Barbara Jones Brown, head of Mormon Historical past Affiliation, takes the reins at Signature Books and is raring to widen its attain.
Signature Books, a longtime writer of scholarly Mormon works, has employed its third director — and its first feminine chief government — since its 1981 founding: Barbara Jones Brown.
Brown, at the moment government director of the Mormon Historical past Affiliation, quickly will step down from that place and into the Signature Books job.
She replaces Gary James Bergera, who’s retiring after managing Signature from 1984 to 2000 and once more since 2017. Bergera can also be managing director of the Smith-Pettit Basis, which funds Signature and different philanthropic work.
“I’ve big footwear to fill in taking on Signature,” Brown mentioned, however she is “actually excited” by the job that may carry collectively her background in writing, publishing and Mormon historical past.
“There are such a lot of improbable students who write on Mormon and Utah historical past whom I’ve met via MHA,” she mentioned, “however that haven’t been tapped by Signature but.”
That features extra feminine authors and topics, in addition to books by and about Black, Indigenous and other people of colour. She additionally hopes to deal with Twentieth-century matters.
Signature has finished “an incredible job” in its 40-year historical past, Brown mentioned, pointing to works by famend historians, D. Michael Quinn, Leonard J. Arrington, Martha Bradley Evans, Lavina Fielding Anderson, Rod Decker and John Sillito, to call a number of.
“I don’t need to diminish that in any manner,” she mentioned. “I simply need to work on increasing the tent.”
After incomes an undergraduate diploma from Brigham Younger College in journalism with a minor in English, and a grasp’s in American historical past from the College of Utah, Brown labored for the historical past division of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the place she served as content material editor of the award-winning 2008 guide “Bloodbath at Mountain Meadows.” She is at the moment co-writing the guide’s sequel. She additionally served as historic director of Higher Days 2020, specializing in ladies’s suffrage.
“I’m not afraid of tackling tough matters and publishing unflattering historical past, since I’ve labored on the bloodbath and post-Manifesto polygamy,” she mentioned. “Historical past is historical past.”
The world of publishing has developed since Signature was born and produced lengthy, costly volumes, Brown mentioned, so she wish to push for shorter, extra reasonably priced works and look into the feasibility of extra audiobooks.
Accessibility, she mentioned, is a “large a part of my strategy.”
Evans, a Signature board member who led the search committee for a brand new director, praised Brown’s integrity (“she is what she presents herself to be”) and her skill to “bridge public and scholarly” historical past.
Plus, being the MHA overseer taught Brown how “to handle individuals in a fancy group,” Evans mentioned, whereas working at Higher Days tapped the brand new director’s expertise at “discovering methods to speak complicated points to a broad viewers.”
Evans, who teaches structure and concrete planning on the College of Utah, mentioned Brown is revered by students throughout the spectrum — from the LDS Church’s historical past division to space universities and out of doors teams just like the Western Historical past Affiliation.
For Signature, Evans mentioned, the mix of Brown’s expertise, persona, networking and adaptableness is “golden.”