Frequently Asked Questions


Our mission, by 2027, is to digitally preserve and publish Wilford Woodruff’s eyewitness account of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ from 1833 to 1898.
Our purpose in making Wilford Woodruff’s faithful records universally accessible is to inspire all people, especially the rising generation, to study and increase their faith in Jesus Christ, understand and honor sacred temple covenants, and thereby receive the blessings of exaltation with their families.
Our goal is to locate, transcribe, and publish online every extant document created by Wilford Woodruff as well as correspondence he received. Between 2020 and 2030, we plan to 1) digitally publish all surviving documents written by Wilford Woodruff, or written by scribes/assistants under his direction; 2) make accurate transcriptions of these documents searchable and understandable in context; 3) publish annotated selections of the documents in printed volumes; and 4) organize biennial conferences pertaining to the Wilford Woodruff Papers to encourage ongoing research, discovery, and dissemination of knowledge embedded in them.
Brigham Young’s papers are being published by a private organization

It is also incredibly important to add John Taylor’s records, writings, and discourses to the other witnesses of the Restoration, but another Foundation will have to be established for that purpose.

The Wilford Woodruff Papers Project was established based on Jennifer Ann Mackley's 24 years of research. It is patterned after the Joseph Smith Papers, a project managed by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and will be funded by individual donations.
Wilford Woodruff’s records are the backbone of the history of the Restoration and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the nineteenth century. With the pattern and standard set by the Joseph Smith Papers (1828-1844), Wilford Woodruff’s records (1833-1898) are a natural extension of that history and will provide the common thread connecting Joseph Smith’s records with other prophets, apostles, and 19th century Church members.
Jennifer Ann Mackley began her research on Wilford Woodruff's writings in 1996 and, in 2020, co-founded the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation with Donald W. Parry to carry out this Project.

As far as the records show, it was shortly after his baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1833 that Wilford Woodruff began keeping his journal. He stated in his preface that his intent in doing so was to give an account of his stewardship because it is “not only our privilege but duty to keep an accurate account of our proceedings.” He later explained, “We should write an account of those important transactions which are taking place before our eyes in fulfillment of the prophecies and the revelation of God. . . . This will make a valuable legacy to our children and a great benefit to future generations by giving them a true history of the rise and progress of the Church and the Kingdom of God upon the earth in this last dispensation . . . .”

The Joseph Smith Papers encompass the written record of Church history from 1828 to 1844 and include the founding documents of the Restoration. The Wilford Woodruff Papers extend the history, encompassing the period of Wilford Woodruff’s records from 1827 to 1900, and will help complete the story of the Restoration in the nineteenth century. With so much misinformation easily accessible online, it is vital to make these primary, eyewitness sources of knowledge easily accessible so seekers can find and understand truth in context.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation manages this Wilford Woodruff Papers Project under the leadership of Executive Director, Jennifer Ann Mackley and Executive Editor, Steven C. Harper, with Jordan Woodruff Clements as Chair of the Board of Directors. The full staff and Board are listed here.
All people everywhere are invited to learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from Wilford Woodruff's records.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation is an independent, private non-profit organization and is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or any other organization or institution. However, the Church History Department supports and encourages the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project. The Church History Library staff cooperates closely with us, providing access to the documents as well as technical and research assistance. Several people who work on the Wilford Woodruff Papers gained expertise from their prior work with the Joseph Smith Papers, including our Executive Editor Steven C. Harper. Moreover, Joseph Smith Papers scholars Matthew C. Godfrey, Andrew H. Hedges, R. Eric Smith, and Jordan T. Watkins serve as advisors to the Wilford Woodruff Papers editorial team.
Professionally trained and experienced document editors maintain and follow transcription and verification processes consistent with the highest academic documentary editing standards. See the editorial method we follow here.
The Joseph Smith Papers include the foundational revelations, scriptures, and records of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ during Joseph Smith's lifetime. They are published online and in 27 print volumes. The Wilford Woodruff Papers embody a larger number of documents and extend the story of the Restoration another 54 years, due to President Woodruff's longer lifetime and developments in the recording and preservation of documents through the end of the nineteenth century. The Wilford Woodruff Papers are only published online.

However, because the editorial approaches of the projects are very different, comparing the volume, scope, funding, or timelines of the two projects does not paint an accurate picture. The Joseph Smith Papers include historical introductions, annotations, and footnotes for each document. The documents in the Wilford Woodruff Papers are contextualized with hyperlinks for people, places, topics, and scriptural references within each page.

The Wilford Woodruff Papers Project builds on the foundation of the seminal work completed by the Church History Department; the Project seeks to complement the Joseph Smith Papers Project, extending the historical record and adding Wilford Woodruff's witness of the Restoration of the gospel and his insights into the development of temple doctrine through 1898. 


We believe including every extant document will complete the picture as clearly as possible by not only adding to the body of truth, but getting as close as possible to the whole truth.

This will ensure that the body of truth is substantial enough to stand in opposition to the misinformation and lies that continue to circulate.

To add Wilford Woodruff’s witness to Joseph Smith’s: “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” 2 Corinthians 13:1

Because this is a papers project, not a documentary history project, it only includes documents created by Wilford Woodruff or, in rare cases, the documents written by scribes/secretaries at his request, and letters received by him. Wilford filled 31 daybooks and journals between 1834 and 1898 and all of these records were preserved. In those journals he tallied the 13,308 letters he wrote. the 17,439 letters he received, and the 3,559 discourses, speeches, and eulogies he delivered. Thousands of these documents have survived. In addition, he preserved thousands of pages of personal, legal, financial, business, and family records.
No. All available documents will be included.
Wilford Woodruff's journals and daybooks as well as the majority of his personal papers and letters are in the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Other papers and letters have been preserved in other historical archives, by educational institutions, and in private collections. We currently have digital images of 6,995 documents in our catalog.
At you can click on the “People” tab, then select “People Included in Wilford Woodruff’s Papers” and search for a specific person or browse all the individuals listed in alphabetical order. Or, to discover your relationship to every person identified in Wilford Woodruff’s records, you can use our Relative Finder. By logging in to our site with your FamilySearch account, the computer will do the work for you, searching the 18,000 people identified to-date. The downloadable list that is generated will include each of your ancestors mentioned in the Wilford Woodruff Papers and contain links to their FamilySearch and Wilford Woodruff Papers profiles.
There are outdated printed editions of Wilford Woodruff's journals, but the online, searchable edition of Wilford Woodruff’s journals completed in 2022 will not be printed. The intent of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation is for the journals and all other Wilford Woodruff Papers to be universally accessible at no cost to those accessing the documents at The papers will remain digitally accessible on our website with links to biographical and geographical information as well as topics mentioned in the Woodruff papers.
Please email us at with details about your document or artifact and we will communicate with you directly regarding next steps. We are not physically collecting or storing individual items, but working to digitally preserve and share them.
We can professionally digitize the document or artifact for you in your home, or we will coordinate with you to pick it up, digitize it, and return the physical item to you with a digital copy for you to keep. If you would prefer to donate the item so it can be professionally preserved for historical purposes, we can help facilitate that.
Professional archivists use specialized camera equipment to digitize documents so the items are not damaged in the process. For example, the pages of books are photographed rather than flattened in a scanner so the spine is not damaged. Letters are not processed through a scanner to avoid crumpling or damaging the fragile pages.
The information available on this website, including any text, data, artwork, video, audio, images, or graphics (collectively, the "Material") may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Entities other than the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation (WWPF) may own copyright in the Material.

We encourage use of the Material for non-profit and educational purposes, such as personal research, teaching, and private study. For these limited purposes, Material from this website may be displayed and printed in compliance with the specific limitations outlined by the original source of the Material, and all printed or displayed copies must include any copyright notice applicable to the Material.

Except as provided above, or any use beyond what is allowed by fair use (Title 17, § 107 U.S.C.), you may not reproduce, republish, post, transmit, or distribute any Material from this website in any physical or digital form without the permission of the copyright owner of the Material.


The timeline for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project was originally ten years and our budget was $10 million dollars. But through our pioneering work with crowdsourcing and the accelerated pace of editorial work in the first two years, we reduced the timeline to seven years and our budget to $8.5 million dollars.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers Project is funded by donations from generous individuals and families, donor-advised funds, and other charitable organizations. Information on how you can contribute is here.
Donations fund the digitization, transcription, and verification of Wilford Woodruff's papers. Documentary editing of this quality is a painstaking and laborious process. It begins with accurate transcription of handwritten documents by a trained individual. Then teams of two read and verify every word on every page to ensure accuracy. In addition, research is done to identify each person and place mentioned in the documents. Then the names mentioned in the documents are linked to biographies, and places mentioned are linked to a mapping system. These reference materials enable users to better search and understand the documents. Donations cover the creation and maintenance of the content management system, including the website, to store and display the documents. The Foundation is virtual, meaning all work is done by individuals on their personal computers and we do not have to spend donated funds paying for physical office space or administrative staff. 

Donors have access to annual reports of expenditures and metrics showing the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project's progress and success.