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Latter-day Saint History

Wilford Woodruff and the Development of Temple Doctrine

The development of temple doctrine can be more effectively traced through Wilford Woodruff’s life than through any other’s.

Wilford Woodruff was witness to temple-related events throughout the nineteenth century. He participated in ordinances in the Kirtland Temple and was among the first to experience the endowment in the Red Brick Store with Joseph Smith. He also dedicated the Salt Lake Temple and kept records that provide a glimpse into the development of temples in the Church. In this interview, Jennifer Mackley discusses some of Wilford Woodruff’s experiences with Latter-day Saint temples.


Learn more about Wilford Woodruff and temples in Jennifer Mackley’s book. This is an Amazon Affiliate link. I earn from qualifying purchases.


Table of Contents


What drew Jennifer Mackley to researching Wilford Woodruff?

My mother shared the story of Wilford Woodruff’s vision of the Founding Fathers in the St. George Temple and told me about the list of Eminent Men and Women he made in order to start their proxy work. I felt compelled to find out more about Wilford Woodruff’s experience.

My curiosity led to the reading of his journals, discourses, and available letters as well as available contemporaneous sources in Church history.


How did he contribute to temple work?

He recorded the process, by day, month, year, decade over the course of 65 years. The development of temple doctrine in the nineteenth century can be more effectively traced through Wilford Woodruff’s life than through any other’s. Wilford Woodruff was not only a witness to, but a catalyst in implementing temple ordinances and practices.

Wilford’s experiences in Kirtland and Nauvoo prepared him to receive additional revelation regarding temple worship. He continued the pattern of seeking revelation, clarifying the rites, and effecting changes based on personal experience and new revelations.

He said their minds were opened.

He remained focused on temple work after Joseph Smith’s death, when Brigham Young was distracted (rightly so) by other pressing issues. He remained focused on temple work in the 30-year interim between the Nauvoo Temple and the St. George Temple, not only by participating in and administering proxy baptism, endowment, and sealing ordinances in the Endowment House, but by doing the difficult research required to compile 3,000 of his own relatives so he was ready when proxy ordinations and proxy endowments were first allowed.

The period of time Wilford spent presiding over the St. George Temple from 1877 to 1884 provided an especially focused opportunity. As he and Brigham Young administered all ordinances for the living and dead for the first time in this dispensation, he said their minds were opened and many things were revealed. Under the leadership of John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, the practices implemented and codified in the St. George Temple were replicated in the temples subsequently completed in Logan, Manti, and Salt Lake City.

Finally, as prophet, Wilford received a revelation in 1894 regarding generational family sealings, which made the fulfillment of Elijah’s mission possible.

Listen to Wilford Woodruff’s testimony about Joseph Smith’s last charge to the Apostles in his own voice.

How did early leaders help the Saints understand adoption sealings?

Those who accepted baptism into the restored Church of Jesus Christ understood that baptism by water was for the remission of sins so they could be reborn as children of God. Baptism by the Spirit was primarily for the receipt of the Holy Ghost and secondarily for admission into the Church and kingdom of God. Baptism corrected for the lack of birthright in the kingdom of God, “the defect of having no natural and legitimate claim of heirship.”

Two years later everything changed.

The first written references to adoption into the kingdom of God by baptism were made by Parley P. Pratt in his 1837 publication A Voice of Warning. Parley gave the example of Christ’s Apostles who were expected to “unlock the door of the kingdom, and to adopt strangers and foreigners into it as legal citizens, by admin-istering certain laws and ordinances.” He also indicated that converts will be gathered out and “adopted into the family of Israel . . . and be partakers of the same covenant of promise.” Joseph Smith explained—as Paul had written in his epistles to the early Saints—that only through baptism can we “legally call God our Father, and approach him with the confidence of sons and children of the highest.”

That is why in his September 6, 1842 letter to the Church, Joseph Smith taught that the living would be connected or sealed to their ancestral fathers by baptizing them by proxy, thus adopting them into the family and kingdom of God. With reference to Elijah’s mission, Joseph reminded the Saints that the earth would be smitten unless there is a welding link of some kind between the fathers and the children:

For it is necessary . . . that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place . . . from the days of Adam even to the present time.

Joseph Smith

At that time, proxy baptims was the answer to the question, “What is the welding link?” Two years later everything changed.

In 1844, after teaching the doctrine of sealing and administering the sealing ordinances to couples (both living and proxy sealings), Joseph Smith alluded to, but did not live long enough to explain or administer, was what became known as “priesthood adoption.”

In Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord explained that those who obtained the priesthood would become the sons of Moses and part of a patriarchal priesthood chain from Moses through Abraham back to Adam. If they were true to the oath and covenant of the priesthood, they would have the ability to claim the same blessings promised to the children of Israel as the seed of Abraham.

In August 1843, Joseph taught of the relationship of the sealing powers to the “doctrine of election with the seed of Abraham.” In one discourse Joseph said the sealing of fathers and children would be “according to the declarations of the prophets.” In a second discourse he explained that the priesthood was directly from God, “not by descent from father or mother.”

The Saints thus needed to seal the patriarchal chain of priesthood back to Adam—who received the priesthood directly from God. Joseph promised the Saints that when they finished the temple they would “receive more knowledge” concerning the patriarchal priesthood.

Being sealed, through marriage or by adoption, to a worthy man ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood was vital to the Saints’ eternal membership in the kingdom of God. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime the only sealings into priesthood lineage were of women. Men were not adopted into the priesthood lineage of other men until the Nauvoo Temple was completed in December 1845.

At that time, Brigham explained that if the priesthood had been retained through every generation, the law of adoption would not have been necessary—all would have been included in the covenant without it.

Wilford’s journal entry recording Brigham’s instructions sheds additional light on the practice:

President Young said the priesthood had been on the earth at different times. When the Priesthood had not been on earth, men will have to be sealed to each other until we go on to Father Adam. Men will have to be sealed to men so as to link the chain from beginning to end and all children [born before their parents received their endowments] will have to be sealed to their parents. . . . But this must be in a temple and nowhere else.

Wilford Woodruff

Later, Wilford Wilford explained to the Saints that Joseph Smith came through the loins of ancient Joseph and, as his literal descendant, was heir to the priesthood keys by birthright. When Joseph Smith was adopted into the priesthood line, by virtue of his ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James and John, he bridged the gap created between the dispensations when apostasy occurred and the priesthood was taken from the earth.

Some of those adopted as “sons” expected special treatment.

Logically it followed then that, just as one must be adopted into the House of Israel through baptism in order to become an heir to Abraham’s blessings, one must be adopted to Joseph as head of this dispensation to inherit the blessings of the fulness of the priesthood.

The thinking at the time was that after being sealed to their fathers within the Church the Saints would then seal their forefather to Joseph Smith by adoption. Doing so would reconnect their families on earth to the eternal priesthood chain, through Joseph’s “priesthood fathers,” back to Adam.

In practice, the integration of priesthood lineage in-to the sealing rituals meant that, in addition to the sealing of husbands to wives and children to parents, a priesthood link had to be established through a separate sealing ordinance. On January 7, 1846, Brigham Young dedicated the altar around which those being sealed could kneel. On January 11, he administered the first child-to-parent sealings and the first priesthood adoptions of men.

Priesthood adoptions and the sealing of children to parents were not performed again for thirty-one years because Brigham Young explained that those were the higher ordinances that could only be performed in temples (not the Endowment House or other “temporary” locations where ordinances were performed between 1846 and 1877).


What complications arose with adoption sealings?

Once the Saints left Nauvoo, there were no formal adoptions, but the idea of “adoption” into the family of a righteous priesthood leader was applied to facilitate the exodus from Nauvoo and the organization of “Captains of 50” and “Captains of 100.”

Rather than official adoptions, the apostles gathered their “adopted families” together and after they explained the rules they would agree to as members of the family, they raised their hands and covenanted to keep those rules and sustain each other. This informal application of adoption, in conflict with the formal adoptions, sometimes led to jealousy, competition, and division. Some of those adopted as “sons” expected special treatment from their “fathers,” such as advancement within Church leadership or financial assistance.

Adoption raised significant questions about the organization of eternal families. Instead of a direct line from one generation to the next, it created convoluted links within biological families and connections to individuals outside one’s family. These connections were complicated further when those chosen for their worthiness subsequently left the Church or did not live up to their responsibilities. New adoptions, to reconnect through the priesthood lines of others, led to more confusion.

That will be their fault, not mine.

In a few cases, the status given to those sought after as family leaders led to the idea that the larger one’s adoptive family became, the greater one’s heavenly glory would be. Initially any individual could propose an adoption as the father or the child. However, due to the desires of some to “build kingdoms,” the instruction was changed so that only the adult seeking the adoption could request it; a man could not ask others to be adopted to him.

Brigham’s 1853 discourse on the right of heirship in the priesthood chastised men who sought a second wife when they were not honoring their first wife. “If you cannot keep the jewel you already possess,” he told them, “be cautious how you take more, lest you lose them both.”

He further explained that, although it is natural for men to “be miserly with regard to their religious blessings,” they must not make the sacred ordinances a matter of speculation “to administer to their avaricious dispositions.”

Specifically, he told them not to ask to marry young girls, and never tell a woman, “You must be sealed to me or you cannot be exalted.”

Adoption also conflicted with the “eternal birthright” of children when a widow was sealed/adopted to another man who was not the father of her children.


How did Wilford Woodruff’s 1894 revelation change sealing practices in the Church?

The revelation on the law of adoption led to a complete restructuring of the sealing ordinances. Rather than adoption into the priesthood lineage of Church leaders, in the April 1894 General Conference Wilford told the Saints to seal children to parents, and parents to grandparents. “Then,” he explained, “you will do exactly what God said when He declared He would send Elijah the prophet in the last days.”

With this pronouncement, Wilford expanded and extended the scope of temple ordinance work and changed the sealing practices that had been taught in the Church since the Nauvoo period.

For the fifty years preceding Wilford’s 1894 revelation, there had been three types of sealing ordinances: the sealing of couples, the sealing of children to their parents, and sealings into another man’s priesthood lineage, or adoptions. By 1893 approximately 16,000 proxy sealings had been performed and over 13,000 proxy adoptions. Those sealed were usually children and infants who had died, while those who were adopted were usually the siblings, parents, and other relatives of the Saints that had not become members of the Church. Proxy adoptions to Church leaders decreased as the number of endowed and sealed Church members increased.

More to be revealed

In his April 1894 Conference address, Wilford told the Saints that, although they had been acting according to all the light and knowledge they had:

I have not felt satisfied, neither did President Taylor, neither has any man since the Prophet Joseph who has attended to the ordinance of adoption in the temples of our God. We have felt that there was more to be revealed upon the subject than we had received.

Wilford Woodruff

The revelation he had received outlined the changes that must be made “in order to satisfy our Heavenly Father, satisfy our dead and ourselves.” He then announced that it was the will of the Lord for the Saints “from this time to trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed to their fathers and mothers.”

Connecting generations

He also said that the Saints should have children sealed to their parents, and “run this chain through as far as you can get it.” This meant they would be connecting the generations by strengthening natural ties instead of creating convoluted links.

Most Latter-day Saints think that is the way it has always been, because it seems like the natural way to connect families, but understanding how difficult that was in the 1840s when very few members of the Church had parents or grandparents in the Church, or in the 1850s to 1870s before they were able to do proxy baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, and endowments for deceased family members in order to be sealed to them.

The idea that temple work could be done for every person, regardless of their attitude toward the Church during their lifetimes or their “worthiness” was also a new perspective. Wilford Woodruff included special instructions to the women of the Church whose husbands had died without hearing the gospel.

In the past, widows had been told they could not be sealed. His advice:

What do any of us know with regard to him? Will he not hear the gospel and embrace it in the spirit worlds?”

Wilford Woodruff

He wanted the Saints to understand it was not the responsibility of the living to judge, but to do their part in offering the choice by performing the saving ordinances by proxy for every member of the human family regardless of their perceived worthiness.

To those who asked, “What if these people do not receive the Gospel?” he answered:

That will be their fault, not mine. This is a duty that rests upon all Israel, that they shall attend to this work, as far as they have the opportunity here on the earth.

Wilford Woodruff

This, in Wilford’s view, was what was required of the Saints. The knowledge that all of the temple ordinances would eventually be performed for all God’s children changed the Saints’ perspective on the perceived need to be sealed to one of the leaders of the Church instead of their own fathers and mothers. Wilford assured them that, “There will be very few, if any, who will not accept the Gospel.”

Practice vs. doctrine

He also emphasized that this change in practice was not a new doctrine, but actually based on what had been revealed to Joseph Smith regarding the mission of Elijah. He referred to Joseph’s 1842 letter to the Saints when Joseph first said there must be a welding link between the fathers and the children. He said he was sealed to his father and:

should have had my father sealed to his father, and so on … That is the will of God to this people. … then you will do exactly what God said when he declared he would send Elijah the prophet in the last days. . . . then we will make one step in advance of what we have had before.

Joseph Smith

Where did the Saints perform temple ordinances when there were no functioning temples?

Sealings were performed for a limited number of couples as the Saints journeyed west. For example, some men called to join the Mormon Battalion were sealed to their wives before they left the main body of the Saints. Brigham Young also sealed others in Winter Quarters, including Wilford to three plural wives.

Baptisms for health and healing were occasionally performed between 1846 and 1847. However, the only baptism for the dead recorded during the exodus was performed by Wilford on April 4, 1848, in the Missouri River. Although a font was constructed on the Temple Block in 1856 and was sporadically used, baptisms for the dead did not begin again, in earnest, until 1867.

In other words, changes would continue.

The first post-Nauvoo endowment was not administered until October 21, 1849. Brigham Young dedicated the top of Ensign Peak in order to administer the endowment to Addison Pratt who had been called to serve a mission but had not yet received his endowment. In the early 1850s, Brigham authorized several temporary locations for the administration of temple ordinances to the living, including his office and the Territorial Council House.

Washings, anointings, and endowments for the living, as well as marriage sealings were performed in the Council House. The first endowment ceremonies began there in February 1851. Between 1851 and 1855, 2,222 members of the Church were endowed in the Council House.

The Endowment House, a temporary temple, was dedicated in May 1855. The primary ordinances performed in the Endowment House between 1855 and 1889 included proxy marriage sealings and sealings of living couples; washings, anointings, endowments and second anointings for the living.


What temple ordinances were limited to proper temples?

Brigham Young taught,:

There are many of the ordinances of the house of God . . . that will not be received, and ordinances that will not be performed according to the law that the Lord has revealed, without their being done in a temple prepared for that purpose.

Brigham Young

These other ordinances included proxy endowments, the sealing of children to parents, and priesthood adoptions. This was consistent with Joseph Smith’s instructions on June 11, 1843: “there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose.”

Because the temple was not completed before Joseph Smith’s death, he did not officiate in any priesthood adoptions or any child-to-parent sealings. Proxy endowments were not administered in Nauvoo because in the six short weeks the temple was open, they were focused on endowments for the living.


How did Wilford Woodruff reconcile changes in the endowment?

Throughout the history of the Church, whenever changes occurred in the temple ordinances or the Church organization, some questioned why these things were not perfected in the beginning.

Wilford followed the Lord response:

I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

Wilford Woodruff

In May 1894, following the revelation on the law of adoption, he made it clear that God would continue to guide the work of the Church, particularly in relation to the temples:

I want to say, as the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that we should now go on and progress. We have not gotten through with revelation. We have not gotten through with the work of God. But at this period we want to go on and fulfill this commandment of God given through Malachi—that the Lord should send Elijah the prophet.”

Wilford Woodruff

Wilford explained that although Brigham Young accomplished all that God required at his hands, he did not receive all the revelations that belong to this work; neither did John Taylor nor had Wilford as prophet. Wilford then concluded, “There will be no end to this work until it is perfected.”

He reminded the Saints that prophets and revelation were still a vital part of the progress of God’s work, that although Joseph Smith had been inspired to lay a firm foundation before his death in 1844, God would work through His subsequent prophets to continue perfecting the Church structure built on that foundation.

Revelation is a two-part effort.

In other words, changes would continue. Wilford’s statements regarding the significant shift in 1894 indicated that if revelation had ceased with the death of Joseph Smith and the ordinances had remained as Joseph introduced them, the mission of Elijah would have failed. God’s work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” would have been frustrated.

Revelation is a two-part effort. Not only would God continue to reveal additional instruction line upon line, but the Saints also had to be prepared to receive it—and be willing to act on it.


How did Wilford Woodruff’s February 23, 1877 revelation change temple work?

For Wilford it changed everything. He said:

“Light burst upon my understanding. I saw an effectual door open to me for the redemption of my dead. And when I saw this I felt like shouting glory hallelujah to God and the Lamb. . . . This principle has given me great joy unspeakable at the thought that I can live on the earth to behold my numerous friends redeemed who are in the spirit world.”

Wilford Woodruff, The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star Vol. 56.

He had information on more than 3,000 family members, men and women, and no family members in St. George who could help complete the work. On March 1, 1877, 154 women assembled in the St. George Temple to help complete the washings, anointings, and endowments for his relatives.

Martha Cragun Cox

Martha Cragun Cox is a great example of how it changed temple work for other people. She was one of the 154 women who was asked to help on March 1. For Martha, the instruction that only the eldest family member or “heir” could act as proxy, meant she would never be able to experience the temple ordinances again. Yet, in her patriarchal blessing, she was promised she would “do a mighty work” for the dead.

She prayed that she might be allowed to go to the temple as a “spectator or visitor” so she could learn more. So she was thrilled to be called to assist him and serve as a proxy for his family members. She said she spent every spare day in the temple working “on the Woodruff lists.”

He spent that night in prayer and had a vision.

Although this practice of acting as proxy for the relatives of others is commonplace among members of the Church today, it was a revolutionary idea at the time. This revelation made it possible for the Saints to assist each other, which changed the future administration of temple ordinances, and the scope of temple work.

Not only could the Saints help each other redeem their deceased relatives, but they could also perform the work for everyone they could identify by name. Those who were unable to trace their biological family members could still return to the temple over and over again to learn and understand their own covenants and to offer that opportunity to everyone who had ever lived.


What was the impact of Woodruff’s vision of the Founding Fathers?

The fact that they came to Wilford Woodruff and asked him to attend to the temple ordinances for them suggested to Wilford that they had accepted the gospel in the spirit world. (All but one of the Signers died before the gospel was restored.)

The experience inspired him to make a list of other “worthy” and “noted men” of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries using Evert A. Duyckinck’s volumes entitled Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America. He added the names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States to those he had gathered from Duyckinck’s books, as well as the names of 68 women: 37 of the women on his list were wives of the eminent men, others were poets, authors, and historical figures.

After the appearance of the Signers, Wilford commented:

The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives.

Wilford Woodruff

The lesson he took from this experience—and the message he repeatedly shared with the Saints—was of universal salvation. All of God’s children will be taught the principles of the gospel and all will need to complete the saving ordinances. The Signers’ request reminded Wilford of this and expanded his circle of awareness.


How did his commitment to temple work influence the Manifesto?

Wilford knew that salvation for the living was inextricably connected with salvation for the dead and both required the temples and the priesthood. To summarize thousands of pages covering 60 years of his life, each time Wilford spoke of the process he went through to arrive at that pivotal moment in Church history, his explanation was the same: God directed him to suspend the practice of plural marriage to save the temples and the priesthood, and thus continue the saving work for the living and dead.

In August 1890 a special commissioner was appointed to review actions in regard to the Church property that had been confiscated as a result of the rulings of the US Supreme Court disenfranchising the Church. Specifically the decision allowing the 1888 agreement between the Church and the government that exempted the temples from government seizure.

God also revealed the alternative.

The purpose of the hearings was to determine if the Utah Territorial Supreme Court’s acceptance of the agreement had been wrong. If so, then the newly appointed receiver could begin actions to take the temples and other formerly exempt properties.

Wilford believed that the temple blessings were the pinnacle of the restoration. In 1843 the Lord had instructed Joseph that if the Saints did not complete the Nauvoo Temple, they “with their dead” would be rejected. After all they had sacrificed, their faith, works, and hopes would have been in vain.

Almost fifty years later the Saints had even more to lose. They had completed the St. George, Logan, and Manti temples, and the Salt Lake Temple was almost finished. On August 16, 1890, with the Territorial Court’s decision looming, Wilford declared, “We must do something to save our Temples.”

He consulted legal and Church advisors and finally called a meeting of the apostles for September 24, 1890. In preparation for the meeting, he spent that night in prayer and had a vision. God revealed to him exactly what would take place if the practice of polygamy were not suspended.

Wilford was shown that all the temples would be lost, all the ordinances therein would cease, the Church leaders and heads of family would be imprisoned, and the Saints’ personal property would be confiscated, “all of which of themselves would stop the practice” the polygamy.

God also revealed the alternative. If the Saints stopped practicing polygamy, the “Prophets, Apostles and fathers” would remain at home where they could instruct the people and attend to their duties within the Church, and the temples would remain in the hands of the Saints, so they could “attend to the ordinances of the Gospel, both for the living and the dead.”

In explaining his final decision to issue the Manifesto, he said, “I would have let the temples go, gone to prison with the apostles and head of families, allowed the [Church] property to be taken, even suffered death if God had not commanded me to do what I did.”


What was the significance and impact of the Salt Lake Temple dedication?

Wilford had literally dreamed about, assisted in the construction of, and contributed to the progress on the Salt Lake Temple for over 46 years. He wanted to see it finished before he died and, at the capstone ceremony on April 6, 1892, he also said, “We want to finish the Temple as soon as we can so we can dedicate it to God so we can go to work therein and redeem the dead.”

In his dedicatory prayer a year later he thanked God “with all the fervor of overflowing gratitude” that He had revealed the powers by which the hearts of the children are being turned to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children. Wilford asked God to confirm upon the Saints the spirit of Elijah so “the sons of men in all their generations can be made partakers of the glories and joys of the kingdom of heaven.”

He continued:

We praise thee that our fathers from last to first, from now back to the beginning, can be united with us in indissoluble links by the holy Priesthood and that as one great family united in thee and cemented by thy power we shall together stand before thee and by the power of the atoning blood of thy Son be delivered from all evil be saved and sanctified exalted and glorified.” To help the Saints in their efforts he asked if God would “permit holy messengers to visit us within these sacred walls and make known unto us with regard to the work we should perform in behalf of our dead.

Wilford Woodruff, Salt Lake Temple Dedicatory Prayer

It was a fulfillment of prophesy and proof that all of Satan’s efforts to stop the work had been frustrated.

He testified: “The Lord decreed the establishment of Zion. He had decreed the finishing of this temple. He had decreed that the salvation of the living and the dead should be given in these valleys of the mountains.”

Wilford Woodruff at the capstone ceremony of the Salt Lake City Temple on April 6, 1892.

How did the Wilford Woodruff Papers project impact the second edition of Wilford Woodruff’s Witness?

The ability to link every reference to the original document images and transcriptions online with the contextual information (biographical information on the individuals referenced, identification of locations, searchable topics and links to discourses given and letters written and received) for each document make the book a resource to the entire body of Church history now available at wilfordwoodruffpapers.org.

It means the history of the Church in the nineteenth century isn’t just Wilford Woodruff’s story. Through his records, it also includes the stories of the 14,000+ people he interacted with, taught, did business with, met with in political, community, religious, medical, horticultural, and social settings.

The links to records now available at josephsmithpapers.org are also included; in the first edition those links were to the inaccessible collections at the Church History Library archives or printed books and articles.

Steven C. Harper discusses the Wilford Woodruff Papers, including the prophet’s contributions to Latter-day Saint temple doctrines and ordinances.

What would Jennifer Mackley most want to witness in Woodruff’s life?

Fishing. I think that was only the only time he was “still” and would have been able to share his incredible faith and wisdom and insights. Or maybe we could have been “still” together (Doctrine and Covenants 101:16).


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About the interview participant

Jennifer Mackley is the executive director and CEO of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation. She has authored or edited 21 books and has made numerous presentations and podcasts based on Wilford Woodruff’s pivotal role in the restoration of temple ordinances and temple worship in the nineteenth century. Prior to becoming Executive Director of the Foundation, she worked as an attorney for 25 years and formed Mackley & Mackley, PLLC with her husband Carter.


Further Reading

Wilford Woodruff Resources

  • Wilford Woodruff’s Witness: The Development of Temple Doctrine (High Desert Publishing) [#ad]
  • Wilford Woodruff Papers (Wilford Woodruff Papers Foundation)
  • “I Dreamed of Ketching Fish”: The Outdoor Life of Wilford Woodruff (BYU Studies)
  • “Which Is the Wisest Course?”: The Transformation in Mormon Temple Consciousness, 1870-1898 (BYU Studies)
  • The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation, 1830-1900 (BYU Studies)

By Chad Nielsen

Biotech professional. Armchair historian. Latter-day Saint.

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