LDS Church historian wins major award, credits church employees and missionaries

Published: Friday, Jan. 10 2014 12:55 p.m. MST

Assistant Church Historian and Recorder Richard E. Turley Jr of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints displays historical documents during a press conference announcing the release of the latest volume in the church's ongoing Joseph Smith Papers project in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Turley received a prestigious national award from the American Historical Association for guiding the church's archives, museums, history sites and "vast records" system.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Assistant LDS Church historian Richard E. Turley Jr. received a prestigious national award last weekend from the American Historical Association for guiding the church's historical archives and museums, history sites and "vast records" system.

The historical association awarded Turley the prestigious 2013 Herbert Feis Award at its 128th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

"His actions stand as a beacon to others,” said Carroll Van West, chair of the 2013 Feis Award committee and director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, according to a church press release.

West characterized history operations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as significant, "including archives, museums, 25 historic sites and a vast records management system."

Turley became the assistant church historian and recorder in 2008, a priesthood calling held previously by Wilford Woodruff, B.H. Roberts and Joseph Fielding Smith. The position had not been filled since 1979.

Turley previously served as managing director of the Family and Church History Department and the Church Historical Department, which merged during his tenure. (They separated again when he became the assistant church historian.)

During that time, Turley oversaw the Church Archives and Records Center; the Church History Library; the Museum of Church History and Art; the Family History Library, which is the largest genealogical library in the world; the Granite Mountain Records Vault, which preserves copies of millions of records from around the world; and more than 4,000 branch family history centers on six continents.

He also is a member of the editorial board for The Joseph Smith Papers project and author of "Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case" and, with Ronald W. Walker and Glen M. Leonard, "Massacre at Mountain Meadows."

Turley said the Feis award honors the efforts of thousands of others who engaged in church and family history.

“This award recognizes the work of many thousands of employees, missionaries and volunteers over recent decades to make church history and family history information available to millions of people around the globe.”

The Herbert Feis Award, established in 1984, is named in memory of the late Herbert Feis, a historian of American foreign policy. The award honors significant contributions in the field of public history.

The American Historical Association is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1884 and is the largest organization of historians in the United States, with more than 14,000 members.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com

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