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Mormon History

A guide to Mormon history collections at The Huntington.

California letter sheets, 1850-1871The Huntington has an extensive collection of Mormon manuscript material. For a thorough history of the Mormon manuscript collections at the Huntington, see: Blodgett, Peter J. (1992). Studying the Saints: Resources for Research in Mormon History at The Huntington Library. "Mormon Americana: A Guide to Sources and Collections in the United States" (32).

Mormon File

The majority of Mormon manuscripts at the Huntington were acquired individually and do not belong to larger collections. These items have been grouped together to form a single, artificial collection known as the Mormon File. In many cases, items loaned to the Huntington by private individuals and institutions were copied or microfilmed; as a result, the Huntington has over 120 bound photostatic facsimiles and over 190 microfilm reels containing diaries, autobiographies and memoirs, among other writings. In addition to these single items, the Huntington holds a variety of discrete collections focused on Mormon history. Browse Mormon File materials in the library catalog.

Additional manuscript resources, grouped by subject, can be found below:

Image credit: [California letter sheets] 1850-1871. California. RB 48052.

Western Migration

Letter book, docket, and correspondence of Oliver Cowdery, 1833-1894
While teaching in Palmyra, New York during the winter of 1828 and 1829, Oliver Cowdery stayed with the family of Joseph Smith (1805-1844). It was during this time that Cowdery first heard of the visions of Smith and the Golden Plates. After meeting with Smith, Cowdery came to believe in the validity of his visions and agreed to help Smith transcribe the Book of Mormon.
Call number: mssHM 63646-63653, View on the Huntington Digital Library

Autobiography of Wandle Mace
Wandle Mace was introduced to Mormonism by the arrival of Parley P. Pratt in 1837 and was soon baptized into the Mormon Church. In 1838, Mace started for Far West, Missouri, but hearing of persecutions against Mormons there, he instead rented a house in Quincey, Illinois, where he housed fleeing Mormons including Joseph Young and John Taylor.
View catalog records

Reed Peck memoir, 1839
This manuscript, donated to the Huntington in 1946 by Fawn Brodie, provides a critical overview of the conflict between Mormons and Gentiles in Missouri that erupted in the late 1830s.
Call number: mssHM 54458

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Henry William Bigler diaries, 1846-1900
As a faithful servant to the Mormon church, Henry Bigler helped build the temple at Nauvoo, served as a missionary to the Hawaiian Islands, enlisted in the Mormon Battalion in 1846 and worked in the endowment house at the temple in Saint George. He is best known for being at Sutter's Mill when gold was first discovered in California on January 24, 1848, and for recording its discovery by James Wilson Marshall (1810-1885) in his diary.
Call number: mssHM 57022-57034

Edwin Harley journals, 1846-1902
Arriving at Salt Lake City on October 11, 1852, Harley and his family did not find a place to call home until November when they decided to settle in Nephi. Harley served as First Councilor for the 1st ward of Nephi and for bishop William H. Warner for 48 years.
Call number: mssHM 63795-63805

Fred Lockley papers and addenda, 1849-1958
Fred Lockley (1871-1958) was an Oregon historian, editor and rare book dealer. He first gained prominence as editor and manager of The Pacific Monthly (from 1907 to 1911), then as a feature writer for the Oregon Journal in Portland. He also wrote books pertaining to Oregon history and collected Western books and manuscripts.
Call number: mssLockley papers

Journal and family genealogy of Edwin Ward Smout, c.1898
Edwin Smout, already a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, worked as an apprentice tailor and shoemaker, but continued financial difficulties encouraged him to travel to the United States. The Smouts arrived in Philadelphia in 1849 and settled for a time in Pittsburgh before moving to Salt Lake City in 1854. Smout died in Ogden, Utah on January 16, 1899.
Call number: mssHM 72903

J. W. Gunnison papers, 1832-1926
John Williams Gunnison served as an army topographical engineer in charge of surveying a route to the West for the Pacific Railroad. While leading a survey for the exploration and survey of a railroad route through the mountains of Colorado and Utah, Gunnison perished when his party was ambushed by Indians on the Sevier River in October 1853.
Call number: mssHM 17033-17096, mssHM 42622-42638, mssHM 46985-46988, mssFAC 706

Lewis C. Bidamon papers, 1837-1962
Lewis Bidamon moved to Nauvoo, Illinois in 1846, just as the Mormons were being driven out. Bidamon engaged in various businesses such as selling stock for the Warsaw and Rockford Railroad Company and operating the Nauvoo House, a hotel whose construction was started by Joseph Smith and completed by Bidamon and his wife.
Call number: mssHM 35603-35793

William Rich Hutton papers, 1840-1861
William Rich Hutton, surveyor, topographer and engineer, came to California in 1847 as a clerk with his uncle, Major William Rich, paymaster for U.S. volunteer troops. For the next six years, Hutton was employed as a surveyor and draftsman. During this time he made watercolor and pencil drawings of California scenes.
Call numbers: mssHM 43214-43227, mssFAC 807-845, mssFAC 1010

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Conflicts between Mormons and Gentiles

Jacob Smith Boreman papers, 1857-1912
Jacob S. Boreman (1831-1913) was appointed by President Grant to the Second District Court of Utah in 1873. He was the presiding judge in two successive trials of John Doyle Lee for his complicity in the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857.
Call number: mssHM 16903-16937

J. W. Gunnison papers, 1832-1926
J.W. Gunnison served as an ordnance officer in the Seminole War in Florida and in making surveys in Georgia. While leading a survey for the exploration and survey of a railroad route through the mountains of Colorado and Utah, Gunnison perished when his party was ambushed by Indians on the Sevier River in October 1853.
View catalog record

Edward Griffin Beckwith and John Laurence Fox papers, 1805-1909
Edward Griffin Beckwith served in the New Mexico Territory from 1849 to 1855. In 1853, he was assigned to complete the Central Pacific Railroad survey. During the Civil War, he served as chief of Commissariat for the Dept. of Pennsylvania (1861), the Shenandoah, the 5th Army Corps (1862), the Army of Virginia (1862), Banks' Red River Expedition and the Gulf (from 1862 to 1865).

John Laurence Fox (1811-1864), Surgeon of the U.S. Navy, worked at Chelsea Marine hospital where he spent the first two years of the Civil War. In September 1863, he was assigned to the USS Niagara and remained there until his appointment to the post of the Fleet Surgeon with the North Atlantic Blockade Squadron.
Call number: mssBF Boxes 1-11, etc.

Henry Ballard journal, 1852-1904
In 1852, Ballard sailed from Liverpool to New Orleans onboard the Kennebec. He survived the explosion of the steamship Saluda in Lexington, Missouri, on April 9, 1852. Ballard settled in Salt Lake City and fought in the Utah War from 1857 to 1858. In 1859, he moved to Logan, Utah and became the Bishop of the second ward of Logan City in 1877. He also served on a mission in England beginning in 1886.
Call number: mssHM 72341

Women's Voices

Eliza Roxey Snow diaries, 1846-1849
Eliza Snow's family took an interest in a variety of religious movements in the 1820s and became acquainted with the Mormons when Joseph Smith moved to Ohio in 1831. Although she was an opponent of polygamy, she was said to have entered a celestial marriage with Smith in 1842. After Smith's death, she became a plural wife of Brigham Young. In Nauvoo, Eliza served as the first secretary of the Relief Society from 1842 to 1844; after crossing the plains in 1847, she became the Society's second president in Utah from 1866 to 1887. She remained best known for her poems, which were later set to music and turned into some of the Mormon Church's most well-known hymns.
Call number: mssHM 27522 (1-2)

Mary Minerva Dart Judd autobiography, 1879-1926
Mary Minerva Dart Judd (1838-1909) and her family first learned of Mormonism from her uncle, Sidney Roberts, who had come from Nauvoo, Illinois to preach to his family and friends. Answering the call of Brigham Young, Mary's father moved his family to Parowan, Utah in 1851. Along with her husband, Zodak (or Zadok) Knapp Judd (1827-1909), Mary lived in various Mormon settlements including Santa Clara, Eagle Valley and Kanab.
Call number: mssHM 66416

Lucy Mack Smith and family memoirs, 1830-1838
Lucy Mack Smith was the mother of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. She was actively involved in the founding of the Mormon Church and wrote the memoir "Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations" (1853).
Call number: mssFAC 1773

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Lucy H. Flake diaries, 1894-1900
Lucy Flake married William Jordan Flake (1839-1932), who worked on the St. George Temple; while attending the dedication ceremony, he was called on a mission to Arizona. The family, including Lucy and William's eight children and William's plural wife, Prudence Kartchner, left Utah in 1877. They settled with William Allen's United Order camp before founding a new settlement. Lucy was actively involved in a variety of community endeavors, including the Relief Society of Snowflake, for which Lucy was chosen as Primary President for the Stake in 1895.
Call number: mssFAC 1860-1861

Sophronia Moore Martin autobiography, ca. 1909
Sophronia Martin was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in December 1844. In 1847, she and her family moved from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Salt Lake City, Utah. The following year, Sophronia married Jesse Bigler Martin (1825-1908). Sophronia was the first president of Scipio's Relief Society, taught Sunday school for twenty years and was the mother of eleven children.
Call number: mssHM 66673

Mary Ann Stearns Winters autobiography, 1896
Mary Ann Winters' father died when she was five months old. Her mother joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and traveled with the Mormons to Kirtland, Ohio. Winters' mother married Parley P. Pratt in 1837. In 1840, the family served on a mission to England. Winters married Oscar Winters in Wyoming in 1852.
Call number: mssFAC 1786

Sarah Studevant Leavitt autobiography, 1875-1878
Sarah Leavitt often experienced visions and spiritual manifestations. Her experiences led her to join the Baptist church in order to be baptized by immersion. Her sister-in-law, upon being converted to Mormonism, gave Leavitt The Book of Mormon and other literature to read, eventually converting Leavitt to Mormonism. She and her family moved a great deal, from Kirtland to Nauvoo, Illinois; then on to Council Bluffs, Iowa; and eventually to Pine Canyon, Utah.
Call number: mssHM 66386

Ellis Reynolds Shipp poems, 1901
Ellis Shipp married Milford Shipp in May 1866, eventually settling in Salt Lake City, Utah. Milford Shipp married three plural wives, including Margaret Curtis, who followed Brigham Young's call for the education of female doctors and enrolled in the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. When Margaret returned home, Shipp took her place at the school and graduated with high honors. She also studied medicine at the University of Michigan. Shipp returned to Utah as one of its first female doctors and founded the School of Nursing and Obstetrics in 1879. She served on the Relief Society General Board from 1898 to 1907.
Call number: mssHM 72840

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Missionary Work

Kimball Young papers, 1935-1940
Kimball Young (1893-1972) researched the Mormon practice of polygamy. The information he gathered was to be used for his book, "Isn't One Wife Enough?" During his interviews and research, Young also gained information about Mormons in Mexico, overland journeys to the Pacific, frontier life in Utah, the United Order and persecution of Mormons.
Call number: mssHM 63728-63794

Levnetsbeskrivelse, eller Dag Bog, begyndende fra den 6 April 1865 fra den tud jeg blev besekikket Mission til Europa eller Danmark, 1865-1871
Peter Hanson's ledger describes Brigham Young calling Hansen to serve on a mission to Denmark and Hansen's experiences while serving there.
Call number: mssHM 72907

Jarman family papers, 1883-1962
Maria Bidgood Jarman Ford Barnes (1832-1924) was born in Devon, England. Dissatisfied with the religious atmosphere of her day, she became interested in the evangelical Plymouth Brethren. She eventually met her future husband, William Jarman, who was abusive and an excessive drinker. In April 1869, he threatened to kill her, which led her to file for divorce. She married Robert Henry Ford in 1881; after he passed, she married Mark Barnes.
Call number: mssHM 79906-79951

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Harvey H. Cluff autobiography, 1912‚Äč
Harvey Cluff spent much of the 1850s manufacturing furniture, served in the Nauvoo Legion and was one of the original trustees of Brigham Young University (from 1875 to 1897). He served on a mission to Great Britain from 1865 to 1868. After a mission to Hawaii from 1869 to 1874, he returned as president of the Hawaiian Mission from 1879 to 1882.
Call number: mssFAC 562 (1-2)

John Stillman Woodbury diaries, 1851-1857
In 1850, Woodbury was called on a mission to the Sandwich Islands by Brigham Young, traveling first with Parley P. Pratt to California before arriving in Hawaii in 1851. Woodbury remained in Hawaii for four years and returned to Salt Lake in 1856. He returned to Hawaii in 1857, but was called back to Utah in 1858 during the Utah War and subsequently helped settle St. George.
Call number: mssFAC 507 (1-13)

Diaries and autobiography of Hosea Stout, c.1820-1915 (bulk 1844-1870)
Hosea Stout was one of the most prolific Mormon diarists. In 1832, while living in Illinois, Stout heard the preaching of Charles C. Rich and became interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1837, he moved to Caldwell County, Missouri and was eventually baptized into the Mormon Church. The Stouts joined the Mormons in Nauvoo, Illinois and Stout became a brigadier general in the Nauvoo Legion. In 1848, Stout arrived in Salt Lake City and was soon made a member of the House of Representatives. He also served as attorney general and States Attorney, in addition to being one of the first practicing lawyers in Utah.
Call number: mssFAC 514 (1-8), FAC 1970 (1-11)

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Mormon Immigrants

Autobiography and diary of William Marsden, 1871
William Marsden was a cotton spinner until the age of 25 when he left the Methodist Church and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Marsden preached in Leeds for a time, but having lost his previous employment because of his religious conversion, he had no means of supporting his family, and in 1840 sailed aboard the ship Clifton for New York. He spent the next year traveling the eastern seaboard, from New York City and Rockaway, New York; to Patterson and Trenton, New Jersey; and finally Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Marsden's first wife, Jane, died in 1843. He and his second wife, Maria, along with four of his children, traveled to Salt Lake City in 1855.
Call number: mssHM 72765

James Farmer diaries, approximately 1856-1882
James Farmer converted to Mormonism around 1843 when he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On January 7, 1849, he was ordained as an Elder in the LDS Church at Houseforth, Yorkshire. In 1850, he decided to go into ministry full time and spent the next several years performing baptisms and giving sermons in Shearsbey, Walton and Dunton. Farmer eventually settled in Fort Ephraim, Utah where he worked for a time as a government surveyor.
Call number: mssFAC 1508-1509

Joseph C. Loughran Collection
Consists of correspondence, essays, bibliographical notes, bound volumes, and ephemera either pertaining to or collected by Joseph C. Loughran. The majority of the items relate to Utah history from the 1860s to the 1940s and focus on Weber County, particularly the Ogden area.
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Benjamin Platt autobiography, 1899
Benjamin Platt was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by John Yates and Isaac Duffin in 1848. Platt married Mary Greaves in Oldham, Lancashire, in 1856; that same year, the couple departed for Utah, sailing from Liverpool aboard the ship Oregon. After a series of delays and difficult winter travel, they arrived in Salt Lake City in November 1856.
Call number: mssFAC 1671

Life history of John Nielsen, c. 1885
The volume traces Nielsen's childhood experiences in Denmark, including prejudices faced by Mormon converts, and his family's plan to travel to the United States in 1866. His parents had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1855. Eventually, Nielsen's family immigrated to the United States and crossed the plains to Utah in 1866.
Call number: mssHM 27973

History of Helena Rosbery, 1883
Helena Rosbery was an early Swedish convert to Mormonism. She moved with her husband and eleven children to Denmark, then to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1859. They settled in Sanpete County and moved to Santaquin in 1867. After her husband's death, Helena and her children joined the United Order at Richfield and moved to Snowflake, Arizona in 1878. They traveled to Gila in 1880, but by the mid-1880s Helena had returned to Salt Lake City.
Call number: mssFAC 633

Jean Frederic Loba memoirs, 1899-1915
In 1852, Jean Loba and his family joined the Mormon Church and emigrated to the United States to settle in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1864, he enlisted in Company I, 13th Missouri Veteran Volunteer Cavalry. He was discharged in 1866 and enrolled in Olivet College. After a trip to Switzerland in 1875, Jean entered Yale University's Divinity School. He left his congregation in 1882 to accept the Chair of Logic and Rhetoric at Olivet College. In 1886, Jean became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Call number: mssHM 66751

Jesse W. Crosby diaries, 1883-1914
Jesse Crosby became wealthy while living in Panguitch, Utah, and in 1900 was sent to settle the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. He headed the firm of Crosby, Willis and Welch, which helped construct the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in the Big Horn Basin. Crosby served as president of the Big Horn stake.
Call number:mssFAC 565 (1-4)

Autobiography and journal of James Holt, c. 1840-1856
James Holt was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1841, against the wishes of his family. In the early 1850s, he emigrated to the United States and settled in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1853. Sometime between 1853 and 1856, Holt may have left the Mormon Church. In October 1856, he broke his leg when it became caught in a thrashing machine. He died twelve days later.
Call number: mssHM 35255

The Salmon River Indian Mission, 1891
In 1855, Brigham Young (1801-1877) called a group of missionaries to Lemhi County, Idaho to preach to the Shoshone and Bannock. The Mormon missionaries built a fort there, Fort Lemhi, and found the Native Americans to be friendly and receptive to their message. In 1857, with word of the coming United States Army, a mountain man by the name of John W. Powell was able to convince the tribes to take advantage of the Mormons' weakened situation and steal their livestock. The ensuing conflict undermined the Mormon settlement's position and forced them to return to Utah.
Call number: mssHM 66674

George Washington Bean diary, 1855-1856
After converting to Mormonism in 1847, George Bean traveled to the Salt Lake Valley in the company of Jedediah Grant. In 1849, he went to Provo, Utah, where he lost his hand in a cannon explosion. During his recovery from this incident, he came into contact with Brigham Young, who commissioned Bean as an Indian interpreter, making him a Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry in 1867. Bean spent most of his time traveling in his role as an Indian court interpreter, including his years with William Bringhurst's Mission in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Call number: mssHM 72278

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Additional Resources

Researchers interested in Mormon manuscript collections in general may also wish to consult the Guide to Mormon Autobiographies and Diaries by Davis Bitton (Brigham Young University Press, 1977).
Call number: Z7845.M8 B58