Brigham Young University
Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis


Brigham YoungBRIGHAM YOUNG, 1801-77, second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death. Founded Brigham Young Academy in 1875 as one of several Mormon academies designed to curb the influence of Protestant and Catholic schools among Mormon children during the 1870s and 1880s.





Karl G. MaeserKARL G. MAESER, 1828-1901, succeeded Warren Dusenberry in 1876 as second principal of Brigham Young Academy. A Saxon immigrant trained in Dresden, Maeser stressed character development and religious devotion over strictly academic achievement.






Benjamin CluffBENJAMIN CLUFF, JR., 1858-1948, appointed BYA principal following Maeser’s resignation in 1892. A progressive educator with a degree from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Cluff added breadth to the BYA curriculum. He pushed for the school’s designation as a university in 1903 and also spearheaded the ill-fated expedition to South America.





George H. BrimhallGEORGE H. BRIMHALL, 1852-1932, acting BYA principal during Cluff’s absence to Mexico and South America: appointed BYU president in 1904. Concerned about the school’s poor academic reputation, Brimhall recruited BYU’s first Ph.D.s. In 1911, he required the resignation of three professors for teaching organic evolution and biblical criticism and eventually backed away from his earlier emphasis on science, stressing instead religion and teacher training.






Heber J. GrantHEBER J. GRANT, 1856-1945, seventh president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Initially supported the ideal of a strong academic emphasis at BYU but, by the 1930s, had come to suspect the motives of some BYU faculty and called for annual “worthiness” interviews.





Adam S. BennionADAM S. BENNION, called as superintendent of church schools in 1919. Resigned eight years later. Named an apostle in 1953. While superintendent, Bennion initiated an annual outdoor workshop for church educators during BYU’s alpine summer school on nearby Mount Timpanogos.





Joseph F. MerrillJOSEPH F. MERRILL, named church commissioner of education in 1927. Ordained an apostle in 1931, during his six-year tenure of Mormon graduate students to continue their studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School.





Franklin S. HarrisFRANKLIN S. HARRIS, 1884-1960, appointed fifth president of BYU in 1921, remaining for the next twenty-three years—the longest term of any BYU president. A reputable scholar, Harris was the school’s first president to hold a Ph.D. He weathered a series of controversies over the place and role of BYU in the church.






J. Reuben Clark, Jr.J. REUBEN CLARK, JR., 1871-1961, counselor in the church’s First Presidency from 1933 until his death. Influential church leader whose suspicion of intellectuals continues to exert a profound impact on BYU.






Howard S. McDonaldHOWARD S. McDONALD, 1894 to the present, sixth president of BYU. Served as president for only four years. Encouraged to resign by J. Reuben Clark.





David O. McKayDAVID O. McKAY, 1873-1970, ninth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a position held for some nineteen years. Although initially opposed to the appointment of Ernest L. Wilkinson as BYU president in 1951, McKay came to be one of Wilkinson’s greatest supporters.




Ernest L. WilkinsonERNEST L. WILKINSON, 1899-1978, seventh president of BYU. Conservative and scrappy, Wilkinson oversaw twenty years of unprecedented growth in enrollment and facilities but only moderate advancements in academics due to his preoccupation with ideological purity. Resigned in 1971.






Joseph Fielding SmithJOSEPH FIELDING SMITH, 1876-1972, Church Historian and tenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from 1970-1972. Like Clark, Smith was deeply suspicious of intellectualism. His doctrinal treatises have become measures of orthodoxy for many Mormons.





Ezra Taft BensonEZRA TAFT BENSON, an apostle from 1943 to the present. Sustained as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1973. An advocate of conservative politics. Benson called for a renewed emphasis at BYU in teaching free market capitalism, laissez-faire economics, and minimal federal intervention.





Dallin H. OaksDALLIN H. OAKS, 1932 to the present, eighth president of BYU. Ordained an apostle four years after his release in 1980. A political moderate with strong intellectual interests. Oaks struggled, especially during the last half of his administration, to distance the university from ultra-conservative associations.





Jeffrey R. HollandJEFFREY R. HOLLAND, 1940 to the present, ninth president of Brigham Young University. A career church educator, Holland promised to return religion to its former status as “hub” of the school’s intellectual wheel.







Lewis Building (BY Academy)

LEWIS BUILDING, a warehouse and entertainment hall deeded by Brigham Young in 1876 to serve as the first home of Brigham Young Academy. East and north wings were added in 1882 and 1883. Destroyed by fire in 1884.

First National Bank Building

FIRST NATIONAL BANK BUILDING, temporary home of BYA following the destruction of the Lewis Building. Upper grades met on the second floor, eventually expanding into adjacent buildings; lower grades met in the basement of the old Utah Stake Tabernacle across the street to the south and in the S. S. Jones Store. Note the saloon to the extreme right.


ZCMI Warehouse

Z.C.M.I. WAREHOUSE, J Street and 600 South. Home of BYA for nearly eight years, 1884-92. This picture shows the west facade after its extensive remodeling sometime in the late 1890s.

BY Academy

BRIGHAM YOUNG ACADEMY BUILDING, dedicated in 1892. Name changed to High School Building in 1898, and again to Education Building in 1922. This photograph was taken during a Founder’s Day celebration, ca. 1900. Note College Hall behind and to the right, as well as the outdoor lavatories to the left.


South American Expedition

SOUTH AMERICAN EXPEDITION, 1900-02, a BYA-sponsored research project under the direction of Benjamin Cluff, Jr., with the object of uncovering evidence for Book of Mormon claims in Colombia.  Only six members of the expedition ever reached Colombia and only one member, Chester Van Buren, conducted research there.

South American Expedition

EXPEDITION MEMBERS, resting along the way to the Mexican border where, after weeks of delays, official church endorsement was withdrawn. Students were reprimanded for their conduct.


College Building Library

COLLEGE BUILDING LIBRARY, known to students and faculty as Room D. Photo ca. 1920. Note the student with the freshman cap in the background.

Training School Building

TRAINING SCHOOL BUILDING GYMNASIUM, ca. 1920, known as the “attic.” Notice the students perched on the walls and on the ladders.


Heber J. Grant Library

HEBER J. GRANT LIBRARY, dedicated in 1925. The Grant Library was a closed-stacks library. Pictured here is the reading area, with its general reference books and shelves for students’ personal belongings, where students waited for their books to be brought to them by librarians.

Upper Campus

UPPER CAMPUS, ca. 1930. Visible are the Maeser Memorial Building (foreground), the Heber J. Grant Library (right of the Maeser Building), Raymond Park (extreme right), the Mecanic Arts Building, later renamed the George H. Brimhall Building (left of the Grant Library), the stadium (extreme left), and the laundry building at the foot of the hill.


Amanda Knight Hall

AMANDA KNIGHT HALL, an “off-campus” women’s dormitory, ca. 1940, known among students as “A-Man-A-Night-Hall.” The adjacent men’s dormitory, Allen Hall, housed both men and women in the 1940s.

Joseph Smith Memorial

JOSEPH SMITH MEMORIAL, intended to be the university’s first “chapel.” Constructed largely by volunteer labor; dedicated in 1941. The building has since undergone several major renovations.


Cafeteria and Cougar Eatery

CAFETERIA AND COUGAR EATERY, ca. 1945, in the basement of the Joseph Smith Memorial. The Cougar Eatery was a student-operated snack bar. This area was later remodeled to provide offices for the school’s religion faculty.

Elton John

MARRIOTT CENTER CONCERT, featuring the British rock-and-roll singer Elton John. Determining what kind of entertainment to sponsor on campus has proven to be increasingly difficult for administrators. Some albums were pulled from the bookstore in 1984 because of the performers’ lifestyles.


Beard Growing ContestBEARD-GROWING CONTEST, an annual event from the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s. In the nineteenth century, BYA students were discouraged from shaving at all.










Melvin MabeyMELVIN MABEY, chair of BYU’s political science department, lecturing to students in 1968. This photograph appeared on the front page of the 1 October 1968 Daily Universe.  Dress and grooming standards were not codified until the early 1970s.








Joseph PetersonJOSEPH PETERSON, BYU’s first Ph.D., who was forced to resign in 1911 for teaching organic evolution.







Henry Peterson

HENRY PETERSON, fired by President Brimhall in 1911 for teaching organic evolution. His home, near the Maeser Memorial Building on upper campus, currently serves as the official residence of the university president.






Ralph V. ChamberlainRALPH V. CHAMBERLAIN, BYU’s second Ph. D., who resigned in 1911 rather than modify his views on evolution.








Campus DemonstrationA CAMPUS DEMONSTRATION, calling for an extension of the school’s Christmas vacation. This 1962 incident, during which the dean of students was burned in effigy and raw eggs were thrown at campus buildings, was unquestionably the most “violent” uprising on campus.











Guerilla Theatre

GUERILLA THEATER, a 1970 collection of related skits protesting U.S. involvement in Vietnam. This production was staged on campus in the Varsity Theater by the student club Spectrum until school administrators cancelled further presentations.


Social Unit Burlesque

SOCIAL UNIT BURLESQUE, ca 1925. Other student revues included “Beauty Takes a Bath,” “When You Were a Tadpole,” and “Big Brother Is Watching.” Skits sponsored by the school’s social units were often irreverent and sometimes offensive.

Social Unit VaudevilleSOCIAL UNIT VAUDEVILLE, ca. 1950, an extravaganza produced by the Bricker social unit, originally known as the Goldbrickers. Following the abolishment of social units in the early 1960s, the Brickers regrouped as the Samuel Hall Society.










Senior Court

SENIOR COURT, one of the less attractive aspects of freshmen hazing, a campus tradition until the mid-1950s. Insubordinate freshmen were doused with molasses, eggs, and flour.

Botany Pond Ducking

BOTANY POND DUCKING, the penalty for Y-Day sluffers who failed to help with the annual whitewashing of the block “Y” overlooking campus. Photo ca. 1960.


Ice Sculpture Contest

ICE SCULPTURE CONTEST, 1950s-1960s. As much as three tons of snow could be tucked in to campus each year for this event.

Mud Football

MUD FOOTBALL, a popular undergraduate activity  during the 1960s and 1970s that evolved out of the annual frosh/soph flag rush, which was a part of freshmen hazing from the 1920s to the 1960s.


BYA Football Team

BYA FOOTBALL TEAM, before the sport was banned by church officials in 1899. The first game after football was reallowed was played in 1922.

BYA Basketball Team

BYA BASKETBALL TEAM, 1900. Notice the women’s turn-of-the-century uniforms.


Early Football Uniforms

EARLY FOOTBALL UNIFORMS, after the game was reallowed in 1921, were blue with orange stripes. Until the 1960s, BYU had one of the country’s “loosingest” teams.

Miracle Bowl Catch

MIRACLE BOWL CATCH, during the last seconds of BYU’s turn-around win over Southern Methodist University in 1980. In 1984, BYU finished its season with a bowl win over the University of Michigan and first place national rankings in Associated Press and United Press International post-season polls.