Two additional volumes of the journal of George F. Richards, who served as an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1906 to 1950, have been published online through the Church Historian’s Press.
The release of the new volumes was announced in a news release on Dec. 20.
With the publication of the new volumes, 14 of Elder Richards’ 24 volumes are now available to view at churchhistorianspress.org.
Two new volumes
The newly released volumes date from November 1909 to August 1911. They document Elder Richards’ activities as a Latter-day Saint Apostle and include many family and personal developments.
Among the entries, Elder Richards often recorded summaries of the counsel he gave to fellow Latter-day Saints during speaking engagements.
(Note: Quotations from the cited journal entries used in this article have been modernized and updated for spelling and grammar.)
On Nov. 21, 1909, he wrote: “I spoke upon the subject of the Atonement. We sympathize with those we love when they are in pain or in trouble. Jesus loved His brothers and sisters, and His heart was broken by their prospects of sorrow and condemnation as a result of wickedness.”
His journal also shows his desire to live the teachings of the gospel. On Jan. 3, 1910, Richards wrote: “I assisted a lady off [a train] car and on to Tooele train who had a child and a suitcase. Resolved that I would seek opportunities to do good and show kindness. Gave my seat in car to a lady as I often do when I have opportunity.”
The Richards family endured its share of health problems during these years. The Church leader underwent two surgeries, in 1909 and 1910, because he suffered from excessive moisture from his tear ducts.
His wife, Sister Alice Richards, was bedridden for weeks with nerve pain in her leg (sciatica).
The Richards family was also forced into quarantine during an outbreak of scarlet fever.
Despite his family’s health concerns, Elder Richards continued to perform his apostolic duties. Ten days into the quarantine, on July 23, 1910, he wrote: “The confinement is no hardship to me. The opportunity for study is appreciated. It would be appreciated the more if I could send out letters so I could carry on my correspondence with my folks and friends.”
Everyone was feeling better by the end of July, and Elder Richards acknowledged the Lord’s blessings: “My health is good; never better that I know of. I have a good appetite, eat heartily and experience no discomfort therefrom. Alice is free from sciatica, which gave her such pain and inconvenience during May and June months. My mother’s health is fairly good. The world is beautiful. The Lord is good to us; the gospel is true. May the name of the Lord be praised forever.”
Unfortunately, his family’s good health didn’t last. Elder Richards was in a meeting on Jan. 7, 1911, when he was informed his 83-year-old mother, Nanny Longstroth Richards, was close to death.
“I was excused [from the meeting] and making all haste arrived at Asenaths at 1:40 p.m., and Mother died about 1:53 p.m.,” he wrote. “I had not expected her to go so soon, but since she had to go, I acknowledge God’s providence and am thankful she did not linger longer to suffer.”
Dedication to journaling
An entry dated Nov. 25, 1909, demonstrates the Apostle’s dedication to keeping a personal history. After a full day of visiting family, traveling via train to his home and visiting with Church leaders, Elder Richards recorded that he “went to sleep writing [in] my journal.”
How to read George F. Richards’ journals
Elder Richards’ journal is a valuable source for early 20th-century Church history. The transcripts of the journal are available at churchhistorianspress.org/george-f-richards.