About From the Desk

What is 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 topics such as American history and ancient history.

Who reads From the Desk?

Millions of people from over 100 countries have read From the Desk content. However, while over 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).

And while we’re still trying to outrun a past that includes popular celebrity interviews, you’ll occasionally see the site trending in entertainment or mentioned in the tabloids.

What are From the Desk’s most popular articles?

It depends on the timeframe. 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. Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth (Jodi Magness)
  3. The Remarkable Legacy of Emma Hale Smith (Jenny Reeder)
  4. Jim Bridger vs. Brigham Young (Jerry Enzler)
  5. Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Jean-Pierre Isbouts)
  6. See How the Church Changed in ‘Saints 3’ (Scott Hales and Jed Woodworth)
  7. I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Eyring (Robert Eaton)
  8. M. Russell Ballard: The Entrepreneur Who Became An Apostle (Susan Easton Black)
  9. These Scholars Will Make You Think about Polygamy (Brian and Laura Hales)
  10. Is Jim Bridger Responsible for What Happened to the Donner Party? (Jerry Enzler)
  11. How Important Is Joseph Smith’s King Follet Discourse? (Jim Falcouner)
  12. What Did Joseph Smith’s Family Know about the First Vision? (Kyle Walker)
  13. Behind the Scenes of the All In Podcast with Morgan Pearson (Morgan Jones Pearson)
  14. Open Questions in Latter-day Saint Theology (Eric Eliason)
  15. The Biography of Truman G. Madsen (Barnard Madsen)

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

How can I find out about new From the Desk content?

Subscribe to our free email list to be notified of new history and religion content.

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 scholarship, and generally avoid scholars who receive poor reports in academic peer reviews.

Who writes for From the Desk?

Kurt Manwaring is the founder and managing editor 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 academic journal has no editorial control over From the Desk content. Similarly, 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.