Orson F. Whitney correspondence, 1873-1931
Scope and Contents
Materials include originals and transcriptions of correspondence between Orson F. Whitney and other Church members, Church leaders, family members, and friends. The correspondence gives information about Whitney's mission to Europe, both as a missionary and mission president. It also contains information about Church members' experiences during the anti-polygamy campaign in the United States. There is also personal information about Whitney's family, reports of his trip to Nauvoo, answers to doctrinal questions that people sent him, and letters to apostles of the Church about religious matters. Dated 1873-1931.
- Whitney, Orson F. (Orson Ferguson), 1855-1931 (creator, Person)
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 Orson F. Whitney papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.
Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931) was an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a writer, poet, and editor.
Orson F. Whitney was born on July 1, 1855, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Horace K. Whitney and Helen Mar Kimball Whitney. As a young man, Whitney wanted to be an actor and he spent many hours preparing for the stage by studying elocution, fencing, and grammar. However, during General Conference in 1876, Whitney was called to serve in the Eastern States Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His mother sold her land and used the money to fund Whitney's mission. While on his mission, Whitney discovered his interest in the Gospel as well as in writing and speaking. He started a regular column of his missionary experiences in the "Salt Lake Herald" under the pen name Iago. In 1878, twenty-three-year-old Whitney was called to serve as the bishop of the Eighteenth Ward, a calling he held for 28 years. In 1906, Whitney was called to be an Apostle in the Church. He also completed three more missions for the Church, including being the president of the European Mission in 1921.
In 1879, Whitney married Zina Beal Smoot and they had 9 children together. Whitney also had two more wives: Mary Minerva Wells and Emma Whitney Wells. During his life, Whitney edited the "Salt Lake Herald," served on the city council, participated in the Home Dramatic Club, engaged in politics, and wrote poetry and books. In 1890, he published his first book, a biography of his grandfather Heber C. Kimball. That same year, Wildford Woodruff and John O. Williams commissioned Whitney to write "History of Utah"; he produced two volumes of the work by 1894 and the third in 1898. He also published a biography of Lorenzo Snow, an autobiography, and several books of poetry including his lengthy epic poem "Elias: An Epic of the Ages."
Whitney died on May 16, 1931, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Language of Materials
Arranged in three subseries: 1. Orson F. Whitney general correspondence, 1880-1931. 2. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with general authorities and other dignitaries, 1912-1930. 3. Orson F. Whitney correspondence with family, 1873-1883.
Other Finding Aids
File-level inventory also available at: http://files.lib.byu.edu/ead/XML/MSS15.xml
Existence and Location of Copies
Transcription available in Box 5.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- Apostles -- Archives
- Historians -- Utah -- Correspondence
- Home and Family
- Material Types
- Mormon Church -- Apostles
- Social Life and Customs
- Utah -- History
- Whitney, Orson F. (Orson Ferguson), 1855-1931 -- Archives