of the Restoration

Joseph Fielding Smith

Timeline of Life Events



19 July 1876

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Julina Lambson Smith and Joseph F. Smith (Sixth President of the Church).

19 July 1884
Baptism and confirmation

Baptized and confirmed by his father, Joseph F. Smith. Receives his first personal copy of the Book of Mormon from his father.

6 April 1893
Attends the Salt Lake Temple dedication


Begins working at ZCMI
Receives his patriarchal blessing

Receives his patriarchal blessing, which proclaims, "It shall be thy duty to sit in counsel with thy brethren and to preside among the people."

Receives the Melchizedek Priesthood

Receives the Melchizedek Priesthood and the temple endowment. Ordained an elder.

26 April 1898
Marries Louie Emily Shurtliff
Appointed to the Salt Lake Stake YMMIA Board
May 1899 - July 1901
Serves a full-time mission to England
October 1901
Begins employment in the Church Historian’s office
Serves as a home missionary in the Salt Lake Stake
Publishes a family history booklet

Booklet titled Asael Smith of Topsfield, Massachusetts, with Some Account of the Smith Family. This was his first of many publications, including 25 books and numerous articles for Church magazines and periodicals.

Serves as a member of the YMMIA General Board
Called to the Salt Lake Stake High Council
8 April 1906 - March 1921
Called as the Assistant Church Historian

Sustained in general conference. He held this position until March 1921.

Begins work with the Genealogical Society

Commissioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor to collect statistics of the Church for religious census being compiled at that time.

Appointed to serve on a general Church committee

The committee's purpose was to prepare data for the defense of the Church against its enemies.

30 March 1908
Death of Louie Shurtliff Smith

Louie Shurtliff Smith dies after suffering from a severe illness related to her third pregnancy.

Appointed director and librarian of the Genealogical Society
2 November 1908
Marries Ethel Georgina Reynolds
Appointed to the general board of religion classes

Appointed to the general board of religion classes. Named librarian and treasurer of the Genealogical Society.

7 April 1910
Ordained an apostle

He was ordained by his father, President Joseph F. Smith.

Works for the Utah Genealogical and Historical magazine

Becomes first associate editor and business manager of the Utah Genealogical and Historical magazine.

Serves as the secretary of the Genealogical Society
Appointed to the BYU board of trustees
Appointed to the Church Board of Education
January 1918
Death of Hyrum Mac Smith

Hyrum Mac Smith (an apostle and Joseph's half brother) dies of complications associated with a ruptured appendix.

October 1918
Records a revelation on the redemption of the dead

Dictated by his father, Joseph F. Smith, who is President of the Church at the time. This revelation is now found in Doctrine and Covenants 138.

Death of President Joseph F. Smith

Joseph's father, President Joseph F. Smith, dies.

6 January 1919 - 1935
Appointed as a counselor in the Salt Lake Temple presidency

He held this position until 1935.

17 March 1921 - 1970
Named as Church Historian

He held this position until 1970.

Publishes "Essentials in Church History"
1934 - 1961
Named president of the Genealogical Society of Utah

He held this position until 1961.

26 August 1937
Death of Ethel Reynolds Smith

Ethel Reynolds Smith dies after suffering with an illness for four years.

12 April 1938
Marries Jessie Ella Evans

Marries Jessie Ella Evans in the Salt Lake Temple.

Tours the California mission
May - November 1939
Tours European missions

Fills a special assignment in Europe with Jessie, visiting England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Germany. Directs the evacuation of all American missionaries from Europe after the outbreak of World War II.

April 1941
Trains new assistants to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Joseph's son, Lewis, is killed in WWII
June 1945-1949
Serves as the president of the Salt Lake Temple

He held this position until 1949.

Gives baccalaureate sermon at BYU.
6 October 1950
Set apart as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Tours the Texas-Louisiana mission.
9 April 1951
Sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Receives an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from BYU
July - August 1955
Tours Far East and dedicates four countries for the preaching of the gospel

Filled a special assignment in Asia, with Jessie accompanying him. Dedicated Guam, Korea, Okinawa, and the Philippines for the preaching of the gospel. Divided the Japanese mission to form the Northern Far East and Southern Far East missions.

July 1956
Church News prints a tribute to Joseph Fielding Smith

The Church News printed a tribute to President Smith on his 80th birthday: "Behind a seeming brusqueness and severity of manner is a kind, sympathetic friendliness and understanding that wins the love and admiration of all who know him."

September 1958
Attends the London England Temple dedication
Visits stakes and missions in New Zealand and Australia.
Named honorary Brigadier General of the Utah National Guard
October 1960 - January 1961
Visits Church leaders and missionaries in Central and South America
May 1963
Officiates at the cornerstone ceremony for the Oakland California Temple
September 1963
Dedicates historic sites in Missouri

Dedicates the Pioneer Monument in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Liberty Jail Historic Site in Liberty, Missouri.

29 October 1965
Called to the First Presidency

Called to serve as a Counselor in the First Presidency under the direction of President David O. McKay.

Historic collection named after him

A collection of books and materials at BYU on American Church history was named in his honor.

18 January 1970
Becomes the senior Apostle

Becomes the senior Apostle and presiding leader of the Church at the death of President David O. McKay.

23 January 1970
Set apart as President of the Church

Harold B. Lee and N. Eldon Tanner served as counselors.

Speaks at the cornerstone ceremony for the Ogden Utah Temple
Visits Hawaii

Attends ward and stake events. Speaks at Church College of Hawaii.

Set apart four temple presidencies

Set apart the presidencies for the Arizona, Idaho Falls, Los Angeles, and St. George temples.

6 April 1970
Sustained in general conference as President of the Church
July 1970
Visits Mexico City

Speaks at Benemerito de Los Americas (Church School) and two stake conferences.

24 July 1970
Acts as the Days of '47 parade marshall in Salt Lake City

Greets President and Mrs. Richard M. Nixon at the event.

October 1970
Designates Monday night for Family Home Evening
Speaks to thousands of youth

Speaks to nearly 10,000 youth at Utah State University Institute of Religion and 13,000 youth in southern California.

7 May 1971
Gives baccalaureate sermon at Ricks College
21 May 1971
Speaks at the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo Utah Temple
Dedicates the Laguna Hills, California ward chapel and the Independence, Missouri Visitors' Center
3 August 1971
Death of Jessi Evans Smith
27-29 August 1971
Presides at the Church’s first area conference

The conference was held in Manchester, England.

18 January 1972
Offers the dedicatory prayer for the Ogden Utah Temple.
9 February 1972
Presides at the dedication of the Provo Utah Temple

Having written the dedicatory prayer, Joseph Fielding Smith assigned President Harold B. Lee to offer it.

25 June 1972
Addresses the MIA in a June Conference as his last public address
29 June 1972
Speaks at the mission president's seminar in Salt Lake City

At this time a new program of supervision for the missions was announced.

2 July 1972

Dies in Salt Lake City, Utah, 17 days before his 96th birthday.

6 July 1972

Buried in the Salt Lake City cemetary following funeral services in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.