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Richard Lyman Bushman (born June 20, 1931) is an American historian and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University.

Richard L. Bushman
Richard Bushman cropped.jpg
Bushman addresses the John Whitmer Historical Association (2011)
Born (1931-06-20) June 20, 1931 (age 87)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Academic background
Alma mater Harvard University
Academic work
Institutions Columbia University
Main interests Colonial America, history of Mormonism
Notable works Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

Bushman has been called "one of the most important scholars of American religious history [of the late 20th century]", and in 2012 a $3 million donation was made to the University of Virginia to establish the Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies in his honor.[1]

He also serves as one of three general editors of the Joseph Smith Papers.[2]



Richard L. Bushman was born on June 20, 1931, in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father, Ted Bushman (1902–1980), was a fashion illustrator, advertiser, and department store executive, and his mother, Dorothy Bushman (née Lyman; 1908–1995), was a secretary and homemaker. Bushman's family relocated to Portland, Oregon when he was a small child.

After graduating from high school in 1949, Bushman spent two years as an LDS missionary in the northeastern United States. After completing his missionary service, he matriculated at Harvard University, graduating in 1955 with an A.B. magna cum laude in history. He continued at Harvard as a graduate student, earning A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in the History of American Civilization, where he studied with distinguished early American historian Bernard Bailyn. Bushman taught at Harvard University, Brigham Young University, Boston University, and the University of Delaware before joining the history faculty at Columbia. During the 2007-08 academic year, Bushman served as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University and held a Huntington Library fellowship.[3][4][5] Bushman married fellow historian Claudia Lauper Bushman on August 19, 1955. They are the parents of six children.

Bushman is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He interrupted his undergraduate studies at Harvard to serve as a missionary[6] in New England and Atlantic Canada, and he has held various positions within the LDS Church, including Seminary teacher, bishop, stake president, and stake patriarch.


Bushman's scholarship includes studies of early American social, cultural, and political history, American religious history, and the history of the LDS Church, and his books have won numerous awards. In 1968, Bushman's From Puritan to Yankee: Character and Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765 won the prestigious Bancroft Prize, an award given by the trustees of Columbia University for the year's best book on American history. Bushman has also received the Phi Alpha Theta prize, and Evans Biography Awards, administered by the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies at Utah State University.

In 2006, Bushman received the Mormon History Association's annual 2006 Best Book award for his biography Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. Bushman has held Guggenheim, Huntington, National Humanities Center, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships; and has served as president of the Mormon History Association (1985–1986).[7]


See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Cannon, H. Brevy (10 October 2012). "U.Va. Creates Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies". UVA Today. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Joseph Smith Papers website Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Gordon, Larry (2007-10-30). "Mormon-studies professorship is California's first". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  4. ^ "Richard L. Bushman named as Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont". Meridian Magazine. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-04-01. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  5. ^ Mauss, Armand (Spring 2011). "Farewell, Richard and Claudia" (PDF). Claremont Mormon Studies Newsletter (4): 3. Retrieved 2015-06-08. 
  6. ^ See "My Faith" in Bushman, Believing History: Latter-day Saint Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 20-29. In the essay, Bushman notes how he went on his LDS mission as an agnostic but after three months could say "with conviction that I knew the Book of Mormon was right." (22)
  7. ^ "Past MHA Presidents". Mormon History Association. Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 

Works citedEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Grant Underwood et al. "A Retrospective on the Scholarship of Richard Bushman," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (2011) 44#3 pp 1+. online edition

External linksEdit