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Davis Bitton Papers Now Available at BYU

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 14, 2009

The Davis Bitton Papers are now (or momentarily will be) available for research at L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

Call number: MSS 7441.

This collection consists of 40 boxes (not narrow archival boxes, but full cartons) of materials, mostly generated during Bro. Bitton’s tenure as a professor of history at the University of Utah and while Assistant Church Historian under Leonard Arrington. An extensive finding aid is being prepared.

A substantial portion of the collection consists of materials on French history, Bro. Bitton’s academic focus. Of greater interest to most reading this will be the correspondence and copies of primary sources related to his work in Mormon history.

Because publication of the George Q. Cannon diaries has barely begun, with the original diaries unavailable to researchers at the present, some speculation has arisen as to whether the diaries in some form might not exist in the Bitton papers. Alas, no. Bro. Bitton had access to a transcription of the diaries during the time he worked on his award-winning 1999 biography of GQC, but when the manuscript of the biography was completed, that transcription was returned to the Cannon family member who provided it. These papers do contain copies of other primary sources on GQC as well as drafts of sections that were cut before the biography’s final draft, so it is possible that researchers could find some otherwise unavailable Cannon papers in this collection.

Another of Bro. Bitton’s interests was Mormon social history, and his papers include materials he gathered for an ultimately unwritten social history — that part of the collection alone could probably furnish material for a hundred posts of the kind we like on Keepa.

Researchers, start your laptops.



3 Comments »

  1. Cool! B.H. Roberts had some short transcripts of Cannon’s diary in his papers and they were very interesting, especially to anyone who does late 19th century stuff. Davis was one of my favorite guys and encouraged me to get back to doing history some years ago. Wish he was still here.

    Comment by W. Smith — October 14, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

  2. Awesome! I believe Quinn has some transcripts of Cannon’s journals as well, but those are all the way out in New Haven.

    Comment by Ben — October 15, 2009 @ 3:35 am

  3. This is great news!

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 15, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

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