Wilford Woodruff Papers Project Introduction

Videographer: James Dalrymple

Speakers: Steven C. Harper, Sherilyn Farnes



Steve Harper: The Wilford Woodruff Project is an ambitious effort to put all of Wilford's journals, letters, autobiographies and other documents online, on an open-access website, so anyone in the world with access to the internet can learn the doctrines and history of the Restoration

Sherilyn Farnes:  We're making the Wilford Woodruff documents accessible and searchable to those who are interested in reading them.

Steve Harper:  Wilford Woodruff was an apostle for 59 years.  He was the fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the best record keeper of the Restoration. 

Sherilyn Farnes:  Wilford Woodruff joined the church in his twenties, and for the next 60 years he kept a record of his life and he kept a record of the Restoration.

Steve Harper: Wilford believed you better record everything vital. Everything about the Restoration that matters has to be recorded and documented on earth and in heaven. 

Sherilyn Farnes:  To access the Wilford Woodruff Papers, all you have to do is go to wilfordwoodruffpapers.org,  and once you get there, you can search the documents by type of document, by letter, by journal, and you can search by date.  You can search by people or places mentioned in the document. You can also browse a timeline of his life and a family group sheet that shows all of his family members. 

Steve Harper:  So the purpose of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project is to get those documents into the hands of everybody across the world.

Sherilyn Farnes:  The challenge that comes with publishing all of Wilford Woodruff’s papers is the scale. He has so many papers and thousands of pages of documents. So in order to transcribe, to verify, to subject link, to find them, to digitize them, to create a website--that  requires people.  That requires manpower.   That requires hundreds, thousands of hours.

Steve Harper:  We put the digital images of Wilford Woodruff’s letters and journals and other documents into a text editor, an online site where we can transcribe the documents and upload the images of them and compare them very closely. 

Sherilyn Farnes:   As part of documentary editing, we first have to transcribe the documents and then we do what's called second level verification.  That involves one reader looking at the digital image of the document and another following along in the transcription as the person looking at the digital image of the document reads it outloud to check that the transcription is accurate. 

Steve Harper:  Anybody anywhere in the world with an internet connection can be looking at Wilford’s actual images of his journals.

Sherilyn Farnes:  We're taking the time to subject tag all of the people and places mentioned in Wilford Woodruff’s documents. That means that in each of his journal entries, his letters, his sermons, and other papers that we'll add to the collection, if a person is mentioned, or if a place is mentioned, we've taken the time to cross-link them.  

Steve Harper:  You can't go back in time.  We don't have a time machine, but in one sense, the Wilford Woodruff Papers are a time machine. They let people go back in time and be at the beginning of the Restoration. They let you march from Ohio to Missouri with Joseph Smith.  They let you go on missions with the first Quorum of the Twelve in the last dispensation.  There are an unbelievable resource for being present at the Restoration.   

Sherilyn Farnes:  In the Doctrine and Covenants we’re invited to “Seek ye out of the best books, words of wisdom.”  And I would place President Woodruff’s journals in this category of best books.

Steve Harper:   The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news, and the best sources of that good news are the documents of the people through whom Jesus restored his gospel to the earth.  They are unsurpassed sources of knowledge. They have to be preserved, but not just preserved. They have to be accessible. They have to be shared. They have to be available.  And the Wilford  Woodruff Project is committed to making available to everyone the best sources of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.