of the Restoration

Joseph Fielding Smith

Time Line 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. Received his first personal copy of the Book of Mormon from his father.

6 April 1893

Attended the Salt Lake Temple dedication


Began working at ZCMI


Received his patriarchal blessing

His patriarchal blessing proclaimed, "It shall be thy duty to sit in counsel with thy brethren and to preside among the people."


Received the Melchizedek Priesthood

Received the temple endowment and was ordained an elder.

26 April 1898

Married Louie Emily Shurtliff in the Salt Lake Temple.


Appointed to the Salt Lake Stake YMMIA Board

May 1899

Served a full-time mission to England

Served through July 1901.

October 1901

Began employment in the Church Historian’s office


Served as a home missionary in the Salt Lake Stake

Served through 1910.


Published a family history booklet

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


Served as a member of the YMMIA General Board

Served through 1919.


Called to the Salt Lake Stake high council

8 April 1906

Called as the Assistant Church Historian

Sustained in general conference as Assistant Church Historian. He held this position until March 1921.


Began work with the Genealogical Society

Commissioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor to collect statistics of the Church for a 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 died after suffering from a severe illness related to her third pregnancy.


Appointed director and librarian of the Genealogical Society

2 November 1908

Married Ethel Georgina Reynolds


Appointed to the general board of religion classes

Also named the librarian and treasurer of the Genealogical Society.

7 April 1910

Ordained an Apostle

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


Worked for the "Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine"

Became the first associate editor and business manager of the magazine.


Served as the secretary of the Genealogical Society of Utah

Served through 1922.


Appointed to the BYU Board of Trustees


Appointed to the Church Board of Education

January 1918

Death of Hyrum Mack Smith

Hyrum Mack Smith (an Apostle and Joseph's half brother) died of complications associated with a ruptured appendix.

October 1918

Recorded his father’s revelation on the redemption of the dead

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


Death of President Joseph F. Smith

President Joseph F. Smith (Joseph's father) died.

6 January 1919

Appointed as a counselor in the Salt Lake Temple presidency

He held this position until 1935.

17 March 1921

Named as Church Historian

He held this position until 1970.


Published "Essentials in Church History"


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 died after suffering with an illness for four years.

12 April 1938

Married Jessie Ella Evans in the Salt Lake Temple


Toured the California mission

May 1939

Toured European missions

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

April 1941

Trained new Assistants to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


Joseph's son Lewis killed in WWII

June 1945

Served as the president of the Salt Lake Temple

He held this position until 1949.

6 October 1950

Set apart as the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


Toured the Texas-Louisiana mission

9 April 1951

Sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


Received an honorary doctor of letters degree from BYU

July 1955

Toured the Far East and dedicated 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. Served through August 1955.

July 1956

"Church News" printed 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

Attended the London England Temple dedication


Visited stakes and missions in New Zealand and Australia


Named honorary brigadier general of the Utah National Guard

October 1960

Visited Church leaders and missionaries in Central and South America

Served through January 1961


Officiated at the cornerstone ceremony for the Oakland California Temple

September 1963

Dedicated historic sites in Missouri

Dedicated 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 Church history was named in his honor.

18 January 1970

Became the senior Apostle

Became 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

Became President of the Church, with Harold B. Lee and N. Eldon Tanner as His counselors.


Spoke at the cornerstone ceremony for the Ogden Utah Temple


Visited Hawaii

Attended ward and stake events. Spoke at Church College of Hawaii.


Set apart four temple presidencies

Set apart the presidencies for the Mesa Arizona, Idaho Falls Idaho, Los Angeles California, and St. George Utah Temples.

6 April 1970

Sustained in general conference as President of the Church

July 1970

Visited Mexico City

Spoke at Benemerito de Los Americas (Church school) and two stake conferences.

24 July 1970

Acted as the Days of '47 parade marshal in Salt Lake City

Greeted President and Mrs. Richard M. Nixon at the parade.

October 1970

Designated Monday night for Family Home Evening


Spoke to thousands of youth

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

7 May 1971

Gave a baccalaureate sermon at Ricks College

21 May 1971

Spoke at the cornerstone ceremony for the Provo Utah Temple


Dedicated the Laguna Hills Ward chapel in California and the Independence Visitors' Center in Missouri

3 August 1971

Death of Jessie Evans Smith

27 August 1971

Presided at the Church’s first area conference

The conference was held in Manchester, England.

18 January 1972

Offered the dedicatory prayer for the Ogden Utah Temple

9 February 1972

Presided at the dedication of the Provo Utah Temple

President Harold B. Lee offered the dedicatory prayer, which was written by President Smith.

25 June 1972

Addressed the MIA in a June conference as his last public address

29 June 1972

Spoke 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


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

6 July 1972


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