‘Mormon Land’: A scholar who was excommunicated for his devotion to honest LDS history

Gary Topping and Barbara Jones Brown explore D. Michael Quinn’s life, legacy and how he was a researcher ahead of his time.

(Tribune file photo) Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn at the Church History Library in 2013. He died in 2021 at age 77.

Almost a year ago, noted Latter-day Saint historian and prodigious researcher D. Michael Quinn died at age 77.

Quinn, who retained his belief in the founding events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until his death, was pressured to resign from Brigham Young University and subsequently excommunicated from the faith in 1993 as part of the famed “September Six” for his writings about women and the priesthood, as well as about post-Manifesto polygamy.

For the past 11 months, friends and fellow academics have discussed the scholar’s legacy. On March 25, many of them will gather at the University of Utah for a one-day conference to examine and celebrate Quinn’s life.

In addition, Signature Books recently published a new biography of Quinn by historian and archivist Gary Topping. Titled simply “D. Michael Quinn: Mormon Historian,” the book helps flesh out the multiple aspects of Quinn’s identity as queer, Chicano and fiercely independent.

Meanwhile, Barbara Jones Brown, Signature’s new director, is researching Quinn’s unpublished memoirs, discovered by his children after his death.

On this week’s show, Topping and Brown examine Quinn’s life and legacy, his battles with the faith’s hierarchy and with his own identity, as well as his unwavering commitment to an honest telling of Mormon history and how he was ahead of his time.

Listen here:

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