|Assistant Church Historian|
|1972 – 1982|
|Called by||Leonard J. Arrington|
|Predecessor||E. Earl Olson|
|Successor||None until 2008
Richard E. Turley, Jr.
|End reason||The LDS Church transferred its History Division to BYU in 1982|
|Born||Ronald Davis Bitton
February 22, 1930
|Died||April 13, 2007
Salt Lake City, Utah
|Resting place||Salt Lake City Cemetery
|Education||Ph.D. in history|
|Alma mater||Brigham Young University
Professor of History
|Employer||University of Utah|
|Notable works||Author of notable Mormon histories|
|Title||Charter member and president of the Mormon History Association|
Ronald Davis Bitton (February 22, 1930 – April 13, 2007) was a charter member and president of the Mormon History Association, professor of history at the University of Utah, and official Assistant Church Historian in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
Bitton was born in, and grew up in the area of, Blackfoot, Idaho. He was a talented pianist, having begun at the age of six. After two years at Brigham Young University (BYU), he served as an LDS missionary to France, where he edited the church's L'Etoile periodical. He then served in the United States Army during the Korean War. Bitton returned to BYU, where he was president of his Phi Alpha Theta chapter and graduated in history in 1956. He afterward studied at Princeton University, where he received an M.A. in 1958 and earned his Ph.D. in French History in 1961.
Bitton was a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin until 1964, when he moved and joined the University of California, Santa Barbara. He then joined the University of Utah faculty in 1966, where he taught for 29 years until his retirement in 1995. From 2005–2006, he was a visiting professor at Brigham Young University Hawaii.
Although his specialty was French history, Bitton made many contributions to Mormon history. He won many awards for his work in Mormon history, including the "Silver Award" from Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, awarded for an essay on B. H. Roberts. He was an original member and founder of the Mormon History Association in 1965 and he served as president from 1971–1972.
Bitton served as an official Assistant Church Historian to his mentor Leonard J. Arrington from 1972–1982. Bitton referred to this time as "Camelot", an exciting time of unprecedented development of new Mormon historical research. During this period and after, Bitton published several works with Arrington. In 2006, the Mormon History Association awarded Bitton the Leonard J. Arrington Award for "distinguished and meritorious service to Mormon history".
- Bitton, Davis (1969). The French Nobility in Crisis, 1560-1640. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
- —————— (1977). Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies (PDF). Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press. ISBN 0-8425-1478-3. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
Winner of Outstanding Bibliography Award (Mormon History Association)
- Arrington, Leonard; Bitton, Davis (1979). The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-46566-0.
Winner of Best Book Award (Mormon History Association)
- ————————; —————— (1981). Saints Without Halos: The Human Side of Mormon History. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-01-X.
- Bitton, Davis (1982). The Redoubtable John Pack: Pioneer, Proselyter, Patriarch. Midvale, Utah: The John Pack Family Association-Eden Hill.
- Arrington, Leonard; Bitton, Davis (1988). Mormons and their Historians. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. ISBN 0-87480-280-6.
- Bitton, Davis (1994). The Ritualization of Mormon History and Other Essays. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02079-0.
- —————— (1999). George Q. Cannon: A Biography. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. ISBN 1-57345-490-7.
Winner of Best Book Award (Mormon History Association) and Evans Biography Award (Utah State University)
- Bitton, Davis (Winter 1975). "Ritualization of Mormon History". Utah Historical Quarterly 43 (1): 67–85.
Winner of Best Article by a Senior Author (Mormon History Association)
- —— (Autumn 1983). "Ten Years in Camelot: A Personal Memoir". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (3): 9–19.
- Parshall, Ardis (April 13, 2007). "Ronald Davis Bitton, 1930-2007 (Updated)". Times and Seasons blog. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- (Arrington 1998, pp. 82–3)
- "Davis Bitton". Mormon Literature Database. Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "Noted LDS historian R. Davis Bitton dies". Deseret Morning News. April 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "In Memoriam". U-News & Views (University of Utah Alumni Association). May 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "Davis Bitton, 1930 – 2007". Mormon History Association. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "Past MHA Presidents". Mormon History Association. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "MHA Awards, Year 2006" (PDF). Mormon History Association. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- (Arrington 1998, p. 235)
- Bitton, Davis (2004). "About the Author:". Meridian Magazine. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- "George Q. Cannon". Mormon Literature Database. Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- Arrington, Leonard J. (1998). Adventures of a Church Historian. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02381-1.
- Works by or about Davis Bitton in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Davis Bitton at the MLCA Database
- Talk given by James B. Allen at Bitton's funeral: Davis Bitton: His Scholarship and Faith