Project Progress June 1, 2022
JOURNALS TEAM by Ashlyn Pells
We published 492 pages of Wilford Woodruff's journals on May 31. These pages include his entries from 1873 to the beginning of 1880. In Wilford's words, we read about some of the continued challenges the Church faced with the United States Government, but more importantly we discover Wilford's love for temple work and the incredible blessings that came because of it. In January 1877, Wilford helped Brigham Young dedicate the St. George Temple, the first temple in Utah. He also began his service as the temple president in March of that year, a position he held until June 1884. In August 1877, he recorded his now well-known experience with administering temple ordinances for the signers of the Declaration of Independence and 125 other eminent men and women. Wilford Woodruff's writings from this time period contain countless testaments of the Lord's guiding hand in the latter days.
LETTERS TEAM by Jason Godfrey
The Letters Team transcribed 860 new letters this quarter and published 47 more letters that Wilford Woodruff either wrote or received between 1840 and 1861. These letters from places as far away as Liverpool to London and from Mount Pisgah to New Brunswick, transport the reader back to the nineteenth century and to the experiences of Wilford Woodruff and others he interacted with. We also published 41 letters that Wilford Woodruff sent or received between 1882 to 1896, including the January 1896 letter he sent to John T. Wells extending a mission call to the Southern States.
Readers can find details regarding the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, in the June 1856 letter that Wilford Woodruff received from Stephen Markham. For those interested in learning what missionary life was like in the South Pacific in the mid 1850s, reading the letter Edward Partridge Jr. sent to Wilford Woodruff in April 1856 will prove enlightening. To better understand the relationship between Wilford Woodruff and his wife Mary Ann Jackson, Wilford’s December 1853 and April 1857 letters are now available online. Each letter is a reminder of the centrality of Jesus Christ and of the role that Wilford Woodruff and thousands of others have played and continue to play in building His kingdom on the earth today.
RESEARCH TEAM by Hannah Taylor
We now have a total of 1,063 biographies published on our website, including biographies for over 350 people converted during the 1840 mission of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Great Britain, more than 120 people who were members of the Church in the Southern States in 1835 when Wilford Woodruff began his two-year mission there, and over 240 members of Wilford Woodruff’s extended family. These include religious and political leaders, members of Native American tribes, authors and poets, artists and actors, attorneys, judges, doctors, and even royalty. The complete list of people identified in Wilford Woodruff’s documents can be accessed on our website here.
We are working with FamilySearch on their 2022 campaign to notify the descendants of the 3,700 individuals who have been identified in the documents of Wilford Woodruff so they will have access to these new primary source materials for learning more about their ancestors. We continue to conduct research to identify the remaining 4,800 individuals with whom Wilford Woodruff interacted between 1828 and 1898.
DISCOURSES TEAM by Christian Decker
The Discourses Team is organizing Wilford Woodruff’s published discourses and beginning research to find his unpublished discourses. Wilford referenced over 3,000 discourses, sermons, or funeral eulogies in his annual journal summaries, but fewer than 300 of his discourses were published. We have uploaded 90 discourses for our Editorial Assistants to complete transcription and begin verification. Among these discourses we have found discussions on the Manifesto, reflections on the prophet Joseph Smith, and kind suggestions for mothers with unruly children. We are excited to begin adding Discourses to the Journals, Letters, Autobiographies, and Histories already published on our website.
CONTENT TEAM by Shauna Horne
As Editorial Assistants transcribe documents they “tag” people and places so they can be accurately identified within Wilford Woodruff’s papers. That means if Wilford Woodruff references his mission companion as “Elder Turley” he is identified and tagged as “Theodore Turley” so readers will know who Wilford is actually referencing. The Content Team is now tagging topics in the documents so they will be searchable and our website can be indexed. Spelling was not uniform in the early nineteenth century, Webster’s first dictionary was not published until 1828, and Wilford Woodruff was quite creative in his spelling. In order to make his documents searchable using modern spelling conventions, we tag behind the scenes. For example, if Wilford wrote “vishion” we tag it as “vision.” If he wrote “enduemant” we tag it as “endowment.” Eventually the Index of our website will not only include the words we wrote, but phrases and also the ideas he was communicating. For example, under the topic “Temples” users will also find “house of the Lord,” “redeeming the dead,” and “spirit of Elijah.” We are recruiting volunteers to help us accomplish this mammoth task, so please contact us if you are interested in joining the team!
We are grateful for all who have shared their time and talents in preparing these documents for publication on our website. As we reflect on this quarter, the past five quarters, and prepare for the future, we gratefully acknowledge all the donors, volunteers, interns, and staff that have made, and continue to make, this work possible!