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Honoring George H. Brimhall

Each year the descendants of former Brigham Young University president George H. Brimhall honor the founders of the university by sponsoring the Brimhall Essay Contest. Held in conjunction with the university’s Homecoming celebrations, the contest is designed to introduce students to the individuals who have helped to shape Brigham Young University’s unique institutional character.

This year’s honored founder is George H. Brimhall.

President George H. Brimhall, ca. 1910.

President George H. Brimhall, ca. 1910.

George H. Brimhall became a student a Brigham Young Academy in 1876 and began to prepare for his chosen vocation of teacher under the tutelage of Karl G. Maeser. He graduated with a normal, or teaching, degree in 1877 and became a teacher in Spanish Fork. In 1891 Brimhall was asked to join the staff of the Brigham Young Academy as head of the preparatory department. He served as acting principal of the Academy in 1893 and again from 1900 to 1902. He was appointed President of Brigham Young University in 1904. He held this position for the next seventeen years. He guided the institution through difficult financial times and initiated the process that allows the university to reconcile the tension between the sacred and the secular that is at the heart of the Brigham Young University experience.

The Brigham Young University Archives is home to numerous collections that document George H. Brimhall and his impact on the university. A short list of these materials is available at George H. Brimhall and Brigham Young University.

The Archives also houses several oral histories that allow us to better understanding George H. Brimhall. They include:

  • MSS OH 1904 Thatcher C. Jones oral history. Jones talks about his experiences while attending Brigham Young University, 1904-1909; and teaching at the university, 1914 and 1917-1921. Mentions his experiences in building and whitewashing the “Y” on a mountain east of campus. Also mentions Room D in Brigham Young Academy building; BYU sports; and interactions with George B. Brimhall, John C. Swensen, Joseph B. Keeler, Edward S. Hinckley, Alice Louise Reynolds, and Harvey Taylor. He also discusses the origins of BYU’s school song; BYU sports; BYA “B” room; and other topics.
  • UA OH 70 Fern Eyring Fletcher oral history interview. Fletcher shares recollections of her childhood, her father Stephen L. Chipman, various LDS General Authorities, experiences in high school, as a student at BYU, about faculty members at BYU, her teaching experiences at BYU, and her feelings about BYU.
  • UA OH 50 Golden Brimhall oral history. Golden Brimhall, son of George H. Brimhall, talks about his father the BYU Training School, and family interests.

If you have questions about the sources for studying the life of George H. Brimhall, please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu.

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