About From the Desk

From the Desk: Learning by Study and Faith is a history and religion blog. While the site has increasingly become devoted to the history of Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it also provides extensive coverage of wider historical and religious topics, such as Jim Bridger, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the siege of Masada.

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Who reads From the Desk?

Millions of people from over 100 countries have read From the Desk content. However, while more than 100,000 users visit From the Desk directly each year, much of our readership stems from media outlets that use our content for their stories.

For example, you can see From the Desk covered in more than 600 publications, including:

  • The New York Times
  • Wikipedia
  • USA Today
  • The Church News
  • LDS Living
  • Patheos
  • Bustle
  • Salt Lake Tribune
  • Deseret News
  • Heavy
  • Slate

From the Desk scholarship can also be found in books such as Repicturing the Restoration (BYU Religious Studies Center) and Hugh Nibley Observed (The Interpreter Foundation).

What are From the Desk’s most popular articles?

This year’s most popular articles range from coverage of Bruce R. McConkie to a showdown between Jim Bridger and Brigham Young:

  1. The Many Legacies of Bruce R. McConkie (Dennis B. Horne)
  2. Has a Joseph Smith Photograph Finally Been Found? (Lachlan Mackay)
  3. Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth (Jodi Magness)
  4. The Remarkable Legacy of Emma Hale Smith (Jenny Reeder)
  5. What is the Relationship Between Freemasonry and the Temple Endowment? (Jeffrey M. Bradshaw)
  6. Who Was Joseph Smith and What Did He Do? (From the Desk)
  7. Jim Bridger vs. Brigham Young (Jerry Enzler)
  8. I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Eyring (Robert Eaton)
  9. Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Jean-Pierre Isbouts)
  10. Behind the Scenes of the All In Podcast with Morgan Pearson (Morgan Jones Pearson)
  11. See How the Church Changed in ‘Saints 3’ (Scott Hales and Jed Woodworth)
  12. M. Russell Ballard: The Entrepreneur Who Became An Apostle (Susan Easton Black)
  13. How Did Freemasonry Influence Joseph Smith? (Cheryl Bruno)
  14. What Did It Mean to “Shake Off the Dust of Thy Feet”? (Samuel Weber)
  15. What Did Joseph Smith’s Family Know about the First Vision? (Kyle Walker)

What about hidden gems?

Good question. We have many articles that fall into a “diamond in the rough” category. These interviews don’t get mainstream traffic, but they’re filled with interesting nuggets:

How often does From the Desk publish new content?

From the Desk publishes at least one piece of new content each week. We believe in quality over quantity, and won’t ever publish clickbait.

Does From the Desk have an agenda?

Yes and no. From the Desk covers interesting historical and religious topics from the perspective of believers who understand that history contains both inspiring strengths and heartbreaking weaknesses. We don’t seek out troubling issues from the past, but we cover them when they pop up. We employ a faithful “warts and all” approach that lies in between hagiography and warts-only.

We don’t cover ad hominem content, and generally avoid scholars who receive poor reports in academic peer reviews.

Who writes for From the Desk?

Kurt Manwaring is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of From the Desk. Other contributors include Jerry Winder, Chad Nielsen, and Benjamin Pacini. We’re also looking for new writers with a passion for history, a skill for writing, and a commitment to kindness.

Is From the Desk affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?


What is From the Desk‘s relationship with BYU Studies?

BYU Studies sponsors From the Desk as part of its mission to publish scholarship informed by the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The views expressed by interview participants do not necessarily represent those of BYU Studies or From the Desk.

Does From the Desk have inside info on forthcoming scholarship?

Yes. We frequently communicate behind the scenes with today’s leading scholars, presses, authors, historians, and administrators. You’d probably pay big bucks to see our Slack channel.

What is the featured image on About From the Desk?

The featured image on our About page is a digital copy of an Al Rounds painting entitled “South Temple 1892,” and is used by permission. The work conveys the emotion intended in much of our content, namely the beauty of the unfinished state. You can learn more about Al Rounds and his artwork at AlRounds.com.