50 years ago today - Sep 21, 1973-Friday

[Leonard Arrington]
Brother Eldred G. Smith has had difficulty accepting his position. This goes back to the first talk he gave in conference in which he said "I deserved it, I grew up under it, and I should have had a position, and I am now glad that the brethren recognize this is the case." This is the way his mother brought him up-that he was to take over from his father-that he would take over his father's office and his father's position and so on, but when they eliminated the Quorum of Patriarchs and took that out from under his control and when they took him out of the office he became concerned and has been embittered ever since. Moreover he never says much about the patriarchs and their function. Brother Haycock thought that the talk he [Eldred G. Smith] gave in Munich [Germany] was the best talk he had ever given in a conference. Brother Haycock said that the person within his experience who had had the most difficulty to fitting into the pattern with the General Authorities was S. Dilworth Young. Many of the early talks that he gave in conference-very few of them got into the printed version in the Improvement Era because of the content and so on. ...

President Lee asked Brother Olson about the Wilford Wood materials. A sister or close relative of his had gone to President Lee and emphasized how important it was that the Church acquire this material because there were materials that could damage the Church if they got into the hands of enemies of the Church. President Lee had asked her to work out an arrangement to give them to the Church and she had tentatively assented but then she backed out after she had thought it over. Earl said that we had microfilmed what she had. President Lee seems to be interested in all of these acquisitions. He talked a little about the George Albert Smith papers and the unfortunate (to the family) manner in which one of the daughters [Emily Smith Stewert] of George Albert Smith had sold the papers to the University of Utah for something like $25,000. He said the same thing nearly occurred with the papers of President McKay. He thought it was important to get the Church's oar in before the papers were dispersed, and so he mentioned to the family the day after President McKay died the importance of turning the papers over to the Church. The family did turn over much. Some other papers were taken by the family to Huntsville [Utah] and they are there in the basement of the McKay home. They could very easily be stolen or tampered with or burned or flooded. President McKay's son [David Lawrence McKay] talked to Lauritz [Petersen] about them and Lauritz said, "Wait until he comes back from his mission," so we must take that up with him when he returns. President Lee thinks he will turn over the entire load to us. At one stage [President McKay's secretary] Clare Middlemiss thought that these scrapbooks and histories and diaries belonged to her because she compiled them. Earl said, "Is that proper that when a person does something on Church time, using Church facilities, Church money in the office as a part of her job, does she or he own them?" President Lee said he thought that Clare Middlemiss had a less intense interest in these things than she had once had. We have now got to find out how we can get access to these papers so that they can be used by the writers of our sesquicentennial and one-volume histories.

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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