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Orson F. Whitney family papers, approximately 1847-1993

 Series — Box: 4, Folder: 1-18
Identifier: MSS 15 Series 3

Scope and Contents

Materials include documents relating to the family and descendants of Orson F. Whitney. Materials include pedigree charts from the Whitney and Smoot families, Zina B. Smoot papers, items collected by Horace K. and Helen Mar Kimball, family writings, correspondence, blessings, Church documents, poems, and photographs. Dated approximately 1847-1900.


  • approximately 1847-1993


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

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

Zina B. Smoot Whitney (1859-1900) was a writer, the wife of Apostle Orson F. Whitney, and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Zina Beal Smoot was born on February 20, 1859, in Salt Lake City, Utah to parents Abraham Owen Smoot and Almira Emily Hill. She married Orson F. Whitney on December 18, 1879, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and together the couple had nine children. Her patriarchal blessings state that she was a very faithful woman with a strong testimony of the gospel. She was educated and intelligent; during her life she gave lectures and wrote poetry, biographies, and articles about women and religion.

She died on May 20, 1900, in Salt Lake City, Utah.


18 folders

Language of Materials



Arranged into two subseries: 1. Zina B. Smoot Whitney papers, approximately 1872-1906. 2. Horace K. and Helen Mar Kimball Whitney papers, 1847-1866.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory also available at:

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcription available in Box 5.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States