Rachel Emma Woolley Simmons was born August 7, 1836 in Columbia County, Ohio to Edwin Dilworth Woolley and Mary Wickersham. Originally Quakers, the family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when Rachel was young. She spent the majority of her childhood in Nauvoo and began school at age five. Her family later decided to travel to Utah, and they reached Salt Lake City on September 22, 1848, when Rachel was twelve years old. On December 18, 1851, Rachel married Joseph Marsellus Simmons. They had ten children, though Joseph died when Rachel was thirty-five. Rachel died November 30, 1926 in Salt Lake City at age ninety.
These papers are part of a larger collection pertaining to the Woolley family. Information and manuscripts about Rachel are located in the second box of the collection, in the thirteenth folder. Among several other miscellaneous papers pertaining to the Woolley family, this folder contains a three-page biography of Rachel, written by her daughter, Rachel Emma Simmons Willes, and dated January 2, 1925. Rachel describes her mother as having been noble, brave, self-sacrificing, loving, hard-working, and staunch and true to the Gospel, among other attributes. At Rachel's death in 1926, she had ten children, seventy-four grandchildren, one hundred and twenty-three great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren.