Two Additional Volumes of George F. Richards’s Journal Published
SALT LAKE CITY—The Church Historian’s Press today announced the online publication of two additional volumes of the journal of George F. Richards, who served as an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1906 to 1950. Fourteen volumes of a planned twenty-four are now available to the public.
The newly released volumes, dating from November 1909 to August 1911, document Richards’s activities as an apostle and also include many family and personal developments. Within the pages of his journals, Richards frequently documented short summaries of the counsel he gave to fellow Latter-day Saints during speaking engagements. For instance, of a 21 November 1909 meeting, he recorded: “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 & sisters and his heart was broken by their prospects of sorrow and condemnation as a result of wickedness.” His journals also capture his desire to live the gospel more fully: “I assisted a lady off [a train] car and on to tooele train who had a child and a suitcase,” he wrote on 3 January 1910. “Resolved that I would seek oppertunities to do good and show kindness. Gave my seat in car to a lady as I often do when I have oppertunity.”
Health concerns were particularly challenging for Richards and his family during this period. Richards suffered from excessive moisture from his tear ducts. After trying many alternatives, he finally chose surgery to remove some bones from his nose. The 9 December 1909 surgery was largely ineffective, and his recovery was slow and uncomfortable. Ultimately Richards underwent additional surgery on 3 February 1910, which apparently resolved the issue. Later that spring, his wife, Alice, began suffering from nerve pain in her leg (sciatica), which caused her to remain bedridden for weeks. In July, an outbreak of scarlet fever in the Richards family forced them into quarantine. Despite his concern for his family’s health, Richards enjoyed the respite from his busy apostolic work. On 23 July 1910, ten days into quarantine, Richards wrote that “the confinement is no hardship to me. The oppertunity 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 & friends.” The time alone left him ample chance to reflect upon the past poor health of his family and its slow improvement. On the final day of July, he recorded in his diary: “My health is good: never better that I know of. I have a good appetite, eate heartily and experience no discomfort there from. 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 for ever.”
His family’s good health did not last. Despite his full schedule, Richards dedicated himself to nearly daily visits with his mother, Nanny Longstroth Richards. On 7 January 1911, Richards was in a meeting when he was notified that his mother’s already declining health had turned for the worse. “I was excused [from the meeting] and making all haste arrived at Asenath’s 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.” Nanny was nearly eighty-three years old when she died.
Richards’s dedication to keeping his journal makes it a remarkable source for early twentieth-century church history. His 25 November 1909 entry provides one of many examples of this dedication: After a full day of visiting family, traveling via train to his home, and visiting with church leaders, Richards reported that he “went to sleep writing [in] my journal.” Richards’s regular and dedicated journaling allows later generations to better understand the life of this man, his family, and the church he served.
The transcripts of the journal are available at churchhistorianspress.org/george-f-richards.
About the Church Historian’s Press
The Church Historian’s Press was announced in 2008 by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Joseph Smith Papers was the first publication to bear the imprint. The press publishes works of Latter-day Saint history that meet high standards of scholarship. For more information, visit the Church Historian’s Press website.