Skip to main content

University Relations Division records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 586

Scope and Contents

Contains materials from the Public Communications Department and the tenure of Edwin Butterworth as the director. Includes correspondence, minutes, financial records, and other materials relating to the operation of the University's news bureau and public relations. Also contains copies of news clippings and articles concerning the University and various issues attached to the University. Contains Lyceum files and VIP files.


  • 1951-1979


Conditions Governing Access

Restricted. Closed for 35 years from the date of creation of the records, and thereafter open to the public in accordance with the University Archives Policy.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the University Relations Division records must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.

Administrative History

The Public Communications Department dealt with communication between Brigham Young University and the public. It has since become the Public Relations Division.

The News Bureau of BYU had its beginnings in 1921 when the Extension Division was established with Lowry Nelson, a professor of Sociology and editor of the Utah Farmer, as the first director. The Extension Division was organized into four areas: Social Service, Bureau of Correspondence Study, Bureau of Lectures and Entertainment and Bureau of Publications. The Extension Division was at first located in the Education Building on lower campus and later moved to the second floor of the Brimhall Building.

Under the direction of Lowry Nelson, BYU received increased news coverage. A few of the important stories concerned accreditation in April 1923, the announcement of a library building in 1924, the semi-centennial of BYU in 1925, the raising of entrance requirements in May of 1925 and the development of a new system of social units in 1927. In addition, Nelson organized the first Leadership Week in 1921. Later known as Education Week, this activity was patterned after the Farmers Roundup with which he had been acquainted as editor of the Utah Farmer.

In 1936, Harrison R. Merrill was appointed as director of the Extension Division upon the resignation of Nelson. For several years, Professor Merrill had served as the editor of the Improvement Era and the chairman of the BYU Journalism Department. He resigned his other positions to devote himself full-time to the Extension Division. His appointment strengthened the ties between the Journalism Department and the Extension Division.

Carlton Culmsee became director in 1938 after the unexpected death of Merrill. Dr. Culmsee had served as an instructor in journalism and secretary to the extension Division since 1933. However, at the time of Merrill's death, Culmsee was on leave and Seth T. Shaw acted as director with the assistance of J.M. Jensen, acting chairman of the Journalism Department, and Oliver R. Smith, acting director of the News Bureau.

When Dr. Culmsee returned to campus in 1940, he assumed all of these functions. However, he assigned Oliver R. Smith to handle most of the News Bureau operation. Culmsee and Smith both left the University in 1942 to enter the armed services during World War II. After the war Culmsee took a position at Utah State University.

During the Harris administration, the University advertised extensively in LDS Church magazines, Utah newspapers, and magazines. The advertisements promoted University enrollment or participation in its activities.

After the war, Oliver R. Smith was appointed as chairman of the Journalism Department and head of the News Bureau. It became necessary at that time to separate the News Bureau from the Extension Division. For the first time, the News Bureau was referred to as the "Public Relations Office" and was involved in sending out program tours, providing radio talk groups and publicity publishing.

In 1947, President Howard S. McDonald hired Ray Wright, a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, to teach journalism and work in the News Bureau and in 1949 he appointed Edwin Butterworth, Jr., associate news editor of the Deseret News, as a journalism teacher and member of the News Bureau.

Although Christen Jensen's administration as Acting University President was brief, there was some significant developments in the News Bureau. Professor Oliver Smith was granted a leave of absence to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. This left the guidance of the News Bureau and Journalism Department to Professors Wight and Butterworth. The physical facilities of the News Bureau and the Journalism Department were moved from the Brimhall Building to the North Building, a war surplus structure, which was located where the Harold B. Lee Library no stands.

During the administration of President Ernest L. Wilkinson, from 1951 to 1971, the University experienced many changes. President Wilkinson was aware of the value of publicity as a tool for advancing his programs. He moved immediately to strengthen the news operation of the University. In 1951 he appointed Edwin Butterworth as the head of a new division of Public Relations. That same year, at the request of Butterworth, Wilkinson appointed David A. Schulthess, then a sports writer for the Salt Lake Tribune, as the first full-time sports information director at BYU.

Another important change took place in 1954 when the Journalism Department was moved to the Herald R. Clark Student Service Center while the News Bureau remained in the North Building and began operation as a separate entity for the first time in the school's history.

The new Smoot Administration Building already was in the planning stages and the departments under Lester Whetten, director of University Relations, along with the News Bureau participated in its planning by outlining their needs and making suggestions for arrangements. The News Bureau moved to the Smoot Building in 1961. The central proximity of the administrative departments helped to increase the News Bureau's ability to effectively serve the university.

Professor Edwin Butterworth was relieved of all teaching duties in 1964 in order to become the first full-time director of the News Bureau. Under his guidance, the News Bureau began two publications in 1968, BYU Today and Alumnus. The purpose of the publications was to inform alumni and friends of BYU news. Harold O. Williams, hired in 1968 as Butterworth's assistant, became editor of BYU Today. The tow publications were combined into BYU Today beginning in April 1971.

During the Wilkinson administration, the News Bureau devoted its time and energy to providing news coverage of the tremendous growth the University experienced. Brigham Young University became the largest private university as enrollment grew to over 25,000 full-time students and 80 major buildings were constructed. President Wilkinson expanded the university from five to thirteen colleges. In addition to providing publicity for the administrative programs, the students depended upon the News Bureau for information regarding campus activities.

As the University's need for national attention became increasingly important, the News Bureau expanded its staff. In August of 1972, Paul Richards was hired as a full-time assistant and Nelson Wadsworth as a part-time writer. Richards worked previously as an editor with the University Press and Wadsworth came from the University of Utah Public Relations Department.

To improve coverage on radio and television, Butterworth and Bruce Christensen, director of BYU Broadcast Services, worked out an arrangement whereby the News Bureau and Broadcast Services cooperated to produce, process and place the news. In order to improve coordination, Broadcast Services hired Jay Monson, a veteran Utah broadcaster, as news director of KBYU-FM and KBYU-TV. This change took place in September of 1972.

After 28 years of service to the University, Professor Edwin Butterworth retired in 1977 as director of the News Bureau. Under his guidance national news coverage of BYU showed remarkable increase. National attention was received for such stories as Jim Jensen's discovery of the largest dinosaur, an interview with President Dallin Oaks on the need for moral responsibility and the increased notoriety of BYU sports. Paul Richards was appointed as the director of the Public Communications Department (News Bureau) upon Professor Butterworth's retirement.


54 boxes (27 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in fourteen series: 1. Presidential correspondence. 2. General correspondence. 3. Meeting minutes. 4. Budget and finance records. 5. Subject files. 6. Records on forum speakers. 7. Records on lyceums. 8. Records on distinguished visitors and honors recipients. 9. Reference file on race relations. 10. Sports Information subject files. 11. Journalism Department subject files. 12. Advertising records. 13. Records on student protest and campus disorders. 14. Records on comparative treatment of Brigham Young University publicity.

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed finding aid is available in print in the repository.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

The bulk of the collection was transferred to the University Archives upon the retirement of Edwin Butterworth with other files added later. Since the collection was well organized, it has been kept in the original order with a few minor exceptions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred; Public Relations Division.


Departmental records (University Archives collecting policy, July 2003).

Separated Materials

Minutes of the University Relations and Public Relations staff meetings and such university committees as Faculty, Task Group, Daily Universe, Athletic Advisory, Administrative Council, Radio and T.V., Dean's Council, Community Relations and Publications were separated and added to the existing master file of minutes in the University Archives.

A collection of President Ernest L. Wilkinson's speeches delivered on campus as well as off campus were added to the Wilkinson speech file already preserved in the University Archives.

Biographical material including photos on LDS Church leaders, Faculty and Board of Trustees were separated and added to the existing biographical files available in the University Archives.

Special newspaper editions of supplements to the Provo Daily Herald and the Daily Universe featuring BYU, its progress, enrollment, building expansion, athletic programs and other programs and activities as produced by BYU's Public Communications Office were separated and destroyed since the information is available on microfilm in the Harold B. Lee Library. Years covered were 1959-1976.

Basketball, football and other athletic printed programs were separated and integrated into the BYU Athletic Department master collection of printed athletic programs, 1911-1980, located in the University Archives (UA 5446).

Photographs relating to BYU publicity were separated and placed in the U.A. Photo Archives.

Twenty boxes of mounted general news clippings about BYU as published in Provo and Salt Lake City newspapers, arranged chronologically, 1946-1976, were authorized for destruction. This publicity may be found on the microfilm copies of Salt Lake and Provo newspapers located in the Microforms Section of the Harold B. Lee Library.

Mounted sports news clippings about BYU, arranged chronologically, 12 boxes, 1946-1969, as published in Salt Lake and Provo newspapers, were separated and authorized for destruction as this publicity may be located on microfilm in the Microform Section of the library.

Four 8mm reels of movie film of the 1967 NCAA Track and Field Meet held at Brigham Young University were transferred to the U.A. Motion Picture Film collection.

Metal stamps and plates were transferred to the U.A. Museum collection.

Processing Information

Processed; Patrick Kellough; 1981.

Register of the University Relations Division records
Patrick Kellough
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.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Repository Details

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

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo UT 84602 US