Recollections of David O. McKay’s Educational Practices
Mary Jane Woodger, “Recollections of David O. McKay’s Educational Practices,” Religious Educator 4, no. 2 (2003): 25–39.
Mary Jane Woodger was an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU when this was published.
President David O. McKay at age eighty-four at his home in Huntsville, Utah. 2002 Brigham Young University. Used by permission.
To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but also practically. (Thoreau, Walden)
By Thoreau’s definition, David O. McKay was certainly a philosopher. He lived according to his own brand of wisdom: his ideas consisted of simple independent thoughts, he had an underlying trust in his religion, and he solved educational problems in practical ways. By studying the experiences of people closely associated with President McKay, we will see that he established his own progressive teaching practices and expressed a unique educational philosophy that guided everything he did.
President McKay’s definition of a teacher’s role was closely associated with the knowledge he felt to be most important. First on his list of teacher responsibilities was the obligation to teach the subject of values. Fulfilling that obligation, he felt, gave a person some wonderful opportunities:
First, the desire to achieve mastery over weak and selfish indulgence.
Second, the power to prepare one to face a life with courage, to meet disaster with fortitude, and to face death without fear.
Third, to develop virile manhood, beautiful womanhood. Oh, how the world needs them!
Fourth, to implant within many souls at least the promise of a friend in each, or of a companion who later may be fit for a husband or wife, who will be fit to be an exemplary father or a loving, intelligent mother. That is your privilege, teacher.
Looking at time spent with others as opportunities for development and self-mastery, he infused various values into the conversation and memory of those who came under his tutelage.
The Responsibility of Study and Reflection
President McKay extolled the importance of lifelong learning. For instance, President Boyd K. Packer remembers being in the temple with President McKay just before President McKay’s death. After finishing an endowment ceremony, President McKay exclaimed, “I think I am beginning to understand it.” Even after sixty-five years of being an Apostle, he was still a student.
President McKay thought another obligation each teacher had was to take personal time for reflection. President Packer tells a story that President McKay used to zero in on this point: “He talked about a Presiding Bishop of the Church who had lost his son in a railroading accident up in a little mine. . . . The point of it was that the boy contacted his mother and said, ‘I tried to contact father but he was too busy.’ He really pressed the brethren to take time to meditate, to take time to think, and to take time to pray. He pressed that upon the brethren using that story to illustrate. That had a very important influence on me because I have tried to do that. It isn’t easy.”
President McKay felt teachers should model for their students the practices of reflection, meditation, and critical thinking. Church educator Lowell Bennion related a conversation he had with President McKay in which this idea was reinforced. Commenting on a television program, President McKay asked, “Who was that man on T.V. with you last week? Is he a member of the Church?” Bennion answered, “Yes, and a very fine one of intellectual acumen and great integrity. However, he does his own thinking.” President McKay responded with a smile, “There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?” Thinking deeply was part of each teacher’s preparation.
The Responsibility of Preparation
Preparation was another duty President McKay saw wrapped up in the role of being a teacher. According to President McKay, effective teaching was to include complete and thorough preparation. In typical fashion, he used this story to illustrate the necessity of preparation:
The other day it was my privilege to drive through the fields in my old hometown. I passed through two farms up near the mountain canal. I saw one that had yielded an exceptionally good crop of oats. Notwithstanding the drought, the cold in the spring, and other disadvantages, the farmer had thrashed an excellent yield. Just over the fence was another oat field, but a failure, comparatively speaking. I said to the man: “Why, what is the matter? You must have planted poor seed.”
“No, it is the same seed that my neighbor has.”
“Well, then it was planted too late, and you did not have enough moisture in the ground to bring it up.”
“It was sown the same afternoon that he sowed his.” Upon further inquiry, I learned that the first man had plowed his in the fall; then he had disked it carefully in the spring, making a mulch on the surface, and by such tilling had conserved the moisture of the winter. His neighbor, on the other hand, had plowed his late in the spring, had left the furrows unharrowed; the moisture had evaporated. Following the sowing of the seed came four weeks or six weeks of drought, and there was not sufficient moisture to germinate the seed. The first man had made preparation, the proper kind of preparation, and nature yielded the increase. The second man labored hard, but his preparation was poor; indeed he had made inadequate preparation.
President McKay outlined the steps adequate preparation included. First, teachers were to look at their expertise and make sure they were not trying to teach what they themselves did not know. Second, teachers were to take a character inventory, making sure they were free from such things as backbiting, faultfinding, or hard feelings. For President McKay, “part of the preparation of a teacher consists in freeing his own heart from those things.”
When the teacher’s character was intact, he or she could then prepare for each individual class in three parts, which could be called the who, what, and how of preparation. Teachers were first to understand who the students were; second, to know what the message was; and third, to know by the Spirit and thoughtful prayer and consideration how they were going to teach. He repeated these instructions time and time again. For instance, in 1919, he gave the same advice with a slightly different twist: “There are three things which must guide all teachers. First, get into the subject—any subject taken from this universe of facts . . . ; second, get that subject into you; third, try to lead your pupils to get the subject into them—not pouring it into them, but leading them to see what you see, to know what you know, to feel what you feel.”
After these steps were carefully addressed, President McKay always insisted that each individual lesson be put into outline form so the teacher could give the class a “definite message.”
At the same time, President McKay did not have unrealistic expectations of a teacher’s time or energy. He once warned Elder George Albert Smith about not overexerting his energy: “I am about as well as usual when I don’t overwork. I have to put the brakes on every once in a while to avoid a nervous collapse, but I enjoy my work so much that I don’t like to put any brakes on, and therein lies the danger. The same thing may be said of you, so let me give you a word of caution and suggest that there is a limit to your endurance, and I sincerely hope that you will not cross the danger line.” He believed that if teachers had enough preparation and at the same time kept a limit on expending their energy, they were capable of success.
The Responsibility of Creating a Teaching Style
To lead a student to knowledge requires a unique teaching style. Educator Keith R. Oaks, who served on the Pacific Board of Education (1964–69), felt David O. McKay was influenced by educational philosopher John Dewey. In the fashion of John Dewey, President McKay was one who felt achievement was reached by both knowledge and activity; therefore, students were not just to sit. Rather, they were to accomplish something as they learned by doing.xxvii14 Drawing someone out was not always the most comfortable experience for the student. By way of illustration, President Thomas S. Monson shares his first encounter of eating lunch with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Vernon Lynn Tyler, who also served under President McKay’s administration, concurs that one of this prophet’s greatest abilities was to inspire people to learn as well as do in the process rather than simply parrot back information. A common McKay adage is that a teacher is not a preacher. Biographer Francis Gibbons, who served as President McKay’s secretary, writes: “He used Socratic dialogue. He did not lecture. He would like to draw someone out with questions.” During the meal, President McKay turned to the newly ordained Apostle, and the following conversation took place:
“Brother Monson, welcome, to our luncheon table. I read an interesting article in the Readers Digest this month, entitled ‘I Quit Smoking.’ Did you happen to read it?”
“Yes, President McKay. I read the article. That man had the right idea.”
“Yes, the author had the right idea, but she was a woman, not a man. Brother Monson, do you think that . . . William Shakespeare really wrote the sonnets attributed to him?”
Elder Monson thought, “Where is this conversation going? I’m a business major.” He replied:
“Yes, I do. I think he wrote them.”
“So do I, Brother Monson, so do I. Do you read Shakespeare?”
“Occasionally, occasionally President.”
“What is your favorite work of Shakespeare?”
“Henry VIII, President.”
“And what is your favorite passage from Henry VIII?”
“President, I think my favorite passage was the lament of Cardinal Wolsey when he said, ‘Had I but served my God with half the zeal I serve my king, he in mine age would not have left me naked to mine enemies.’”
“Oh I love that passage. Brother Monson, would you pass the potatoes, please?”
President Monson recounts passing the potatoes in a hurry because he was running out of his Shakespearean background.
For President McKay, a sense of order should infuse every teaching experience. Some have called his style formal. Elder Simpson chooses to describe him as a “great respecter of order.” We can see a great respect for organization in the following notes President McKay made when viewing a classroom in 1919:
1. Proper arrangements of seats
2. Typewritten schedule of classes.
3. Broken window panes . . .
4. Fire trap
5. Repeating questions . . .
6. Grammar . . .
7. Problems of faculty
(1) Unprepared students . . .
(2) Condition of school room . . .
8. Entertainment for money
These detailed observations show President McKay’s ability to look at the whole picture. His notes included the physical setting, the process of learning, the curriculum, the student, and the faculty. His reference to having the seats properly arranged is typical of his attitudes toward organization. He was adamant about propriety.
President McKay never condoned undisciplined behavior. On one occasion in general conference, he made this observation:
Our classrooms are sometimes places of boisterousness. Here is where we need good teachers. A teacher who can present a lesson interestingly will have good order, and when he or she finds students who are rebellious, flipping papers, paying no attention, stumbling, kicking one another, he or she may know that the lesson is not being properly presented. Perhaps it was not even properly prepared.
One of our mothers recently went to a Sunday School class to try to find out why her son was losing interest. There was so much boisterousness, so much confusion, so much noise, that she felt heartsick; and she arose to leave and she said to the teacher, “I thought this was a Sunday School class, not bedlam.”
Still, putting things in order did not mean making things tedious. Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles remembers that President McKay “knew you must keep things simple so people can understand. He was a wonderful, forceful teacher who taught the simple rudiments of the gospel.” He was firm with guidelines and rules establishing perimeters of conduct that let everyone know what was expected. Being forceful and having order and decorum were at the center of President McKay’s teaching style.
The Responsibility of Respecting Agency
One concept that most colleagues agree on is President McKay’s deep regard for another’s agency. His teaching style included never overstepping the bounds of a student’s or subordinate’s agency. Elder Loren C. Dunn, who served as one of the Presidents of the First Quorum of Seventy, believes that President McKay let those he associated with have the freedom to act as they saw fit. An experience of former Utah Congressman Gunn McKay, a relative, proves this point. Gunn owned a grocery business and was concerned about staying open on the Sabbath. He approached David O. McKay and said, “We share the same name and I don’t want to drag that name in the mud. What should I do?” President McKay then asked what Church office Gunn held at the time and ended the conversation by saying that he realized that Gunn had to make a living. He added that if he were calling Gunn to be a stake president, he would ask him either to refuse the call or close his store. That was his only reply. Later, Gunn met David O. McKay after he had decided to close his store on Sundays. President McKay greeted him and said, “We are so delighted you did what you did.” He wanted Gunn to close his store, but he wouldn’t directly tell Gunn to do it.
This loyalty to moral agency is summed up in two axioms President McKay often repeated: “Behavior is caught, not taught,” and example is much more “potent than precept.”
President McKay tried to build students in each learning situation. For instance, when Elder Dunn was called to a leadership position, President McKay talked at length with him about his father and then gave him an interesting challenge: “You’ve spoken respectfully and lovingly of your father. We want you to serve in this calling in such a way that it will bring honor to your family and [be] acceptable to your father as well.” President McKay used Elder Dunn’s respect for his own father to challenge him to do his best.
Sometimes interviews were nonverbal but nevertheless conveyed a feeling of esteem to the individual. Elder Simpson first met President McKay in the New Zealand Temple, where the following exchange took place: “[President] McKay put out his right hand and pulled me in very close. He put his left hand on my shoulder and proceeded to look into my eyes. He had that wonderful kindly look that he always carried. It was just a magical moment and I expected him to start a conversation but he didn’t say anything. He just looked at me close range with his pleasant smile or look on his face and eyes that penetrated my very soul. After forty or fifty seconds which seemed like an hour he said, ‘Elder Simpson, I am pleased to know you.’”
Several months afterward, Elder Simpson received a call from President McKay, and the following conversation took place: “Brother Simpson based on our personal interview in the New Zealand Temple I feel impressed to call you to preside over the New Zealand Mission. How soon can you leave?” Elder Simpson identifies the important point of this encounter. He states: “The important thing is . . . there were no words, no questions. He had just looked into my eyes and into my very soul and said, ‘Brother Simpson I am pleased to know you.’ . . . He could see into the very depths of my soul.” This encounter made Robert L. Simpson feel great about himself.
In 1933, President Gordon B. Hinckley had a similar experience as a missionary when President McKay asked each missionary to write a paper. After reading Elder Hinckley’s paper, President McKay called him into his office and complimented him on his writing. President Hinckley personally observed that this leader “had confidence in young people and saw in them their possibilities. He could look above their little idiosyncrasies to the possibility of the boy or the girl in the future. He just had a nurturing spirit about him that was tremendous and wonderful.” President McKay “loved to see people grow, see their minds catch fire. . . . It was ever the nature of the man to educate.”
Such praise and positive interaction were at the heart of President McKay’s teaching style. He was always building the learner; his facial expression and careful use of language conveyed positive affirmation. The main nutrients of the students’ diet were praise and interest in their needs. He suggested teachers take every opportunity to show students that they were interested in them, whether on the street or in a formal educational setting. He lived what he taught, and those around him caught his message. President Packer calls this style “presidential” and says he felt a personal sense of worth in all the meetings that were conducted by him, because each person was free to present his opinion. There was always a “full discussion” that President McKay would never curtail. When he taught, President McKay kept the principle of protecting self-worth uppermost in his mind.
The Responsibility of Developing a Teacher’s Personality
According to President McKay, another responsibility all educators had was to develop a personality that would draw learners to them. President McKay’s best asset in discipline was the sheer force of his charismatic personality. It would be wise to look at his teaching personality in depth to see if certain components can be emulated.
As a teenager, Elder Henry B. Eyring experienced President McKay’s confidence when he entered the room. At a dinner, Elder Eyring “was just standing around” when suddenly he noticed “a cluster of people” who “were very animated.” Elder Eyring wondered what the “sort of a ‘hub-bub’ of happy, buoyant people . . . clustered around” were doing. He looked and in the “midst of this circle” saw “a very tall man.” He saw this “extremely handsome man . . . in a light suit which made him even more remarkable.” Elder Eyring refers to an “incredible magnetism” that came from him, not just because “he was an important person; just the person himself.” Elder Eyring called it “a feeling of electricity, . . . a capacity to radiate an influence,” and he was drawn in the same way that everyone else in the room was. Elder Eyring recounts that his impression was not exclusive to a first impression but that the more familiar people became with President McKay, the more impressed they were.
A teacher would certainly want to have such a presence as she or he walked into a classroom. President McKay instructed how such a presence can be achieved: “Personality must be such that we radiate confidence; and unless our actions are in harmony with our pretensions, our personality will produce a disappointment instead.” Other characteristics that gave President McKay such magnetism are discussed below. They are what made President McKay such an effective educator and educational leader.
A Positive Personality
During the interviews used for this article, the following adjectives were used to describe President McKay: dynamic, forceful, impressive, moving, outstanding, dignified, excited, humorous, humble, kind, guileless, courteous, considerate, encouraging, sweet, generous, and committed. He was known to have a little twinkle in his eye, to accentuate the positive, and to be the perfect image of a mature, intelligent individual. By themselves, these traits may give the impression that President McKay was above criticism and that everyone regarded him with respect and awe. However, it is only fair to recognize that a few also saw him in less ideal terms. For instance, some thought he could sometimes be vain, judgmental, rigid, and aristocratic, even though generally they respected him.
Elder Glenn L. Rudd suggests that President McKay exemplified a dichotomy: while some saw him as a perfectionist, others saw him as being lenient and down to earth. Another paradox is that even though he “would never tell you what you had done wrong,” he was known to really question associates on specific details of their work. Of course, it is always important to look at the background of those who make these appraisements and the relationships they had with the subject before their opinions are accepted as fair. Adam S. Bennion, whose association with President McKay in the Church Educational System lasted forty years, referred to him as “the inspiring teacher of our generation” and suggested that it was a shame that “we cannot all be like him.” Although not all teachers may be able to be exactly like President McKay, they may be able to infuse some of his positive characteristics into their own teaching personas.
Appearance and Gesture
Everyone can develop certain physical gestures and characteristics that can enhance the teaching process. Even a simple gesture can transform a plain classroom teacher into a magnetic teaching personality. For instance, Elder David B. Haight remembers a common gesture President McKay used; he would throw his arm into the air far above his head. Elder Haight found this motion impressive and moving. President Hinckley remembers the same hand movement and at times repeats it when he speaks at a pulpit. President Hinckley recollects: “I can see [him] in my mind’s eye now at the pulpit—tall and stately and lifting his hand to that vast congregation as he spoke words that inspired and lifted and made everyone there want to live a little better.” President Packer associated such words as dignified, well groomed, and extremely courteous with his memory of President McKay. These descriptions have not so much to do with his physical features as his personal bearing.
President McKay believed that an educator who wears professional clothing will bring professional results. President Thomas S. Monson remembers him always “dressed in spotless white summer suit.” A successful teacher will remember that even amidst the relaxed cultural atmosphere of our generation, attire can still enhance an educational career. In religious education, a teacher’s dress should show respect for the subject matter.
President McKay’s personal grooming grew from his basic educational aim of being positive. In the workaday world, being consistently positive is easier said than done. President McKay seized opportunities for accentuating the positive and thus produced a desire in his students and associates to please him. Being optimistic was one of his vital teaching characteristics. For instance, on a sweltering day, he commented, “Isn’t it good to get this warmth in your bones.” By infusing such optimism into a sweltering teaching situation, teachers can bring a new comfort into their classrooms.
He was adept at turning difficult situations into positive exchanges. For example, a woman had spent an entire summer painting a picture for him of what she thought was President McKay’s ancestral home for him. When she presented the picture to him as a gift, he realized she had painted the wrong house. In response to this mistake, he told the artist: “The home you painted is the home next door, but in reality, that was the home I would see when I would lie on the bed in my ancestral home and gaze out the screen porch to that beautiful scene of the home you painted. You were inspired to paint that home.” As in this case, his teaching methodology was to “build and lift and inspire.”
Grandson Barrie McKay remembers that everyone President McKay touched and everyone he met was lifted up by his personality, even when the person did not warrant such encouragement. An example of this occurred when a member of the general Sunday School presidency was being very negative. President McKay suggested to the leadership that they could capitalize on one positive thing this person had done, and that emphasis could change the personality. By looking at some of President McKay’s other characteristics, we can glean threads from which we can also weave a fabric of optimism.
Teachers often find it difficult to infuse into their teaching personality a sense of availability. Grandson Alan Ashton found that his Grandfather McKay was always generous with his time. Focus was the key to this seeming availability. Elder Marion D. Hanks describes having President McKay’s full attention: “I was in his presence when he was educating, constantly teaching a constant sense of the importance of people and of the perfectability of people and the unostentatious sharing of the experiences of a great mind and a great heart and a great character, and a great life of experience.”
Elder Hanks also remembers that Walter Ruther, a well-known labor leader, found President McKay to be highly available. After an interview with President McKay, Ruther told an audience at the University of Utah that he had met with “the great leaders of the earth,” but he had never met a man like President McKay before. Ruther said he did not think the next generation could ever produce a man like the prophet. Part of the reason Ruther was so impressed was the intense attention President McKay paid to him and his family during a short visit to the Church Administration Building. Elder Hanks calls this McKay characteristic “a genuineness—a presence—that can’t be simulated.”
Elder Rudd experienced this same intensity when President McKay personally greeted him and every other missionary who was called home from the Pacific Islands in 1940 because of World War II. In similar fashion, Vernon Tyler remembers a chance meeting with this prophet-educator that had a lasting impression when President McKay put one hand on his shoulder and the other in his and asked, “Who are you? What is going on in your life?” 
Developing this type of focus on individuals will, in the long run, save a teacher time and produce a sense of availability. Barrie McKay suggests that this characteristic was also displayed in President McKay’s son, David Lawrence:
When Lawrence was in his “hey-day” he was an extremely busy attorney. . . . When people came to see him unexpectedly time after time, he’d be on his way to a meeting. Lawrence would always greet them by saying, “How nice to see you! Sit down. . . .” When there was a pause he would say, “I have to be in court or at a meeting, I’ll be back at such and such a time and then I can meet with you.” People would usually answer, “That’s OK, I got what I needed.” In two to three minutes Lawrence would take care of it. David O. McKay had that same capacity to give complete attention and people felt that.
Part of the reason that David Lawrence and his father were able to focus so completely was their ability to “talk to most anybody on their own level.” President McKay is remembered as having a “magical way of setting you at ease.” Historian James Allen observed that President McKay was “interested in ordinary people, feeling a regular association for them.”
Another way for teachers to create a positive atmosphere is not to take mistakes too seriously. Teachers often tend to overreact; President McKay tended to underreact. For example, one infraction involved someone illegally taking Church funds. When President McKay was approached about taking punitive action, he calmly said, “A dog does not know he is a dog unless he has fleas. . . . These things happen.”
Even though he was resistant to imposing penalties on others, he was more than willing to admit his own inadequacies. After giving a speech at Brigham Young University in January 1939, President McKay wrote Brigham Young University President Franklin S. Harris, apologizing for his “feeble effort”: “I use the word ‘feeble’ advisedly, for, though I said nothing to you and have mentioned it to only two of my other friends, I was in no physical condition to assume the responsibility for which that appointment called. . . . My thoughts were not organized as I would have had them, and I have felt very much dissatisfied ever since. Next time I will try to do better. Your generous expression of appreciation gives me encouragement.”
President McKay’s willingness to admit inadequacy was connected to his openness and liberal attitude toward others’ mistakes, ideas, and behaviors. Elder Rudd remembers him as “very liberal and forgiving of those who did not fully sustain the Brethren.” Because President McKay was willing to admit his mistakes, he was willing to be patient with others’ mistakes.
Teaching: The Apex of All Professions
For President McKay, “teaching is the noblest of all professions, . . . the noblest duty of organized society. . . . Every nation should make it its first and paramount object.” When he talked about being a teacher, it was obvious he believed teaching to be the greatest occupation available. Elder Eyring believes that “[President McKay] left a legacy of the tremendous importance of education.” He knew if an educator really liked what he or she was doing, and other characteristics such as kindness, courtesy, consideration, and encouragement followed. He felt that if teachers have a fondness for what they are doing, they will personify sincerity, honesty, and purity, and those characteristics will be duplicated in the next generation.
Many have paid tribute to his accomplishments. One of the most powerful accolades comes from Joseph C. Muren, then an instructor in Sunnyvale, California:
To me, David O. McKay was the paradigmatic man of our dispensation in exemplifying . . . the rewards of Christian living. I’ve felt that no man with whose life I’ve been acquainted has lived this type of life more profoundly than he. For this reason I have become greatly concerned to search out, through studying the insights of this man, the keys to the happy life for myself, and I have personally resolved that my children and the university students I teach and counsel . . . will have further opportunities to know the prophet. It would be a great tragedy if the writings [and practices] of President McKay, with their sense of urgency as it relates to the family as the vehicle[s] by which personalities and attitudes can be changed, were to end up as “dust collectors” in our personal libraries.
This succinct expression captures the major objective of this article. President David O. McKay’s educational practices can be used as a vehicle to change the attitudes, practices, and personalities of parents, educators, and learners in positive ways and thus guarantee that President McKay’s instructional concepts will not become mere dust collectors. Contemporary educators who ponder his educational practices can infuse these concepts into their own educational lives and fit future generations of teachers to successfully survive the struggles of the modern classroom.
 David O. McKay, in Conference Report, April 1968, 94; Boyd K. Packer interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 David O. McKay, “That You May Instruct More Perfectly,” Improvement Era, August 1956, 558.
 Boyd K. Packer interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Boyd K. Packer interview.
 Lowell L. Bennion, “My Memories of David O. McKay,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4, no. 4 (winter 1969): 47–48.
 David O. McKay, in Conference Report, October 1916, 58.
 David O. McKay, “Priesthood Quorum’s Table: How to Teach,” Improvement Era, December 1916, 179.
 David O. McKay, “That You May Instruct More Perfectly,” 557.
 David O. McKay, “Teacher Training Classes,” Improvement Era, August 1919, 900.
 David O. McKay, “That You May Instruct More Perfectly,” 557.
 David O. McKay to George Albert Smith, 20 September 1923, correspondence, George Albert Smith Collection, University of Utah Special Collections.
 Keith R. Oaks interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 David O. McKay, “Teacher Training Classes,” 902.
 Francis M. Gibbons interview, 1996, phone interview by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Thomas S. Monson, interview, 1996, transcription of interview on tape, Brigham Young University, David O. McKay School of Education, David O. McKay Symposium.
 Robert L. Simpson interview, 1995, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 David O. McKay, 1897–1956, David O. McKay Microfilm, reel 7, number 492, Special Collections, University of Utah.
 David O. McKay, in Conference Report, April 1950, 164.
 David B. Haight interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Loren C. Dunn interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Loren C. Dunn interview.
 Gunn McKay interview, 1995, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 David O. McKay, in Conference Report, April 1935, 114.
 Loren C. Dunn interview.
 Robert L. Simpson interview.
 Robert L. Simpson interview.
 Gordon B. Hinckley interview, 1996, transcription of interview on tape, Brigham Young University, David O. McKay School of Education, David O. McKay Symposium.
 David O. McKay, in Conference Report, April 1914, 89; Barrie McKay interview, 1995, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Boyd K. Packer interview.
 Henry B. Eyring interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 David O. McKay, in Conference Report, October 1969, 87.
 Quinn McKay interview, interviewed by Newell Bringhurst; Michael Quinn interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project; and Monroe McKay interview, 1986, interviewed by Newell Bringhurst.
 Glenn L. Rudd interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Hartman Rector Jr. interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Adam S. Bennion, The Candle of the Lord (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1962), 149.
 David B. Haight interview.
 Gordon B. Hinckley interview.
 Boyd K. Packer interview.
 Thomas S. Monson interview.
 Robert L. Simpson interview.
 Thomas S. Monson interview.
 Barrie McKay interview.
 Alan C. Ashton to the author, 19 September 1996, correspondence in possession of Mary Jane Woodger.
 Marion D. Hanks interview, 1996, transcription of interview on tape, Brigham Young University, David O. McKay School of Education, David O. McKay Symposium.
 Glenn L. Rudd interview.
 Vernon Lynn Tyler interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Barrie McKay interview.
 Loren C. Dunn interview.
 Robert L. Simpson interview.
 James B. Allen, interview, 1996, interviewed by the author, Brigham Young University, College of Education, McKay Research Project.
 Glenn L. Rudd interview.
 David O. McKay to Franklin S. Harris, 28 January 1939, correspondence, in Franklin S. Harris Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
 Glenn L. Rudd interview.
 David O. McKay to Franklin S. Harris, 9 November 1923, correspondence, in Franklin S. Harris Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
 Henry B. Eyring interview.
 David O. McKay, in Conference Report, April 1914, 89.
 Joseph C. Muren, “When Spirit Speaks to Spirit,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4, no. 4 (winter 1969): 52.