Historical Data about Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

By Michael D. Taylor

Michael D. Taylor, “Historical Data about Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Religious Educator 3, no. 1 (2002): 31–34.

Historical Data about Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Michael D. Taylor

Michael D. Taylor, M.D., was an anesthesiologist currently practicing at Provo [Utah] Surgical Center when this was published.

One of the desirable outcomes of a mature organization is the accumulation, over time, of historical information about the organization. That information can be retained or disseminated by the organization according to its policies, or the information can be used by individuals or groups with interests or ties to the organization.

From its inception, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been vitally concerned with historical information about itself (see D&C 21:1). By commandment received on the day the Church was organized, the Lord said, “A record shall be kept.”[1] The Church has been very diligent in the past 170-plus years in fulfilling this inspiring charge. In fact, perhaps few organizations have been as concerned or as diligent in accumulating information about themselves as has the Church of Jesus Christ. An interesting study would be one that compares the amount and variety of information accumulated about various ecclesiastical organizations in the world. I think the Church would fare extremely well in such an investigation.

Many action verbs can be used to describe the activities that potentially take place associated with Church historical information. Such action verbs as keep, record, accumulate, gather, store, retrieve, chronicle, report, enter, post, write, transcribe, itemize, collect, gather, amass, assemble, and compile are examples of verbs associated with the keeping of historical information. Other action verbs such as examine, analyze, apply, employ, use, manipulate, and utilize are examples associated with the processes of doing something with the historical information after it is accumulated.

For the past several years, I have enjoyed gathering information about the Church and compiling this information into chart and table form. The process has taken on the flavor of a hobby, and I often find myself wanting to share the results of my work with other interested individuals.

A significant part of my gathering and compiling of Church-related information deals with the General Authorities of the Church. As I have learned more about these faithful Brethren and the service they have so unselfishly rendered to the Lord and His Church, I have strengthened my testimony by looking at their examples—and I have felt even more keenly that others might be interested in my endeavors. My perspective is that every fact and detail relating to the Church and its leaders, even if seemingly trivial, is important and can build faith.

I am pleased to share with readers of the Religious Educator three tables I have assembled containing information about the Presidents of the Church. Although the information in the tables is available through various other sources, I know of no source that presents the information in the way I have presented it in the tables.

Initially, the information in the tables might appear to be somewhat menial. However, I have found that examining the information thoroughly and pondering its possible implications produces relevant insights that strengthen testimony and increase understanding. I think teachers of the restored gospel might be able to use the information in their teaching for those purposes.

Table 1 shows the ages of the Presidents of the Church when they were called to be Church President—listed by descending age. For reference purposes, I have also included the date each prophet was ordained as President.[2]

Table 2 shows the same information as in table 1 except the information is listed according to succession of the Presidents of the Church.

Table 3 shows the time each prophet served as President and the dates of his service—listed according to decreasing time of service.

I have prepared scores of tables and charts through which I have pulled together in succinct form all kinds of historical information will be shared with readers of the Religious Educator in future issues. If you have any questions or suggestions, please send them to Michael Taylor at mdtaylormd@attbi.com.

TABLE 1

Age of Prophets When Sustained as Church Presidents, Listed by Descending Age

Prophet

Age When Ordained

Date Ordained

Birth Date

Joseph Fielding Smith

93 years 6 months

23 Jan. 1970

19 July 1876

Howard W. Hunter

86 years 6 months

5 June 1994

14 Nov. 1907

Ezra Taft Benson

86 years 3 months

10 Nov. 1985

4 Aug. 1899

Gordon B. Hinckley

84 years 9 months

12 Mar. 1995

23 June 1910

Lorenzo Snow

84 years 5 months

13 Sept. 1898

3 Apr. 1814

Wilford Woodruff

82 years 1 month

7 Apr. 1889

1 Mar. 1807

Spencer W. Kimball

78 years 9 months

30 Dec. 1973

28 Mar. 1895

David O. McKay

77 years 7 months

9 Apr. 1951

8 Sept. 1873

George Albert Smith

75 years 2 months

21 May 1945

4 Apr. 1870

Harold B. Lee

73 years 3 months

7 July 1972

28 Mar. 1899

John Taylor

71 years 11 months

10 Oct. 1880

1 Nov. 1808

Joseph F. Smith

62 years 11 months

17 Oct. 1901

13 Nov. 1838

Heber J. Grant

62 years

23 Nov. 1918

22 Nov. 1856

Brigham Young

46 years 7 months

27 Dec. 1847

1 June 1801

Joseph Smith

26 years 1 month

6 Apr. 1830

23 Dec. 1805

 

TABLE 2

Ages of Prophets When Sustained as Church Presidents, Listed in Succession

Prophet

Age When Ordained

Date Ordained

Birth Date

Joseph Smith

26 years 1 month

6 Apr. 1830

23 Dec. 1805

Brigham Young

46 years 7 months

27 Dec. 1847

1 June 1801

John Taylor

71 years 11 months

10 Oct. 1880

1 Nov. 1808

Wilford Woodruff

82 years 1 month

7 Apr. 1889

1 Mar. 1807

Lorenzo Snow

84 years 5 months

13 Sept. 1898

3 Apr.

Joseph F. Smith

62 years 11

17 Oct. 1901

13 Nov. 1838

Heber J. Grant

62 years

23 Nov. 1918

22 Nov. 1856

George Albert Smith

75 years 2 months

21 May 1945

4 Apr. 1870

David O. McKay

77 years 7 months

9 Apr. 1951

8 Sept. 1873

Joseph Fielding Smith

93 years 6 months

23 Jan. 1970

16 July 1876

Harold B. Lee

73 years 3 months

7 July 1972

28 Mar. 1899

Spencer W. Kimball

78 years 9 months

30 Dec. 1973

28 Mar. 1895

Ezra Taft Benson

86 years 3 months

10 Nov. 1985

4 Aug. 1899

Howard W. Hunter

86 years 6 months

5 June 1994

14 Nov. 1907

Gordon B. Hinckley

84 years 9 months

12 Mar. 1995

23 June 1910

TABLE 3

Tenure in Office of Church Presidents, Listed by Decreasing Length of Service

Prophet

Tenure as President

Dates of Service as President

Brigham Young

39 years 8 months

27 Dec. 1847 to 29 Aug. 1877

Heber J. Grant

26 years 5 months

23 Nov. 1918 to 14 May 1945

David O. McKay

18 years 9 months

9 Apr. 1951 to 18 Jan. 1970

Joseph F. Smith

17 years 1 month

17 Oct. 1901 to 19 Nov. 1918

Joseph Smith

14 years 3 months

6 Apr. 1830 to 27 June 1844

Spencer W. Kimball

11 years 10 months

30 Dec. 1973 to 5 Nov. 1985

Wilford Woodruff

9 years 5 months

7 Apr. 1889 to 2 Sept. 1898

Ezra Taft Benson

8 years 7 months

10 Nov. 1985 to 30 May 1994

Gordon B. Hinckley

7 years on 12 Mar. 2002

12 Mar. 1995 to present

John Taylor

6 years 9 months

10 Oct. 1880 to 25 July 1887

George Albert Smith

5 years 11 months

21 May 1945 to 4 Apr. 1951

Lorenzo Snow

3 years 1 month

13 Sept. 1898 to 10 Oct. 1901

Joseph Fielding Smith

2 years 5 months

23 Jan. 1970 to 2 July 1972

Harold B. Lee

1 year 6 months

7 July 1972 to 26 Dec. 1973

Howard W. Hunter

9 months

5 June 1994 to 3 Mar. 1995

Notes


[1] See D&C 10:81–83; 21:1; 47:3; and 85:1 for instances when the Lord gave commandments associated with the keeping of historical records associated with the history of the Church.

[2] The word “ordained” in the column headings for both tables 1 and 2 implies “ordained and set apart.” For some of the Presidents, the Church Almanac gives only the dates of “sustaining.” In the case of Joseph Smith, he was sustained as the first elder of the Church on 6 April 1830.