The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today named Richard E. Turley Jr. as the new assistant Church historian and recorder, signaling another step forward in its commitment to collect, preserve and publish Church historical records.
Turley said today he was looking forward to focusing his attention on the "rich and fascinating history of the Church” as he relinquishes his former position as managing director of the Family and Church History Department. “Our aim is to apply the Church’s historical resources, personnel and collections for the benefit of its members and others interested in Latter-day Saint history,” he said.
Turley follows in the footsteps of former notable assistant historians such as Andrew Jenson and B.H. Roberts.
“Richard Turley is uniquely suited to make a very significant contribution to the collection, preservation and publishing of Church history," Church historian Marlin K. Jensen said. "He has a base of historical and doctrinal knowledge that qualifies him to be the assistant Church historian and recorder. He also has the respect and credibility of those outside the Church who are scholars and academics working in the area of Mormon studies and Mormon history.”
That credibility is based on years of experience overseeing the vast records of the Church. As managing director of the Family and Church History Department, his responsibilities included management of the Church Archives and Records Center, the Church’s worldwide family history operations, the Church History Library and the Museum of Church History and Art.
He has also served on the Church’s Historic Sites Committee, which oversees the restoration and operation of important historic sites across the United States.
Turley, an accomplished author who currently serves as the president of the Genealogical Society of Utah, said that in his new position “attention will be given to the way Church history is collected and preserved, not only in the United States but also worldwide.”
Today’s announcement follows on the heels of the creation of The Church Historian’s Press just two weeks ago. The new imprint will publish works related to the Church’s origin and growth, such as The Joseph Smith Papers, a documentary series that will eventually comprise 25–30 volumes.
The construction of the 230,000-square-foot Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City is further evidence of the Church’s desire to make its history available to scholars and the public. The new library, to be completed in the spring of 2009, will include a collection of 270,000 books, pamphlets and magazines, as well as 240,000 original unpublished records.