Find Your Relatives
Find Your Relatives
Images of Wilford's Family

Discover Your Relatives in Wilford Woodruff's Papers

with the help of

Figures

Wilford Woodruff included over 9,000 illustrations in his journals. He used 18 symbols repeatedly in predictable contexts to identify recurring events and emotions and these symbols, indicated in the manuscript using Figures 1-18, are drawn almost 8,400 times. The remaining unique images, connected to a single event on a specific day, are indicated in the manuscript by the unnumbered word “Figure.”

ID Example Figure Description Time of Use Meaning
Figure 1 A hand pointing to the right A hand pointing to the right

February 1838 to March 1897

(3,800+ uses)

February 1838 to 1840: writing/receiving a letter

1840 to 1897: writing a letter

Figure 2 A hand pointing to the left A hand pointing to the left

February 1838 to November 1856

(21 uses)

Letters written/received

Figure 3 A heart A heart

August 1838 to March 1897

(37 uses)

Births, marriages, deaths

Figure 4 A crown A crown

April 1839 to November 1896

(400 uses)

Activities requiring executive authority

1839 to 1877: quorum councils or meetings after his ordination as an Apostle

1877 to 1896: temple ordinances and meetings

Figure 5 An arrow piercing a heart An arrow piercing a heart

April 1839 to March 1882

(32 uses)

Troubling news, circumstances, or persecution

Figure 6 A single key with teeth to the left A single key with teeth to the left

June 1839 to April 1877

(130 uses)

1851 to 1877: recording of sermons or meeting minutes

1839 to 1850: personal moments of priesthood use

Figure 7 A single key with teeth to the right A single key with teeth to the right

June 1839 to April 1895

(314 uses)

Performing priesthood ordinances; meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve

Figure 8 A vertical key with teeth pointing upward A vertical key with teeth pointing upward

July 1839 to April 1845

(9 uses)

Key of knowledge

Figure 9 An arrow An arrow

July 1839 to November 1896

(440 uses)

Sickness, distress, aggression, death

Figure 10 A folded letter/box A folded letter/box

October 1839 to March 1897

(1,963 uses)

Letters received

Figure 11 A humanoid A humanoid

February 1840 to November 1892

(49 uses)

Childbirth, important figures, portraits, human bodies

Figure 12 A coffin A coffin

June 7, 1840 to January 1897

(200 uses)

Deaths, funeral sermons

Figure 13 A building A building

July 1841 to June 1885

(25 uses)

Visiting architectural structures

Figure 14 Wheat sheaves Wheat sheaves

March 1842 to February 1847;
May 1857 to June 1858

(39 uses)

Council meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve

Figure 15 A heart with a key inside A heart with a key inside

January 1844 to March 1894

(24 uses)

Sealing ordinances; eternal unions of family

Figure 16 Keys crossed Keys crossed

March 1844 to December 1896

(877 uses)

Priesthood ordinances

Figure 17 A council table A council table

March to May 1844

(14 uses)

Council meetings

Figure 18 A circle of stars A circle of stars

August 1844

(5 uses)

Meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve

The description of these images above derives from Joshua M. Matson, "Decoding the Self-Tracking Symbols of Wilford Woodruff's Journals," BYU Studies 63:1 (2024): 151-204, used by permission of the author and of BYU Studies.