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William A. Wilson and John B. Harris Missionary Folklore collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: FA 20

Scope and Contents

Contains folklore stories and accounts from missionaries or relatives and friends of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, separated in 17 bound volumes with no inner chronological organization. The stories date back to the 1870s, and they were collected between 1958 and 1994. Includes accounts of missionaries' language mistakes, funny stories, miracles, songs, and experiences with the priesthood, the supernatural, or other people. The interviews for the accounts took place in America, mainly in Utah and at Brigham Young University, but the accounts involve missions served around the world, including the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America, China, Japan, Hawaii and Tahiti. Interviews were conducted mainly by students, though some were directly conducted by William A. Wilson and John B. Harris.


  • 1958-1994


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 use material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

William A. Wilson was born September 23, 1933, in Tremonton, Utah to Bill and Lucile Wilson. Wilson grew up in Downey, Idaho and graduated from Downey High School before attending Brigham Young University. While serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Finland, Wilson met his wife, Hannele Blomqvist. They were married in 1957. Wilson later graduated from BYU with a BA and MA in English, and received a PhD in Folklore from Indiana University. Wilson became a faculty member at BYU, serving as English department chair from 1981 to 1986, and as the director of the BYU Folklore Archives and the director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies. He researched and published on folklore and nationalism in Finland and the folklore of Latter-day Saints. Wilson died May 2, 2016.

Biographical / Historical

John B. Harris received his BA in 1955 and MA in 1956 from Brigham Young University. He was a professor of English at Brigham Young University from at least 1959 to 1986. He served as chair of the English Department from 1981 to 1986.


17 volumes (2.1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in ascending order of volume.

Custodial History

Collection brought together by Brigham Young University English professors William A. Wilson and John B. Harris between 1958 and 1994 and donated to the William A. Wilson Folklore Archives Collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; William A. Wilson and John B. Harris.


William A. Wilson Folklore Archives Collection Development Policy.

Processing Information

Processed; Tayla Boyer; 2022.

Register of William A. Wilson and John B. Harris missionary folklore collection
Register of Wilson (William A.) and Harris (John B.) missionary folklore collection
In Progress
Tayla Boyer
2022 April 20
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