T. Edgar Lyon: Mormon Scholar

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T. Edgar Lyon Mormon Scholar

Thomas Edgar Lyon was a prominent historian and educator specializing in the nineteenth-century history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he was a member.

Lyon, known as Ed, was born on August 9, 1903, in Salt Lake City. He learned to work hard early by working in his father’s print shop when he was nine years old. By twelve he was working on a ranch during his summers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

He began work on his bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah, breaking for two years to serve as a full-time missionary in the Netherlands. After graduation, he taught for a year at a high school in Rigby, Idaho. He then became a Seminary principal in the Church Educational System. He continued his education, first with his master’s degree through the University of Chicago and then later with his PhD in history from the University of Utah. While pursuing these graduate degrees, he was a professor at Ricks College briefly, a faculty member of the Salt Lake Latter-day Saint Institute of Religion, and mission president of the Netherlands mission.

He wrote his master’s thesis on Orson Pratt and he wrote several articles about the Nauvoo period as well as other aspects of Church history. He wrote the Melchizedek priesthood manual for 1960, titled Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants. He served as president of the Mormon History Association from 1968 to 1969 and was a research historian for Nauvoo Restoration, Inc. His research was published posthumously as Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise by Glen M. Leonard.

In 1927 he married Laura Forsberg and they were the parents of six sons, including composer A. Laurence Lyon and professor Thomas Edgar “Ted” Lyon Jr., who wrote a biography on his father, T. Edgar Lyon: A Teacher in Zion.

Lyon passed away on September 20, 1978. The Mormon History Association award for excellent Latter-day Saint history articles is named in his honor.