March 1, 2022 marks the second anniversary of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to digitally preserve and publish Wilford Woodruff’s eyewitness account of the restoration of the gospel.
Jennifer Mackley, the executive director of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project said, “We can all find ourselves in his stories. We don’t have to cross the plains to understand what it means to sacrifice and learn from their determination. If we’re dealing with divorce or difficult family relationships, Wilford knows something about how to prayerfully work through those experiences. If we’re suffering from the loss of a friend or loved one, his perspective can bring us hope. He not only recorded the daily process of revelation and the restoration, but the strength it took to find joy when enduring loneliness, separation and heartache. His testimony of God’s love and forgiveness is timeless.”
The purpose of making Wilford Woodruff’s writings universally accessible is to inspire all people, especially the rising generation, to increase their faith and strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Work Rolls Forward
The goals of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation are ambitious. By 2030 the foundation aims to digitally preserve, transcribe, verify and publish every surviving document that Wilford Woodruff wrote between 1828 and 1898. This includes almost 7,000 pages of journals, 14 autobiographies, over 13,000 letters and thousands of additional documents. In spite of this seemingly insurmountable workload, the foundation has made significant progress since its first publications were made available on March 1, 2021 at www.wilfordwoodruffpapers.org.
To meet the demands of the project the organization has grown from six volunteers to 175 volunteers and employees. This includes a volunteer board of directors and advisors, crowdsourced volunteer transcribers, and 30 college interns from a variety of disciplines, including history, editing, publishing, marketing, family history, public relations, statistics, and computer science.
From the humble beginnings in March 2020, without a website, a content management system and a transcribing or publishing system, the Wilford Woodruff Papers team has now cataloged almost 10,000 documents and transcribed over 3,000, which represents 13,000 pages. These accomplishments were made possible through the leadership of the executive editor Steve
Harper, the experience of the managing editor Sherilyn Farnes, the skills of software engineer Jon Fackrell, and the 25 years of Jennifer Mackley’s research.
Within those documents we have identified over 7,000 individuals that interacted with Wilford Woodruff and almost 2,000 places he taught in, lived in or traveled to. These are the foundation for future family histories, expanded church history and additional insight into the restoration of the gospel in the nineteenth century. Anyone who is interested in contributing to this effort is welcome to join the team: https://wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/volunteer.
In addition to the second anniversary of the foundation, March 1st also marks the 215th birthday of President Wilford Woodruff. In celebration of that day the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation will sponsor a number of events.
A birthday celebration will be held on BYU campus on March 1. The celebration will include games, music, prizes and a scavenger hunt. It will be held outside of the Joseph Fielding Smith Building from 12:30-3:00 pm.
At 1:30 pm a campuswide scavenger hunt will commence. A mystery box and four clues in the form of QR codes will be hidden across campus. The first participant to complete the scavenger hunt will receive the prizes.
The celebration will continue with a devotional sponsored by the Wilford Woodruff Family Association on March 6, 2022. The featured speaker will be historian and scholar Steven C. Harper, PhD.
For more information about the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project please visit https://wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/about