Like family history records, Church history records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were once found mostly in large libraries and were difficult to locate. But also like family history records, the internet has made accessing these important records simple for all Church members.
Several valuable Church history records are available online, but among the most interesting are the personal journals of Church members who lived many years ago. Here are five notable Church history journals that anyone with the internet can read online for free.
1. George Q. Cannon
Brigham Young was, without question, the best-known member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of his time. But almost as well-known at the end of the 19th century was George Q. Cannon, an apostle of the Church and counselor to four Church presidents.
Cannon kept several journals during his years of active Church service. And as of this April, all of those journals are available publicly online. Read his journals, see his photos and watch videos about the compilation project here.
2. Joseph Smith, Jr.
As part of the much larger Joseph Smith Papers Project, several of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s journals are available online at josephsmithpapers.org. Journals from 1832–39 and 1841–43 are available now, with journals detailing almost every day of his life from April 1843 to his murder in June 1844 are coming soon.
3. Hyrum Smith
Hyrum Smith’s missionary journal — which had a cover hand decorated by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith — is available to view online though the BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections. His is the earliest missionary diary in the collection and dates back to 1832, before the area he served in (Ohio) had an official mission name. The journal contains an account of his missionary labors from 1832 to 1833.
4. Inez Knight Allen
Inez Knight Allen was another notable missionary for the Church and is often recognized as the Church’s first official sister missionary. She served her mission in England. Her journal is available online digitally through the BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections. The diary was kept rom 1898 to 1899 while she served as a missionary before her marriage.
5. Emmeline B. Wells
A journal belonging to Emmeline B. Wells, who later became the fifth Relief Society general president, is available (along with several other pioneer journals) as part of the “Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846–1869” collection available on the BYU Harold B. Lee Library website. Her journal contains an account of her journey from Nauvoo to Iowa, her departure from Massachusetts to Nauvoo, and some genealogy. In her journal, Emmeline gives a detailed account of her everyday life, relationships with other Church members, and the apparent desertion of her husband.