Laura Ann Keeler Thurber was born on July 7, 1859 in Spanish Fork, Utah to James Keeler and Eliza Shelton Keeler. On October 27, 1876, Laura was married to Joseph Heber Thurber in the Salt Lake City Temple by Daniel H. Wells. On April 30, 1885, Laura entered into plural marriage when her husband married another woman, Annie Christensen, in the St. George Temple. Laura spent much time separated from her husband due to his being imprisoned for four and a half years for practicing polygamy and because he served multiple missions. This separation was a great source of depression to Laura during which times she would refer to herself as a 'widow.' Laura bore eight children total. She died on September 7, 1909 in New Castle, Utah.
This collection contains a 123-page handwritten autobiography/diary that has been encapsulated and bound and includes brief histories of Laura's parents, herself, James Thurber, and her children; poems; and genealogical records. In her diary, Laura writes about her daily activities as a wife and mother and expresses her deepest feelings. Laura writes a great deal about her life when she is separated from her husband. She mostly conveys a sad tone of grief and sorrow saying such things as, 'I feel at the present time that I have no friends or that nobody cares for me' and 'I can hardly see that I have done any good on earth.' She also frequently writes about enduring her trials, which included poverty. However, Laura does occasionally reflect on God's blessings to her and her husband: 'I feel the Lord has greatly blessed our labors and our prayers have been answered, for at times we knew not which way to turn but he has provided for us in various ways, and I [want] to thank him for his blessings.' Laura copied three poems into her diary: one from her husband entitled 'To My Dear Wife Laura,' written while he was imprisoned, and two from her sister Maggie entitled 'To Laura' and 'Our Blossom,' the latter being written about Laura's child Orsa who died. At the end of the diary is a brief account of Laura's funeral written by her daughter, Fern Thurber.