Frequently Asked Questions


Our mission, by 2027, is to digitally preserve and publish Wilford Woodruff’s eyewitness account of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ from 1833 to 1898.
Our purpose in making Wilford Woodruff’s faithful records universally accessible is to inspire all people, especially the rising generation, to study and increase their faith in Jesus Christ, understand and honor sacred temple covenants, and thereby receive the blessings of exaltation with their families.
Our goal is to locate, transcribe, and publish online every extant document created by Wilford Woodruff as well as correspondence he received. Between 2020 and 2027, we plan to (1) digitally publish all surviving documents written by Wilford Woodruff or written by scribes or assistants under his direction; (2) make accurate transcriptions of these documents searchable and understandable in context with hyperlinks to people, places, topics, and scripture references identified within the Papers; and (3) organize two conferences pertaining to the Wilford Woodruff Papers to encourage ongoing research, discovery, and dissemination of knowledge embedded in them.
Brigham Young’s papers are being published by a private organization

It is also incredibly important to add John Taylor’s records, writings, and discourses to the other witnesses of the Restoration, but another Foundation will have to be established for that purpose.

The Wilford Woodruff Papers Project was established based on Jennifer Ann Mackley's 24 years of research. It is patterned after the Joseph Smith Papers, a project managed by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and will be funded by individual donations.
Wilford Woodruff’s records are the backbone of the history of the Restoration and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the nineteenth century. With the pattern and standard set by the Joseph Smith Papers (1828-1844), Wilford Woodruff’s records (1833-1898) are a natural extension of that history and will provide the common thread connecting Joseph Smith’s records with other prophets, apostles, and 19th century Church members.
Jennifer Ann Mackley began her research on Wilford Woodruff's writings in 1996 and, in 2020, co-founded the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation with Donald W. Parry to carry out this Project.

As far as the records show, it was shortly after his baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1833 that Wilford Woodruff began keeping his journal. He stated in his preface that his intent in doing so was to give an account of his stewardship because it is “not only our privilege but duty to keep an accurate account of our proceedings.” He later explained, “We should write an account of those important transactions which are taking place before our eyes in fulfillment of the prophecies and the revelation of God. . . . This will make a valuable legacy to our children and a great benefit to future generations by giving them a true history of the rise and progress of the Church and the Kingdom of God upon the earth in this last dispensation . . . .”

The Joseph Smith Papers encompass the written record of Church history from 1828 to 1844 and include the founding documents of the Restoration. The Wilford Woodruff Papers extend the history, encompassing the period of Wilford Woodruff’s records from 1827 to 1900, and will help complete the story of the Restoration in the nineteenth century. With so much misinformation easily accessible online, it is vital to make these primary, eyewitness sources of knowledge easily accessible so seekers can find and understand truth in context.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation manages this Wilford Woodruff Papers Project under the leadership of Executive Director, Jennifer Ann Mackley and Executive Editor, Steven C. Harper, with Jordan Woodruff Clements as Chair of the Board of Directors. The full staff and Board are listed here.
All people everywhere are invited to learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from Wilford Woodruff's records.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation is an independent, private non-profit organization and is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or any other organization or institution. However, the Church History Department supports and encourages the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project. The Church History Library staff cooperates closely with us, providing access to the documents as well as technical and research assistance. Several people who work on the Wilford Woodruff Papers gained expertise from their prior work with the Joseph Smith Papers, including our Executive Editor Steven C. Harper. Moreover, Joseph Smith Papers scholars Matthew C. Godfrey, Andrew H. Hedges, R. Eric Smith, and Jordan T. Watkins serve as advisors to the Wilford Woodruff Papers editorial team.
Professionally trained and experienced document editors maintain and follow transcription and verification processes consistent with the highest academic documentary editing standards. See the editorial method we follow here.
The Joseph Smith Papers include the foundational revelations, scriptures, and records of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ during Joseph Smith's lifetime. They are published online and in 27 print volumes. The Wilford Woodruff Papers embody a larger number of documents and extend the story of the Restoration another 54 years, due to President Woodruff's longer lifetime and developments in the recording and preservation of documents through the end of the nineteenth century. The Wilford Woodruff Papers are only published online. 
However, because the editorial approaches of the projects are very different, comparing the volume, scope, funding, or timelines of the two projects does not paint an accurate picture. The Joseph Smith Papers include historical introductions, annotations, and footnotes for each document. The documents in the Wilford Woodruff Papers are contextualized with hyperlinks for people, places, topics, and scriptural references within each page. 
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Project builds on the foundation of the seminal work completed by the Church History Department; the Project seeks to complement the Joseph Smith Papers Project, extending the historical record and adding Wilford Woodruff's witness of the Restoration of the gospel and his insights into the development of temple doctrine through 1898. 


We believe including every extant document will complete the picture as clearly as possible by not only adding to the body of truth, but getting as close as possible to the whole truth.

This will ensure that the body of truth is substantial enough to stand in opposition to the misinformation and lies that continue to circulate.

To add Wilford Woodruff’s witness to Joseph Smith’s: “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” 2 Corinthians 13:1

Because this is a papers project, not a documentary history project, it only includes documents created by Wilford Woodruff or, in rare cases, the documents written by scribes/secretaries at his request, and letters received by him. Wilford filled 31 daybooks and journals between 1834 and 1898 and all of these records were preserved. In those journals he tallied the 13,308 letters he wrote. the 17,439 letters he received, and the 3,559 discourses, speeches, and eulogies he delivered. Thousands of these documents have survived. In addition, he preserved thousands of pages of personal, legal, financial, business, and family records.
All documents identified and located have been included once the Wilford Woodruff Papers is granted access to them and allowed to display them online. As more documents are discovered, they will be added. No documents will be excluded.
Wilford Woodruff's journals and daybooks as well as the majority of his personal papers and letters are in the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Other papers and letters have been preserved in other historical archives, by educational institutions, and in private collections. We currently have digital images of 6,995 documents in our catalog.
There are outdated printed editions of Wilford Woodruff's journals, but the online, searchable edition of Wilford Woodruff’s journals completed in 2022 will not be printed. The intent of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation is for the journals and all other Wilford Woodruff Papers to be universally accessible at no cost to those accessing the documents at The papers will remain digitally accessible on our website with links to biographical and geographical information as well as topics mentioned in the Woodruff papers.
Please email us at with details about your document or artifact and we will communicate with you directly regarding next steps. We are not physically collecting or storing individual items, but working to digitally preserve and share them.
We can professionally digitize the document or artifact for you in your home, or we will coordinate with you to pick it up, digitize it, and return the physical item to you with a digital copy for you to keep. If you would prefer to donate the item so it can be professionally preserved for historical purposes, we can help facilitate that.
Professional archivists use specialized camera equipment to digitize documents so the items are not damaged in the process. For example, the pages of books are photographed rather than flattened in a scanner so the spine is not damaged. Letters are not processed through a scanner to avoid crumpling or damaging the fragile pages.
The information available on this website, including any text, data, artwork, video, audio, images, or graphics (collectively, the "Material") may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Entities other than the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation (WWPF) may own copyright in the Material.

We encourage use of the Material for non-profit and educational purposes, such as personal research, teaching, and private study. For these limited purposes, Material from this website may be displayed and printed in compliance with the specific limitations outlined by the original source of the Material, and all printed or displayed copies must include any copyright notice applicable to the Material.

Except as provided above, or any use beyond what is allowed by fair use (Title 17, § 107 U.S.C.), you may not reproduce, republish, post, transmit, or distribute any Material from this website in any physical or digital form without the permission of the copyright owner of the Material.


The timeline for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project was originally ten years and our budget was $10 million dollars. But through our pioneering work with crowdsourcing and the accelerated pace of editorial work in the first two years, we reduced the timeline to seven years and our budget to $8.5 million dollars.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Project is funded by donations from generous individuals and families, donor-advised funds, and other charitable organizations. Information on how you can contribute is here.
Donations fund the digitization, transcription, and verification of Wilford Woodruff's papers. Documentary editing of this quality is a painstaking and laborious process. It begins with accurate transcription of handwritten documents by a trained individual. Then teams of two read and verify every word on every page to ensure accuracy. In addition, research is done to identify each person and place mentioned in the documents. Then the names mentioned in the documents are linked to biographies, and places mentioned are linked to a mapping system. These reference materials enable users to better search and understand the documents. Donations cover the creation and maintenance of the content management system, including the website, to store and display the documents. The Foundation is virtual, meaning all work is done by individuals on their personal computers and we do not have to spend donated funds paying for physical office space or administrative staff. 

Donors have access to annual reports of expenditures and metrics showing the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project's progress and success.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Project is funded entirely by private donations. Through your generous support, we have transcribed, contextualized, and digitally published more than 38,000 pages of Church history. We have much more to do in order to accomplish our mission by March 1, 2027. Our purpose in making Wilford Woodruff’s faithful records universally accessible is to inspire all people, especially the rising generation, to study and increase their faith in Jesus Christ. Please click here to see the many options available to help fund this historic project. In addition to donations, there are other opportunities for you to get involved. Please consider helping move this inspired work forward by sharing information about the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project with family and friends who may be interested in contributing their time and talents or who may be able to make a donation. We are grateful for all contributions!


The original source of the document is noted on the page, so you can simply copy and paste it to credit the repository or individual owner of the document. You will need authorization from the individual owner to publish the image. If the image you want to use includes the original document and the transcription completed by the Wilford Woodruff Papers, please credit the Wilford Woodruff Papers in addition to the original source of the document image.
Users can reproduce material according to our Copyright and Use Guidelines: Please send individual requests or questions to
Yes, you are welcome to upload documents to your FamilyTree. Please include the link to and citation to the original image from the original source and include the link and citation to the transcription at if you include the image of the transcription. The Wilford Woodruff Papers does not own copyrights to any documents displayed on our website; we only have a use agreement with the source authorizing us to display the documents, so please contact the original source regarding copyright. Our Copyright and Use information is at
The information available on this website, including any text, data, artwork, video, audio, images, or graphics (collectively, the "material") may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Entities other than the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation may own copyright in the material. For example, material that has been contributed by users to public sites, such as and, remains the property of the submitter or the original creator, and we are only authorized to display the material.

We encourage use of the material for non-profit and educational purposes, such as personal research, teaching, and private study. For these limited purposes, material from this website may be displayed and printed in compliance with the specific limitations outlined by the original creator or source of the material, and all printed or displayed copies must include any copyright notice applicable to the material.

Except as provided above, or any use beyond what is allowed by fair use (Title 17, § 107 U.S.C.), you may not reproduce, republish, post, transmit, or distribute any material from this website in any physical or digital form without the permission of the copyright owner of the material.

In the Papers

At you can click on the “People” tab, then select “People Included in Wilford Woodruff’s Papers” and search for a specific person or browse all the individuals listed in alphabetical order. Or, to discover your relationship to every person identified in Wilford Woodruff’s records, you can use our Relative Finder. By logging in to our site with your FamilySearch account, the computer will do the work for you, searching the 18,000 people identified to-date. The downloadable list that is generated will include each of your ancestors mentioned in the Wilford Woodruff Papers and contain links to their FamilySearch and Wilford Woodruff Papers profiles.
It is difficult to state the exact amount, but one way to assess is that 15 to 20 percent of the six-volume Documentary History of the Church, edited by B. H. Roberts, was based on Wilford Woodruff's documents. Several of Joseph Smith's most important sermons are only available to us because they were recorded and preserved in Wilford's journals. The new four-volume history of the Church, Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, also draws on Wilford Woodruff's unique daily journal. There is no way to calculate how much history we do not have. What we do have depends very heavily on Wilford Woodruff's records.
President John Taylor died on July 25, 1887, and the First Presidency with Wilford Woodruff as President was reorganized on April 7, 1889. For a summary of the events and circumstances that led to the long delay, please view this video of a devotional by Steven C. Harper:
The Church History Department has long-standing policies that govern the release or publication of sacred, private, or confidential information. The images of Wilford Woodruff’s journal displayed on are from the Church History Catalog and the redactions are in the original images. In the entire journal, a fraction of one percent of the text (based on word count) has been redacted for these reasons.
Wilford Woodruff did not record the details of a conversation with Martin Harris in 1870 and did not explain whether or not he asked Martin Harris detailed questions about his departure from or return to the Church. In his journal entry on September 4, 1870, referencing remarks Martin Harris gave in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, he stated: "Then Martin Harris arose & bore testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon He is 88 years old & has finally come up to Zion to lay his Body down with the Saints He has been from the Church 33 years in a state of Apostacy & he is far behind the times yet He bears a strong testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon" ( On September 17, 1870, he recorded that Martin Harris was rebaptized and also acted as proxy in baptisms for others in the font by the Endowment House in Salt Lake City ( On September 28, 1870, Martin Harris was invited to a meeting at Wilford Woodruff's home and he "taught the children about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon" before Wilford confirmed his grandson Wilford Leslie Snow and blessed two of his granddaughters Phebe Augusta Florence Snow and Phebe Eleanor Beatie. Wilford Woodruff then wrote that "Martin Harris talked a great deal to us" ( 
Wilford Woodruff mentioned remarks about Adam made in the School of the Prophets meetings on December 16, 1867 ( and January 24, 1868 ( President Woodruff received inquiries from members of the Church about Adam and God (one example can be found at, and in a discourse given on April 7, 1895, he said, "Cease troubling yourselves about who God is; who Adam is, who Christ is, who Jehovah is. For heaven's sake, let these things alone. Why trouble yourselves about these things? God has revealed himself, and when the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants is fulfilled, whether there be one God or many gods they will be revealed to the children of men, as well as all thrones and dominions, principalities, and powers. Then why trouble yourselves about these things? God is God. Christ is Christ. The Holy Ghost is the Holy Ghost. That should be enough for you and I to know. If we want to know any more, wait till we get where God is in person. I say this because we are troubled every little while with inquiries from Elders anxious to know who God is, who Christ is, and who Adam is. I say to the Elders of Israel, stop this. Humble yourselves before the Lord; seek for light, for truth and for a knowledge of the common things of the kingdom of God. The Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever. He changes not. The Son of God is the same. He is the Savior of the world. He is our advocate with the Father. We have had letter after letter from Elders abroad wanting to know concerning these things. Adam is the first man. He was placed in the Garden of Eden, and is our great progenitor. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are the same yesterday, today and forever. That should be sufficient for us to know" ( 

Wilford Woodruff

Wilford Woodruff was married to his first wife, Phebe Whittemore Carter, in April 1837, and they remained together until her death in 1885. In August 1846 he was sealed to Mary Ann Jackson, Sarah Elinor Brown, and Mary Caroline Barton. Sarah Brown and Mary Barton left a few weeks later. Mary Ann Jackson divorced Wilford in 1848. Wilford was sealed to Mary Meek Giles in March 1852 and she died in October 1852. He was sealed to Clarissa Hardy in April 1853 and she divorced him in June 1853. Wilford was sealed to Sarah Brown and Emma Smith in March 1853 and to Sarah Delight Stocking in July 1857, and all three remained with him until his death in 1898. Wilford was sealed to Eudora Lovina Young in March 1877 and she divorced him in November 1878. Mary Ann Jackson met the Woodruffs in England and she moved back to the United States with them in 1846. His other wives were all born in the United States. For additional details see the list of his wives and children here with links to their biographies: 


Brigham Young worked with Wilford Woodruff and others in St. George, Utah, from January 14 to March 21, 1877, to create the written record of the temple ordinances and ceremonies. They met almost daily to review the administration of the ordinances for the living and by proxy in the St. George temple and to prayerfully determine how the Lord wanted them to proceed. After they completed the record on March 21, 1877, Brigham Young stated, "Now you have before you an ensample, to carry on the endowments in all the temples until the coming of the Son of Man." See
In the Joseph Smith Papers the Church History Department explains: "Sealing ceremonies generally took place in meetings of church members who had earlier participated in rituals, or ordinances, that would later be performed in the Nauvoo temple. In Joseph Smith’s journal, Willard Richards referred to meetings of this group by a variety of names, including 'council,' 'quorum,' 'council of the quorum,' and 'prayer meeting.' Members of this group first met on 4 May 1842 when, in Richards’s words, Joseph Smith taught nine men about the 'washings & anointings, endowments, and the communications of keys . . . & all those plans & principles by which any one is enabled to secure the fulness of those blessings which has been prepared for the chu[r]ch of the first-born, and come up, and abide in the prese[n]ce of Eloheim in the eternal worlds.' This group met four more times by the end of June 1842, after which it did not meet again until 26 May 1843, almost a year later. On this date, Joseph Smith evidently repeated the same instruction to some of the same men, probably to prepare them for the additional ordinance of being sealed to their wives. Several were sealed just days later. In a separate ordinance performed the following September, Joseph and Emma Smith were 'anointed & ordd. [ordained] to the highest and holiest order of the priesthood.' Other members of this council—including all nine members of the Quorum of the Twelve who were living in the area and their wives—eventually received the same ordinance, which Wilford Woodruff, a member of the council, often referred to as a 'second anointing' in his journal. In addition to participating in these rituals, the growing number of men and women invited to attend these meetings often prayed together and received instructions from Joseph Smith about teachings and doctrines related to the temple." (See 
The weathervane on the Nauvoo Illinois Temple was an angel in a horizontal position holding an open book with one hand and the other hand holding a horn pressed to its lips, but this angel was unrelated to the angel Moroni. The first angel statue placed on a temple was sculpted by Cyrus E. Dallin for the Salt Lake City Utah Temple. In 1891 Wilford Woodruff commissioned Cyrus, an artist from Springville, Utah, to create the sculpture. Cyrus based the angel on descriptions of Gabriel in the Book of Revelation, and when Apostle Marriner Merrill saw it in 1892 he was the first to call it the angel Moroni. See 
Wilford Woodruff did not initiate the proxy ordinances for large groups of Native Americans in the St. George or Logan temples. Commodore Perry Liston is probably the one who submitted the names of 84 Native Americans and initiated proxy temple work for them in the St George temple. Perry was baptized as proxy for them by Anson. P. Winsor and confirmed as proxy for them by John P. Moody on August 29, 1877. In 1887 James Henry Martineau requested permission to complete proxy temple ordinances for Native Americans in the Logan temple, but Wilford Woodruff did not participate directly in administering those ordinances. Some of the Sagwitch and Shoshone People who converted to the Church in the 1870s helped build the Logan temple and later engaged in a great deal of temple work for themselves and other Native Americans. 
Wilford Woodruff gathered genealogical records for more than 3,000 relatives in anticipation of the opportunity to begin proxy endowments in the St. George Utah Temple in 1877. Throughout his life he kept meticulous records of the individuals for whom he initiated proxy temple work, including members of the Woodruff, Carter, Hart, and Thompson families and some of his close friends. He and his family members completed proxy temple work (link) for these individuals in Nauvoo, the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, the St. George temple, the Logan temple, and the Salt Lake temple. One list of the proxy temple work completed in the St. George temple was made in 1879. Some of his many journal entries recording his family’s temple service can be found on June 20, 1876 (link), March 1, 1881 (link), March 1, 1883 (link), and February 4, 1885 (link). (See attached links to WWP.)
Wilford Woodruff included 68 eminent women, 15 Presidents of the United States, 54 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence (John Hancock and William Floyd's proxy work had already been completed), and 47 other eminent men, as well as members of George Washington's extended family on his list of eminent men and women. The list with links to their FamilySearch profiles is located at 
Wilford Woodruff did not include Martin Van Buren because of his unwillingness to address wrongs against Church members in Missouri, and he did not include James Buchanan because of his decision to send the United States Army to Utah in 1857 based on rumors of a rebellion by Church members against the United States. He did not include Ulysses S. Grant because he was still alive (Journal, August 21, 1877, When he shared his account of his experience with the Founding Fathers in a discourse delivered on September 16, 1877, he said he baptized John D. T. McAllister for all the Presidents of the United States except three and added, "When their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them" (