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Benjamin Cluff diaries

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1667

Scope and Contents

Contains four diaries and their respective transcripts covering the period from 1881-1909 and detailing Cluff's time as a student at Brigham Young Academy and the University of Michigan, as well as his subsequent appointment as President of the Academy. Also describes his activities and experiences as a plantation owner in Tabasco, Mexico.


  • 1881-1909


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 Benjamin Cluff diaries must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Benjamin Cluff Jr. (1858-1948) was an educator and businessman in Utah and California. He was principal of Brigham Young Academy and president of Brigham Young University from 1892 to 1903.

Benjamin Cluff Jr. was born in Provo, Utah on February 7, 1958 to Benjamin Cluff and Mary Ellen Foster. In 1877, Cluff enrolled in Brigham Young Academy and began working as a janitor to pay for his tuition. However, soon after he received a call to serve a mission to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands. Returning to Utah in 1882, Cluff was offered a teaching job as an instructor of mathematics at Brigham Young Academy by Karl G. Maeser. In 1886, he attended the University of Michigan and received his Bachelor of Science in 1890. Upon his return to Utah, he became the assistant principal of the B.Y. Academy.

Cluff was married to Mary Jane John in 1883, and later entered into marriage with Harriet Cullimore in 1886 and Florence Mary Reynolds in 1898. He had twenty-one children with his three wives.

Under Cluff's direction, plans for a new building were begun and students selected white and blue as the school colors. Cluff returned to the University of Michigan for a master's degree in 1893, and became the principal of the academy when he returned to Utah. In 1895 Cluff's title was changed to President, and heads of departments were named principlas. He led an expedition of students to South America in 1900 for the purpose of archeological research. On October 3, 1903, the school became Brigham Young University. In December, Cluff resigned and took a position as superintendent of a rubber plantation in Mexico. The Cluffs returned to the United States in 1924 and opened a store in Southern California. Cluff died June 14, 1948, in Redondo Beach, California, at the age of ninety.


2 boxes (0.55 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged chronologically.

Other Finding Aids

Box-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

Donated to Brigham Young University Archives in July 1984 by Joan Cluff Wingo in honor of her father, Cyril B. Cluff, the oldest living son of Benjamin Cluff and his second wife, Harriet.

Portions of the collection were previously held in the repository as UA 620.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Joan Cluff Wingo; July 1984.


University history (University Archives collecting policy, February 2010).

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcripts of the diaries are available in the collection (box 2).

Processing Information

Processed; Garrett Schroath; 2011.

Processing Information

Processed; Dani Peterson; 2012.

Register of Benjamin Cluff diaries
Garrett Schroath
2011 April 13
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

  • 2012 December 20: Processed at the series and item level by Dani Peterson.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. University Archives Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo UT 84602 US