Benjamin Cluff diary

Benjamin Cluff diary

Dates: 1901

Diary written by Cluff documenting his activities as he led a small group from Brigham Young Academy through Panama and into Columbia. Though Cluff states a desire to search for the Book of Mormon city of Zarahemla while on the expedition, much of the diary is devoted to describing travel preparations, countryside traveled through, and plantation owners Cluff meets during the trip. The group traveled by steamboat, by mule, or on foot for much of the trip and encountered many difficulties that impeded their progress, which are documented in the diary. Cluff's diary also includes details on expenditures, a temperature log, and information Cluff learned about the local rivers, forests, and wildlife. Cluff also makes reference to ideal locations for business or colonization. The expedition made it as far as the Magdalena River in Columbia before being turned back by an increasingly violent local war. Collection also includes a bound photocopy of the diary.

  • Extent: 2 folders (0.16 linear ft.)
  • Creator: Cluff, Benjamin, Jr., 1858-1948
  • Call Number: MSS 3076
  • Repository: L. Tom Perry Special Collections; 19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts; 1130 Harold B. Lee Library; Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah 84602;
  • Access Restrictions: Condition restricted; permission to use original diary must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services. Patrons should use photocopy.
  • Images:
Languages and Scripts
Conditions of Use
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Benjamin Cluff 1901 diary 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 3076; Benjamin Cluff diary; 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Following citations: MSS 3076, LTPSC.
Custodial History
The diary remained in the possession of the Cluff family until Beverly Bennett Prince, a direct descendant of Benjamin Cluff, presented the diary to the L. Tom Perry Special Collections during a Cluff family forum in 2004 in memory of her mother, Phyllis Lyle Talbot Bennett.
Acquisition Information
Donation; Beverly Bennett Prince; 2004.
Related Material
See also the Benjamin Cluff diaries, 1881-1909 (MSS 1667).
Subject Terms
Brigham Young Academy. South American Expedition (1900-1901); Cluff, Benjamin, Jr., 1858-1948--Diaries; Central America--Description and travel; Church Educational System; Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints); Religion; Material Types; Mormons--Travel--Central America
Genre / Form
Photocopies; Typescripts
Processing Information
Processed; Blake Christensen; 2008.
Appraisal Information
19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts. Diary provides additional information on the Brigham Young Academy expedition to South America and greater insight into the life of BYU's first President.
Finding Aid ID Number
Finding Aid Title
Cluff (Benjamin) diary
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Blake Christensen
Finding Aid Creator
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-07-08T12:08-0600
Finding Aid Language
Biographical Info:

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, 1858 to Benjamin and Mary Ellen Cluff. After becoming a librarian in Coalville at the age of seventeen, Benjamin sought greater opportunity for learning in Provo at the Brigham Young Academy. Because he excelled at his studies, Cluff was soon employed as a Primary teacher at the Academy; he then continued his studies at the University of Michigan after a mission to the Pacific Islands. He received a Bachelor's and Master's degree from the University of Michigan, then returned to the Academy as an assistant principal and teacher of mathematics. After replacing Karl G. Maeser as principal in 1892, Cluff led an expedition to South America in 1901 and then returned to guide the school's development into a University. Benjamin Cluff retired from BYU in December 1903 and died in 1948 as a California businessman.

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Ryan Lee
Curator - 19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts