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James E. Talmage journals, daybooks, and other materials, 1879-1933

Identifier: MSS 229 Series 1

Scope and Contents

Contains the journals, pocket diaries, and a personal account book kept by James E. Talmage from December 1879 to July 4, 1933. These diaries cover his life from his time as a student at Brigham Young Academy, through his graduate school and academic career, and finally to his time spent as a member of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


  • 1879-1933


Conditions Governing Access

Originals restricted. Digital copy of the first twelve of thirty volumes of Talmage's personal journals (1879-1911) available online. Unedited typescripts and microfilm of all thirty volumes also available.

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

From the Collection:

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.


16 boxes

5 reels

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

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

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Existence and Location of Copies

Typescript, photocopy and microfilm copies of the journals exist at the repository.

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.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States