious topics: “[Members] want BYU to be a genuine university, and if the university is to sponsor a scholarly journal, they want it to be an instrument of serious and substantive inquiry.” He firmly believes that scholarly journals “are among the few remaining bastions against the trivialization of thought in the two-column article and the twenty-second sound bite that dominate the popular media.” As a result of this philosophy, BYU Studies has published over 1,585 well-researched items, including more than 50 bibliographies, 330 book reviews, and 265 poems.

Now John Welch continues to enthusiastically lead BYU Studies into a new century: “We live in dynamic times. The gospel gives needed orientation as the world faces a steady stream of new challenges. . . . BYU Studies hopes to fill a helpful and supporting role in these eternal purposes.” And it is the hope of those at BYU Studies, past, present, or future, that whatever your vision of BYU Studies is, you will find thoughtful publications that seek to build the kingdom of God “by study and also by faith.”

Our Organization

Editorial Board

The BYU Studies Editorial Board consists of scholars from various disciplines who meet on a regular basis to review submissions, assign peer reviewers, and plan contents of upcoming issues.

Advisory Board

The BYU Studies Advisory Board provides long-range vision. Made up of influential members appointed by the university, this group meets quarterly to review and approve major directions of the journal.

The Academy

The BYU Studies Academy is composed of about one hundred scholars and specialists from BYU and the larger LDS community who voluntarily work to promote LDS scholarship at BYU Studies. The Academy meets annually to discuss ideas that will improve and expand BYU Studies’ contribution to the LDS academic world.

Authors

For the past 50 years, authors have been the lifeblood of BYU Studies. These authors, both LDS and non-LDS, come from many disciplines and from many universities and represent the highest standards of academic excellence.

Interns

Demonstrating a commitment to applied education, BYU Studies also maintains a strong student intern program. Interns assist in source checking, copy editing, and proofreading. Senior editors train interns to develop and refine essential editing skills. Most interns work initially for academic credit and may later apply for paid positions. Skills learned at BYU Studies assist students in their own writing and are of great value in many professions.

Staff

Every article or book published by BYU Studies is rigorously edited. First the article is sent for a blind evaluation from peer reviewers. If the article is accepted for publication, every fact is source checked for accuracy, and the article is copy edited for readability. John W. Welch, a professor in the J. Reuben Clark Law School, is editor in chief. Heather Seferovich, senior executive editor, edits books and is on the Church History review board. James Summerhays, administrative editor, is on the book and media review board. Roger Terry, senior associate editor and financial officer, assists the arts and sciences board. Robert Spencer, production editor, handles electronic typesetting, formats the journal, and works closely with printers. Jennifer Hurlbut, managing editor, oversees source checking, copy editing, and copyrights. Annette Samuelsen, office manager, processes subscriptions, handles daily finances, oversees human resource matters, and deals with inventory and order fulfillment. Liza Olsen, coordinating editor, tracks submissions, coordinates board and academy activities, and communicates with authors and reviewers. Eden Rasmussen, web editor and computer support representative, maintains the BYU Studies website and supervises student programmers.


How You Can Help

As a nonprofit organization, BYU Studies needs to produce just enough revenue to continue operations and keep providing the valuable pulications. You can help our cause by doing any or all of the following things:

  • Purchase a subscription and those books and other publications that interest you.
  • Tell your family and friends about the services we provide and encourage them to visit our website.