Menu

President Spencer W. Kimball journals are now available online. Here’s how to access them

‘President Kimball’s journals are some of the best in Latter-day Saint history,’ says Elder Kyle S. McKay, Church historian and recorder

President Spencer W. Kimball was one of the great advocates and examples of keeping a personal journal.

For the first time, the late Church president’s own journals are now open and available for public viewing, according to a Church History Library blog post.

President Kimball’s journals will be a valuable addition to Church history records, said Elder Kyle S. McKay, a General Authority Seventy who serves as the Church historian and recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“President Kimball’s journals are some of the best in Latter-day Saint history,” Elder McKay said. “Just as Wilford Woodruff’s amazing journal chronicles 19th-century Latter-day Saint history, Spencer W. Kimball’s journal gives tremendous insight into the history of the Church in the 20th century.”

Related Story
Meet the new Church historian and recorder Elder Kyle S. McKay: ‘Church history has the capacity to strengthen faith’
New General Authority Seventy Elder Kyle S. McKay finds God in the Lord's mountains

Who is President Spencer W. Kimball?

  • Spencer Woolley Kimball served as the Church’s 12th president, from 1973-1985.
President Spencer W. Kimball writes in his journal about saying goodbye to his family and leaving for the Central States Mission.
President Spencer W. Kimball writes in his journal about saying goodbye to his family and leaving for the Central States Mission. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • He was born in Salt Lake City on March 28, 1895, the sixth of 11 children. He was raised in Thatcher, Arizona, where he worked on his family’s farm and attended school.
  • From 1914 to 1916, he served a mission to the Central States Mission before returning to Arizona, where he married Camilla Eyring in 1917.
  • After working several years as a bank clerk, he ran a real estate and insurance business. He also served as stake president of the Mount Graham Stake in southern Arizona.
  • President Kimball was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the October 1943 general conference. He served in the Quorum of the Twelve for 30 years until 1973, when President Harold B. Lee died.
  • His 12-year presidency was marked by a rapid growth in membership and temples, the restructuring of the Seventy, new editions of the scriptures and the 1978 revelation on the priesthood.
  • President Kimball died in 1985 at the age of 90.
Related Stories
How the Church has commemorated the Restoration in previous years

What’s in President Kimball’s journals?

After President Kimball’s death, his journals remained with his family until 2008, when the collection was donated to the Church History Library with the request that they be prepared for public release after appropriate review, the blog said.

A page from President Spencer W. Kimball’s journal when he was 11 years old.
A page from President Spencer W. Kimball’s journal when he was 11 years old. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Kimball’s journals — 34 volumes assembled in scrapbook style — span multiple decades and contain a wealth of inspiring stories from his life and Church service, including the following:

  • 1905 journal, when President Kimball was 10 years old.
  • 1914-1915, Central States mission journal.
  • Entries written following his call as Church president in 1973, some of which were written by his personal secretary.
  • Additional materials, such as correspondence and many newspaper clippings. Journal entries made as an adult often went beyond a textual description of daily events; they more closely resemble a scrapbook.

Most of the 34 journals are typed and many pages include underlining, usually in red pencil with brief annotations and margin notes written in his hand. There is a gap in the journals between 1919 and 1930, after which he resumed writing regularly until 1981.

The Church expressed gratitude to the Kimball family for the donation of the journals and to the Church History Library staff for preparing them to be released.

How to access President Kimball’s journals

Digitized images of the journals are accessible in the Church History Catalog without any transcription or interpretation under call number MS 21541.

While the collection is open and accessible to the public, visitors must log in with a free Church account to view the digitized images due to copyrighted material contained in the collection, primarily newspaper clippings.

President Spencer W. Kimball’s journals contain the 1960 visas from his passport.
President Spencer W. Kimball’s journals contain the 1960 visas from his passport. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Other Church history collections

The President Kimball journals are the latest in a series of projects to provide historical materials and collections at the Church History Library. See a list of projects at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Related Stories
Church History Library announces release of dozens of newly digitized records

Other publications produced in recent years include:

Related Story
Church celebrates completion of landmark projects featuring influential women Eliza R. Snow, Emmeline B. Wells
This Latter-day Saint apostle kept a journal for 70 years. Here’s why that matters
‘At the Pulpit,’ comprising LDS women’s speeches over 185 years, now online
New records for the Joseph Smith Papers: A group of researchers, historians and archivists share what they found
Newsletters
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed

See how YSAs have gathered around the world from Cambodia to Africa.

Speaking to more than 100 gathered in the Church History Museum auditorium, Elder Kyle S. McKay, a General Authority Seventy, explored several key historic events of Church history to show a pattern of continued revelation in the restoration of the gospel.

Elder Andersen teaches elementary school students about family, President Lund tells ‘outcast’ young men that the Lord has blessings for them, Sister Wright posts about ‘seeing’ others.

In the Church News video "Nauvoo Exodus," leaders and those in historic Nauvoo, Illinois, remember early Church members as they make the mile-long walk down Parley Street to the Mississippi River.

BYU Women's Conference has announced its 2024 keynote speakers. Young women and their leaders are invited to join a Wednesday evening event.

These new mission presidents and companions have been called to serve by the First Presidency. They will begin their service in July.