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University Devotionals and Forums

A unique thing happens at Brigham Young University at 11:00 am on Tuesdays. The entire university shuts down so that students, faculty, administrators, and staff can attend a campus devotional or forum. A typical month sees three campus devotionals and one campus forum. These large gatherings are held in the Marriott Center during fall and winter semesters and in the De Jong Concert Hall in the Harris Fine Arts Center during spring and summer semesters. Devotional addresses are delivered by members of the campus community or General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Forum addresses are delivered by prominent scholars, politicians, religious leaders, and campus faculty.

Devotionals have always been a part of the Brigham Young University community. They were instituted by Karl G. Maeser and were offered on a daily basis. Although the number of devotionals per week slowly changed over the history of the university, their importance to the campus community has remained constant. They are an opportunity for the campus to be spiritually fed and they reinforce a feeling of community. The practice of holding forums began during the presidential administration of Ernest L. Wilkinson and forums are designed to enrich the undergraduate curriculum of the university. Recent forum speakers include Neil deGrasse Tyson, Condaleeza Rice, David McCullough, and Nathaniel Philbrick.

Devotional held in College Hall, 1920s

Devotional in the Marriott Center, 1970s.

The University Archives is home to several collections that document the history of devotionals and forums. They include:

  • UA 1148 Brigham Young University forum records, 1970-1998. This collection contains materials dealing with the Brigham Young University forum assemblies for the years 1970 through 1998. This includes speaker nomination and review files, speaker background files, copies of forum addresses, and related correspondence.
  • UA 995 Devotional and fireside speeches of the year, 1951-1996. This collection contains copies of speeches given at Brigham Young University devotionals and firesides from 1951-1996 and copies of the “Speeches of the Year” booklets.
  • UA 1197 Brigham Young University multimedia records, 1941-2000. This collection contains audiotapes and videotapes of commencement exercises, annual university conferences, theatre and musical performances, devotionals and firesides, and other addresses given at Brigham Young University.
  • UA 1300 Brigham Young University reel-to-reel tapes, 1948-1995. This collection contains reel-to-reel tapes of forums, devotionals, commencement addresses, Education Week classes and devotionals, General Conference addresses and other on-campus conferences, seminars and lectures from April 6, 1948 to July 23, 1985.

If you would like to learn more about the sources available for studying the history of Brigham Young University, please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu.

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