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John L. Sorenson papers

Identifier: MSS 3977

Scope and Contents

Contains materials related to the professional activities of John L. Sorenson, which include articles and drafts of articles which he published on the topic of the Book of Mormon, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah, and anthropology. Also included is preparatory work and research for Sorenson's volume in the "Sesquicentennial" series produced by the Church Historical Department, and reminiscences related to his occupations at Brigham Young University, composed of correspondence and reports. Lastly, includes unfinished research work related to the Book of Mormon, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Utah. Dated from 1930 to 2019.


  • approximately 1930-2019
  • Majority of material found within 1951-2012


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the John L. Sorenson papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical / Historical

John L. Sorenson (born 1924-) is an emeritus professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University and the author of several books and articles on the Book of Mormon and anthropology.

John L. Sorenson was born on April 8, 1924 in Smithfield, Utah. He went on to serve in the U.S Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1955, where he attained the rank of first lieutenant, and was decorated with a Victory medal, a South Atlantic Theater arm patch, and a Good Conduct medal. He married Kathryn Richards in November 1946, and then served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in New Zealand, Rarotonga, and the Cook Islands from 1947-1949. Sorenson studied radio engineering and meteorology at several different universities before obtaining a masters degree in Archaeology from Brigham Young University in 1952 and a Doctor of Philosophy with an emphasis in Social Anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1962. Professionally, Sorenson has served in many different capacities after working as a professor of Anthropolgy at BYU, such as Chair of the Department of Anthropology and University Studies, and acting as a Social Science Librarian. He also took part in many faculty committees and served in many different special functions at BYU. Sorenson is the author of a great number of published articles and research papers on the topics of anthropology and the Book of Mormon, has worked as the director of two research groups, and has worked as an archaeologist at the New World Archaeological Foundation. He is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and has served in many callings within the Church. After Kathryn's death in 1991, he married Helen Christianson in 1993.


3 cartons (3 linear ft.)

1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in four series: 1. John L. Sorenson articles and drafts, approximately 1951-2012. 2. John L. Sorenson sesquicentennial history, approximately 1973-1979. 3. John L. Sorenson reminiscences, approximately 1950-2019. 4. John L. Sorenson unfinished anthropological work, approximately 1955-2013.

Custodial History

A single folder in the collection was donated by John Sorenson in 1998. The bulk of the collection was donated by John Sorenson and his wife, Helen Christianson, on June 27, 2019.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; John Sorenson; 1998.

Donated; John Sorenson and Helen Christianson; June 2019.


Brigham Young University Faculty (University Archives collection policy; V, b, v, 2, b; February 2020).


The New World Archaeological Foundation publishes results of its research in the New World Archaeological Foundation Papers.

Processing Information

Processed; Chelsea McNeil, student manuscript processor, and Cory Nimer, curator; August 2019.

Processed; Meghan Hoesch, student manuscript processor, and Cory Nimer, curator; February 2020.

Register of John L. Sorenson papers
Rose Frank
2011 June 18
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