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Emmeline B. Wells diaries

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Vault MSS 510

Scope and Contents

Contains Emmeline B. Wells's original diaries from 1844 to 1920. Her often daily entries spanning nearly 80 years present pragmatic descriptions of daily activities along with her own daily opinions, insights, and impressions. The accounts are often lengthy and detailed. Volume 1 begins with her departure from Massachusetts in 1844 and also includes her journey from Nauvoo, Illinois, with other Saints headed West. Other volumes provide insights into her roles with the Woman's Exponent and her service in the General Presidency of the Relief Society. Wells often provides descriptions of and insights into important events in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah, and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the woman's suffrage movement and other events related to women's rights, of which Wells was a strong advocate. The 1882 diary also includes entries by Well's daughter, Louisa Wells. Dated 1844-1920.


  • 1844-1920


Conditions Governing Access

Original diaries: Condition restricted; permission to use items must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Emmeline B. Wells diaries must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical history

Emmeline Blanche Woodward Wells (1828-1921) was a women's rights advocate, the fifth president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the chief editor of the journal Women's Exponent.

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.


4 boxes (2 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Donated by Margaret C. Clayton and Phyllis C. Southwick.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Margaret C. Clayton and Phyllis C. Southwick.


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

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcriptions of the original materials are found under MSS 1407.

Related Materials

Two additional diaries of Emmeline B. Wells are included in the Emmeline B. Wells collection (Vault MSS 805).


Church Historian's Press, "The Diaries of Emmeline B. Wells," Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (accessed March 17, 2020).

Processing Information

Processed; Jeffrey Mahas; 2012. Updated; Zoë Brimhall; 2015.

Register of the Emmeline B. Wells diaries
Jeffrey Mahas
2012 April 24
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