The following article was written by James E. Talmage and published in the Contributor, issue 2, no. 6 (March 1881.


The Brigham Young Academy
by James E. Talmage

The deed of trust from President Brigham Young, of the premises of the institution now bearing his name, is dated Oct. 16, 1875. That day, therefore, may be regarded as the birthday of the Brigham Young Academy. The same building, however, had been employed for school purposes, since April, 1870, an organization having been effected by the Board of Regents of the University of Deseret, as a branch of that institution, and known as the “Timpanogos Branch of the Deseret University.”

On the day, however, from which our history strictly dates, President Brigham Young transferred the building and grounds, covering an area of one hundred and eighty seven square rods to the following named trustees:—Hons. A. O. Smoot, William Bringhurst, Leonard E. Harrington, Wilson H. Dusenberry, Mrs. Martha J. Coray, Myron Tanner Esq., and Harvey H. Cluff Esq.

The conditions expressed by the donor were that from the commencement, the Academy should be regarded as a Latter-day Saints institution, and that all regulations should be in accordance with the principles of the Church. To convey an adequate idea of President Young’s intention we quote from the deed of trust:—“The beneficiaries of this Academy shall be members in good standing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or shall be the children of such members, and each of the boys who shall take a full course, if his physical ability will permit, shall be taught some branch of mechanism that shall be suitable to his taste and capacity; and all pupils shall be instructed in reading, penmanship, orthography, grammar, geography and mathematics, together with such branches as are usually taught in an Academy of learning, and the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants shall be read and their doctrines inculcated in the Academy.”

The first meeting of the board took place Nov. 22, 1875, at which Hon. A. O. Smoot was elected President, Hon. Wilson H. Dusenberry Secretary, and Harvey H. Cluff Esq. Treasurer.” In pursuance to a resolution adopted at this meeting to proceed at once to carry out the provisions of the deed, the first term’s session opened January, 1876, with Prof. Warren N. Dusenberry as Principal.

At the close of this term Prof. Karl G. Maeser was employed as Principal, and duly commenced his first terms’ session April 24, 1876, with a total attendance of sixty-three pupils. These two terms are regarded as preparatory to the regular work, and the academic time is reckoned from the first academic year dating August, 1876. Thus was the B. Y. Academy founded, and thus did it commence. From that time it has been ever growing, until we find the attendance such to-day that students have to be refused admittance for lack of room, and all connected herewith will consider this demonstration as a sign, associated with many others, that the blessings of God have been and are with the Brigham Young Academy. 

With the first academic year Prof. M. H. Hardy was engaged as assistant teacher, and took the position of head teacher of Intermediate Department, the Academic and Normal Departments, being under the special charge of the Principal.

The provisions specified have been carried on from the first, wherever practicable. The Bible and Church Works have been included among the text books on every annual circular.

This short sketch, then, will serve as an explanation of the position of this institution. Its colors are flying before all as an institution of the Latter-day Saints, and any not of the Church who choose to attend know that the whole organization is of the Latter-day Saints’ nature. Still, the number of outsiders in attendance increases every year, clearly showing the respect with which the professions of the Academy are received.

Our next article will be devoted to sketching the plan of internal organization upon which the institution, is working. Jas. E. Talmage.

Close Menu