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Royal Skousen papers

Identifier: MSS 8255

Scope and Contents

Consists of linguistic research and career files (most notably on Skousen's theory of analogical modeling, Finnish morphology, English spelling, statistics and probability, quantum computing, and syntax), as well as presentations and articles, student and colleague files, independent consulting work and editorships. Also contains personal and family files, as well as Book of Mormon Critical Text Project files (research and drafts, collations, writing and publication files, Book of Mormon-related articles and presentations, student and other assistant researchers, the Wilford Wood photographs, etc.); and assorted media items (including 10" reels, VHS and cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs, numerous floppy disks, slides and other photographic equipment associated with the Critical Text project, and family-related items). Materials dated 1951-2020.


  • 1951-2020


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research with permission from the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. Prospective users must request access in writing. The donor agreement requires that Special Collections seek permission from the Skousens until 2045 or their demise; thereafter, Special Collections will solely make decisions regarding access.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to use material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

Royal Jon Skousen, son of LeRoy Bentley Skousen and Helen Louise McCarty, was born on August 5, 1945 in Cleveland, Ohio, the oldest of ten children. He graduated from Sunset High School in Beaverton, Oregon. When he was 19, his father unexpectedly died of lung cancer. Royal went on to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Finland from 1965 to 1967. After his return in 1968, he married Sirkku Unelma Härkönen; they moved to Orem, Utah and raised seven children together. Meanwhile, Royal received further education in the form of a BA from BYU in English and math. He earned a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1972, then worked as an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Texas-Austin until 1979, when he was hired by BYU. He was also a visiting professor at the University of California-San Diego in 1981, a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Tampere (Finland) in 1982, and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen, Netherlands) in 2001. In 1999, he was awarded BYU's Karl G. Maeser Excellence in Research and Creative Arts distinction. Since then he has served as the president of the Utah Association of Scholars, as well as associate editor of the Journal of Quantitative Linguistics since 2003.

Skousen's work in linguistics has dealt chiefly with developing a theory of language called Analogical Modeling, a theory that predicts language behavior by means of examples rather than by rules. He has published three books on this subject: Analogical Modeling of Language (1989), Analogy and Structure (1992), and Analogical Modeling: An Exemplar-Based Approach to Language (2002). More recently, he has published on the quantum computation of Analogical Modeling, notably in his 2005 paper "Quantum Analogical Modeling" (available at Skousen began working on the critical text of the Book of Mormon in 1988. This work represents the central task of the Critical Text Project, to restore by scholarly means the original text of the Book of Mormon, to the extent possible. To date, he has published 9 books on the subject, with 4 more to appear in the next three years. Altogether, up through 2013, he has given 94 presentations and written/published 14 books, 70 articles, and 23 online and media publications. He lives in Spanish Fork with his wife Sirkku and continues to teach and lecture.


126 cartons (126 linear ft.)

2 half boxes (0.5 linear ft.)

10 oversize boxes (16.6 linear ft.)

3 boxes (1.5 linear ft.)

1 folder (0.03 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in three series: 1. Royal Skousen papers on linguistics career, 1951-2015. 2. Royal Skousen papers on Book of Mormon and Critical Text Project, 1981-2020. 3. Royal Skousen media, 1976-2005.

Custodial History

Donated by Royal Skousen, editor of the Book of Mormon critical text project, in October 1992.

The Royal Skousen papers were moved to the library for preliminary processing in about 2009, where Royal worked on them himself as time allowed. In 2013, the papers were assigned for professional processing; after preliminary inventory work was completed and a reorganization plan had been drafted, the final processing and informal documentation was completed in August 2015. [Official donation agreements and plans are currently under way.]

Gelatin Silver print photographs of the Wilford Wood fragments of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon donated by Royal Skousen were added to the collection in 2016.

In 2019 and 2020, Skousen also donated the materials used to write volumes 3 and 4 of his Critical Text Project series (12 books in all).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Royal J. Skousen; 1992.

Donated; Royal J. Skousen; 2016. Donated; Royal J. Skousen; 2019. Donated; Royal J. Skousen; 2020.


LDS scholarship and historiography (20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts Collecting Policy, II.B.5.III, 2007).

Processing Information

Processed; Amanda Crandall, manuscripts specialist, and Royal Skousen; 2013-2015.

Processing Information

Processed; Megan Schille, student manuscript processor, and John M. Murphy, curator; 2017.

Processing Information

Processed; Amanda Crandall; 2023.

Processing Information

Processed; Jamie Wiser; 2023. UPdated finding aid for DACS compliance and accuracy. Rehoused negatives to paper sleeves for preservation.

  • PVC pipe and metal stand
Register of Royal Skousen papers
Under Revision
Amanda Crandall
2014 January 23
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States