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Martha Coray notebook

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Vault MSS 230
Image of Martha Coray notebook
Image of Martha Coray notebook

Scope and Contents

Notebook includes Coray's interview notes used in compiling of Lucy Mack Smith's history of Joseph Smith.

Smith family history notes contain John and Clarissa Smith's account of visit by Joseph Smith Sr. to Smith family members, including his father, Asael Smith, in Lawrence County, New York, in 1830; John Smith's account of his and Joseph Smith Sr.'s reunion with their mother, Mary Duty Smith, at Kirtland, Ohio, and their subsequent journey eastward to visit Church branches and family members in 1836; Lucy Mack Smith's account of Samuel Smith's presentation of a Book of Mormon to John P. Greene's family in Ontario County, New York in 1830; and George A. Smith's account of mission with Don Carlos Smith in 1838. Also includes information about Silas Smith, brother of Joseph Smith Sr.

Notebook also includes dictation copies of blessings given to Coray and her husband, Howard Coray; sundry notes pertaining to religious history and writing styles; and a list of students, possibly those attending school taught by the Corays in Nauvoo.


  • 1845


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 Martha Coray notebook must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical / Historical

Martha Coray (1821 or 1822-1881) was a member of the first Board of Trustees for Brigham Young Academy and scribe for the history of Joseph Smith by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith.

Martha Jane Knowlton was born on June 3, 1821 or 1822, in Covington, Kentucky to Sidney Algernon Knowlton and Harriett Burnham. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January 1840 and married Howard Coray on February 6, 1841. After their marriage, Martha and Howard taught school together. They had twelve children. Martha Jane and her family reached the Salt Lake Valley in 1850 with the John Sharp Company. The Coray family lived in Salt Lake City for four years, until they moved to Tooele, Utah. In 1856, Martha Jane and her family moved to Provo, Utah, then they moved to Mona, Utah to homestead a tract of land, although they kept their home in Provo.

In October 1875, Martha Jane was selected by Brigham Young to serve as the first woman trustee for the Board of Directors of Brigham Young Academy. She served as trustee from 1875 until her death in 1881. Martha Jane was also appointed the first dean of students at Brigham Young Academy. She was the secretary of the first Relief Society organized in Salt Lake City, and wrote for the "Woman’s Exponent." Martha Jane also contributed greatly to the preservation of the history of the LDS Church, including preserving notes from sermons of Joseph Smith, which church historian Wilford Woodruff consulted when compiling a history of the Church. She also acted as scribe for the history of Joseph Smith as dictated by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith.

Martha Jane Knowlton Coray died on December 14, 1881, in Provo, Utah and is buried in the Provo City Cemetery.


2 folders (0.1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



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

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcription and notes about the item by H. Michael Marquardt are included in Folder 2.

Related Materials

For the majority of materials related to the writing of the history of Joseph Smith by Lucy Mack Smith, see the following collection at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah: Lucy Mack Smith history, 1845 (MS 2049).

Register of Martha Coray notebook
Rose Frank
2011 September 21
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