Richard Turley retired in 2020 after working in various roles for the LDS Church. This will be a special treat, because I’m turning the microphone over to Barbara Jones Brown, executive director of the Mormon History Association. Barbara asked me to film the interview for the virtual meetings at the Mormon History Association meetings, and I’m happy to re-release this to the public. We’ll learn more about his time in the Church History Department, and how he was hired just after the tumultuous bombings by Mark Hofmann.
Barbara: So you were I believe you were only 29 years old at that time.
Richard: That’s correct.
Barbara: Was it intimidating to step into this major leadership role, and what was it like for you at that time?
Richard: Well, first of all, I think one of the parts that really appealed to me was that they essentially said, “You’d be in charge. You’d have access to everything 24/7, 365.” So, for someone who had a deep and abiding interest in Church History to know that at any time I wanted, I could go into the collections and handle the personal diaries of Joseph Smith or look at anything I wanted, that was fascinating to me. At the same time, I had a great respect for the people who were running the operation. When I arrived in January of 1986 in the Church History Department, there were good aspects of the department and there were bad aspects. The bad aspects were that I essentially entered a crime scene. The Mark Hofmann bombings had occurred just a little over three months earlier. There were federal, state, county, and city investigators who were trying to find out the motive for those three bombs that went off killing two people and injuring a third.
Richard: So, I walked into a crime scene, and as one who was trained in the law, it was fascinating to me. But [it was] also disturbing that people had been killed and that, obviously, something was going on that we didn’t understand fully.
Check out our conversation with Barbara and Rick….