Todd Compton

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Todd Merlin Compton (born 1952) is an American historian in the fields of Mormon history and classics. Compton is a respected authority on the plural wives of the LDS Church founder, Joseph Smith. [1]


Biographical background

Compton is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [2] who lived for a number of years in Santa Monica, California. [3] He has served an LDS mission to Ireland. [4] He studied violin with Richard Nibley [2] and has played electric violin with singer-songwriter Mark Davis. [3] In 1982 he completed a master's degree from Brigham Young University. He later received a Ph.D. from UCLA in classics (concentrating on Greek and Indo-European mythology) which he taught for a year at USC. [2] He also taught at UCLA and California State University, Northridge. He has been an independent researcher since 1993, drawing a regular income by working as an ADS specialist for a law office. [2]

Compton began his serious work in Mormon history as a visiting fellow at the Huntington Library studying the journals of Eliza R. Snow. He found that his classics background helped his Mormon history work by teaching him respect for these primary documents. [2] While researching, and trying to note people identified in Snow's journals, Compton found that he needed a good list of Joseph Smith's plural wives. Not finding one, he began researching his own list, which eventually grew into his 1997 book, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith.


Compton's notable works include In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, which was awarded the Best Book Award from both the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association. [3] The Mormon History Association also awarded him the 2002 Best Documentary Award for his and Charles Hatch's book A Widow's Tale: The 1884–1886 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, and the 1996 Award of Excellence for his article "A Trajectory of Plurality: An Overview of Joseph Smith's Thirty Three Plural Wives". [5]

Compton has contributed publications to the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), including articles in FARMS Review of Books and Journal of Book of Mormon Studies and as an editor of the 1987 edition of Hugh Nibley's Mormonism and Early Christianity. [6] He has also been published in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism , Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism, American Journal of Philology , Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought , Sunstone Magazine , Classical Quarterly, and the Journal of Popular Culture . [3]

From 1993–1998, Compton served on the editorial board for the periodical Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought . [7] [8] Starting in 2004, Compton returned to work at Dialogue, this time as the editorial staff's History Editor. [9] [10] Compton has also served on the Board of Editors for the Journal of Mormon History since 2000. [11] [12]

Compton's biography of Jacob Hamblin, A Frontier Life: Jacob Hamblin, Explorer and Indian Missionary, was published by the University of Utah Press in September, 2013. It has received the Juanita Brooks Prize in Mormon Studies, the Mormon History Association's Best Biography award, the John Whitmer Historical Association's Best Biography award, The Evans Biography Award from the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies, and the Francis Armstrong Madsen Best Utah History Book Award from the Utah State Historical Society.[ citation needed ] His article, "'In & through the roughefist country it has ever been my lot to travel'": Jacob Hamblin's 1858 Expedition Across the Colorado," (Utah Historical Quarterly, Winter 2012) received the Dale L. Morgan Award from the Utah State Historical Society.

In May 2017, through his company Pahreah Press, Compton published a book on the songwriting of the Beatles, titled Who Wrote the Beatle Songs? A History of Lennon-McCartney.


Articles and papers

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  1. "Comparing Mormon founder, FLDS leader on polygamy". The Salt Lake Tribune. 2020-03-06. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Smith, Julie M. "An Interview with Todd Compton". Accessed 1 November 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (publisher's site)". Signature Books. Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  4. "MHA Awards" (PDF). Mormon History Association. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  5. "Todd M. Compton". Authors. Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies . Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  6. "Editorial Board". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought . 26 (1): Inside Front Cover b. Spring 1993. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  7. "Editorial Board". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought . 31 (4): Inside Front Cover. Winter 1998. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  8. "Editor". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought . 37 (1): Inside Front Cover. Spring 2004. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  9. "Editorial Staff". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought . Dialogue Foundation. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  10. "Board of Editors". Journal of Mormon History . 26 (1): iii. Spring 2000. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  11. "Staff of the Journal of Mormon History". Journal of Mormon History . Mormon History Association. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-07-29.