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Orson F. Whitney correspondence with general authorities and other dignitaries, 1912-1930

 Sub-Series
Identifier: MSS 15 Series 1 Sub-Series 2

Scope and Contents

Materials include originals and transcriptions of correspondence between Orson F. Whitney and apostles David O. McKay, Heber M. Wells, John A. Widstoe, Horace G. Whitney, and Levi Edgar Young about matters relating to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dated 1882-1930.

Dates

  • 1912-1930

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Orson F. Whitney papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical / Historical

David O. McKay (1873-1970) was a teacher and educator as well as the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1951 to 1970.

David Oman McKay was born in 1873 in Huntsville, Utah. In 1897 he graduated from the University of Utah and immediately afterward was called to serve a two-year mission to Scotland for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. On January 2, 1901, he and Emma Ray Riggs were married in the Salt Lake Temple. They had seven children together, one of whom died as a child. Although he began as a teacher, McKay eventually became principal at Weber Stake Academy (now Weber State University) and served on the Board of Trustees from 1908 to 1912. He later served on the Board of Regents of the University of Utah (1921-1922) and the Board of Trustees of Utah State Agricultural College (1940-1941). He was superintendent of the Church's Sunday schools from 1918 to 1934, and in 1919 he became its first Commissioner of Education. From 1922 to 1924 he served as President of the European Mission and from 1951 to 1970 he served as the prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

McKay died on January 18, 1970 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931) was an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a writer, poet, and editor.

Orson F. Whitney was born on July 1, 1855, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Horace K. Whitney and Helen Mar Kimball Whitney. As a young man, Whitney wanted to be an actor and he spent many hours preparing for the stage by studying elocution, fencing, and grammar. However, during General Conference in 1876, Whitney was called to serve in the Eastern States Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His mother sold her land and used the money to fund Whitney's mission. While on his mission, Whitney discovered his interest in the Gospel as well as in writing and speaking. He started a regular column of his missionary experiences in the "Salt Lake Herald" under the pen name Iago. In 1878, twenty-three-year-old Whitney was called to serve as the bishop of the Eighteenth Ward, a calling he held for 28 years. In 1906, Whitney was called to be an Apostle in the Church. He also completed three more missions for the Church, including being the president of the European Mission in 1921.

In 1879, Whitney married Zina Beal Smoot and they had 9 children together. Whitney also had two more wives: Mary Minerva Wells and Emma Whitney Wells. During his life, Whitney edited the "Salt Lake Herald," served on the city council, participated in the Home Dramatic Club, engaged in politics, and wrote poetry and books. In 1890, he published his first book, a biography of his grandfather Heber C. Kimball. That same year, Wildford Woodruff and John O. Williams commissioned Whitney to write "History of Utah"; he produced two volumes of the work by 1894 and the third in 1898. He also published a biography of Lorenzo Snow, an autobiography, and several books of poetry including his lengthy epic poem "Elias: An Epic of the Ages."

Whitney died on May 16, 1931, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Heber Manning Wells was the governor of Salt Lake City, Utah, from 1895 to 1905.

Heber Manning Wells was born on August 11, 1859, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Martha G. Harris and Daniel H. Wells. He went to college at the University of Deseret (now University of Utah) and graduated in 1875. In 1880 Wells married Mary Elizabeth Beatie and they had three children together. Mary died in 1888, so four years later (in 1892) he married Theresa Clawson with whom he had two more children. Unfortunately Theresa also died in 1897, but in 1901 he married again, this time to Emily Katz. He and Emily had three children together.

Wells worked as a tax collector in Salt Lake City in 1877 and as a city recorder from 1882 to 1890. In 1892 he ran for mayor but lost to Robert N. Baskin. However, in 1895 he won the Republican nomination for governor, a job that he held for two terms (1895-1905). During his first term as governor he focused on improving water and irrigation rights, state-sponsored arts organizations, education, and food safety. After losing his third term reelection, Wells moved on and became the manager of the Utah Savings and Trust Company, got elected to the Salt Lake City Commission, worked for the U.S. Shipping Board Fleet Corporation, and wrote editorials for Deseret News.

He died on March 12, 1938, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

John Andreas Widtsoe (1872-1952) served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and worked in agriculture and education during his life.

John Andreas Widtsoe was born January 31, 1872 on the island of Frøya in Norway. He was baptized in 1884 at the age of twelve. In 1888, he immigrated to Utah with his mother and brother. There he married Leah Dunford, a granddaughter of Brigham Young, on June 1, 1898 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They had seven children together. John graduated from Harvard University in 1894 and with his Ph.D. from University of Goettingen, Germany, in 1899. He then taught in the agricultural colleges at Utah State University and Brigham Young University. He was president of the Utah Agricultural College from 1907 to 1916 and president of University of Utah in 1916.

During World War I he was a member of the Utah State Council of Defense and chairman of the Food Production Committee of Salt Lake City and the Irrigation Committee of the Food Administration. He was called into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1921 and served in that capacity until his death. As part of his work as an apostle, Widstoe wrote “Priesthood and Church Government,” a popular manual about the workings of the priesthood.

He died November 29, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Horace Gibson Whitney (1858-1920) was an esteemed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a supporter of music and art in his Salt Lake City community.

Horace G. Whitney was born on January 6, 1858 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to parents Horace Kimball Whitney and Mary Cravath. As a child and teenager, Whitney benefitted from a good education and particularly enjoyed reading and writing. He attended college at the University of Deseret (now University of Utah) and graduated in 1873. A couple years after graduating, he began working at the local bank, White & McCornick, where he remained for ten years. He married Marion Mumford Beatie on January 10, 1884 and together they had three children.

Outside of his work and family obligations, Whitney was a member of his community’s debating societies, drama clubs, and literary associations. In fact, in 1880 he and some friends organized the Home Dramatic Club, which he managed. The club produced plays and supported stars who visited Salt Lake City. After this, he managed the Salt Lake Opera Company. In 1887, Lorenzo Snow appointed Whitney as the business manager of Deseret News, a position he held until 1920 when he resigned because of poor health.

Whitney died on October 25, 1920, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Levi Edgar Young (1874-1963) was a member of the First Council of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1909 to 1963.

Levi Edgar Young was born on February 2, 1874 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to parents Seymour B. Young and Elizabeth Riter. Young attended University of Utah and graduated in 1895 with a B.S. degree. After graduation he taught at the Lowell School in Salt Lake City and the LDS College before becoming a history professor at the University of Utah. Young was also active in his church service. He was called on a mission to Europe from 1901 to 1904, during which he presided over the Swiss and Austrian mission from 1902 to 1904. After returning home he married Valeria Brinton on June 18, 1907, and over the years they had three children together. In 1909, Young was called to be one of the first seven presidents of the Quorum of the Seventies for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Young continued his education and studied history at Harvard and Columbia, eventually earning an M.A. degree from the latter in 1910. Eventually, in 1936, he was appointed as head of the Department of Western History at University of Utah.

He died on December 13, 1963, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Rudger Clawson (1857-1943) was an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1898 to 1943.

Rudger Clawson was born on March 12, 1857 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to parents Hiram Bradley Clawson and Margaret Gay Judd. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the South where he witnessed anti-Mormon mobs murder his mission companion, Joseph Standing, in 1879. On August 1, 1882, he married Florence Ann Dinwoodey and the two had one child together. On March 29, 1883, he married another wife, Lydia Elizabeth Spencer, and they had nine children together. In 1884 Clawson became the first Mormon polygamist to be convicted and imprisoned for violating the Edmunds Act of 1882. He served his prison sentence from 1884 to 1887 and was released early by President Grover Cleveland. After his release in 1887 he was called as the Stake President of the Box Elder Stake in Utah. Eleven years later, in 1898, he was called by Lorenzo Snow to be an apostle for the Church and eventually became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1921. He served in this capacity until his death.

He died on June 21, 1943, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Charles W. Nibley (1849-1931) was the fifth presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1907 to 1925 and second counselor in the First Presidency from 1925 to 1931.

Charles Wilson Nibley was born on February 5, 1849, in Hunterfield, Scotland, to parents James Nibley and Jean Wilson. In 1855 his family immigrated to the United States to join the rest of the Latter-day Saints in Utah. They lived in Rhode Island before moving to Utah in 1860. Eventually they settled in Wellsville, Utah. When Nibley left home he moved to Brigham City, Utah where he worked for Morris Rosenbaum and became a partner in his store. Here he met Rebecca Neibar, whom he married in 1869. Later in his life Nibley also married two other wives: Julia Budge and Ellen Jane Ricks.

From 1879 to 1885 Nibley managed a lumber company for the Church, which eventually led him to start the Oregon Lumber Company in 1889. Nibley was a successful businessman and eventually became a multimillionaire due to multiple investments and involvement in various industries including railroads, insurance, banking, politics, and agriculture. He was also prominent in Church leadership circles. In 1907 he was called as the presiding bishop for the Church. In 1925 he was released from this calling and given the calling to be Heber J. Grant’s second counselor in the First Presidency, a role he held until his death in 1931. His service in this role is notable since he is one of few men who served in the First Presidency without having been ordained to the office of apostle first.

He died on December 11, 1931 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Extent

7 folders

Language

English

Arrangement

1. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with David O. McKay, 1922. 2. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with Heber M. Wells, 1926-1930. 3. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with John A. Widtsoe, 1916-1930. 4. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with Horace G. Whitney, 1914-1917. 5. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with Levi Edgar Young, 1912-1926. 6. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with Rudger Clawson, Charles W. Nibley, and Aloysius Linatello, 1921-1922.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory also available at: http://files.lib.byu.edu/ead/XML/MSS15.xml

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcription available in Box 5.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

Contact:
1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States