Diaries; Diaries (typescripts); Letter; Letter; Letter; Verses lovingly inscribed to President Bathsheba W. Smith
Emmeline Blanche Woodward Harris Whitney Wells was born on February 29, 1828 in Petersham, Worchester County, Massachusetts to David and Deiadama (Hare) Woodward. On March 1, 1842 at the age of fourteen Emmeline was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a small brook near her Massachusetts home. The ice on the brook had to be broken so that she and six others could be baptized that day. On July 29, 1843, when Emmeline was fifteen years old she married sixteen-year-old James Harvey Harris who was also LDS. The newlywed couple left Massachusetts to go to Nauvoo, Illinois on April 24, 1844. Almost a year and a half later, James left Emmeline in Nauvoo, never to return again. Heartbroken and alone, Emmeline eventually married Newell K. Whitney as a polygamous wife on February 14, 1845 in Nauvoo, Illinois. The sealing ordinance was performed by Brigham Young, 2nd President of the Church. Emmeline left Nauvoo with her new family on February 27, 1846 to join other groups of Saints in Iowa and travel to the Salt Lake Valley. Newell K. Whitney died in Salt Lake City, Utah five years after their marriage leaving Emmeline alone once again. Two years after his death, Emmeline married Daniel H. Wells as another polygamous wife on October 10, 1852. Although she was married to D. H. Wells, Emmeline did not live with him. Instead, she lived with her five daughters in a home in Salt Lake City. Emmeline saw her husband every so often when they had time to visit. Daniel H. Wells had occasional difficulty providing financially for his large polygamous family, so Emmeline worked to earn extra income. She wrote frequently under the pen name of Blanche Beachwood for the Woman's Exponent as well as the Contributor and the Deseret Evening News. In July 1877 Emmeline became the editor of the Woman's Exponent, a job she held until 1914. Emmeline was very involved in the suffrage movement and was appointed vice-president of the National Woman's Suffrage Association in 1874. She attended suffrage meetings all over the country as a representative of Utah. She was also very involved in clubs and other organizations in her community. She was a member of the Press Club, the Republican Club, the Federation Committee, the Utah Woman's Press Club, the Reapers Club, the Woman's Suffrage Association, and Daughters of the Revolution. In many of these clubs she held important positions and often held club meetings in her home. Emmeline became a member of the General Board of Relief Society in 1888 and served as the corresponding secretary and the general secretary. Following Bathsheba W. Smith's death, Emmeline became the fifth general president of the Relief Society in April 1910. She served in this position until her death in 1921. In her later years, Emmeline traveled constantly for political meetings, Relief Society, and family visits. In her travels she met President Roosevelt and the Queen of England. Emmeline received the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Brigham Young University on February 29, 1912, her 84th birthday. The degree was presented to her by President Joseph F. Smith. Known for her writing, among other things, Emmeline wrote Musings and Memories, Book of Poems which was published in 1896. Emmeline died on April 21, 1921 in Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of 93.
This collection consists of four boxes of Emmeline B. Well's journals, dating from 1844 to 1920. These journals discuss Emmeline's life as a Mormon woman, a polygamous wife, and a growing celebrity as her fame spread. She writes about topics including her family, the westward trek to Utah, Relief Society, the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association (Y.L.M.I.A.), polygamy, political issues, modern inventions and technology, and world issues such as World War I. She also notes the anniversaries of births, weddings, and deaths of family and friends and significant days in her own life, including her baptism. Emmeline frequently mentions her children, the decisions they make in their life, and how she reacts to them. Emmeline associated with many prominent Church individuals and she often discusses them and her activities with them. Some of these people include Eliza R. Snow, Heber C. Kimball, O. Porter Rockwell, Reed Smoot, John Taylor, George A. Smith, Golden Kimball, Clarissa Smith Williams, and Susa Young Gates. Overall, the journals give great insight into Emmeline's life and the events dealing with the Church and the world that occurred during her lifetime. MSS 1407: This collection is identical to MSS 540, except this one contains typescript copies of the original journals. MSS 659: This is a letter written by Emmeline in 1887 to a Miss Grey thanking her for taking minutes of a Relief Society meeting and giving a copy of them to her. Emmeline encourages Miss Grey to develop her talents in writing. MSS SC 2185: This is a letter written to Emmeline's sister on January 16, 1899. In the letter Emmeline discusses the problems she was then experiencing with the Woman's Exponent in trying to cover the expense of printing, mailing the paper, and paying rent on the office. She also mentions the difficulty in getting the Relief Society sisters to see the value of the Woman's Exponent. MSS 111: This is a letter written to Brother and Sister Jacob G. Bigler on June 15, 1904. In the letter Emmeline congratulates the couple on their 60th wedding anniversary and relates for President Bathsheba Smith that she will be attending their party. M270.07 Sm 52v 1906: This folder contains 2 loose pages from a magazine that have poems written by Emmeline B. Wells to Bathsheba W. Smith on them. There are three complete printed poems titled, When the Old Friends Meet, A Beautiful Life, and Birthday Greeting. There is also the first stanza from a poem titled A Portrait on the back of the second page. A photograph of Bathsheba W. Smith is also printed on the first page.