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Historical timeline of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presidents

Historical timeline of The Church of Latter-day Saints presidents (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV)- Established in 1830, 16 men have served as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints .

As noted in an article from the church on mormonnewsroom.org, each president was considered a prophet who received revelation from God. Every president endowed unique gifts and talents that assisted the Church during their time of presidency to help pave the path for future growth.

Below is a brief timeline and biographies for each LDS Church president with dates and information curtsy to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Joseph Smith

President Joseph Smith was born on Dec. 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont. Smith was the fifth of 11 children and he worked on his family farm until he moved to western New York. According to mormonnewsroom.org, Smith saw "God the Father and Jesus Christ in a vision".

On April 6, 1830, Smith translated and published the Book of Mormon and received revelations to guide The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During his leadership, the Church founded communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.

Both Smith and his brother, Hyrum were killed by a mob on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

  • Years as President: 1832–1844
  • Birth Date: 23 December 1805
  • Death Date: 27 June 1844

Brigham Young

Born on June 1, 1801, in Whitingham, Vermont, Brigham Young was called to the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" 3 years after he joined the Church. Following President Smith, Young led the Church migration west over the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake City in 1846.

On Dec. 27, 1847, Young was sustained as the president of the LDS Church. Under his presidency, temple construction began in Salt Lake, St. George and Logan, UT. President Young died on Aug. 29, 1877, after serving nearly 30 years as Church president.

  • Years as President: 1847–1877
  • Birth Date: 1 June 1801
  • Death Date: 29 August 1877

John Taylor

President John Taylor was born on Nov. 1, 1808, in Milnthorpe, Westmorland, England. Taylor and his wife immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1832 and joined the Church in 1836. According to the Church, 2 years after joining, Taylor "became an apostle and enjoyed close association with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young." Taylor became the next Church president on Oct. 10, 1880.

President Taylor established Mormon colonies in Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Canada, and Mexico, oversaw the worldwide adoption of the Primary program during his administration. Taylor died on July 25, 1887, in Kaysville, UT.

  • Years as President: 1880–1887
  • Birth Date: 1 November 1808
  • Death Date: 25 July 1887

Wilford Woodruff

Raised in Connecticut, Wilford Woodruff was a "miller by trade". According to Church records, Woodruff joined the LDS Church in 1833 and served 2 missions before being ordained an apostle in 1839. After becoming a member of the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles", Woodruff completed 4 additional missions, looked over the St. George temple, and served 6 years as a Church historian.

Woodruff was appointed Church president on April 7, 1889. President Woodruff dedicated temples in Salt Lake City and Manti, UT. In 1890, President Woodruff received a revelation that the Latter-day Saints should stop the practice of polygamy. He died in San Francisco on Sept. 2, 1898.

  • Years as President: 1887–1898
  • Birth Date: 1 March 1807
  • Death Date: 2 September 1898

Lorenzo Snow

Born in Mantua, Ohio on April 3, 1814, Lorenzo Snow converted to the Church in 1836. He served as a missionary and an apostle before becoming Church president in 1898. Snow is known for helping the Church recover from the challenges of previous decades, expanding missionary efforts and establishing tithing to stabilize the Church finances.

As Church president of the 20th century, Snow opened a new era in Latter-day Saint history. He died in Salt Lake City on Oct. 10, 1901, at the age of 87.

  • Years as President: 1898–1901
  • Birth Date: 3 April 1814
  • Death Date: 10 October 1901

Joseph F. Smith

Joseph F. Smith was born on Nov. 13, 1838, in Far West, Missouri. In 1848, Smith and his mother, Mary Fielding migrated to Utah. According to Mormonnewsroom.org, Smith served in Utah's territorial legislature from 1865 to 1874, served numerous missions and became president of the Church on 17 October 1901.

President Smith strived to educate the public about the Church by developing Church historical sites in New York, Missouri, and Illinois, building a visitors' bureau, and expanding Church missionary and educational systems. After serving for 17 years as Church president, Joseph F. Smith died on Nov. 19, 1918, in Salt Lake City.

  • Years as President: 1901–1918
  • Birth Date: 13 November 1838
  • Death Date: 19 November 1918

Heber J. Grant

Born in Salt Lake City on Nov. 22, 1856, Heber J. Grant began a successful business career by the time he was 15.

10 years later, Grant was called to the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" where he served for 37 years. Following Smith, Grant was announced Church president on Nov. 23, 1918. According to the Church, President Grant "dedicated three new temples, developed the welfare program and helped Latter-day Saints cope with the tragedy of World War II."

After 27 years as president, Grant died in Salt Lake City on May 14, 1945.

  • Years as President: 1918–1945
  • Birth Date: 22 November 1856
  • Death Date: 14 May 1945

George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith was born on April 4, 1870, in Salt Lake City. While working in the Federal Land Office for Utah, Smith was called to the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" at the age of 33.

Smith became president of the Church on May 21, 1945. During his presidency, he organized the Church's humanitarian assistance to Europe following World War II and "championed" Scouting among Latter-day Saints. After six years as president, he died in Salt Lake City on his 81st birthday on April 4, 1951.

  • Years as President: 1945–1951
  • Birth Date: 4 April 1870
  • Death Date: 4 April 1951

David O. McKay

Born on Sept. 8, 1873, David Oman McKay grew up in Huntsville, Utah. McKay attended both Weber Stake Academy and the University of Utah and studied education. 5 years later, after completing a mission and graduating, McKay was called as an apostle at the age of 32. McKay became the Church president on April 9, 1951, and expanded the vision of the Church's worldwide mission.

Under McKay's administration, the first abroad "stakes" were created. After 44 years in the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" and 19 years as Church president, President McKay died on Jan. 19, 1970 in Salt Lake City at the age of 96.

  • Years as President: 1951–1970
  • Birth Date: 8 September 1873
  • Death Date: 18 January 1970

Joseph Fielding Smith

Joseph Fielding Smith, the son of Joseph F. Smith, was born on July 19, 1876, in Salt Lake City and spent his entire life in Church service. According to Church statements, Smith served as a missionary, Church historian, president of the Utah Genealogical Society and of the Salt Lake Temple, an apostle and Church president.

Smith became president on Jan. 23, 1970 at the age of 93.

Known as "one of the Church's most prolific writers", President Smith's numerous books and articles helped educate generations of Latter-day Saints about the history and doctrine of the Church.

President Smith died at his home in Salt Lake City on July 2, 1972.

  • Years as President: 1970–1972
  • Birth Date: 19 July 1876
  • Death Date: 2 July 1972

Harold B. Lee

Harold Bingham Lee was born on March 28, 1899, in Clifton, Idaho, where he then worked in education, business, and government.

After his call to the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" in 1941, Lee continued to work with welfare programs and improved the coordination between Church headquarters and Latter-day Saint congregations around the world.

Lee became president of the Church on July 7, 1972, and served for 18 months. President Lee died on Dec. 26, 1973 in Salt Lake City.

  • Years as President: 1972–1973
  • Birth Date: 28 March 1899
  • Death Date: 26 December 1973

Spencer W. Kimball

Spencer W. Kimball was born on March 28, 1895, in Salt Lake City. After completing a mission, Kimball settled in Safford, Arizona to raise a family and run his insurance business. After being called as an apostle in 1943, and after overcoming severe health problems, Kimball became Church president on Dec. 30, 1973, at the age of 78.

During the 12 years of his administration, the number of temples doubled, missionaries increased by 50 percent and the priesthood was extended to "all worthy male members." He died in Salt Lake City on Nov. 5, 1985.

  • Years as President: 1973–1985
  • Birth Date: 28 March 1895
  • Death Date: 5 November 1985

Ezra Taft Benson

Born on Aug. 4, 1899, Ezra Taft Benson grew up in Whitney, Idaho before serving his mission to Great Britain. Benson studied agriculture while serving as an apostle and as Secretary of Agriculture in the cabinet of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961.

Benson became president of the Church on Nov. 10, 1985, where he emphasized the importance of the Book of Mormon, missionary efforts, and gospel teaching. He died in Salt Lake City on May 30, 1994, at the age of 94.

  • Years as President: 1985–1994
  • Birth Date: 4 August 1899
  • Death Date: 30 May 1994

Howard W. Hunter

Born in Boise, Idaho on Nov. 14, 1907, Howard W. Hunter had a love for music growing up. According to mormonnewsroom.org, after high school, Hunter's band, “Hunter's Croonaders,” toured for 5 months on the SS President Jackson. Hunter was called to be an apostle in 1959, serving for 35 years before becoming president of the Church on June 5, 1994, at age 86. He died March 3, 1995, in Salt Lake City.

  • Years as President: 1995–2008
  • Birth Date: 23 June 1910
  • Death Date: 27 January 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley

Gordon Bitner Hinckley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 23, 1910. After graduating from the University of Utah, he was called to serve a mission to Great Britain. According to Church records, after he returned, he embarked on a lifetime of service for the Church. He was employed as the executive secretary of the Church Radio, Publicity, and Literature committee before he was called to be an apostle in 1961.

He served as a counselor to President Kimball, President Benson and President Hunter before becoming Church president on March 12, 1995. During his presidency, Hinckley directed the most intense temple building program in the history of the Church and established the Perpetual Education Fund to help young Mormons in developing countries gain an education and become self-sufficient.

Through television interviews and national press publications, he increased media attention and improved the public image of the Church. President Hinckley died on January 27, 2008 in Salt Lake City.

Thomas S. Monson

Thomas Spencer Monson was born in Salt Lake City, on Aug. 21, 1927. In 1950, at age 22, he was called as bishop and 5 years later was called to serve in a stake presidency.

According to the Church, from 1959 to 1962, he served as president of the Church’s Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. Shortly after returning from Canada, Monson was sustained to the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" in 1963 at the age of 36.

Monson served as a counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson, President Howard W. Hunter, and President Gordon B. Hinckley before becoming the president of the Church on Feb. 3, 2008. For more than 50 years, Thomas S. Monson served in top leadership councils for the Mormon church — making him a well-known face and personality to multiple generations of Mormons.

Monson died on Jan. 2, 2018 in Salt Lake City.

  • Years as President: 2008–present
  • Birth Date: 21 August 1927
  • Death Date: 2 January 2018



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