The Tanner Lecture series was established by the Mormon History Association in 1980 with the goal of elevating Mormon scholarship. Over the years, eminent scholars whose work "paralleled the Mormon history but . . . never addressed it directly" have been invited to speak and "expand a facet of their ongoing research to include a Mormon dimension" (xv–xvi). Their lectures have provided valuable outside perspectives. Although all the lectures have been published in the Journal of Mormon History, lectures from the first two decades were compiled in The Mormon History Association's Tanner Lectures: The First Twenty Years to increase accessibility. Another fifteen Tanner lectures were given before the name of the series was changed to the Smith-Pettit Lecture in 2015. From the Outside Looking In presents the last fifteen Tanner lectures and "represents the end of an era and the beginning of a future promise of excellent scholarship" (xviii).