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David John diaries

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 21

Scope and Contents

Materials include five volumes of handwritten diaries kept by John from 1856 until his death in 1908. Contents include an autobiographical sketch, descriptions of migration to Utah, missions served in Wales and Great Britain, arrest, trial, and imprisonment for polygamy, and experiences while serving in various religious or political capacities. Includes information pertaining to ordinations, blessings, and speeches given, letters sent or received, and dreams or visions received. Volumes 1-4 also include an index at the end of the volume. Volume 5 ends with some genealogical information of descendants of John up to 1951. Dated 1856-1951, bulk 1856-1908.


  • 1856-1951
  • Majority of material found within 1856-1908


Conditions Governing Access

Originals restricted. Digital copy available online for public use. Photocopies, transcriptions, and microfilm also available for public use.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from David John diaries must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

David John (1833-1908) was the stake president of the Utah Stake for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of Brigham Young University's Board of Trustees.

David John was born on January 29, 1833, in Puncheston, Wales, to parents Mary Williams and Daniel John. He was raised in a Baptist family and was studying for the ministry when he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1847. His parents were adamantly opposed to his joining the Church, so following the advice of Orson Pratt (an Apostle in the Church) he stopped associating with the Church until 1856. In the June of 1856, he served a mission in Wales and became the president of the Flintshire Conference in December. From 1857 to 1858 he served as a counselor in the presidency of the Welsh Mission.

He married Mary Wride on February 8, 1860 in Cardiff, Wales, and they had nine children together. In 1861, John and his wife emigrated to Utah with their family and in 1862 John was called as a counselor in the Provo 3rd Ward. He served in this bishopric for fifteen years. From 1877 to 1901, John was a counselor in the Utah Stake, which covered all of Utah County at the time. In 1883, he became the presiding bishop of Utah Stake as well. John also served as the Utah Stake Sunday School Superintendent from 1865 to 1893. In addition to his work for the Church, John worked as a school teacher and trustee of the Provo district schools for fifteen years. He was also a partner of the lumber business Smoot and John. John also married Jane Cree in 1865 and in 1887 was imprisoned temporarily for his beliefs about and participation in polygamy. From 1901 to 1908 John served as the president of Utah Stake and he was also a member of the Brigham Young University Board of Trustees during that time.

John died on December 24, 1908, in Provo, Utah.


11 boxes (5.5 linear ft.)

3 microfilm reels (0.3 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The collection was a gift of Lorenda John Openshaw, Howard D. John, and Clarence W. John, descendants of David John, in 1973.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Lorenda John Openshaw, Howard D. John, and Clarence W. John; 1973.


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

Existence and Location of Copies

Photocopy of autobiography from first part of volume 1, and copies of David John family group sheets, are in Box 4. Photocopies of entire volumes available in Box 5-7. Box 8-10 includes transcriptions for Volumes 1-5. Microfilm copy of diaries also available on 3 reels.

Register of David John diaries
Under Revision
Garrett Schroath
2011 April 1
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

  • 2014 July 14: Updated record for DACS-compliance and included item-level descriptions to be able to link to digitized versions in CONTENTdm; Ryan Lee.
  • 2017 March 27: Conditions Governing Access note updated, Existence and Location of Copies note needs to be put into catalog record; Ryan K. Lee.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States