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William E. McLellin journal

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 8360

Scope and Contents

Collection contains digital copies and transcriptions of William E. McLellin's original journal of 1871-1872, written after McLellin broke with all organized religion in 1869. It contains about 200 pages of his commentary on scripture and religious doctrines (a mixture of Mormon doctrinal theology, personal opinion, and traditional Christian theology). The style of this journal and the occasional address McLellin uses suggest he may have been writing this journal for publication.


  • 1871-1872


Conditions Governing Access

Donor restricted until 2015; permission to use materials 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 William E. McLellin journal must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

William E. McLellin (1806-1883) was an early Mormon apostle.

William E. McLellin was born January 18, 1806 in Smith County, Tennessee to parents Charles McLellin and Sarah (a Cherokee Indian). In 1829, he married Cynthia Ann, but she died by the summer of 1831. On August 20, 1831, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Hyrum Smith. He married Emeline Miller in 1832 at Portage County, Ohio, and they had six children together. Together they moved to Independence, Missouri in 1832. Later that year in December, McLellin was excommunicated for the first time. In 1833, with membership reinstated, he left his family to serve missions in Missouri and Illinois with Parley P. Pratt. He and his family also fled from persecution in Jackson County into Clay County, Missouri. McLellin moved to Ohio where he was appointed as an instructor for the Kirtland School on November 19, 1834.

He was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on February 15, 1835. Soon after he was disfellowshipped, but had his membership reinstated in 1835. A year later he wrote a letter withdrawing his membership from the Church, but in 1837 was sustained to Quorum of the Twelve again. He was finally excommunicated in 1838 and broke with all organized religion in 1869. In 1837, he was a commissioned captain in the Missouri State Militia. Throughout his life he associated with splinter groups of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint and unsuccessfully tried to start one of his own. Though disillusioned with Joseph Smith and disbelieving in his role as a prophet of God, McLellin's writings show that he maintained faith and testimony in The Book of Mormon and other Latter-day Saint teachings throughout his life.

He moved back to Independence, Missouri in 1870 and died there in 1883.


2 folders ( 0.15 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Brent Ashworth, a document dealer in Provo, Utah, discovered the original journal in 2009. He allowed the repository to make a digital copy and donated a typescript of the original journal in 2010.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Brent Ashworth; June 2010.


LDS cultural, social, and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts collection development policy 1.V, November 2013).


Located in box 601

Processing Information

Processed; Zoë Brimhall, student manuscript processor, and Ryan K. Lee, curator; 2014.

Register of William E. McLellin journal
Zoë Brimhall
2014 January 27
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