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Benjamin Cluff diary

 Item — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 3076
Image of Benjamin Cluff diary
Image of Benjamin Cluff diary

Scope and Contents

Diary written by Cluff documenting his activities as he led a small group from Brigham Young Academy through Panama and into Columbia. Though Cluff states a desire to search for the Book of Mormon city of Zarahemla while on the expedition, much of the diary is devoted to describing travel preparations, countryside traveled through, and plantation owners Cluff meets during the trip. The group traveled by steamboat, by mule, or on foot for much of the trip and encountered many difficulties that impeded their progress, which are documented in the diary. Cluff's diary also includes details on expenditures, a temperature log, and information Cluff learned about the local rivers, forests, and wildlife. Cluff also makes reference to ideal locations for business or colonization. The expedition made it as far as the Magdalena River in Columbia before being turned back by an increasingly violent local war. Collection also includes a bound photocopy and transcription of the diary.


  • 1901


Conditions Governing Access

Original restricted. Digital copy available online for public use. Photocopy and transcription available for public use.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Benjamin Cluff 1901 diary must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Benjamin Cluff Jr. (1858-1948) was an educator and businessman in Utah and California. He was principal of Brigham Young Academy and president of Brigham Young University from 1892 to 1903.

Benjamin Cluff Jr. was born in Provo, Utah on February 7, 1858 to Benjamin and Mary Ellen Cluff. After becoming a librarian in Coalville at the age of seventeen, Benjamin sought greater opportunity for learning in Provo at the Brigham Young Academy. Because he excelled at his studies, Cluff was soon employed as a Primary teacher at the Academy; he then continued his studies at the University of Michigan after a mission to the Pacific Islands. He received a Bachelor's and Master's degree from the University of Michigan, then returned to the Academy as an assistant principal and teacher of mathematics. After replacing Karl G. Maeser as principal in 1892, Cluff led an expedition to South America in 1901 and then returned to guide the school's development into a University. Benjamin Cluff retired from BYU in December 1903 and died in 1948 as a California businessman.


2 folders (0.16 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The diary remained in the possession of the Cluff family until Beverly Bennett Prince, a direct descendant of Benjamin Cluff, presented the diary to the L. Tom Perry Special Collections during a Cluff family forum in 2004 in memory of her mother, Phyllis Lyle Talbot Bennett.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation; Beverly Bennett Prince; 2004.


University history (University Archives collecting policy, February 2010).

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copy available online. Photocopy and transcription available in Folder 1.

Related Materials

See also the Benjamin Cluff diaries, 1881-1909 (MSS 1667).

Processing Information

Processed; Blake Christensen; 2008.

Register of Benjamin Cluff diary
Blake Christensen
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.

Revision Statements

  • 2017 November 29: Added photocopy to Folder 1, updated Abstract, Scope and Contents, and Conditions Governing Access notes, added Existence and Location of Copies note; Ryan K. Lee; November 2017.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. University Archives Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo UT 84602 US