Junius F. Wells
Junius F. Wells was the first leader of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1875, Church president Brigham Young selected Wells to organize the first organization in the Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward. He then served as president of the committee that helped organize the association throughout the Church.
He was also founding editor and publisher of The Contributor, a publication aimed toward the young men and women of the Church, who wrote most of the articles. Wells served in that position for thirteen years. The Contributor was later replaced by the Improvement Era. He served as associate editor of the Millennial Star, the Church periodical published in England. He also accompanied the European mission president on visits to Swiss, German, and Scandinavian missions. Wells had served as a missionary to Great Britain from 1872 to 1874. He served another mission in the Midwest and New England.
He was interested in Church history and served as assistant Church historian in 1921. He collected and preserved paintings and photographs of scenes and persons connected with early Church history. In 1928 he was instrumental in purchasing 30,000 dry-plate negatives of Church history scenes taken by LDS photographer George Edward Anderson. As an agent for the Church, he purchased the Solomon Mack farm where Joseph Smith was born and designed a granite monument commemorating his birth that was dedicated by Church president Joseph F. Smith on the centennial of the Prophet’s birth.
Wells was born on June 1, 1854, in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. His father, Daniel H. Wells, was also a leader in the Church. He and his wife Helena were the parents of two children. He died on April 15, 1930.