Fred E. Woods

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Fred E. Woods is a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. From 2005 to 2010, he held a Richard L. Evans Professorship of Religious Understanding and was appointed in 2019 to a BYU endowed Moral Education Professorship. In spring 2017 and spring 2018, he was a research fellow at the Harris Manchester College at Oxford University for the Trinity Trimesters, where he was immersed in a study of the Latter-day Saint image in the British mind, a forthcoming book and documentary. Woods received the Richard L. Anderson Distinguished Research Award in 2002.

While at BYU Woods has taken leaves of absence, once in 2001 to be a visiting professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, and in the summers of 2004, 2005 and 2006 to be a visiting professor at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School in Sydney, Australia from 2016 to 2019.

Woods was born and grew up in Southern California. He was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 20. A year later he served a mission to Australia. He completed a BS degree in psychology (1981) and a MS degree in international relations (1985) from Brigham Young University. In 1991, he earned a PhD in Middle East studies from the University of Utah with an emphasis in Hebrew Bible.

Before joining the faculty at BYU in 1998, he was a professor of religion at Ricks College from 1993 to 1998; Institute instructor and director in Southern California and Boulder, Colorado; and Seminary instructor in Provo and Orem, Utah.

He is best known for his works on the globalization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which includes his specialized research on the maritime segment of the story of the Latter-day Saint gathering to an American Zion—the sailing before the trail portion of pioneer immigration to the United States. His CD and website the “Mormon Emigration Index” is widely used.

He has produced several documentaries with filmmaker Martin Andersen. Their films include “Mormon Yankees: Giants on and off the Court “(2011) and a companion book; Finding Refuge in El Paso (2012); Divine Providence: The Wreck and Rescue of the Julia Ann (2014); Laie: Refuge from the Storm (2015); and Melting the Ice: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Alaska (2018). His most recent film is “The Saints of Tonga: A Century of Island Faith”, a companion to the book. 

He and his wife, JoAnna, are the parents of five children.