Measuring Church History, One Apostle At a Time

By February 24, 2011

I have been doing research in the Wilford Woodruff journals for a piece on Woodruff’s use of memory. Today I found an unusual entry from May 1887. On the 26th, Woodruff, along with Francis M. Lyman and John Henry Smith, were in the St. George Temple and decided to weigh and measure each other. According to Woodruff, the men measured up as follows:

Woodruff: Weight: 172 lbs; Chest: 42.5in; Waist: 43; Height: 5’7
Lyman: Weight: 245 lbs; Chest: 48in; Waist: 44; Height: 6’2
Smith: Weight: 236 lbs; Chest: 44in; Waist: 40; Height: 6’1/2


Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Francis Lyman wins the stick pull.

    Comment by matt b. — February 24, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

  2. They have scales in the St. George Temple?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 24, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

  3. More accurate, I suppose, to do that sort of measuring in the temple instead of a flour mill, if a scale can be found.

    Comment by John Mansfield — February 24, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  4. These boyz did not wear skinny jeans . . . just guessin’ . . .

    Comment by Rick Grunder — February 24, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

  5. we need a nice affordable paperback set of the woodruff diaries. price it at 50-75 bucks. somebody make it happen.

    Comment by BHodges — February 25, 2011 @ 12:16 am

  6. I love Woodruff’s journals. He can be so wonderfully candid.

    Comment by WVS — February 25, 2011 @ 12:43 am

  7. I’m actually surprised at how small Woodruff was.

    Comment by Ben — February 25, 2011 @ 3:09 am

  8. Though I’ve shared it before, I always love to share my favorite excerpt from the Woodruff diaries:

    I was troubled with the teeth ake. I took an instrumen & dug a stump of a tooth out of my Jaw that was broke off level at the Gum. It was a tedious operation. I spent the evening at the office reading history. (Wilford Woodruff Journal, 18th February 1857.)

    Comment by Ben — February 25, 2011 @ 3:11 am

  9. Sounds like they were getting America’s obesity epidemic off to an early start.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 25, 2011 @ 6:15 am

  10. Awesome. Any further information on why they were measuring themselves and one another?

    Comment by Christopher — February 25, 2011 @ 8:19 am

  11. I’ve remarked before, perhaps in conjunction with Ardis’s series a couple of years ago on Wilford Woodruff’s mission, about the physical similarity between a certain close relative (by marriage) of mine and Wilford Woodruff. Funny that the two are also a similar height and weight.

    I just measured my anonymous relative and his chest measurement is about the same but Woodruff’s waist measurement is much larger. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that Woodruff was 30 years older at the time? Perhaps it has something to do with a life of physical labor vs. the life of a modern American professional? Did Woodruff carry all his excess weight around his waistline? Could the number be wrong?

    Comment by Researcher — February 25, 2011 @ 8:34 am

  12. I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this in the temple.

    Comment by Jared T — February 25, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  13. I couldn’t find any context Chris. They just got bored I guess.

    Comment by SC Taysom — February 25, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  14. I think also they tended to measure a man’s waist higher then than they do now.

    Comment by SC Taysom — February 25, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  15. 1850:

    Willard Richards 241
    Orson Hyde 211
    Brigham Young 182
    Thomas Bullock 130
    George A. Smith 222

    Comment by John T. — February 25, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

  16. No way was George A. Smith 222. I’d suspect 322.

    Comment by Bret — February 27, 2011 @ 10:11 am


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