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Emmeline B. Wells collection

Identifier: Vault MSS 805

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence of Emmeline B. Wells, 1898-1923; papers and poems either by or about Emmeline B. Wells; a certificate to the Columbian Exposition in 1893; handwritten documents written by Emmeline B. Wells or family; priesthood blessings; photocopies of photographs; original and typescript of ledger book (Emmeline B. Wells' copy with marginal notes) recording Utah Suffrage Association membership and "Relief Society Minutes, Nauvoo, 1842-1844;" diaries of Emmeline B. Wells, 1 May 1875-14 October 1876, and 16 December 1883- 29 January 1886; genealogical pencil records; original and color photocopy of verse book written for Emmeline B. Wells on her seventieth birthday; and original and color photocopy of "Songs and Flowers of the Wasatch," a book of verse presented at the World's Columbian Exposition (1893: Chicago) containing hand-painted watercolor illustrations. Dated 1842-1923.

For the majority of Wells' diaries, see Vault MSS 510.


  • 1842-1923


Conditions Governing Access

The originals of the diaries, the ledger book, and the verse books are restricted in their use due to their fragile condition. Photocopies are available for patron use.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

Emmeline B. Wells was born on February 29, 1828, at Petersham, Massachusetts to parents David Woodward and Deiadama Hare. When she was four years old her father died, which meant she and her siblings were raised mainly by their mother. In 1842, she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a child, Wells was very well-educated and began teaching in her early teenage years. She married James Harris at age fifteen, they had one son who died shortly after his birth, but Harris deserted Wells. Wells then married Bishop Newel K. Whitney in 1849 and they had two children. When he died in 1850, Wells raised her children on her own in the Salt Lake Valley, where they had immigrated to in 1848.

In 1852, she married Daniel Wells and had three more children. She continued teaching while in Utah and she also became involved in civic affairs such as suffrage and women's rights. Wells was the chief editor of the women's rights journal Women's Exponent. She was also friends with famous suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and in 1899 she was invited by the International Council of Women to speak at its London meeting as a United States representative. Wells served as the general president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1910 to 1921.

She died on April 25, 1921 in Salt Lake City, Utah.


1 half box (0.25 linear ft.)

2 boxes (1 linear ft.)

1 volume (0.25 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Item-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

The material in this collection was donated on September 12, 1995 by Carol Cornwall Madsen on behalf of Portia Whitmer, a descendant of Emmeline B. Wells through her daughter Annie Wells Cannon.

Custodial History

Straw hat, boots, blouse, skirt, and cloak were donated by Portia Ericksen (formerly Whitmer). She received these items from her grandmother, Margaret Cannon Clayton, who is the daughter of Annie Wells Cannon, daughter of Emmeline B. Wells.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Portia Whitmer (Delivered by Carol Cornwall Madsen); 1995.


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


The box housing "Songs and Flowers of the Wasatch" has been changed from Volume 1 to Volume 4 in 2015 for Collections Management purposes.

Processing Information

Record updated for DACS compliance and item-level inventory added; Ryan K. Lee; 2019.

Processing Information

Addendum processed; Jamie Wiser; 2021.

Register of Emmeline B. Wells collection
Leslie Evens
2011 November 17
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