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Preston D. Richards papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1993

Scope and Contents

This collection contains Richards' correspondence and other papers with prominent LDS Church leaders including Heber J. Grant, Joseph F. Smith, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., John A. Widtsoe, David O. MacKay, and Stephen L. Richards. It also includes business papers, contains correspondence and other papers from Richards' various legal cases. It contains personal papers, correspondence, and other papers of Richards' personal life, particularly correspondence with his family. There are additions to the collection, including papers from court cases he was involved in, church correspondence, and other personal and church papers.


  • 1894-1970


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessarycopyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Preston D. Richards papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Preston Doremus Richards (1881-1952) was an educator, politician, lawyer, and church leader.

Preston Doremus Richards was born September 15, 1881 to Willard B. and Ann Doremus Richards in Mendon, Cache County, Utah. He was the grandson to Willard Richards, a counselor to Brigham Young. Richards was educated in Salt Lake City, and began teaching shortly after, serving as the principal of four Salt Lake County Schools, as the supervisor of the Granite School District, and as a faculty member at the University of Utah. While teaching he was also voted to the Utah State Legislature and became one of the youngest members to serve. He continued in education by working on school legislation. He gave many speeches in support of the candidates he favored. He was once a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1950 he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator for Utah. After his teaching career, he pursued a law degree at the University of Chicago and Columbia University. He graduated with an LL.B degree, cum laude from the University of Chicago. He married Barbara Howell of Salt Lake City on September 17, 1912. They had four children together. For four years Richards served as Assistant Solicitor General of the State Department of the United States under President William Howard Taft. At this time he worked closely with J. Reuben Clark, Jr., who was undersecretary of state. While in Washington, Richards formulated the 16th and 17th amendments to the Constitution of the United States. He also authorized the proclamation of statehood for Arizona in 1912. He wrote many articles on the Consitution, some of which are in this collection, and was noted as a constituional lawyer because of his extenstive knowledge. When he returned from Salt Lake City he became a partner of the law firm of Clark, Richards and Bowen, with partners J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and Albert E. Bowen. They had branch offices in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. The offices were discontinued when Clark and Bowen were called to be general authorities of the LDS Church. Richards was also very active in LDS Church affairs. He served a mission to England as a young man. He served on a General Board of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association for 15 years. While living in Los Angeles he was a member of the Los Angeles Stake presidency. He was instrumental in bringing about the purchase of the site of the Los Angeles LDS Temple. He also corresponded closely with many general authorities and officers of the LDS Church such as Heber J. Grant, Joseph F. Smith, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., John A. Widtsoe, David O. MacKay, and Stephen L. Richards. Much of that correspondence is contained in the collection. He was active in the Los Angeles Breakfast Club as well as many other civic organizations in Los Angeles and in Utah. He worked to organize the University Religious Conference at the University of California at Los Angeles and at the University of Southern California. In his later life, one of his hobbies was farming the 160-acre farm he owned in Salt Lake County. He was also instrumental in obtaining legislation for the building of a park around the "This Is The Place" monument in Emigration Canyon. Richards died of a heart attack January 31, 1952 in Salt Lake City at age 70. His funeral was held February 4, 1952 at the Assemby Hall at Temple Square.


2 cartons (2 linear ft.)

7 boxes (3.5 linear ft.)


The collection consists of papers regarding the life of Preston D. Richards. The collection has correspondence, newspaper clippings, certificates, photographs and other papers. It specifically deals with his life in terms of his business, church, and personal relations. The collection dates 1894-1970.


Collection is arranged in four series: 1. Chuch papers, circa 1917-1967. 2. Business papers, 1913-1958. 3. Personal papers, 1906-1966. 4. Additions, 1894-1970.

Custodial History

Donated by Anne Richards Horton, Preston D. Richard's daughter, in 1983 and 1986.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Anne Richards Horton; 1983, 1986.


Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007) because of Richards' dealings with prominent church officials.


Two boxes were later added but not separated into the series of the existing collection. These two additions contain various papers from court cases he was involved in, church correspondence, and other personal and church papers, dating 1894-1970.

Processing Information

Processed; Melissa Cowles, student processor and John Murphy, curator; 2008.

Register of Preston D. Richards papers
Melissa Cowles
2011 March 15
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