John L. Sorenson was born in 1924 in Smithfield, Utah. After attending Utah State Agricultural College, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he was trained at the California Institute of Technology as a meteorologist and served in the South Atlantic theater of WWII.
He served an LDS mission in New Zealand and the Cook Islands from 1947 to 1949. He had married Kathryn Richards of Magna, Utah, in November 1946 prior to his mission. On his return to Utah, he, his wife, and their young son moved to Provo where he attended BYU and received a master’s degree in archaeology in 1952. He began work in 1953 with the New World Archaeological Foundation before becoming an instructor in archaeology at BYU. He received a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA in 1962. He originate the anthropology program at BYU in 1958.
He entered the business world from 1964 to 1971, then rejoined BYU as professor anthropology. Dr. Sorenson headed the anthropology program at BYU for 14 years, retiring in 1986 after suffering a heart attack. From 1986 to 2008 he did full-time research and writing on ancient American civilization and the Book of Mormon in connection with the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. He was closely involved with FARMS for 28 years including nearly five as editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.
He has published some 200 books and articles. His writings on the Book of Mormon are widely read. I the Church he has served for more than 50 years in teaching callings and leadership positions, including high councilor and bishop. He was married to Kathryn Richards for 44 years until her death in 1991. For 16 years he has been married to Helen Lance Christianson. They are the parents of 18 children, grandparents of 58 and great-grandparents of 8.