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Contributions of the Class of 1891: Edwin S. Hinckley

The twenty-one students in the Brigham Young Academy Class of 1891 made significant contributions to the development of the university during their time as students, including the establishment of the first student newspaper, The B.Y.A. Student, and the institution of school colors. In part, these programs reflected the growing influence of Benjamin Cluff following his installment as assistant principal of the Academy. However, many of the students in this group continued to advance the cause of the university for years following their graduation. Among these educational leaders was Edwin S. Hinckley.

Class of 1891

Portrait of Class of 1891. E.S. Hinckley standing in back row, just left of center. (LTPSC UA P 2)

Edwin Smith Hinckley

Ed Hinckley was born at Cove Fort, Utah in 1868 to Ira N. and Adelaide Hinckley. He attended the public schools in Fillmore and the Millard Stake Academy before moving north to Provo. Ed started at Brigham Young Academy in 1884, and among other subjects studied geology under James E. Talmage. He later studied in the academy normal program under Karl G. Maeser and Benjamin Cluff, graduating with normal degree in 1891. He was respected for his speaking talents by his fellow students and was selected as the class orator. As part of this responsibility he spoke at the graduation ceremonies on the topic of “Brigham Young as an Educator.”

Encouraged by Cluff, after graduation Ed Hinckley determined to further his studies and headed east to attend the University of Michigan. During his time in Ann Arbor he and his wife, Adeline, kept an off-campus boardinghouse to support themselves, while Hinckley also served as a missionary in the area. He completed his bachelor’s degree in geology in 1895, then returned to Provo to join the faculty of the Brigham Young Academy. He and his family established themselves in a home south of campus with a large yard (310 N. 200 East). At the school he taught courses in geology, botany, zoology, and biology, and was appointed Professor of Natural Science in 1904.

Edwin S. Hinckley diploma

E.S. Hinckley diploma from University of Michigan, 1895 (LTPSC UA 312)

Shortly after his arrival he became involved in alumni activities at the Academy, and in 1897 was selected to serve as president of the Brigham Young Academy Alumni Association. As president his major focus of his efforts was raising funds for the completion of College Hall in 1898. Later in 1924 he was chosen as president again, this time fund raising for 1925 completion of the Heber J. Grant Library. He had a vision of an expanding campus that would one day reach as far as Rock Canyon–a dream that some felt was fulfilled with the dedication of the Provo Utah Temple in 1972.

In 1904 with the reorganization of the Academy as Brigham Young University, Hinckley was chosen to serve as a counselor to President George H. Brimhall in the university presidency. However, he remained active in his teaching and in other school and community activities, including service in his ward bishopric, farming, and managing a butcher shop. In 1913, Hinckley was given added responsibility with his appointment as dean of the Church Teachers College at the university.

Edwin S. Hinckley

Edwin Smith Hinckley (UA 947)

In 1915, Hinckley left the university to serve as superintendent of the State Industrial School in Ogden, Utah. He served with distinction as the head of that institution for seven years before returning to Provo in 1922 to head the local Chamber of Commerce. During this time he worked to promote the region, and to strengthen the university’s relationship with the local community. His health declined in the late 1920s due to illness and the effects of a car accident, and he passed away at his home on West Center St. in November 1929.

Over the course of his life, Hinckley made significant contributions to the development of the university. The University Archives contains a range of resources on Hinckley and his accomplishments that provide a better understanding of the transition from academy to university and the growth of Provo.

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