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James and May Booth Talmage family stories and recollections

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 8858

Content Description

A collection of stories and recollections about James and May Booth Talmage. Includes copies of signed letters from James E. Talmage to his granddaughters, both typed and handwritten from 1929-1933; and, memories of May and James Talmage by their granddaughters. Also includes a transcription of an interview with John R. Talmage by Shannon Howells prior to John's death in 2001, where he shares biographical information and memories of his parents. Also includes a typescript of an article about James E. Talmage by B. F. Cummins, published "The Contributor" in February 1895 and recollections of Elder Talmage's secretary Valois S. Chipman in 1976.


  • 1895-2001


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 the James and May Booth Talmage family stories and recollections must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical / Historical

James E. Talmage (1862-1933) was a geology professor, author, and ecclesiastical leader in Utah.

James Edward Talmage was born Sept. 21, 1862 in Hungerford, England. Talmage received a diploma from the Brigham Young Academy Scientific Department in 1881, and then attended Lehigh University (1882-83), Johns Hopkins University (1883-1884), and Illinois Wesleyan University (1896). He taught at Brigham Young Academy before becoming president of the University of Deseret from 1894 to 1897. He was a professor of geology at the University of Utah from 1897-1907.

On June 14, 1888, Talmage married Merry May Booth, commonly called May. James and May Talmage had eight children together. One of their children, John Talmage, wrote a biography of his father, while Sterling B. Talmage became a geologist.

Talmage was ordained an Apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1911 and served in that capacity until his death in 1933. He also served as President of the European Mission of the Church from 1924-1928. In addition, he was the author of several books about his religion, including "Jesus the Christ," "The House of the Lord," "The Articles of Faith," and "The Great Apostasy."

James E. Talmage died in 1933 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Merry May Booth Talmage (1868-1944) was an educator, suffragate, writer, editor in Utah and wife of Mormon apostle James E. Talmage.

Merry May Booth Talmage was born on September 29, 1868 in Alpine, Utah to Richard Thornton and Elise Edge Booth. At the age of sixteen, she attended Brigham Young Academy. Soon after graduating, she began a brief teaching career in Kaysville, Utah, before being engaged to marry her former professor at BYA, James E. Talmage. The couple married on June 14, 1888 in Manti, Utah, and they had eight children together.

May was a teacher in Kaysville, Utah and part of several educational organizations, including serving as vice president of the first Free Kindergarten Association in Utah. She was involved in the suffrage movement, serving on the executive board for the Utah Territorial Woman's Suffrage Association. In 1893 she went to Chicago and delivered a paper to the World's Congress of Women, and in 1906 she attended the Trennial of the National Council of Women in Toledo, Ohio.

In 1892, May was called as aid to the general board of the Young Woman Mutual Improvement Association. She was active in committees within this organization and served as editor of the "Young Woman's Journal." In 1925, May accompanied her husband and two children to England where Elder Talmage served as president of the European Mission until 1928. While in Europe, May helped in organizing and assisting the women of the Church of the various countries there, as well as the missionaries throughout Europe.

Merry May Booth Talmage died on April 6, 1944 in Ogden, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

The James Edward Talmage (1862-1933) and Merry May Booth (1868-1944) family began with their marriage on June 14, 1888 in Manti, Utah. James E. Talmage was an educator, scientist, author, and Apostle. May Booth Talmage was an educator, suffragate, writer, editor, and mother.

The James Edward Talmage (1862-1933) and Merry May Booth (1868-1944) family began with their marriage on June 14, 1888 in Manti, Utah. They had eight children together, including Sterling, Paul, Zella (died as an infant), Elsie, James Karl, Lucile, Helen, and John. The family resided primarily in Salt Lake City, Utah.

James E. Talmage was an educator, teaching at Brigham Young Academy, LDS College, and the University of Utah. He was a world-reknowned scientist in geology, an acclamied orator and lecturer in the sciences and LDS religion, and authored several books on LDS doctrine. In 1911, Talmage was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and he presided over the European Mission from 1925-1928.

May Booth Talmage was a teacher, but spent most her time after marriage being a mother. However, she was also heavily involved in the Young Woman Mutual Improvement Association of the LDS Church, and was an active suffragate. She wrote poetry and literature, and served briefly as editor of the "Young Woman's Journal."


5 folders (0.05 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Donated by Shannon Howells great granddaughter of James and May Talmage, in 2016.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Shannon Howells; April 2016.


Utah and Western American and LDS cultural, family, social, intellectual, and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts collection development policy IV.a.i.1 and 4, November 2013)

Processing Information

Processed; Ryan K. Lee; 2016.

Register of James and May Booth Talmage family stories and recollections
Ryan K. Lee
2016 July 8
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States