Brigham Young University: A House of FaithBrigham Young University
A House of Faith
Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis

on the cover:
“This thoroughly documented foray into some of the tensions which have bedeviled the history of BYU provides a balance to previous accounts of the ‘Lord’s University’ and adds a much needed dimension to the history of education among the Mormons … The history of the struggle between secular values and religious values at the ‘Y’ is a microcosm of the issues faced by any group that wants to be in the world, but not of the world.” —Frederick S. Buchanan, Associate Professor of Educational Studies, University of Utah

“A remarkable piece of research that has produced an amazing battery of instructive and interesting facts.” —Sterling M. McMurrin, former United States Commissioner of Education, author of The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion

“The authors have provided many interesting details, making the book enjoyable and honest. I read this volume with a great deal of interest.” —Caroline Eyring Miner, class of 1929, co-author of Camilla: A Biography of Camilla Eyring Kimball

“Controversial in both content and method, this vast collection of new information about BYU’s past will nonetheless become a useful reference for those who seek to understand the nation’s largest church-related university. Its topical chapters describe difficulties that always arise when the innate curiosity of students and scholars encounters the instinctive orthodoxy of religious authorities. The resulting conflict is inevitable; if it ever ceases, the Mormon church and Brigham Young University will both suffer an irreparable loss.” —L. Jackson Newell, Professor of Higher Education and dean of Liberal Education, University of Utah, and co-editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

About the authors: Gary James Bergera graduated from Brigham Young University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and again in 1982 with a master’s degree in public administration. He is the author of several articles appearing in the Utah Historical Quarterly, Dialogue, and Sunstone magazine and received a Best Article award from the Mormon History Association in 1980. Ronald Priddis graduated from Brigham Young University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in food manufacturing. He is one of the founders of the now extinct Seventh East Press.

title page:
Brigham Young University
A House of Faith
Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis
Signature Books

copyright page:
Copyright 1985 by Signature Books
Salt Lake City, Utah
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
book design by Diane Valantine
cover illustration by Diane Valantine
photographs courtesy of Brigham Young University Archives and BYU Public Communications
ISBN 0-941214-34-6

dedication page:  To George and Camilla

Introduction [see below]
01 – Growth and Development
02 – Integrating Religion & Academics
03 – Standards & the Honor Code
04 – Organic Evolution Controversy
05 – Partisan Politics & the University
06 – Student Government, Social Clubs, & Newspapers
07 – Intercollegiate Athletics
08 – Arts, Entertainment, & Literature
09 – Academics & Intellectual Pursuits
10 – photo section
Sources and Abbreviations [see below]


[p. xi]The title for this book, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith, was suggested by BYU president Dallin H. Oaks’s 1977 pre-school faculty workshop address, “A House of Faith.” Oaks took the title of his speech from the church’s third canon of scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verse 119, which reads: “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” In Oaks’s adrress, he explained that the first Mormon temple was intended as a place of classroom instruction for priesthood holders preparing for the ministry, not just as a place of ritual. Although the School of the Prophets, which met in the Kirtland Temple during the 1830s, lasted only a few years, it represented the church’s first attempt to provide leaders with elementary instruction in theology, history, geography, English grammar, penmanship, arithmetic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

While the idea of providing secular instruction in temples has since been abandoned and the need for studying languages before assuming leadership of a Mormon congregation is no longer apparent, Mormons, perhaps today more than ever, remain generally impressed by the theoretical juxtaposition of faith and learning. Although secular education tends to be deemphasized in contemporary Mormon worship services, the promotion of faith is actively encouraged in Mormon-operated schools, particularly at Brigham Young University, which one ranking church leader termed a “showcase for Mormonism.” For Oaks and other school officials, Brigham Young University will “achieve [its] prophetic destiny as ‘the fully anointed university of the Lord'” only by “understand[ing] its role in the Kingdom of God” and by encouraging students and faculty to be “worthy in our individual lives,” “fearless in proclaiming the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” “exemplary in efforts understandable to the world,” and in “seek[ing] and heed[ing] the inspiration of God in the performance of our individual responsibilities.” Implicit in Oaks’s challenge is the acknowledgment that the school’s “prophetic destiny” and religious purposes may not always be understood by Mormons, including the academics employed by the church’s university, where one might expect the focus to be sharpest in such issues. But concepts accepted and [p. xii]promoted in traditional academia inevitably vary with those espoused by church leaders, resulting in divided loyalties, even for the most ardent and devout of believers.

The purpose of Brigham Young University: A House of Faith is to outline the struggle the Mormon church has encountered in trying to blend academics and faith and in reconciling church standards with norms at other American universites, not to produce a comprehensive, chronological history of BYU. Instead, a selective approach has been taken–a thematic introduction to events, incidents, and statements, both published and private, in selected areas where tensions between scholarship and faith, freedom and regimentation have been the most pronounced. Examples include the development of a religious curriculum, the honor code, the controversy surrounding organic evolution, politics, student life, athletics, the arts, and faculty research. We hope that this approach will help readers appreciate the religious and intellectual dilemma facing educators and church leaders, as well as the fundamental sincerity of those involved in trying to establish academic rigor within religious parameters or to prevent moral deterioration when traditional restraints are left unchecked. Whatever the particular issue under discussion, an attempt has been made to keep the presentation balanced and impartial, yet sympathetic. While some readers may question the descriptive, largely noninterpretive approach, it is hoped that most will, through this approach, at least gain a greater understanding of the complex challenges involved in successfully integrating religion and academics.

We especially hope that Brigham Young University: A House of Faith will be of use to those who appreciate more than a cursory history of Mormonism–in this case, the Mormon concept of education–and who relish the rich fabric of pluralism. Brigham Young University has an engaging past, which, we believe, deserves more than a superficial treatment. Perhaps this book can be a springboard for more thorough investigations into other areas of the school’s past. There have been so many noteworthy accomplishments, discouraging defeats, moving religious experiences, humorous accounts of human foibles, and undocumented daily routine, that much remains in describing all that has gone into making the university founded more than a century ago by Brigham Young.

In presenting the sources cited in this work, we have followed the recommendations of the 1982 edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, with slight modifications. Readers will notice, for example, our incorporation of Chicago’s “down style” approach to capitalization. In order to facilitate future research, complete source citations are included as endnotes. To avoid a cumbersome and ultimately unworkable linking of each sentence with its corresponding source and bibliographic reference, we have instead referenced each paragraph and [p. xiii]cited sources in the endnotes section in the order in which material is presented in the paragraph indicated. Where the reader would otherwise encounter difficulty in identifying the specific source of a given piece of information, or where the source is considered especially important, it is provided in the text in an abbreviated form within parentheses.

While we accept complete responsibility for the materials used, sources consulted, approach, and observations in A House of Faith, we owe much to Lavina Fielding Anderson for her keen editorial insights and suggestions, and to Diane Valantine for her book design and layout. Others, too, lent their support, cooperation, criticism, and interest throughout the nearly three years devoted to this project. In particular, we would like to thank Thomas Alexander, Kent Appleberry, Ian Barber, Mary Brockert, Frederick Buchanan, David Buerger, Lester Bush, Harold Christensen, James Clayton, Everett Cooley, Ernest Cook, Richard Cowan, Kenneth Davies, Scott Dunn, Chad Flake, Jani Fleet, Robert Gottlieb, Maxine Hanks, Kent Hatch, Harvard Heath, Ray Hillam, Duane Jeffery, Jeffrey Keller, Scott Kenney, Sterling McMurrin, Robert Miller, Chad Orton, Billy Plunkett, Richard Poll, D. Michael Quinn, John Quist, Timothy Rathbone, Gail Richards, Paul Richards, Melva Richey, Allen Roberts, Jay Roberts, Dennis Rowley, Donald Schmidt, David Schulthess, Robert Smith, George Smith, John Snyder, Susan Staker, Phillip Todd, Gregory Thompson, Lu Wallace, Richard Van Wagoner, Nelson Wadsworth, Brad Westwood, David Whittaker, Peter Wiley, J. D. Williams, Larry Wimmer, and our parents, Alfred and Venice Priddis, and James and Ella Ruth Bergera.

Ronald Priddis
Gary James Bergera
Salt Lake City, Utah
September 1985

Sources & Abbreviations

The most extensive collection of primary sources for the history of Brigham Young University is housed in the University Archives of the Harold B. Lee Library. A thorough description of these collections has been compiled by Rodney D. Keller and John F. Bluth in A Guide to the University Archives: Brigham Young University (Harold B. Lee Library: Division of Archives and Manuscripts, 1982). In some instances, access was secured to otherwise unavailable materials in private hands. Where this is the case, either photocopies or typescript copies of these documents are in authors’ possession.

Major manuscript and printed holdings at BYU Archives of particular relevance to this study include:

1. Board of Trustees and Executive Committee Minutes (including General Church Board of Education Minutes and Church Unified School System Papers), 1875-1980. Some duplicates are located in Church Archives, other University Archives (UA) collections, the Adam S. Bennion Papers (BYU Archives and Manuscripts), and in private hands.

2. Presidential Papers. These contain the official papers of Karl G. Maeser, 1861-1901 (duplicates at Church Archives); Benjamin Cluff, Jr., 1893-1904; George H. Brimhall, 1881-1932; Franklin S. Harris, 1908-49; Howard S. McDonald, 1945-49; Ernest L. Wilkinson, 1949-75; and Dallin H. Oaks, 1971-80. Again, some duplicates are available in other UA collections as well as in private hands.

3. Administrative, academic, and student offices. Collections of particular interest include Accreditation Reports; Admissions and Records (including Registrar’s Office); Administrative Officers; Alumni Association; Associated Students of Brigham Young University Records and Minutes; Athletic Department; Biological and Agricultural Sciences College; Board of Trustees and Faculty Biographical Files; Brigham Young Academy Records; Broadcast Services; Business College; Child Development and Family Relations Department; Communications Department; Continuing Education; Counseling Center/Service; David O. McKay Institute; Dean of Students; Dean of Women (including Women’s Counselor); Deans’ Council Minutes; Economics Department; Education College; Education Weeks; English Department; Extension Division; Faculty Advisory Council Minutes (includes Faculty Minutes); Family Living College (including Family, Home, and Social Sciences College); Financial Services; Fine Arts and Communication College; General College; Health Center; History Department; Housing Office; Humanities College; Inter-Organizational Council; LDS Branch, Ward, and Stake Records; Learning Resources Division; Music Department; Personnel Services; Photographic Archives; Physical Education College; Physical and Engineering Sciences College; Physics Department; Physical Plant Department; Political Sciences Department; Polysophical Society Minutes; Printed Material Records; Program Bureau; Religious Instruction College; Research Division; Social Sciences College; Sociology Department; Speech and Drama Department; Student Fraternity and Sorority Club Files and Scrapbooks; Student Life Office; Student Publications Collection; Summer School Records; University Committees; University Development; University Library and Archives; University Press; University Publications Collection; University Relations (including Public Communications); University Speaker’s Bureau; University Standards; and Wilkinson Center and Student Activities Director.

4. Faculty and other papers (includes some BYU Archives and Manuscripts collections): Mark K. Allen, Roman Andrus, Adam S. Bennion, George H. Brimhall, Arthur D. Browne, Kenneth C. Bullock, Zina Card, Ross T. Christensen, Herald R. Clark, Selby G. Clark, Benjamin F. Cummings, Willard B. Doxey, Elbert J. Eastmond, Carl F. Eyring, Harvey Fletcher, George H. Hansen, Kenneth R. Hardy, Franklin S. Harris, John J. Hunter, Christen Jensen, Bent F. Larsen, Wesley P. Lloyd, Joseph F. Merrill, T. Earl Pardoe, Clyde A. Parker, Alonzo S. Pond, M. Wilford Poulson, Eugene L. Roberts, Lyman F. Smart, Reed Smoot, William H. Snell, Sidney B. Sperry, John C. Swensen, James E. Talmage, Gerald B. Warnick, and Franklin L. West.

5. University Archives oral histories and interviews: Stephen L. Alley, Roman J. Andrus, Richard Bennett, Joseph T. Bentley, Golden Brimhall, Elsie Brockbank, Clawson Y. Cannon, Thomas Cheney, Dean C. Christensen, James R. Clark, J. Reuben Clark III, A. John Clarke, Lloyd Cullimore, Virginia B. Cutler, Gerrit deJong, William F. Edwards, Reta Egbert, Harvey Fletcher, Wayne B. Hales, George H. Hansen, Verdon Harwood, Anna Hart, Harvard S. Heath, Armin J. Hill, Jan Chase Izatt, Eddie Kimball, Francis W. Kirkham, Reuben D. Law, Howard S. McDonald, Beatrice Maeser Mitchell, John C. Moffitt, Reed Morrill, Lowry Nelson, Henry Peterson, Leland Priday, Antone K. Romney, Keifer B. Sauls, Hollis Scott, Hyrum J. Smith, William J. Snow, Irene Osmond Spears, Russel B. Swenson, Harvey Taylor, Douglas F. Tobler, Harold Van Wagenen, Rudger H. Walker, Stanley H. Watts, Leah Eudora Dunford Widtsoe, Alice Ludlow Wilkinson, Ernest L. Wilkinson, David Yarn, and Karl Young.

6. Newspapers, magazines, and in-house newsletters. Important sources include the BYA Student, Normal, White and Blue, Y News, Brigham Young Universe (later Universe), Daily Universe, Zion’s Opinion, Centennial Free Press, Seventh East Press, University Post, Banyan, Wye Magazine, Century II, Inscape, Insight, BYU Studies, BYU Today, BYU Sports, BYU Faculty Bulletin (including University Bulletin), BYU Faculty Notes, Y News, and University Handbook.

7. Other materials. Newspaper, academic, and professional journal and magazine articles; theses and dissertations; statistical surveys; general reference works; historical and biographical studies; interviews; and some unpublished documents are referenced as they appear within each chapter.

Manuscripts and printed sources are cited sequentially in each endnote. For greater clarity, parenthetical author citations occasionally appear in the text referring the reader to the fuller citation in the corresponding endnote. In direct quotations, grammar and spelling are usually corrected silently. The author and title of published works are given at first mention within each chapter. Thereafter, the author’s last name and an abbreviated title are presented. Frequently cited abbreviations and short titles used in the text or in the endnotes are:

AlumnusBrigham Young University Alumnus, an early alumni magazine.

Archives and Manuscripts — Manuscript collections, followed by repository.

BanyanBrigham Young University Banyan, a student yearbook.

Board Minutes — Board of Trustees Minutes, followed by date.

BYU — Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years, 4 vols. (Provo, Utah; BYU Press, 1975-76), followed by volume and page numbers; or Ernest L. Wilkinson and W. Cleon Skousen, Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny (Provo: BYU Press, 1976), followed by page number(s).

BYUA — Brigham Young University Archives, Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah.

CatalogBrigham Young University Bulletin/General Catalog, an annual catalog of courses.

Church Archives — Library/Archives, Historical Department, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

CircularCircular of the Brigham Young Academy, an early, annual catalog of courses.

DialogueDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, published quarterly.

DUDaily Universe, BYU’s current daily student newspaper (including its forerunner, the semi-weekly Universe).

Ensign — A monthly magazine since 1971 published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ex. Com. Minutes — Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Minutes, followed by date.

JDJournal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool, 1854-86), a compilation of sermons by ranking church authorities, followed by volume and page number(s).

MFP — James R. Clark, ed. and comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Introduction, Notes, and Index, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), followed by volume and page number(s).

New Era — A monthly youth magazine published since 1971 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

ProspectusProspectus of the Brigham Young Academy, an early, annual catalog of courses.

SEPSeventh East Press, an independent BYU student newspaper.

SpeechesBrigham Young University Speeches of the Year, followed by the year and, where given, page number(s).

UA — Brigham Young University Archives collections call number.

WBWhite and Blue, an early BYU student newspaper.

YNY News, an early BYU student newspaper.