Orson F. Whitney papers

Orson F. Whitney papers

Dates: approximately 1842-1964

Materials include correspondence, blessings, missionary certificates, letters, scrapbooks, journals, poetry, other writings, newspaper clippings, documents, travel souveneirs, and other materials owned, written by, or relating to Orson F. Whitney, his family, and his acquaintances. Dated approximately 1842-1931.

  • Extent: 4 boxes (2 linear ft.)
  • Creator: Whitney, Orson F. (Orson Ferguson), 1855-1931
  • Call Number: MSS 15
  • Repository: L. Tom Perry Special Collections; 19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts; 1130 Harold B. Lee Library; Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah 84602; http://sc.lib.byu.edu/
  • Access Restrictions: Open for public research.
Languages and Scripts
Arranged in three series: 1. Orson F. Whitney correspondence, 1873-1931. 2. Orson F. Whitney writings, approximately 1842-1930. 3. Orson F. Whitney family papers, approximately 1847-1993.
Conditions of 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.
Preferred Citation
Initial citation: MSS 15; Orson F. Whitney papers; 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Following citations: MSS 15, LTPSC.
Custodial History
Some of the materials were donated by Winslow Whitney Smith and others were purchased by Brigham Young University from the Collector's Center between 1974 and 1984.
Other Finding Aids
File-level inventory also available at: http://files.lib.byu.edu/ead/XML/MSS15.xml
Subject Terms
Utah--History; Missions and Missionaries; Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints); Christian leadership--Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Material Types; Religion; Poetry; Church Government; Historians--Utah--Correspondence; Whitney, Orson F. (Orson Ferguson), 1855-1931; Whitney, Orson F. (Orson Ferguson), 1855-1931--Archives; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--Apostles--Correspondence--Archives
Genre / Form
Genealogies; Manuscripts; Patriarchal blessings (Mormon Church); Letters; Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
Processing Information
Processed by: Dennis Rowley, Donald P. Bradley, and Janiece Pompa.
Appraisal Information
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.)
Finding Aid ID Number
Finding Aid Title
Whitney (Orson F.) papers
Finding Aid Author
Andrea Wyss
Finding Aid Creator
This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2017-01-25 12:10:10 -0700.
Finding Aid Language
Biographical Info:

Biographical History

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.

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Ryan Lee
Curator - 19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts