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Emmeline B. Wells diaries

Emmeline B. Wells (1828-1921)

Emmeline B. Wells (1828-1921)

To celebrate Women’s History Month, L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Emmeline B. Wells diaries (Vault MSS 510). This collection contains Emmeline B. Wells’s original diaries from 1844 to 1920. Her often daily entries spanning nearly 80 years present pragmatic descriptions of daily activities along with her own daily opinions, insights, and impressions. The accounts are often lengthy and detailed. Volume 1 begins with her departure from Massachusetts in 1844 and also includes her journey from Nauvoo, Illinois, with other Saints headed West in 1846. Other volumes provide insights into her roles with the Woman’s Exponent and her service in the General Presidency of the Relief Society. Wells often provides descriptions of and insights into important events in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah, and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the woman’s suffrage movement and other events related to women’s rights, of which Wells was a strong advocate. The 1882 diary also includes entries by Well’s daughter, Louisa Wells.

Born Emmeline Blanche Woodward on February 29, 1828, at Petersham, Massachusetts to parents David Woodward and Deiadama Hare, Emmeline B. Wells was four years old her father died, which meant she and her siblings were raised mainly by their mother. In 1842, she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a child, Wells was very well-educated and began teaching in her early teenage years. She married James Harris at age fifteen, they had one son who died shortly after his birth, but Harris deserted Wells. Wells then married Bishop Newel K. Whitney in 1849 and they had two children. When he died in 1850, Wells raised her children on her own in the Salt Lake Valley, where they had immigrated to in 1848. In 1852, she became the seventh wife of Daniel H. Wells, and had three more children. She continued teaching while in Utah and she also became involved in civic affairs such as suffrage and women’s rights. Wells was the chief editor of the LDS Church women’s journal the Women’s Exponent. She was also friends with famous suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and in 1899 she was invited by the International Council of Women to speak at its London meeting as a United States representative. Wells served as the fifth general president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1910 to 1921. Emmeline B. Wells died on April 25, 1921 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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