Guide to the Orson F. Whitney Letters,
1868-1957

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Whitney, Orson F. (Orson Ferguson), 1855-1931
Title: Orson F. Whitney Letters
Dates: 1868-1957 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 5 boxes (3 linear feet)
Collection Number: USU_COLL MSS 167
Summary: This collection is predominantly a mixture of original and photocopied correspondence.
Repository: Utah State University.
Manuscript Collections

Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
3000 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3000
Phone: 435 797-2663
Fax: 435 797-2880
Email: scweb@usu.edu

Languages: Material in English 

Biographical Note

Orson Ferguson Whitney was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday, July 1, 1855. His father, Horace Kimball Whitney was the eldest son of Newel Kimball Whitney, the second Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His mother, Helen Mar Whitney, was the eldest daughter of Heber Chase Kimball, one of the original Twelve Apostles and later a member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

Early in Orson F. Whitney's life, he was educated in the common schools of Salt Lake City and worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. Thereafter he attended the University of Deseret, now the University of Utah. His final year at the University (1873—1874) was followed by a one-year mission for the LDS Church in October of 1876. During the spring of 1877, Elder Whitney went alone to Northern Ohio, preaching, baptizing, studying the gospel, and writing for the Salt Lake Herald. Whitney returned to Utah in the spring of 1878, arriving home on the first day of April. Two weeks later he was employed by the Deseret News. In August of 1878 he was promoted to city editor of theDeseret News.

On July 14, 1878, Orson F. Whitney was made bishop of the Salt Lake City 18th ward. During that winter (1878—1879) Bishop Whitney went on a preaching tour of Cache Valley, Utah. In the fall of the following year, on December 18, 1879, Whitney married Miss Zine Beal Smoot of Provo, Utah. Over the course of their twenty-year marriage Zine bore Orson nine children; Horace Newel (1880), Emily (1885), Helen Margaret (1887), Margaret (1889), Charles Byron (1891), Albert Owen (1893), the twins—Paul Van Cott and Virginia Clayton (1899), and Heber Kimball (1899).

n February of 1880, a year-and-a half after their marriage, Orson F. Whitney was called on a LDS mission to Europe to labor in the editorial department of the Millennial Star in Liverpool. While on this mission, Whitney's second son Heber Kimball died, whom he had never seen. Whitney labored in England for three-and-a-half years, until his return home to Salt Lake City on July 7, 1883.

Upon his return, Whitney resumed his position at the Desert News, but later resigned in December of 1884 to become the city treasurer. He was reelected every two years until 1890. During this time, and perhaps in secret, on July 24, 1888, in Colonia Diaz, Mexico, Orson took a second wife by marrying Mary Minerva Wells of Salt Lake City. Residing together at various time in Logan, Utah, they had two children; Murray Wells (1892) and Wendell Webb (1895). In 1896 Whitney accepted the chair of philosophy at Brigham Young College in Logan were he resided until July of 1897. On May 20, 1900, at the age of 41, Zine Beal Smoot Whitney died, leaving eight children in the care of her husband and his second wife Mary. Later that year, on October 11, 1900, Orson and Mary were remarried in the Salt Lake Temple. In 1901 Orson sat in legislature pushing for the adoption of the Evan's Bill. In 1907 Orson was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a high calling within the LDS church. Thereafter, his spiritual profession required him to travel a great deal, often to various towns and cities across the United States.

Over the course of Orson's public career he published many articles and books, among them; Baptism—The Birth of Water and of Spirit, The Strength of the Mormon Position, Voices From the Mountains, Gospel Themes; a Treatise on Salient Features of Mormons, Popular History of Utah, History of Utah, The Life of Heber C. Kimball, and Through Memory’ Halls; The Life Story of Orson F. Whitney. In addition to publishing, during the 1920s Orson delivered spiritual lectures that were broadcast live on Sunday evenings over KSL radio, Salt Lake City.

On May 16, 1931, Orson F. Whitney died at the age of 76. Mary M. Whitney died four years later on January 25, 1935.

Content Description

This collection consists of five boxes containing a mixture of original and photocopied correspondence. Box 1 consists of letters written by Zine S. Whitney addressed to O. F. Whitney. Box 2 consists of letters written by O. F. Whitney addressed to Zina S. Whitney. Box 3 consists of letters written by O. F. Whitney addressed to his parents. Boxes 4 and 5 consist of correspondence addressed to and from Orson and Zine Whitney between their friends, colleagues, and the extended Smoot and Whitney families. In addition, box 5 also contains a genealogy record, notes, and three letters written by Spencer W. Kimball addressed to Emily Smith (the granddaughter of O. F. Whitney) commenting on various letters written to O. F. Whitney.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Use :  

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Orson F. Whitney Letters must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation :  

Initial Citation: Orson F. Whitney Letters USU_COLL MSS 167, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.

Following Citations:USU_COLL MSS 167, USUSCA.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Arranged by sender.

Processing Note :  

Processed in July of 2004

Related Materials :  

For additional study on O. F. Whitney, seeMSS COLL 188 ; The Orson F. Whitney Diaries.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Incoming correspondence to Orson F. Whitney written by Zine S. Whitney during their courtship and after their marriage, 1879—1898
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
1 1 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1879 June
1 2 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1879 July
1 3 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1879 August 2—9
1 4 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1879 August 11—15
1 5 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1879 September
1 6 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1879 October—December
1 7 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitneye 1880 March
1 8 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1880 September & 1881 January
1 9 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1881 June—December
1 10 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1882 January
1 11 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1882 February—March
1 12 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1882 April—May
1 13 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1882 June—August
1 14 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1882 September—October
1 15 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1882 November—December
1 16 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1883 January—March
1 17 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1883 April—May
1 18 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1883 September—November
1 19 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1884 April—June
1 20 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1885 March
1 21 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1887 July
1 22 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1895 January & 1896 April
1 23 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1896 June—July
1 24 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1896 August—September
1 25 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1896 November
1 26 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1897 April—August
1 27 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1897 September—December
1 28 Incoming correspondence from Zine S. Whitney 1898 January & September
1 29 Undated and incomplete letters (3) Undated

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Outgoing correspondence of Orson F. Whitney written to Zine S. Whitney during their courtship and after their marriage, 1879-1898
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
2 1 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 June
2 2 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 July
2 3 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 August 1—7
2 4 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 August 8—13
2 5 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 August 14—28
2 6 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 September 3—15
2 7 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 September 17—25
2 8 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 October
2 9 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 November
2 10 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 December 2—10
2 11 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1879 December 13—17
2 12 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1880 September
2 13 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1881 June—December
2 14 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1882 January
2 15 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1882 May
2 16 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1882 July & November
2 17 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1883 January—February
2 18 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1883 April & June
2 19 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1886 March & December
2 20 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1887 August
2 21 Outgoing correspondence to Zine S. Whitney 1897 January & 1898 July

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Outgoing correspondence of Orson F. Whitney written to his parents, 1868-1883
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
3 1 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1868 September
3 2 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1873 July
3 3 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1873 August
3 4 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1873 September
3 5 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1874 August
3 6 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1875 October & December
3 7 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1876 January—February
3 8 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1876 November—December
3 9 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1877
3 10 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1877 January
3 11 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1877 February
3 12 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1877 April—June
3 13 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1877 July—September
3 14 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1877 October—December
3 15 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1878 February—March
3 16 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1881 October
3 17 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1882 July
3 18 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1882 December
3 19 Outgoing correspondence to his parents 1883 January & March

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Miscellaneous Correspondence of O. F. and Zine Whitney, 1872-1911
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
4 1 Letter written by O. F. Whitney addressed to his family 1880
4 2 Incomplete letter written by Helen Mar Whitney addressed to O. F. Whitney Undated
4 3 Letter written by Susa Y. Gates addressed to O. F. Whitney Undated
4 4 Letter written by Margaret Y. Smoot addressed to Zine Whitney 1872
4 5 Letter written by Maggie addressed to Zine Whitney 1873
4 6 Letters written by Rob addressed to Zine Whitney 1876 & 1877
4 7 Letter written by Clara addressed to Zine Whitney 1878
4 8 Letters written by Maggie addressed to Zine Whitney 1880, 1881, & 1887
4 9 Letters written by O. A. Smoot addressed to O. F. Whitney 1880, 1887, & 1889
4 10 Letter written by Maggie and her sister 1880
4 11 Letter written by Teen addressed to Zine Whitney 1880
4 12 Letter written by O. A. Smoot addressed to Zine Whitney 1880
4 13 Letter written by O. A. Smoot addressed to O. F. and Zine Whitney 1881
4 14 Letter written by Heber M. Wells addressed to Zine Whitney 1883
4 15 Letter written by M. E. Bond addressed to O. F. Whitney 1883
4 16 Letter written by L. W. Peck addressed to O. F. Whitney 1884
4 17 Letter written by Susa Young Gates addressed to O. F. Whitney 1887
4 18 Letter written by Susa Young Gates addressed to Zine Whitney 1887
4 19 Letter written by H. N. Whitney addressed to his parents O. F. and Zine Whitney 1895
4 20 Letters written by Maggie addressed to O. F. Whitney 1900, 1902, & 1903
4 21 Letter written by Aunt Em addressed to O. F. Whitney 1908
4 22 Letter written by John Phillips Meakin addressed to O. F. Whitney 1911

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Miscellaneous Correspondence of O. F. and Zine Whitney and their granddaughter Emily Smith, genealogy, and notes, 1879-1957
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
Folder
5 1 Letter written by Zine Whitney addressed to her mother Undated
5 2 Letter written by O. F. Whitney 1879
5 3 Letter written by O. F. Whitney addressed to A. O. Smoot 1882
5 4 Letter written by Emmeline B. Wells addressed to O. F. Whitney & a letter written by Spencer W. Kimball addressed to Emily Smith commenting on the above correspondence (click to view) 1886 & 1957
5 5 Letter written by Helen Mar Kimball addressed to O. F. Whitney & a letter written by Spencer W. Kimball addressed to Emily Smith commenting on the above correspondence (click to view) 1881 & 1957
5 6 Letter written by Helen Mar Kimball address to O. F. Whitney & a letter written by Spencer W. Kimball addressed to Emily Smith commenting on the above correspondence (click to view) 1882 & 1957
5 7 Letter written by Helen Mar Kimball address to O. F. Whitney & a letter written by Spencer W. Kimball addressed to Emily Smith commenting on the above correspondence (click to view) 1882 & 1957
5 8 Letters written by O. F. Whitney addressed to Musser 1877 August—November
5 9 Incomplete letters written by O. F. Whitney 1881—1883
5 10 Unidentified notes Undated
5 11 The genealogy of John and Elinor Whitney, compiled by Dottie Olson Undated

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Subjects

    • Personal Names :
    • Whitney, Orson F. (Orson Ferguson), 1855-1931--Correspondence.
    • Whitney, Zine, 1900--Correspondence.
    • Subject Terms :
    • Journalists--Utah--Salt Lake City--Correspondence.
    • Mormon Church--Apostles--Correspondence.
    • Mormon Church--Missions--England--Liverpool.
    • Mormon missionaries--England--Liverpool--Correspondence.
    • Titles within the Collection :
    • Deseret News.
    • Latter-day saints Millennial Star.
    • Corporate Names :
    • Brigham Young College (Logan, Utah)
    • Geographical Names :
    • Salt Lake City (Utah)--History

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