Davis Bitton

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Davis Bitton
Photo of Davis Bitton
Assistant Church Historian
1972 – 1982
Called by Leonard J. Arrington
Predecessor E. Earl Olson
Successor None until 2008
Richard E. Turley, Jr.
End reason The LDS Church transferred its History Division to BYU in 1982
Personal details
Born Ronald Davis Bitton
(1930-02-22)February 22, 1930
Blackfoot, Idaho
Died April 13, 2007(2007-04-13) (aged 77)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
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Education Ph.D. in history
Alma mater Brigham Young University
Princeton University
Occupation Historian
Professor of History
Employer University of Utah
Notable works Author of notable Mormon histories
Title Charter member and president of the Mormon History Association

Ronald Davis Bitton (February 22, 1930 – April 13, 2007) was a charter member and president of the Mormon History Association, professor of history at the University of Utah, and official Assistant Church Historian in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Biographical background

Bitton was born in, and grew up in the area of, Blackfoot, Idaho. He was a talented pianist, having begun at the age of six.[1] After two years at Brigham Young University (BYU), he served as an LDS missionary to France, where he edited the church's L'Etoile periodical.[2] He then served in the United States Army during the Korean War.[2][3] Bitton returned to BYU, where he was president of his Phi Alpha Theta chapter and graduated in history in 1956.[2] He afterward studied at Princeton University, where he received an M.A. in 1958 and earned his Ph.D. in French History in 1961.[3]

Bitton was a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin until 1964, when he moved and joined the University of California, Santa Barbara.[2] He then joined the University of Utah faculty in 1966,[2] where he taught for 29 years[4] until his retirement in 1995.[3] From 2005–2006, he was a visiting professor at Brigham Young University Hawaii.[5]

Although his specialty was French history, Bitton made many contributions to Mormon history. He won many awards for his work in Mormon history, including the "Silver Award" from Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, awarded for an essay on B. H. Roberts.[4] He was an original member and founder of the Mormon History Association[6] in 1965 and he served as president from 1971–1972.[7]

Bitton served as an official Assistant Church Historian to his mentor Leonard J. Arrington from 1972–1982. Bitton referred to this time as "Camelot", an exciting time of unprecedented development of new Mormon historical research. During this period and after, Bitton published several works with Arrington.[6] In 2006, the Mormon History Association awarded Bitton the Leonard J. Arrington Award for "distinguished and meritorious service to Mormon history".[8]

Bitton married his wife JoAn in 1984,[9] and later in life they served together as guides on Temple Square for five years.[10]

He died at the age of 77 in Salt Lake City.[5]

Published works




  1. Parshall, Ardis (April 13, 2007). "Ronald Davis Bitton, 1930-2007 (Updated)". Times and Seasons blog. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 (Arrington 1998, pp. 82–3)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Davis Bitton". Mormon Literature Database. Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Noted LDS historian R. Davis Bitton dies". Deseret Morning News. April 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "In Memoriam". U-News & Views. University of Utah Alumni Association. May 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Davis Bitton, 1930 – 2007" (PDF). Mormon History Association. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  7. "Past MHA Presidents". Mormon History Association. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "MHA Awards, Year 2006" (PDF). Mormon History Association. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  9. (Arrington 1998, p. 235)
  10. Bitton, Davis (2004). "About the Author:". Meridian Magazine. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  11. "George Q. Cannon". Mormon Literature Database. Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 


External links