Ron Esplin was born in Cedar City, Utah, raised in the Salt Lake Valley, and graduated with a degree in History from the University of Utah. He married the former Judith Mortensen and they have seven children and fifteen grandchildren. He has graduate degrees in History from the University of Virginia and Brigham Young University.
For eight years in the 1970s, Ron worked in the LDS Historical Department under Leonard Arrington, and for 25 years was a professor of church history and a senior research historian at the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History at Brigham Young University. For sixteen of those years he served as director of the institute.
Today he serves as managing editor of the Joseph Smith Papers Project in the Family and Church History Department in Salt Lake City; and with Richard Bushman and Dean C. Jessee, as one of the general editors of The Joseph Smith Papers publications. His publications deal mainly with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and their periods of our history.