The Church Historian's Press


This chronology presents selected events from the life of Emmeline B. Wells. The primary sources for this chronology are Wells’s diaries, the biographical entries on this website, period newspapers, Relief Society general board minutes, and Madsen, Intimate History. Additional sources include Derr et al., First Fifty Years; Madsen, Advocate for Women; and Derr et al., Women of Covenant.


Emmeline Blanche Woodward was born in Petersham, Franklin County, Massachusetts, to David and Diadama Hare Woodward. She was their seventh child.

Father dies

Emmeline’s father, David Woodward, was killed in a wagon accident.

Mother remarries

Emmeline’s mother, Diadama, married Samuel Clark Jr. Around this time, the family moved about ten miles to North New Salem, Massachusetts.

Attends academy

Emmeline attended the New Salem Academy, a private boarding school, and earned a qualification to teach.


At the urging of her mother, fourteen-year-old Emmeline was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Takes teaching post

Emmeline passed the district examination and took a teaching post in the nearby town of Orange, Massachusetts.

Marries James Harris

Emmeline B. Woodward married James Harvey Harris in Vernon, Vermont; both were fifteen years old. The marriage was arranged by her mother so that Emmeline could travel with the Harris family to Nauvoo, Illinois.

Departs for Nauvoo

Emmeline departed from Massachusetts for Nauvoo with her husband, James Harris, and his family. They arrived in Buffalo, New York, nine days later.

Meets Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith met arriving steamboat passengers, including the Harris group, at the landing in Nauvoo. In later years, Emmeline repeatedly bore witness of the electrifying experience of first meeting a prophet of God.

Son born

A son, Eugene Henri Harris, was born to Emmeline and James Harris in Nauvoo.

Son dies

Eugene Henri Harris, the infant son of Emmeline and James Harris, died of an illness.

James Harris departs from Nauvoo

James Harris left Emmeline in order to seek work in St. Louis. In the weeks thereafter, he sent letters requesting her to join his parents in La Harpe, Illinois, but she decided to stay with the Saints in Nauvoo. James never returned.

Moves in with Olive Bishop

Emmeline moved in with Olive Bishop, a cousin of Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney. Emmeline soon began teaching the children of Elizabeth Ann and her husband, Newel K. Whitney.

Receives patriarchal blessing

Emmeline received a patriarchal blessing from patriarch John Smith.

Marries Newel K. Whitney

With Brigham Young as officiator, Emmeline B. Woodward Harris married Newel K. Whitney as a plural wife.

Learns James Harris has gone to sea

Emmeline learned that James Harris had gone to sea and would be away for three years. She recorded in her diary her hope for his return.

Mother arrives in Nauvoo

Emmeline’s mother, Diadama H. Woodward Clark, arrived in Nauvoo with three of Emmeline’s siblings.

Sealed to Newel K. Whitney

Newel K. Whitney was sealed in the Nauvoo temple to eight wives, including Emmeline B. Woodward Harris.

Departs from Nauvoo

Emmeline crossed the Mississippi River from Nauvoo into Iowa Territory; she traveled with the Whitney family as part of the Heber C. Kimball company.

Mother departs from Nauvoo

Emmeline’s mother and three of Emmeline’s siblings left Nauvoo with other poor Saints, headed west.

Mother dies

Emmeline’s mother died of an illness and was buried in Iowa Territory; the three children with her joined Emmeline and other families for the remainder of the journey.

Reaches Salt Lake Valley

Emmeline arrived in the Salt Lake Valley with the Heber C. Kimball company.

Daughter Isabel born

A daughter, Isabel (Belle) Modalena Whitney, was born to Emmeline and Newel K. Whitney. The new mother was living at that time in a wagon, parked on the northeast corner of Main Street and South Temple Street.

Daughter Melvina born

A second daughter, Melvina (Mell) Caroline Blanche Whitney, was born to Emmeline and Newel K. Whitney, in the Whitney home on North Temple Street.

Newel K. Whitney dies

Emmeline’s husband, Newel K. Whitney, died unexpectedly at age fifty-five in Salt Lake City. Thereafter, Emmeline moved herself and her two daughters in with Olive Bishop. She also opened a school in the Twelfth Ward.

Writes to Daniel H. Wells

Emmeline wrote Daniel Hanmer Wells, a prominent Latter-day Saint who practiced plural marriage, a letter subtly promoting their compatibility and suggesting marriage.

Marries Daniel H. Wells

Emmeline B. Woodward Harris Whitney (hereinafter EBW) and Daniel H. Wells were married by Brigham Young. She was Daniel’s sixth plural wife. At some point she moved into the Wells home on South Temple Street.

Daughter Emeline born

A daughter, Emeline (also known as Emmeline, Emma, and Emmie) Whitney Wells, was born to EBW and Daniel H. Wells.

Moves into new home

EBW and her daughters moved into a new two-story home at 243 South First East (or State Street).

Temporarily relocates to Provo

With three of Daniel’s other families, EBW and her daughters moved south to Provo, Utah Territory, for a few months to resist invasion by the federal army during the Utah War. She taught school in a tent next to the home where she was living.

Learns of death of James Harris

EBW learned that her first husband, James H. Harris, had died at sea somewhere near Bombay, India.

Daughter Elizabeth Ann born

A daughter, Elizabeth Ann (Annie) Wells, was born to EBW and Daniel H. Wells.

Daniel H. Wells moves into large home

Daniel H. Wells moved his other families into a two-story home on the corner of Main Street and South Temple Street. Thereafter the home was called the “Wells Mansion” or “big house.”

Daughter Louise born

A daughter, Louise (Louie) Martha Wells, was born to EBW and Daniel H. Wells; this was EBW’s last child.

Daughter Melvina marries

EBW’s daughter Melvina Whitney married William Dunford. They eventually had three children. The couple divorced in 1872.

Eliza R. Snow assigned to help revive Relief Societies

Brigham Young appointed Eliza R. Snow to help revitalize the dormant Relief Societies.

Daughter Isabel marries

EBW’s daughter Isabel Whitney married Septimus Wagstaff Sears as a plural wife. They eventually had eight children.

Great Indignation Meeting held

Thousands of Latter-day Saint women met in a “Great Indignation Meeting” in Salt Lake City to protest federal antipolygamy legislation.

Retrenchment movement begins

Mary Isabella Hales Horne, president of the Salt Lake City Fourteenth Ward Relief Society, convened the first retrenchment meeting, in response to Brigham Young’s request that she lead Latter-day Saint women in simplifying meal preparation and apparel.

Utah women granted suffrage

Stephen A. Mann, acting governor of Utah Territory, signed a bill giving women in the territory the right to vote. Women first exercised that right at the next municipal election, held two days later.

Appointed Relief Society assistant secretary

EBW was called as assistant secretary of the Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward Relief Society. She served in that capacity for nearly twenty years.

Prominent women’s suffrage leaders visit

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony lectured in Utah and met with Latter-day Saint women.

First issue of Woman’s Exponent published

The first issue of the Woman’s Exponent appeared under the editorship of Louisa Lula Greene. EBW soon began submitting articles to the newspaper under the pseudonym Blanche Beechwood.

Wasatch Literary Association organized

The Wasatch Literary Association, a group for young single adults with literary interests, was organized in EBW’s parlor.

Daughter Melvina remarries

EBW’s daughter Melvina Whitney Dunford married William (Will) Woods, an attorney and a nephew of Daniel H. Wells. The couple eventually had two children.

Leads visiting teachers’ meeting

EBW first led her ward Relief Society visiting teachers’ meeting.

Helps plan centennial exhibition

Eliza R. Snow asked for EBW’s help planning a women’s exhibition scheduled for July 1876 to celebrate the centennial of the American Revolution.

Becomes associate editor of Woman’s Exponent

First issue of the Woman’s Exponent published that listed EBW as associate editor; EBW also became a regular columnist for the newspaper at this time.

Holds first official Central Grain Committee meeting

EBW, chair of the Central Grain Committee, held its first official meeting. At Brigham Young’s request, EBW had earlier published two editorials encouraging local Relief Societies to begin storing grain.

First stake Relief Society organized

In Weber Stake, Ogden, Utah Territory, Brigham Young organized the first stake-level Relief Society.

Becomes editor of Woman’s Exponent

First issue of the Woman’s Exponent published that listed EBW as editor.

Gathers signatures for petition

As part of a national petition drive, EBW gathered nearly seven thousand signatures in Utah Territory in favor of a women’s suffrage amendment to the United States Constitution.

Appointed to advisory board

EBW was appointed to the advisory board of the National Woman Suffrage Association and began corresponding with national leaders.

Daughter Emeline dies

EBW’s daughter Emeline died of an illness.

Beginnings of Primary

After a Relief Society conference in Farmington, Utah Territory, Eliza R. Snow and EBW met with Aurelia Spencer Rogers. Rogers introduced the idea of an organization for young boys, which Snow took to President John Taylor for approval.

Selected as political delegate

At a meeting of the People’s Party, EBW was selected as one of four women delegates to the county convention. This began her entry into local politics.

Organizes mass meeting

Zina D. H. Young, Mary Isabella Horne, and EBW led a mass meeting in the Salt Lake Theatre to protest the “misrepresentation and falsehood” being circulated as part of a growing antipolygamy movement.

Departs to national convention

EBW and Zina Young Williams departed by train to attend the annual convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association in Washington, DC.

Petitions President Rutherford B. Hayes

Along with two other women, EBW and Zina Williams presented resolutions to President Rutherford B. Hayes, including one supporting women’s suffrage in Utah Territory. EBW and Williams also encouraged the president not to support federal antipolygamy measures.

Daniel H. Wells arrested

EBW’s husband, Daniel H. Wells, was arrested for contempt of court for refusing to testify in a polygamy case and imprisoned for two days. EBW chronicled his triumphal return from prison in the Woman’s Exponent.

Daughter Elizabeth Ann marries

EBW’s daughter Elizabeth Ann Wells married John Q. Cannon. They eventually had twelve children.

Eliza R. Snow becomes general president

In a conference of the Salt Lake Stake Relief Society, Eliza R. Snow was sustained as general president of the Relief Society. EBW was later appointed assistant secretary to general secretary Sarah M. Kimball. EBW traveled to outlying stakes with Snow over the next few years.

Elizabeth Ann Whitney dies

Elizabeth Ann Whitney, a sister-wife to EBW (both had been married to Newel K. Whitney), died in Salt Lake City. She was buried two days later.

Edmunds Act becomes law

The passage of the Edmunds Act denied voting rights to women involved in plural marriage in Utah.

Serves on fifth constitutional committee

EBW served with two other women, Sarah M. Kimball and Elizabeth Howard, on the state constitutional committee.

Deseret Hospital opens

The Deseret Hospital, an institution established by the Relief Society, opened its doors in Salt Lake City. EBW served as secretary to the hospital association. 

Daughters travel east

Daughters Belle and Louie went east to visit Wells, Woodward, and Dickinson family members. Louie sent travelogue-type letters back home.

Daniel H. Wells called as mission president

Daniel H. Wells was named president of the European Mission. His wife Louisa Free Wells later joined him there.

Leaves to visit family back east

EBW departed to visit her family in Massachusetts for the first time since she had left them at age sixteen.

Visits Rose Cleveland

In Washington, DC, EBW met with Rose Cleveland, sister of President Grover Cleveland, in an effort to counter the restrictions the impending Edmunds-Tucker Act would place on Latter-day Saint women.

Tours Latter-day Saint historic sites

On her return trip to Utah, EBW visited Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois.

Meets with President Grover Cleveland

EBW returned to Washington, DC, at the request of President John Taylor and, along with Dr. Ellen Ferguson, met with President Cleveland to present a memorial pleading for the rights of Utah women.

Louisa F. Wells dies

A few months after returning home ill from Europe to Utah, Louisa Free Wells died, the first of Daniel’s wives to die.

John Q. Cannon excommunicated

In a Sunday meeting in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, John Q. Cannon confessed a sin of immorality, later revealed to be an affair between himself and Louie Wells, and was excommunicated from the church.

Louie Wells marries John Q. Cannon

John Q. Cannon divorced Annie Wells Cannon and, on 10 September, the day after the divorce was finalized, married Louisa Wells.

Court issues subpoena

EBW and her daughters were subpoenaed as witnesses in a polygamy case against John Q. Cannon.

Testifies in hearing

EBW, along with other members of the family, testified at a hearing in John Q. Cannon’s case. He was released on bail to await trial.

John Q. Cannon indicted

John Q. Cannon was indicted on the charge of polygamy. EBW and other family members again testified, this time before the grand jury.

Louie Wells Cannon goes into hiding

After John Q.’s indictment, Louisa Wells Cannon decided to go to San Francisco to stay with her sister Belle Whitney Sears.

Edmunds-Tucker Act becomes law

The Edmunds-Tucker Act became law, taking away the vote from all Utah women and permitting the confiscation of church properties.

Louie delivers stillborn child

After suffering from renal failure, which caused swelling in her legs, feet, and abdomen, Louisa Wells Cannon gave birth to a stillborn son.

Arrives in San Francisco

EBW joined the family of Belle Whitney Sears in San Francisco to help care for Louisa Wells Cannon.

Daughter Louisa dies

EBW’s daughter Louisa died of an illness or chronic condition.

Attends Louie’s funeral

John Q. Cannon and EBW accompanied Louie’s body back to Salt Lake City, where her funeral was held 21 May at the Cannon farm.

President Taylor dies

Church president John Taylor died.

Mell Woods argues with Angus M. Cannon

An encounter on the street between daughter Melvina Whitney Woods and stake president Angus M. Cannon over his words at Louie’s funeral stirred contention between the Wells and Cannon families.

Eliza R. Snow dies

Eliza R. Snow, general president of the Relief Society, died.

Contributes to Hymns and Sacred Songs

EBW contributed five hymn or song texts to Hymns and Sacred Songs, Designed for the Use of the Children of the Latter-day Saints, published in 1888.

Appointed to press committee

The National Council of Women, formed at the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Seneca Falls, New York, women’s rights convention, appointed EBW a member of its press committee.

Home sold

Daniel H. Wells, under financial duress, sold EBW’s home in Salt Lake City. She moved into the earlier Wells residence, the old adobe house on South Temple Street, as a combination home and office.

Zina D. H. Young becomes general president

Zina D. H. Young was sustained in general conference as Relief Society general president. She later asked EBW to serve on the central board as corresponding secretary.

John Q. Cannon rebaptized

John Q. Cannon was rebaptized by his father on 6 May. A few days later, he also had his priesthood authority restored.

Annie and John Q. remarry

Daniel H. Wells performed the remarriage of John Q. and Annie in the Endowment House. A civil ceremony followed, conducted by Judge Elias Smith.

Manti temple dedicated

President Wilford Woodruff dedicated the Manti temple in a private ceremony held 17 May 1888 and set apart Daniel H. Wells as temple president on 18 May. EBW and other family members attended the first public dedication on 21 May.

John Q. and Annie move to Ogden

John Q. and Annie Cannon moved to Ogden, where John Q. edited the Ogden Standard.

Serves as proxy in temple sealing

EBW served as proxy in the sealing of her deceased daughter Emeline W. Wells to Orson F. Whitney in the Manti temple.

Mell moves to Idaho

EBW's daughter Melvina Whitney Woods moved with her two daughters to Murray, Idaho, to join her attorney husband, William W. Woods, who had been working there for some months.

National suffragists visit

National suffragist visitors Elizabeth Lyle Saxon and Clara Bewick Colby spoke in the Salt Lake Theatre and the Assembly Hall. They encouraged EBW and her friends to organize a state suffrage association.

Departs to visit Belle

EBW, with granddaughter Louise Cannon, and Zina Smoot Whitney, with daughter Emily, departed Utah to visit Belle’s family in San Francisco.

Utah suffrage association organized

The Utah Territorial Woman Suffrage Association was organized with Margaret Nightingale Caine as president. The executive committee determined that officers could not be women who had lived in plural marriage. That excluded EBW, despite her long involvement in and strong relationship with the national women’s suffrage movement.

Wells home sold

Daniel H. Wells sold the “big house” at the corner of Main Street and South Temple Street.

Attends general Relief Society conference

The first general Relief Society conference was held in the evening at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City. Stake Relief Society presidents reported on their work, and general leaders spoke.

Publishes poem “The Dear Old Garden”

EBW wrote several poems about her life experiences. This one, published in the Woman’s Exponent, described her feelings about the garden she had kept at her home in Salt Lake City.

Publishes first installment of “Hephzibah”

EBW revised and serialized her literary autobiography “Hephzibah,” which began with the story of her New England girlhood and ended in Nauvoo. Chapters were published in the Woman’s Exponent until 15 September 1890.

Publishes poem “Memory of the Sea”

In this poem, published in the Woman’s Exponent, EBW used the metaphor of a sea to explore feelings about grief and love.

Visits daughter Mell

EBW departed to visit her daughter Melvina Whitney Woods in Murray, Idaho. EBW returned about a month later.

First issue of Young Woman’s Journal published

The Young Woman’s Journal was first published, with Susa Young Gates as editor.

NWSA merges with AWSA

The National Woman Suffrage Association merged with the American Woman Suffrage Association, forming the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Despite the AWSA’s resistance to including the Relief Society and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, friendship shown by Susan B. Anthony assured Latter-day Saint women of admittance to the new combined organization.

Manifesto read at general conference

At general conference, Orson F. Whitney read Wilford Woodruff’s Manifesto, which led to the end of plural marriage in the church.

Woman’s Cooperative Mercantile & Manufacturing Institution founded

The Woman’s Cooperative Mercantile & Manufacturing Institution was established as a cooperative store under the leadership of Mary Isabella Hales Horne.

Leaves for Washington, DC, to attend National Council of Women meeting

EBW attended her first National Council of Women meeting in Washington, DC. She helped present credentials from the Relief Society and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association to May Wright Sewall. Despite controversy, the organizations were admitted.

Attends meeting of Woman’s International Press Federation

EBW was included in the Woman’s International Press Federation and was appointed one of seven to prepare a constitution for the new association.

Attends NAWSA executive meeting

EBW and Phebe Young Beatie attended the executive meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Leaves for Boston to visit family

EBW went to Boston to visit her brother Hiram W. Clark and then to the homes of her sisters Pallas Woodward Clark and Cordelia Woodward Holden.

Daniel H. Wells dies

Daniel H. Wells suffered his final illness in Salt Lake City and died shortly after EBW returned from the East.

Begins publishing “In Rural England”

EBW published the first installment of her serialized romance “In Rural England” in the Woman’s Exponent. The fiftieth and final chapter of the story appeared in December 1895.

Organizes literary club

EBW organized the Utah Woman’s Press Club for published writers in late 1891. The following year, she organized a companion organization, the Reapers’ Club, for women who had not yet published their writings. Throughout the decade she supported community groups such as the General Relief Committee, the Committee on Charities, the Utah Kindergarten Association, and the Wasatch Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution.

Woman’s Exponent debt paid

Stake president Angus M. Cannon told EBW the First Presidency had agreed to pay the debt that the Woman’s Exponent owed the Deseret News Press, and he suggested she cease editing the Exponent. He brought the idea up again on 30 March, saying she should let the church support her. She determined to keep the newspaper as her income.

Celebrates Relief Society jubilee

The Relief Society jubilee year was celebrated in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, with a symbol prominently displayed of the key turned by Joseph Smith to women.

Belle and Septimus Sears marry civilly

To meet requirements of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, Septimus Sears divorced his first wife, Mary Ann Needham, and was civilly married to EBW’s daughter Belle (who had married him as a plural wife in 1869). Belle and Septimus had returned to Salt Lake City from San Francisco the prior year.

Attends National Editorial Association convention

EBW, a member of the Pacific Coast and National Woman’s Press Associations, traveled to San Francisco for the National Editorial Association convention.

Hosts friends from convention

Back in Salt Lake City, EBW hosted convention attenders on their return journey east, arranging tours and a special organ recital.

Visits daughter Mell in Idaho

EBW visited her daughter Melvina Whitney Woods, who then lived in Wallace, Idaho.

Daughter Annie returns to Salt Lake City

John Q. and Annie Cannon returned from Ogden to Salt Lake City, living initially in a house on Third East and Sherman Avenue.

Relief Society incorporated

To meet business standards, the Relief Society was officially incorporated as the National Woman’s Relief Society. Efforts to incorporate had gotten underway much earlier but culminated on 10 October. When secretary Sarah M. Kimball was called as third counselor in the presidency, EBW replaced her as general secretary.

Prepares for World’s Fair

As chair of Salt Lake County’s Board of Lady Managers, EBW helped prepare for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She edited a pamphlet for the exposition, Charities and Philanthropies: Women’s Work in Utah; and a poetry book, Songs and Flowers of the Wasatch. She contributed to another volume, World’s Fair Ecclesiastical History of Utah. She also organized Columbian Clubs in Salt Lake County to help prepare exhibits for the Woman’s and Utah Buildings.

Fundraiser held

A grand ball was held in Salt Lake City to raise funds for silk curtains for the Woman’s Building at the Columbian Exposition and a display of silk making.

Moves office

EBW moved her Woman’s Exponent office to the Constitution Building on Main Street.

Construction begins on home

Settlement of Daniel’s will granted EBW $1,000, with which she had a home built on former Wells farm property in the Waterloo area of the city, close to both of her daughters. She moved into the home in December 1893, and Orson F. Whitney dedicated it in February 1894.

Salt Lake Temple dedicated

The Salt Lake Temple was dedicated after forty years of construction.

Federation of women’s clubs organized

The Utah Federation of Women’s Clubs was organized. EBW soon enrolled her two literary clubs in it.

Attends World’s Fair

EBW traveled to Chicago for the Woman’s Congress of the Columbian Exposition, at which she delivered a paper on Utah authors and journalists and the grain-saving mission. She stayed in the Palmer House and met many notable women. She was surprised at being invited to preside over the “General Congress in the Hall of Columbus,” which she noted as “an honor never before accorded to a Mormon woman.”

Receives letters from James Harris

EBW received a packet of letters in the hand of her first husband, James Harris, written to her but kept by his mother, who received them but never revealed to EBW that they existed. These were forwarded to EBW by a cousin after the mother’s death.

Becomes suffrage association president

EBW was named president of the Utah Territorial Woman Suffrage Association.

Supports Midwinter Fair

After the success of the World’s Fair in Chicago, another fair was organized for California and called the 1894 Midwinter Fair. EBW sat on the executive committee in Utah, preparing the expositions and delegates Utah would send.

Honored by National Council of Women

EBW was named a patron of the National Council of Women. During this period she often communicated with Susan B. Anthony and Rachel Foster Avery, who was secretary of the council.

Utah Enabling Act signed

U.S. president Grover Cleveland signed the enabling bill for Utah statehood. EBW received a letter from Susan B. Anthony on 25 July, urging the women of Utah to secure a women’s suffrage platform in the state constitution.

Attends national conventions

EBW attended the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in Atlanta and the National Council of Women meeting in Washington, DC. She was invited to stay overnight at the home of Rachel Foster Avery outside of Philadelphia and with May Wright Sewall in Indianapolis.

Women’s suffrage approved in Utah

As the constitutional convention met anticipating Utah statehood, EBW joined the campaign to include women’s suffrage in the new state constitution. On 18 April the motion passed, and EBW sent a telegram with the historic news to Susan B. Anthony.

Hosts suffrage leaders

EBW hosted Anna Howard Shaw and Susan B. Anthony at the Rocky Mountain convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The two suffrage leaders also spoke in the Assembly Hall and Tabernacle.

Joins Republican Party

EBW declared a political party, choosing to identify with the Republicans. She soon became chairman of the Republican Women’s League and joined her friend Ruth May Fox in organizing women’s Republican clubs throughout the state.

Nominated for Utah House

The Republican Party nominated three women for state office: Lillie R. Pardee for the senate, EBW for the House, and Emma J. McVicker for superintendent of schools.

Withdraws candidacy

Relevant judicial rulings, together with public opinion, put pressure on the three female political candidates to withdraw their names; EBW did so with considerable regret.

Utah achieves statehood

U.S. president Grover Cleveland signed the Utah statehood proclamation.

Inaugural celebration held

Inaugural ceremonies for Governor Heber M. Wells and other officials were held. EBW sat in the governor’s box with Heber’s mother, Martha Wells, for the inaugural ball.

Utah women lauded

The National American Woman Suffrage Association celebrated Utah women’s triumph at their annual meeting in Washington, DC, but EBW could not get the funding to go and instead received a tribute in absentia.

Visits Mell in Idaho

EBW visited daughter Mell Woods in Wallace, Idaho, and worked on a collection of poetry. It was to be published as Musings and Memories.

Loses state senate election

EBW was one of five Republican candidates for five seats in the state senate. All five Democratic candidates were elected, including Martha Hughes Cannon. EBW had the fewest votes of the ten.

Moves from Constitution Building to Templeton Building

EBW moved her office from the Constitution Building to the Templeton Building. Her literary clubs and some of the other organizations she was part of continued to meet in her office on occasion.

Publishes Musings and Memories

EBW received the first bound copies of Musings and Memories. The publication date given in this first edition is listed as 1896, although the book did not appear until the end of 1897.

Wilford Woodruff dies

President Wilford Woodruff died. Lorenzo Snow became church president later that month.

Helps modify resolution directed at B. H. Roberts

Utah’s November 1898 election of Latter-day Saint leader and polygamist B. H. Roberts to the U.S. House of Representatives stirred national controversy and led to criticism of EBW and Latter-day Saint women. At the National Council of Women’s triennial meeting in Washington in February 1899, EBW and Ann M. Cannon helped modify a condemnatory resolution. The final resolution omitted Roberts’s name and simply spoke against someone who was not “law-abiding” serving in a “law-making” body.

Attends International Council of Women conference

The International Council of Women met in London in late June 1899. The Relief Society provided funds for EBW to attend in her role as second corresponding secretary of the National Council of Women. Sixteen Latter-day Saint women attended in all. EBW participated in discussions and explained Relief Society social work. 

Attends final social of ICW conference

As a culminating social event, the attendees of the International Council of Women conference received a drive-by wave from Queen Victoria and refreshments at Windsor Castle. EBW and twelve of her Latter-day Saint traveling companions were there.

Tours England and Paris

After the ICW conference, EBW toured England and visited Paris and Glasgow. She also met with church members and visited Latter-day Saint branches to support Relief Society and missionary work.

Visits daughter Mell in Idaho

EBW visited Idaho for the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary of Mell and William Woods.

Attends convention of Daughters of the Revolution

As chaplain of the Salt Lake City chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution, EBW attended the society’s annual convention in New York City.

Begins writing history of suffrage in Utah

EBW began research on a history of suffrage in Utah. Her history was published in 1902 as chapter 66 in Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4.

Attends National Council of Women meetings

EBW and Elizabeth Claridge McCune attended meetings of the National Council of Women in Minneapolis. EBW read a paper and participated in business meetings.

Attends presidential inauguration

EBW and Susa Young Gates attended the second presidential inauguration of William McKinley on 4 March 1901. EBW traveled to Washington, DC, in late February. A major highlight of the trip for her was carrying a personal message from her son-in-law John Q. Cannon to Vice President Theodore Roosevelt on 9 March; the two men knew each other from the U.S. Army’s campaign in Cuba in 1898.

George Q. Cannon dies

George Q. Cannon died in Monterey, California.

May Wright Sewall visits Utah

May Wright Sewall, president of the International Council of Women, visited Utah. EBW arranged lectures and socials and enjoyed private conversation with Sewall.

Lorenzo Snow announces support for a women’s building

President Lorenzo Snow announced that he would set aside land near the temple for a women’s building if sufficient funds were raised. In the following months, the project was delayed for financial reasons.

Zina D. H. Young dies

Zina D. H. Young, Relief Society general president, died.

Bathsheba W. Smith becomes general president

Bathsheba W. Smith was sustained as Relief Society general president. EBW was named general secretary.

Attends National American Woman Suffrage Association convention

EBW and others attended the NAWSA convention in Washington, DC. 

Presents at National Council of Women session

At an evening session of the National Council of Women meeting, EBW presented a paper, “The Age We Live In.”

Meets with U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt

EBW met with President Theodore Roosevelt in a private interview.

Relief Society publishes handbook

Under President Bathsheba Smith, the Relief Society issued its first official handbook in a ninety-seven-page booklet.

Moves office

EBW moved her office from room 507 to room 509 of the Templeton Building.

Son-in-law dies

EBW’s son-in-law Septimus W. Sears died at age fifty-nine.

Sister Pallas dies

EBW’s sister Pallas Woodward Clark died.

Unable to attend International Council of Women conference

For lack of funding, EBW missed attending the ICW meetings in Berlin. Instead, Alice Merrill Horne, Lydia D. Alder, Emily Tanner Richards, and Ida Smoot Dusenberry represented Latter-day Saint women, supported by their own funds.

Grandson-in-law Barry dies

Barrymore N. Hillard, husband of EBW’s granddaughter Verona, died.

Last grandchild born

Annie Wells Cannon’s last child (and EBW’s last grandchild), Theodore Lincoln Cannon, was born. The Cannons had stayed with EBW between May and September before moving into a new house on the Cannon farm.

Elmina S. Taylor dies

Elmina Shepard Taylor, first general president of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, died.

Departs to visit family in Idaho

EBW traveled north to spend Christmas with her daughter Melvina Whitney Woods and her family in Idaho. She arrived back in Salt Lake City on 29 December.

Has portrait painted

At the behest of Emily Richards, artist Lee Greene Richards painted a portrait of EBW. The three-quarter-length profile view later became her presidential portrait.

Susan B. Anthony dies

At the death of Susan B. Anthony, EBW was bequeathed a gold ring with the note “In recognition of her esteem and love for Mrs. Emmeline B. Wells, Miss Anthony sent one of her gold rings on the day of her death to Mrs. Wells in Utah. The bond between these two women was very strong and the friendship had continued for nearly thirty years.” 

Memorial service held for Susan B. Anthony

A memorial service for Susan B. Anthony was held in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City.

Relief Society general board learns plans for Bishop’s Building

The Relief Society general board discovered that the new building opposite the temple would not be the hoped-for women’s building but instead would provide offices for male and female church leaders and would be called the Bishop’s Building. The First Presidency asked for a $5,000 contribution from the women’s building fund and, in exchange, would house the women’s organizations rent free.

Great-granddaughter Marian Buchholz dies

EBW’s great-granddaughter Marian Buchholz died at age nine of “heart failure, while suffering from quinsy and tonsilitis.”

Salary increases

The general presidency and board raised EBW’s salary from $10 to $25 a month in appreciation of her work as general secretary of the Relief Society.

Portrait praised

In a March 1908 article in the newspaper titled Truth, Harry Culmer commended the portrait Lee Greene Richards had painted of EBW. According to EBW’s diary entry of 30 March, Culmer wrote “that the picture was an adorable painting of an adorable woman.”

Democrats nominate son-in-law for U.S. Senate

EBW learned that her son-in-law William W. Woods had been nominated by the Democratic Party as candidate for the U.S. Senate from Idaho.

Supports Republican candidates

EBW backed Republican candidates in the fall election of 1908 and organized women to distribute campaign literature out of her office.

Grandson departs on mission

EBW’s grandson Daniel H. Cannon left on a church mission to the Netherlands.

Not selected as delegate to International Council of Women meeting

EBW hoped to attend the International Council of Women meeting in Toronto, Canada, in summer 1909. But she noted her disappointment in her diary this day at not being selected as the Relief Society delegate. Instead, Emily Richards represented the Relief Society. 

Turns down offer to attend National Council of Women meeting

EBW noted this day that she had turned down the offer to represent the Relief Society at the triennial meeting of the National Council of Women in Seattle.

Hosts delegates from International Council of Women conference

Delegates returning to California from ICW meetings in Toronto stopped in Salt Lake City for events EBW arranged. Corinne T. Allen, a nonmember who opposed plural marriage, boycotted a luncheon at Saltair because church president Joseph F. Smith had been invited.

Lydia Ann Alley Wells dies

EBW’s sister-wife and dear friend Lydia Ann Alley Wells died. 

Leaves to visit daughter Mell in Idaho

EBW visited Melvina and William Woods in their summer home on the lake at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Granddaughter Katharine Cannon accompanied her. 

Moves office into the Bishop’s Building

EBW moved her office into the new Bishop’s Building, which provided space for the Relief Society presidency and board, among other organizations.

Bishop’s Building dedicated

The Bishop’s Building, located on Main Street between North Temple Street and South Temple Street, was dedicated.

Bathsheba W. Smith dies

Relief Society general president Bathsheba W. Smith died. Her funeral was the first for a woman held in the tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Appointed Relief Society general president

EBW was told by Anthon H. Lund, counselor to President Joseph F. Smith, that President Smith had selected her as the next Relief Society general president. The next day, in a meeting with the prior Relief Society general board, President Lund announced EBW’s appointment, with Clarissa Smith Williams and Julina Lambson Smith as counselors. Their names were presented at general conference on 6 October. EBW later selected Olive Derbidge Christensen as secretary, Amy Brown Lyman as assistant secretary, and Emma Empey as treasurer.

Nauvoo Relief Society minutes pass to Church Historian’s Office

The original Nauvoo Relief Society minutes, which formerly had been in the possession of Relief Society general president Bathsheba W. Smith, were transferred to the Church Historian’s Office. EBW evidently continued to refer to her own handwritten copy of the minutes. 

Relief Society becomes involved in “rescue work”

EBW attended a meeting with the Young Ladies’ general board in which the board asked for the Relief Society’s assistance in “rescue work” for young women.

Creates committee for temple clothing

EBW reported to her board that the First Presidency had asked the Relief Society to take over the making and supplying of temple clothing. EBW created a committee for the assignment, with Julina L. Smith as chair. 

Committee formed for employment bureau expansion

The Relief Society general board formed a committee to explore the idea of supporting a woman’s employment bureau. The bureau began under Bathsheba Smith’s presidency and was originally part of the Women’s Co-op. EBW wanted to link the bureau with making a home available for working women and girls.

Celebrates eighty-fourth birthday

EBW’s eighty-fourth birthday commemoration included her being awarded an honorary doctor of literature degree by Brigham Young University, the first woman so honored by that institution. She was also feted in verses from the Whitney and Wells families. 

General board raises membership dues

The Relief Society general board proposed raising dues from ten cents to twenty-five cents for each woman. The motion officially carried on 5 April 1913 in a special meeting of Relief Society leadership.

May Wright Sewall visits Salt Lake City

May Wright Sewall visited Salt Lake City to reinvigorate interest in the National Council of Women. She met with President Joseph F. Smith along with EBW and Susa Young Gates. 

Seeks approval for nursing course

As general president, EBW supported revitalizing training for nurses. On 25 July 1913, EBW and her board drafted a letter to the First Presidency asking for their approval for the Relief Society to begin a new nursing course taught by Dr. Margaret C. Roberts.

Unveils Seagull Monument

Sculptor Mahonri M. Young granted EBW the privilege of unveiling the new Seagull Monument on Temple Square. She compared the eagle, a bird with important symbolic meaning in the United States, to the Utah seagull. 

Attends NCW meeting in New York City

EBW attended the New York executive meeting of the National Council of Women. She nominated Clarissa S. Williams as one of the national delegates to the International Council of Women meeting in Rome in 1914. EBW later asked Susa Young Gates to accompany Williams and gave them Relief Society funds to cover their trips. 

Announces end of Woman’s Exponent

Although EBW had wanted the Relief Society to take over management of the Woman’s Exponent, leaving her as editor, that proposition was not accepted. In a general board meeting this day, EBW declared she would discontinue the Exponent with the February issue.

Relief Society Magazine announced

The Relief Society board voted to publish a monthly magazine to be known as the Relief Society Magazine, with Susa Young Gates as editor. It would be issued beginning in 1915. 

Albert E. Wells visits

Albert Wells, son of Daniel Wells by his first wife, visited the Wells clan in Salt Lake City. 

New edition of Musings and Memories published

A second and revised edition of Musings and Memories, EBW’s poetry volume, was published. The Utah Woman’s Press Club paid the cost of publication. 

Countess of Aberdeen attends lectures in Utah

EBW introduced the Countess of Aberdeen at two of her public lectures in Salt Lake City. The Countess paid tribute to “Aunt Em” as “the Queen of Utah.” 

Moves to Hotel Utah

EBW gave up her home to her grandson George Q. Cannon and his family. Plagued by diminishing eyesight and difficulty with walking, she moved to room 834 of the Hotel Utah. 

Relief Society begins temple fundraiser

EBW agreed that, in the tradition of Nauvoo, Relief Society women be invited to raise money to support the building of the Hawaiian and Canadian temples. To the surprise of the First Presidency, over $12,000 was turned in by 1 October 1917. 

Visits daughter Mell in Idaho

EBW visited Melvina Whitney Woods for the final time in Coeur d’Alene with granddaughter Katherine Cannon as her companion. 

Relief Society emblem and motto adopted

The Relief Society board adopted as its emblem a sheaf of wheat surrounding the initials “RS” to accompany its motto, “Charity Never Faileth.” 

Falls into elevator shaft

EBW fell into an elevator shaft at the Bishop’s Building. She managed to catch a cable, and her daughter Belle Sears held her until help arrived. 

Relief Society grain sold to U.S. government

After the women had stored grain for charitable purposes for more than forty years, war needs brought an urgent request from the U.S. government to purchase Relief Society wheat. The Presiding Bishopric responded without consulting the Relief Society general presidency. Bishop Charles W. Nibley soon apologized for his presumption.

Hit by streetcar

EBW was hit by a streetcar while crossing the street to the Hotel Utah. Her daughters Belle and Annie stayed with her to aid in her recovery.

President Joseph F. Smith dies

Church president Joseph F. Smith died. Heber J. Grant became the new president of the church. 

President Woodrow Wilson visits Utah

President Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Edith Bolling Wilson, visited EBW in her room in the Hotel Utah to thank her for the generous sale of wheat to the government. 

NAWSA holds final meeting

The National American Woman Suffrage Association held their last meeting in Chicago and presented gold pins in absentia to EBW and Emily Richards. 

Nineteenth Amendment ratified

The Nineteenth Amendment, granting suffrage to American women, was ratified. EBW was honored at the Utah celebration later that month on the steps of the state capitol.

Son-in-law William W. Woods dies

William Woods, husband of EBW’s daughter Melvina, died at age seventy-nine. 

Celebrates ninety-third birthday

The general board held a celebration in the Hotel Utah in honor of EBW’s birthday. 

Attends final general board meeting

EBW presided over her last Relief Society general board meeting.

Moves from Hotel Utah

EBW moved from the Hotel Utah to the home of her daughter Annie Wells Cannon at the Cannon farm.

Released as Relief Society general president

President Heber J. Grant released EBW and the other members of the Relief Society general presidency and board during the general Relief Society conference. Clarissa S. Williams was sustained as the new general president.


Emmeline Blanche Woodward Harris Whitney Wells died in the home of her daughter Elizabeth Ann Wells.

Funeral held

Funeral services for EBW were held in the tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Bust unveiled at Utah capitol

A bust of EBW was unveiled in the Utah State Capitol rotunda on her hundredth birthday. It was sculpted by Cyrus Dallin and funded by women’s groups in the state in honor of “A fine soul who served us.”