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James E. Talmage papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 229

Scope and Contents

Contains materials pertaining to the life of James E. Talmage. Includes material from academic, professional, personal, and ecclesiastical endeavors. Academic materials include essays, school notes, notebooks, examinations, and memorabilia from student days in England and the United States. Professional materials include administrative materials, scholarly society materials, scientific research notes, and lectures, generated during Talmage’s time teaching at universities and serving as university president, and material related to Talmage's time as a consulting geologist and mining engineer. Collection also includes personal material such as journals, clippings, and correspondence chronicling Talmage's life experiences. Ecclesiastical material deals with Talmage's work in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dated 1876-1933.


  • 1876-1933


Conditions Governing Access

The thirty volumes of Talmage's personal journals have been reproduced on microfilm and typescript, and are available for use in either form. Use of the original journals is restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

The literary rights to the Talmage collection rest with the Harold B. Lee Library and the Talmage family. Permission to publish material from the James E. Talmage collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

James Edward Talmage was born September 21, 1862 in Hungerford, England. Talmage received a diploma from the Brigham Young Academy Scientific Department in 1881, and was subsequently hired as a teacher at the academy. He then attended Lehigh University (1882-83), Johns Hopkins University (1883-1884), and then resumed teaching at Brigham Young Academy. While teaching at BYA, Talmage served as a member of the Provo City council and later as a justice of the peace. On June 14, 1888, Talmage married Merry May Booth, commonly called May. James E. Talmage and May Talmage had eight children together.

Talmage was president of the Latter-day Saints’ University until 1894 when he became president of the University of Utah. He held that position until 1897. In 1896, Talmage attended Illinois Wesleyan University. Being involved in several academic societies, in 1897 Elder Talmage went to a geographical meeting in Russia under the auspices of the Scottish Geographical Society and traveled on a geological expedition that crossed the Ural Mountains. The same year, he accepted a position as a professor of geology at the University of Utah, teaching there until 1907. In 1904, Talmage went to Washington D.C. to testify in the Smoot Hearings. From 1907 to 1911, Talmage worked as a full time geological consultant. During this time, while Talmage was serving as the director of the Deseret Museum, he went to Detroit, Michigan to participate in diggings connected with the Scotford-Soper-Savage relics craze (1909).

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 to 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 on July 27, 1933 in Salt Lake City, Utah.


3 half boxes (0.75 linear ft.)

32 boxes (15.75 linear ft.)

1 oversize folder (0.3 linear ft.)

10 microfilm boxes (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of 16 series of materials: 1. James E. Talmage journals, daybooks, and other materials, 1879-1933. 2. James E. Talmage student materials, 1876-1893. 3. James E. Talmage academic papers from Brigham Young Academy, 1884-1889. 4. James E. Talmage legal papers, 1888. 5. James E. Talmage academic papers from the Latter-day Saints' College, 1889-1900. 6. James E. Talmage academic papers from the University of Utah, 1893-1911. 7. James E. Talmage research materials, approximately 1872-1906. 8. James E. Talmage collection on professional societies, 1882-1926. 9. James E. Talmage professional papers on geology and mining, 1879-1911. 10. James E. Talmage lectures, 1886-1912, 1928 May 20. 11. James E. Talmage collection of pamphlets and newspaper articles, 1883-1910. 12. James E. Talmage ecclesiastical papers, 1871-1933. 13. James E. Talmage correspondence, 1882-1913. 14. Talmage family papers, approximately 1884-1931, 1950-1980. 15. Deseret Museum records, 1891-1903.

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed finding aid is available in print in the repository.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Talmage family; 1961.

Donated; John Talmage and other family members; 1975-1978.


19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copy of the first twelve volumes (1879-1911) available online. Unedited transcriptions of all thirty volumes of available in boxes 26-33. Microfilm copy of journals also available.

Related Materials

Additional Talmage papers are preserved in the LDS Church Archives in Salt Lake City.

Not all the papers created by James E. Talmage are extant. For example, little correspondence survives although from all indications, he was a prolific letter writer. The correspondence and papers which do exist are preserved principally by the family and two institutions, the Historical Department of the Church and Brigham Young University. Other individual manuscripts are preserved in scattered institutions in the United States and abroad.

A register has been compiled of the Talmage Papers at BYU. They consist of his thirty-three volume journal, which is being indexed; school records from England, Brigham Young Academy, Lehigh University, and Johns Hopkins University; lecture and research notes and lantern slides compiled for his teaching and administrative responsibilities at BYA, the Latter-day Saints College, the Deseret Museum and the University of Utah; field notes and related records generated in his capacity as a Geological Consultant; notes and addresses documenting his service to Church and community as a speaker, and literary manuscripts showing the origins and development of some of his writings.

Preserved at the Historical Department of the Church are a few early letterbooks pocket diaries written when he was President of the European and British Mission (1924-1927); and the manuscripts to Jesus the Christ and The Articles of Faith.

Separated Materials

A certificate of appreciation, awarded to Talmage in 1892 upon his resignation from Latter-day Saints' College, where he had been the principal, was separated to the oversize area. See MSS Oversize Cabinet, drawer D.

A series of photographs and ten boxes of glass slides were separated to Photo-Archives. The slides originally accompanied lectures given by Talmage, some of which appear in the collection. See MSS P 21.

A collection of pamphlets, programs, and books related to social science, natural science, Church activities, and miscellany was separated for general and special cataloging by the Harold B. Lee Library.

Mining maps have been separated to the Oversize Area. See MSS Oversize Cabinet, drawers D and E.


Talmage's Boyhood: The Research and The Paper.

In order to report on Talmage's English boyhood I have used principally the manuscripts at Brigham Young University, including his journal and earliest school papers, the records still in family hands and materials gathered in England during the summer of 1977. The latter will be added to the archival holdings of BYU. They consist of photocopies of a few records of the National Society of the Church of England, the Diocese of Oxford, and the shire of Berks, as well as research notes on Hungerford Borough Records and local English newspapers.


Box 25 used to hold the microfilm of the journals, but these have been moved to the general microfilm collection, so there is no longer a Box 25.


Microfilm reel contents: SCM 735: volumes 1-5, daily personal journal (1879-1892). SCM 736: volumes 5-11, daily personal journal (1892-1900). SCM 737: unnumbered, daily personal journals (1913-1921). SCM 738: newspaper clippings, personal papers, and typewritten daily journals (1913-1921). SCM 739: volumes 25-29, typewritten daily personal journals and newspaper clippings (1922-1933). This roll is scratched, obscuring some text.

Processing Information

Processed: Timothy Wood Slover; approximately 1961.

Revised by Collette Burton; March 2017. Revised by Paul Wilcox; June 2017.

Register of James E. Talmage papers
Timothy Wood Slover
approximately 1961
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.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States