Frequently Asked Questions

Project

Our mission, by 2030, 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 2030, we plan to 1) digitally publish all surviving documents written by Wilford Woodruff, or written by scribes/assistants under his direction; 2) make accurate transcriptions of these documents searchable and understandable in context; 3) publish annotated selections of the documents in printed volumes; and 4) organize biennial 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 https://brighamyoungcenter.org/s/byp/page/home

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 of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Wilford Woodruff Papers cover the period from 1834 to 1898 and will help complete the story of the restoration. With so much misinformation easily accessible online, it is vital to make these primary, eyewitness sources of knowledge of the restoration easily accessible so seekers can find the truth.
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 team members assisted with The Joseph Smith Papers.
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.

Documents

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.
No. All available documents will be included.
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.
On the website www.wilfordwoodruffpapers.org you can click on the page titled “People” then select “People Mentioned in Wilford Woodruff’s Papers.” You can then enter your ancestor's name in the search box or you can browse all the individuals listed in alphabetical order.
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 www.wilfordwoodruffpapers.org. 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 contact@wilfordwoodruffpapers.org 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.

Funding

The timeline for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project is 11 years 2020 to 2030 and our budget is $10 million dollars. Additional funding could lead to an accelerated completion date or allow expanded online publications including a clear-text version and translation of the documents into Spanish.
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.