Scope and Content

Collection contains journals, correspondence, and other papers. Includes information about Joseph Smith; development of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio; Missouri; and Nauvoo, Illinois; temple work; Kirtland, Nauvoo, Salt Lake, St. George, Logan, and Manti Temples; missionary work; Zion's Camp; the Mormon Battalion and Mormon involvement in California; overland travel and English immigration; interactions with Indians; colonization of Utah and surrounding states; Utah and national politics; Utah statehood attempts; the Reformation; Utah War; Mountain Meadows Massacre; social, agricultural, and civic matters in Utah; Mormon historiography; plural marriage and the Underground; and Woodruff's personal financial and family affairs.

Early journals focus on Woodruff's missionary travels in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky (with Warren Parrish and David W. Patten), New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and England; events in Kirtland, Nauvoo, and Winter Quarters; and westward movement. Subsequent journals focus on events in Utah, and Woodruff's activities in the Council of the Twelve and as Church president; and include information about cooperative movements, united orders, the School of the Prophets, Church businesses, and Church colonies in Canada and Mexico. Of note are Woodruff's journal accounts of sermons given by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other Church leaders. Woodruff's death and funeral services were recorded by his secretary, L. John Nuttall.

Correspondence includes letters received during Woodruff's presidencies of the British Mission (1845-1847) and the Eastern States Mission (1848-1850), and as assistant Church historian beginning in 1856. Among those with whom Woodruff corresponded were Brigham Young, John Taylor, George A. Smith, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Erastus Snow, Amasa M. Lyman, Franklin D. Richards, Ezra T. Benson, George Q. Cannon, Jedediah M. Grant, Thomas L. Kane, John M. Bernhisel, Almon W. Babbitt, W. W. Phelps, Hiram Kimball, Samuel Brannan, Alexander Badlam, Orson Spencer, Dan Jones, Reuben Hedlock, Elisha H. Davis, J. W. Cummings, Eli B. Kelsey, Willard Snow, William I. Appleby, James A. Stratton, Nathaniel H. Felt, Elijah Fordham, Milo Andrus, Horace S. Eldredge, Leonard W. Hardy, Abraham O. Smoot, Philo Dibble, William Clayton, David Candland, James Ferguson, Hiram B. Clawson, Joseph Russell, John Benbow, James M. Monroe, George P. Dykes, Edward Partridge Jr., Lucius N. Scovil, Phillip M. Westwood, Chandler Holbrook, and Alden M. Jackson.

Letters of note are from John Whitmer in Kirtland, Ohio; two letters from Thomas B. Marsh in Far West, Missouri, one of which is notice of Woodruff's call as an apostle; and letter from Orson Hyde in Kanesville, Iowa, about Oliver Cowdery.

Correspondence also includes letters exchanged between Wilford Woodruff and family members, particularly his brother-in-law Ilus F. Carter. Phebe Woodruff's correspondence includes letters from Margaret T. Smoot and Hannah Ells in Nauvoo. Ells's letter mentions Emma Smith.

Papers include Woodruff's copy of Doctrine and Covenants Section 124; priesthood certificates signed by Joseph Smith, John Whitmer, and Sidney Rigdon; an order from Oliver Cowdery; Nauvoo House agency certificate; Nauvoo Legion commission; and masonry certificate signed by Hyrum Smith. Financial papers include deeds for land in Ray County, Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois; tax receipts; and a receipt for business with John Taylor. Also included are papers about the 1845 English printing of the Doctrine and Covenants; poetry; an early handwritten hymnbook; invitations; an 1845 broadsheet issued by Church leadership; and drawing of a flag designed for English immigrant ships to California.

Wilford Woodruff was born 1 March 1807 in Farmington, Connecticut, to Aphek and Beulah Thompson Woodruff. He was baptized on 31 December 1833, married Phebe (Phoebe) W. Carter in 1837, and became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1839. He traveled widely in America and Great Britain as a missionary; served in political, civic and business positions in Utah; and was intimately involved in historical endeavors, serving as both assistant Church historian and Church historian. He succeeded John Taylor as Church president in 1887. Woodruff died in San Francisco, California, 2 September 1898.

Arrangement of Materials


7 boxes

7 boxes

Linear Feet

Use and Access

Portions closed to research.

Copyright remains in force until 2028. In 1983, Signature Books published a typescript version of the journals, stating in the preface that Wilford Woodruff had stipulated that his journals should remain in the custody of the family and that certain of his sons would direct publication issues. Signature Books was assigned literary rights to the journals by the Wilford Woodruff Family Association in November 1981. A CD of the journals was made by the Church Archives in 2002 (as part of 2003 copyright project).

Preferred Citation

[Item description], Wilford Woodruff journals and papers. Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Woodruff, Wilford, 1807-1898
Language of the Materials
Access Restrictions
Portions closed to research.
Alternate Finding Aids
Electronic Version
7 boxes
7 boxes

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