Teachings of Presidents
Historical Summary

“Historical Summary,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2011), x–xiv

“Historical Summary,” Teachings: Wilford Woodruff, x–xiv

Historical Summary

This book is not a history; rather, it is a compilation of gospel principles as taught by President Wilford Woodruff. The following chronology provides a brief historical framework for these teachings. It omits many significant events in secular history. It also omits many important events in President Woodruff’s personal life, such as his marriages and the births and deaths of his children.

1807, March 1

Wilford Woodruff is born in Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut, to Beulah Thompson Woodruff and Aphek Woodruff.

1808, June 11

His mother dies at age 26.

1810, November 9

His father marries Azubah Hart.


Begins work as a miller.


Moves with his brother Azmon and Azmon’s wife to Richland, Oswego County, New York, where they purchase a farm.

1833, December 29

Hears the restored gospel for the first time at a meeting conducted by two Latter-day Saint missionaries, Elders Zera Pulsipher and Elijah Cheney.

1833, December 31

Baptized and confirmed by Zera Pulsipher.

1834, January 2

Ordained a teacher by Zera Pulsipher.

1834, April

Goes to Kirtland, Ohio, where he meets the Prophet Joseph Smith.

1834, May to June

Travels with Zion’s Camp to the state of Missouri. Stays in Clay County, Missouri, to help the Saints there.

1834, November 5

Ordained a priest by Simeon Carter in Clay County, Missouri.

1835, January 13

Leaves Missouri for his first full-time mission, preaching the gospel in Arkansas and Tennessee.

1835, June 28

Ordained an elder by Warren Parrish near Memphis, Tennessee.

1836, April 19

Called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

1836, May 31

Ordained a Seventy by David Patten.

1837, January 3

Called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

1837, May 31

Leaves Kirtland, Ohio, to serve a mission in the Fox Islands, off the coast of the state of Maine.

1838, July 8

Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 118).

1839, April 26

Ordained an Apostle by Brigham Young at the temple site in Far West, Missouri.

1839, August 8

Leaves for a mission in England.

1840 to 1841

Serves as a missionary in England. Helps lead about 2,000 people to baptism and confirmation. Helps secure the copyright to the Book of Mormon in London.

1841, October 6

Returns to his family and other Saints in Nauvoo.

1841, November 21

Witnesses the first baptisms for the dead that were performed in the baptistry of the Nauvoo Temple.

1843, July to November

Serves a mission in the eastern United States, seeking funds to help complete the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.

1844, May to August

Serves another mission in the eastern United States.

1844, July 9

Learns of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, which occurred on June 27.

1844, August 6

Returns to Nauvoo with other members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

1844, August 8

Attends a conference in which the Latter-day Saints sustain President Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the leaders of the Church.

1844, August 12

Accepts a call to preside over the European Mission.

1846, April to May

Returns to Nauvoo and later joins the Saints in their exodus west.

1847, April 7

Leaves Winter Quarters with the first company of pioneers bound for the Salt Lake Valley.

1847, July 24

Arrives in the Great Salt Lake Valley.

1847 to 1850

Fulfills several assignments to help the Saints migrate to Salt Lake City from Winter Quarters and the eastern United States.

1856 to 1883

Serves as Assistant Church Historian.

1877, January 1 to 1884, June 26

Serves as the first president of the St. George Utah Temple.

1877, August 29

Learns of the death of President Brigham Young and leaves St. George for Salt Lake City.

1880, October 10

Sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the same general conference in which John Taylor is sustained as President of the Church.


The United States Congress passes the Edmunds Act, making plural marriage a felony and prohibiting polygamists from voting, holding public office, or performing jury duty.

1883 to 1889

Serves as Church Historian.

1887, February 19

The United States Congress passes the Edmunds-Tucker Act, another antipolygamy law, allowing the federal government to confiscate much of the Church’s real estate. The act becomes law on March 3, 1887.

1887, July 25

Becomes the senior Apostle and the presiding leader of the Church at the death of President John Taylor.

1888, May 17

Dedicates the Manti Utah Temple.

1889, April 7

Sustained as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

1890, September 24

Having received a revelation from the Lord, issues a declaration stating that the Latter-day Saints should cease the practice of entering into plural marriage.

1890, October 6

Members of the Church attending general conference unanimously sustain the revelation President Woodruff received regarding plural marriage.

1893, April 6

Dedicates the Salt Lake Temple.

1894, November 13

Oversees the establishment of the Genealogical Society of Utah.

1897, March 1

Attends the celebration of his 90th birthday.

1898, September 2

Dies in San Francisco, California, after a brief illness.