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James B. Allen papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2183

Scope and Contents note

Collection of professional papers of James B. Allen, including drafts and research files for various books on Mormon and Western history. Also includes correspondence, class lecture notes, and other papers. Materials date from about 1950 to 1999.


  • approximately 1950-1999


Conditions Governing Access note

Donor restricted; permission to use materials must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the James B. Allen papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

James B. Allen (b. 1924) is an American historian in Utah.

James B. Allen is a retired member of the Brigham Young University History Department and former Assistant Church Historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

James B. Allen retired in 1992 from the History Department of Brigham Young University where, at the time, he held the Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Chair in Western American History. However, the term "retire" meant little so far as his active life as a teacher and scholar was concerned. He was soon appointed as a senior research fellow in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for LDS History, where he served for a short time on the Institute's executive committee. He continued his association with that Institute until it was disbanded in 2005.

Professor Allen received his bachelor's degree in history from Utah State University in 1954, his master's degree from BYU in 1956, and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Southern California in 1963. Meanwhile, he began his professional career in the Church Education System in 1954. He served as a seminary teacher, seminary coordinator, Institute teacher, and director of the Institutes of Religion in Long Beach and San Bernardino, California. In 1963 he became a member of the religion faculty at Brigham Young University and the following year he joined the History Department. In 1972 he was appointed Assistant Church Historian, working with newly-appointed Church Historian Leonard J. Arrington. For the next seven years he spent half his time in that capacity and the other half at BYU. After returning full time to BYU, he served as chairman of the History Department from 1981 to 1987, after which he was honored with his appointment to the Redd chair.

Throughout his career Professor Allen has authored, co-authored, or co-edited fourteen books and monographs, around ninety articles, mostly related to LDS Church History, and numerous book reviews in professional journals. He has received several prizes and awards for his work, including, in 1986, the prestigious David Woolley Evans and Beatrice Cannon Evans Biography Award for Trials of Discipleship: The Story of William Clayton, A Mormon (republished in 2002 as No Toil nor Labor Fear: The Story of William Clayton). In 1984 he was named Distinguished Faculty Lecturer at Brigham Young University. He has also received several "best article" awards given annually by various historical associations, and in 1988 his contribution to Utah history was recognized when he was named a Fellow of the Utah State Historical Society.

Among Professor Allen's most well-known books, in addition to Trials of Discipleship, are The Story of the Latter-day Saints (with Glen M. Leonard, Deseret Book Company 2d ed., 1992) and Men With a Mission: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 1837-1941 (with Ronald K. Esplin and David J. Whittaker, Deseret Book Company, 1992). He was also the major author-compiler of Studies in Mormon History, 1830-1997: An Indexed Bibliography (with Ronald W. Walker and David J. Whittaker, University of Illinois Press, 2000). This remarkable bibliography, which took over sixteen years to compile, was heralded by the Mormon History Association as well as by historians generally as the most valuable tool yet to appear for students of LDS history. Since then, working with J. Michael Hunter of the BYU library, Allen has continually updated the bibliography database, which is now online at Allen is also a co-author, with Walker and Whittaker, of Mormon History (University of Illinois Press, 2001), a study of the history of historical writing about the Church.

Professor Allen is married to the former Renée Jones, and they live in Orem, Utah. They are the parents of five children, grandparents of twenty and great-grandparents of one. In 1999-2000 they served a full-time mission as Church Education System missionaries at the Boston Institute of Religion. From January-April, 2002, they lived in Laie, Hawaii, where Professor Allen taught, on a volunteer basis, in the History Department at BYU-Hawaii.

Taken from the website:


1 oversize box (1.66 linear ft.)

69 cartons (69 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



The collection of professional papers of James B. Allen, includes drafts and research files for various books, correspondence, class lecture notes and other papers. Manuscripts include those for The Story of The Latter-day Saints, The Company Town in the American West, Men with a Mission and Hearts Turned to the Fathers.


Arranged in twenty-three series: 1. James B. Allen notes on Utah since 1945, 1945-1995. 2. James B. Allen papers on American Heritage course, 1964-1992. 3. James B. Allen manuscript for Story of the Latter-day Saints, 1976. 4. James B. Allen papers on the history of Salt Lake City, circa 1983. 5. James B. Allen notes on the history of the Genealogical Society, circa 1994. 6. James B. Allen class lecture notes, 1963-1992. 7. Department of History records, circa 1964-1992. 8. Brigham Young University programs and faculty directories, circa 1964-1992. 9. James B. Allen bibliography notes, circa 1964-1992. 10. James B. Allen papers on William Clayton, circa 1980. 11. James B. Allen notes on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, circa 1963-1992. 12. Mormon History Association records, circa 1981-2000. 13. James B. Allen collection of periodicals, 1970-1982. 14. James B. Allen research notes, circa 1964-1992. 15. James B. Allen papers on Utah and the West, 1965. 16. James B. Allen collection of student papers, 1964-1992. 17. James B. Allen manuscript for second edition of Story of the Latter-day Saints, 1992. 18. James B. Allen notes on western states, circa 1964-1992. 19. James B. Allen papers on company towns in the American West, circa 1965. 20. James B. Allen notes for Men on a Mission, 1992. 21. James B. Allen notes for The Twelve in England -- 1840, circa 1975. 22. James B. Allen drafts and notes, circa 1975. 23. James B. Allen manuscript for Hearts Turned to the Fathers, 1995.

Other Finding Aids note

A more detailed finding aid may be found in the repository.

Custodial History note

Found in the stacks, March 2009.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated; James B. Allen; 1993, 1999.

Appraisal note

Utah and American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007).

Processing Information note

Processed; Kayla Quinney; March 2009.

Register of James B. Allen papers
Kayla Quinney
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