History & Faith
Reflections of a Mormon Historian
by Richard D. Poll
For more than forty years, Richard D. Poll has been an articulate, thoughtful historian whose writings on the Mormon past and present have touched the lives of thousands of readers. In this collection, Poll brings together ten of his most insightful personal essays, some of which are published here for the first time. He wonders if historians and scholars should give their readers all of the “facts” or only some? Are some “truths” better left unsaid? Or is suppression in the long run more harmful? Where does one draw the line between openness and privacy? How should one deal with discrepancies regarding the way history has been recorded? Poll’s honest, refreshing voice may be more relevant and needed today than ever before.
“Institutions and movements, like the people who comprise them, have a capacity for selectively embellishing, revising, and forgetting aspects of their experience: The myths and half-truths which result are understandable but vulnerable and potentially injurious. However, the exploration of the closets of the historic past, like the investigation of other fields of knowledge, … presents no unmanageable threat to those who agree with former University of Utah sciences dean Henry Eyring when he says, ‘In this Church you have only to believe the truth. Find out what the truth is.’”
Richard D. Poll is professor emeritus of history at Western Illinois University, where he was also Vice-President of Administration. Previously he taught American and Mormon history for over twenty years at Brigham Young University. Dr. Poll is co-author, with Eugene E. Campbell, of Hugh B. Brown: His Life and Thought; co-editor, with Thomas G. Alexander, Eugene E. Campbell, and David E. Miller, of Utah’s History; and author of Howard J. Stoddard: Founder, Michigan National Bank.