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J. Wyley Sessions papers

Identifier: UA 156

Scope and Contents

Collection includes handwritten and typewritten correspondence, newsclippings (photocopies), financial reports and budgets, certificates, documents, poems, articles and speeches concerning his education, career, Church assignments, business pursuits, genealogy and personal and family history. Also includes three reel-to-reel audio tapes with memoirs and advice to posterity. Considering the extent, variety and significance of J. Wyley Sessions' activities and vocations the collection is very small. It cannot be more than a fragment of the papers generated by him. Represented in his personal papers are subjects related to his endeavors as cited above as director of the Institutes of Religion, mission president in South Africa, president of the Salt Lake Mission Home, director of religious activities at Brigham Young University, and as a business executive in Utah and California.


  • 1885-1977


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 publish material from the J. Wyley Sessions collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

J. Wyley Sessions (1885-1977) was a Mormon educator and missionary in Utah and Idaho.

James Wyley Sessions was born on December 11, 1885 in Marion, Idaho to Harvey and Alice Bryson Sessions. He studied agriculture at Utah State Agricultural College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1911. He married Annie Magdalen Funk on September 17, 1913 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and they had three children together. In 1917, Sessions took a position as professor of agriculture at the University of Idaho, Southern Branch. However, in 1919 he was called to service as a mission president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in South Africa between 1920 and 1926.

Upon his return, Sessions was sent to establish the institute program at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. He was transferred to the University of Idaho, Southern Branch in 1930, then to the University of Wyoming in 1935. In 1936 he was called to be the director of the Missionary Training School in Salt Lake City, Utah before returning to the institute program in Logan, Utah in 1938.

In 1939 Sessions was appointed as head of the Division of Religion at Brigham Young University. During his tenure he worked to organize the division into subject-based departments, and supervised the building of the Joseph Smith Building. He also worked to arrange for religious activities on campus, such as devotionals, Sunday School, and a Mutual Improvement Association. In 1947 he resigned from the university, but remained in Provo, Utah working as a home builder and developer. Sessions retired to Los Angeles, California in 1965, and passed away there on April 21, 1977.


8 boxes (4 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in five series: 1. Correspondence, 1920-1977. 2. Papers on education, 1911-1934. 3. Papers on career and full-time church assignments, 1919-1978. 4. Papers on civic activities, 1949-1955. 5. Journals, 1921-1949.

Other Finding Aids

More detailed finding aid available in repository upon request.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

Donated by Don David Sessions in 1978.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Don David Sessions; 1978.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Hollis Scott, University Archivist at BYU, obtained the J. Wyley Sessions papers through correspondence, 1977-78, from the Sessions Family as represented by Don David Sessions. As indicated by family members, the collection contains virtually all of the existing papers of J. Wyley Sessions.


Part of University Archives; college records (University Archives collecting policy, February 2010).

Separated Materials

Tape recorded interview with J. Wyley Sessions as conducted by his son, Mark, was transferred to the U.A. Oral History Collection in the University Archives. Photographs cited below were transferred to the J. Sessions photo collection located in the U.A. Photo Archives. 1. South African Mission: African scenes, Misc. LDS members and misc. people, Misc. families, Missionaries, J. Wyley Sessions, Sessions family, Other miscellaneous 2. Institutes of Religion: Classes, Moscow Institute, Misc. 3. Salt Lake Mission Home: Pictures of missionaries, Pictures of Individual missionaries 4. BYU: Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Misc. 5. Family: Provo home, Family pictures, misc. 6. Postcards related to South Africa 7. Misc. unidentified.

Processing Information

Processed; Elizabeth Ballif, student processor, and John Murphy, curator.

Processing Information

Processed; Paul B. Smith; October 1981.

Register of J. Wyley Sessions papers
Hollis Scott and John Murphy, curator and Paul B. Smith and Elizabeth Ballif, student processors
21 July 2009
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

  • 2008 March 26: GilEADized to correct small errors.

Repository Details

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

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo UT 84602 US