Primary tabs

Fred E. Woods

Fred E. Woods's picture

Department: Church History

Title: Professor

Office: 365E JSB

Phone number: (801) 422-3366

Contact: Send message

Curriculum Vitae: View Vitae

Bio: Fred E. Woods 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. He has been a professor of Religious Education at Brigham Young University since 1998 and feels blessed to teach the great students at BYU. 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. Dr. Woods has lectured at scores of universities in the United States and internationally. He is the author of numerous academic articles treating a variety of topics and has written many books. His most recent publication is The Saints of Tonga: A Century of Island Faith, a coauthored book which has a companion documentary film by the same name. The past decade he has also produced several documentaries with filmmaker Martin Andersen. Their films include Mormon Yankees: Giants on and off the Court (2011), Finding Refuge in El Paso (2012) and 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. 

Professor Woods 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 Mormon immigration to the United States. Dr. Woods has authored scores of articles on this topic and has many publications dealing with international studies on the this website: (of which he is the chief editor and compiler) which is a major source of information on this topic). 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. His current research in on the history and impact of Latter-day Saints on Las Vegas.  Professor Woods is also writing a book on the history of Latter-day Saints in North and South Dakota. He is also creating a website titled "Saints by State" which includes a collection of all published and unpublished documents on the Church in America. He is married to JoAnna Merrill (pictured at right), and they have five children and ten grandchildren. 

Recent Articles Books

Riley Moffat, Fred E. Woods, Brent Anderson, Saints of Tonga: A Century of Island Faith (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2019)

Recent Articles Published

Fred E, Woods and RIley M. Moffat, "The Genesis and Rise of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple," Mormon Historical Studies, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring 2021): 91-114

Fred E. Woods, “The Balance Between Church and State in Tonga: A study in mutual respect between the Latter-day Saints and the Royal Family,” Journal of Mormon History, vol. 46, no. 1 (Winter 2020): 53-84.

Fred E. Woods and Kári Bjarnason, “Conversions, Arrests, and Friendships: A Story of Two Icelandic Police Officers,” Religious Educator 20, no. 1 (Winter 2019).

Fred E. Woods, "Osmondmania in the United Kingdom," LDS Living, Nov./Dec 2019 issue. 

Fred E. Woods and Jannalee Sandau, “The Gathering and Influence of the Scottish Saints,” LDS Living, January/February 2019).

Fred E. Woods, “Sail before the Trail, or Have We Missed the Boat? LDS Maritime Immigration to America in the 19th Century, Ephemera Journal 21, no. 3 (May 2019): 1, 4–9.  

Fred E. Woods, ““From South Africa to Salt Lake City: Eli Wiggill, the Latter-day Saints, and the World of Religion, 1810–1883,” Historia 64, no. 2 (May 2019): 1–22.

Fred E. Woods, “Saints and the Transcontinental Railroad,” LDS Living, May/June 2019), 40–44, 47, 49.

Fred E. Woods and Anita Manning, “An Extraordinary Troop: The Boy Scouts Program at Kalaupapa,” Hawaiian Journal of History 53 (2019): 83–105. 

Fred E. Woods, “Cecil B. DeMille and David O. McKay: An Unexpected Friendship,” BYU Studies 57, no. 4 (Fall 2018): 78–104. (A shortened modified version of this article was also published in the LDS Living, July 2019.

Fred E. Woods, “On the Way Home from the Mission Field: The Worldwide Travels of Ted Johnson and Ted Steck,” Mormon Historical Studies, Spring 2018. 

Forthcoming Books

Malcolm Adcock and Fred E. Woods, The Latter-day Saint Image in the British Mind (forthcoming). 

Fred E. Woods, Jay H. Buckley, and Hunter T. Hallows, eds., The Life and Adventures of Mr. Eli Wiggill (2020).

Fred E. Woods, Desert Blossoms: A History of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas (2021). 

Forthcoming Articles

Fred E. Woods, “Orson Pratt’s Publishing of The Seer: A Mission to Washington, DC, for a Season,” BYU Religious Education, Washington DC Regional Studies 2020

Charles Vance, Mark Mendenhall, and Fred E. Woods, “Missionary Families: LDS Case Study,” chapter in Research Handbook of Global Families, ed. Yvonne McNulty et al. (2020)

Fred E. Woods, "The Bare Necessities: Latter-day Saints of Kodiak Island," forthcoming in LDS Living. (A more lengthy academic article will also be published in another journal on this topic).

Fred E. Woods “The Pluck and Luck of the Irish,” LDS Living, March/April 2020.

Fred E. Woods, “The Missouri Saints We Often Overlook,” LDS Living, 2020.

Recently Released Films

Martin Andersen and Fred E. Woods, coproducers, Saints of Tonga: A Century of Island Faith (2019). 

Fred E. Woods, Melting the Ice: A History of Latter-day Saints in Alaska (2018).

Forthcoming Documentary Films

The Look of Mormon: The Latter-day Saint Image in the British Mind (2020)

Fred E. Woods, Desert Blossoms: A History of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas (2021). 

Recent Awards/Appointments  

Moral Education endowed professorship (2019–20) 

University of Iceland research fellowship, June 2020

Best book award for Kalaupapa: The Mormon Experience in an Exiled Community (Provo: UT, BYU Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017). (The 2018 Harvey B. and Susan Easton Black Outstanding Publication Award (Gospel Scholarship for LDS Audiences, Church History and Doctrine)

Summer Oxford research fellow to the Oxford Harris Manchester College for the Trinity trimesters for 2017 and 2018

Adjunct professor in the School of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney for 2016–20

Areas of Expertise: Latter-day Saint gathering to Zion; Latter-day Saint global/international church, regional church histories, interfaith dialogue