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

Discover Your Relatives in Wilford Woodruff's Papers

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Project Progress September 1, 2022

JOURNALS TEAM by Ashlyn Pells

This quarter marks a significant turning point in the progress of the Journals Team. The Team finished tagging subjects for the last 152 pages and finished second-level verification for the remaining 460 journal pages, marking the completion of all Wilford Woodruff’s journals from 1833 to 1898 seven months ahead of schedule, exceeding all expectations. The dedicated work of the Journals Team enabled the publication of the final 1,395 journal pages on August 31, 2022. These pages cover the span of February 1880 to September 1898. In these pages, Wilford chronicled some of the most important events of his life.

In November 1885, his first wife, Phebe, passed away. Almost two years later, in July 1887, Wilford was called as the fourth prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In September 1890 he released the Manifesto, which is now incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants. In April 1893 he dedicated the Salt Lake City Utah Temple. And finally, in September 1898, Wilford Woodruff ended his mortal journey, a lifetime filled with service and sacrifice. His example of unfailing dedication to God and to the restored Church continues to bless us today.

LETTERS TEAM by Jason Godfrey 

Through the efforts of volunteer transcribers, the Letters Team transcribed 172 new letters this quarter and published 45 more letters that Wilford Woodruff either wrote or received. The earliest correspondence, in August 1836, includes a powerful testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ that Wilford wrote to his parents, Aphek and Azubah Woodruff, and the latest is from February 1892, when Wilford received a letter from Alexander Badlam. 

Among some of the other letters that are now available online are the July 1845 letter that Wilford received from Jedediah Grant about Nauvoo and the influence of the Church in other cities, Charles C. Rich's January 1862 letter which was sent from Liverpool and informed him of some of the signs of the times, and Wilford's January 1888 letter to Patriarch John Smith about financial affairs. Evident from reading these diverse letters is the commitment Wilford Woodruff had in sharing the gospel and preparing the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 

RESEARCH TEAM by Hannah Taylor

We now have a total of 1,431 biographies published on our website, including biographies for over 325 of Wilford Woodruff's extended family members, some of whom were previously unidentified. In the coming years, it is anticipated that biographies for over 9,000 individuals will be completed. 

The Wilford Woodruff Papers, along with the Joseph Smith Papers and others, partnered with on the "Journey of Faith" campaign in July. Through FamilySearch the descendants of over 3,000 individuals we have identified in Wilford Woodruff's documents were notified that their ancestor played a role in the Restoration of the gospel between 1833 and 1898. We will continue to collaborate with FamilySearch to include the remaining 6,000 people Wilford Woodruff interacted with and recorded information about.

The Lord continues to guide this work. Recently, two research assistants felt that their research was incomplete. After digging into compiled family histories and land records, reliable sources were discovered that linked a child to her parents, Nancy and Anthony Tittle, and they were able to add information about seven more children to their Family Search records. Their mother's biographical sketch here illustrates what we were able to find based on Wilford Woodruff’s simple reference to the baptism of "Mrs. Tittle" on March 29, 1836.

DISCOURSES TEAM by Christian Decker

The Discourses Team continues researching to find information on discourses Wilford Woodruff gave throughout his life. McKenzie Wood, our new intern, has been instrumental in finding over a thousand new leads in Wilford Woodruff’s documents about speeches, funeral eulogies, and other discourses that we will be able to pursue. This quarter we have uploaded 441 pages of discourses and our interns and volunteers have already transcribed 270 pages! Even though we are a small team, we believe Wilford Woodruff described our goals well in a discourse he gave in January of 1884: “Though our numbers are small, yet ‘a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation:’ and the Lord will hasten it in His time.”

CONTENT TEAM by Shauna Horne

The role of the Content Team is to identify and tag topics within the documents so those interested in the Wilford Woodruff Papers can search the documents by topic, and those  topics and related subtopics will form the site index. For example, Wilford Woodruff didn't use the word "miracle" very often, but he frequently wrote about healing the sick, the lame who were blessed and able to walk, and even raising the dead. By "tagging" those topics, those searching for miracles will be able to find all references that come under that topic in the index. 

We have selected 1,200 topics, which include books of scripture as well as scriptural topics such as “Atonement” and “Ark of the Covenant,” and everything from priesthood offices to priesthood ordinances. In addition, 2,590 unique places have been identified and geolocated in Wilford Woodruff’s writings.

In the process, we are also reading the transcribed documents to find gems in Wilford Woodruff's writings and discourses that can inspire and educate. With the help of our website developer, we have simplified the quote identification process so volunteers can "tag" faith-promoting quotes directly on our website. We are recruiting volunteers to help in this effort, so please email or sign up on our website if you are interested in joining the team!


We are grateful for all who have supported this historic project personally and financially in the past two years. As we reflect on this quarter and prepare for the future, we want to thank you for continuing to make this work possible!