Series 3145
Legislative Assembly Journals

Dates: i 1851-1880.

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These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.

Historical Note

An agency history is available.

Scope and Content

These volumes constitute the published minutes of the territorial legislature from the first session through the twenty-fourth session. The legislature began keeping journals with the creation of the territory in 1851. At first the legislature held annual sessions, but moved to biennial sessions beginning in 1870. Special sessions might be called in between, or the legislature might simply meet while officially adjourned to enact laws. The territorial secretary was to keep custody of the journals and arrange for their publication and distribution. Entries record the proceedings of the Council, or Senate, and the House as well as any joint sessions.

The 1851 through 1855 volumes have three sections: one for the House, one for the Council, or Senate, and one for joint sessions. Thereafter, entries for each chamber are mingled by date: Each day's entry covers first the Council's proceedings for the day, then those of the House, then any joint session held that same day.

Both houses follow a similar standard order of daily business. The place and date is entered, there is note of the call to order and roll, a prayer, then the daily legislative business, reading of minutes, adjournment, and a closing benediction. While the activities are noted, details are not. The beginning day of each session usually lists the members answering to roll call, thereafter the entries just specify if a quorum is present.

Legislative business is only slightly more detailed. The process of enacting legislation via bills and resolutions are the most frequent business recorded. The title of the bill is noted (the contents are not recorded) as is its status: which reading it is at, whether or not it is passed, whether it has been referred back to committee, what amendments or rewrites are motioned for, etc. The names of individuals motioning for these actions are recorded, but names on final votes are not. Original bills are mentioned by number, proceeded by H.F. for House file, C.F. for Council file, or J.S.F. for Joint Session file, depending on where they were introduced.

The election of senate officers is recorded as is the election by joint session of officials from notary, to county probate judge, to regents. The appointment of house and senate committees is common at the beginning of each session, with the name of the committee and its members recorded. A separate listing of both council and house members, the committees, and officers is common at the beginning of later volumes.

Committee reports may also be entered in the record and are more narrative than much of the business noted; the reports cover a wide spectrum of business from the condition of the penitentiary to road claims and appropriations. Reports of territorial agencies, such as the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, University of Deseret, Treasurer, and the Auditor's Office, are regularly read into the record. Various communications, from petitions for particular legislative action to county financial reports are on occasion also spread upon the record.

Messages from the opposing chamber, usually relating to a joint session or the passage of a bill in that house, are recorded in full. Messages from the territorial secretary or the governor also report passage, veto, or objections to portions of particular bills. Annual messages from the governor to the joint session of the assembly are printed in full. Memorial tributes are rare but long, notably one read into the record in 1878 following the death of Brigham Young the previous year.

The 1857-58 volume is a 1956 publication as the original was never published (see PROCESSING NOTE). The series ends in 1880; after that date, the journals of the two legislative houses were published separately.


Volumes are chronologically arranged. Entries within each volume up through 1855 are divided by type of session (House, Senate, Joint) and thereunder chronologically. The other volumes have chronological entries thereunder by type of session.

Research Note

Except for the 5th session gap, we hold the other gaps in handwritten version. None of the following are good referrals for gaps, because they don't hold copies either: Supreme Court Law Library, University of Utah Law library, LDS Church History Library or Archives.

Related Records

Journals from the Legislature. Senate, Series 409, contain the senate minutes after 1882.

Journals from the Legislature. House of Representatives, Series 456, are the published minutes of the House after 1882.

Legislative acts, resolutions, and memorial journals from the Secretary of State, Series 3148, contain manuscript copies of bills, resolutions and memorials passed by the legislature and recorded by the secretary of state 1851-1911.

Territorial legislative records from the Legislative Assembly, Series 3150, contain a draft version of the minutes for 1857-1858 as well as copies of bills and resolutions.

Journal record books from the Legislative Council, Series 3167, contain handwritten minutes of the council for 1858-1882 and the handwritten house minutes for 1880.

Journal record books from the Legislative Assembly. House, Series 16660, contain handwritten house minutes from 1858-1878.

Laws of Utah from the Legislature, Series 83155, contain the published versions of laws passed by the assembly.

Access Restrictions

This series is classified as Public.

Preferred Citation

Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.

Gaps in Series

The 5th session, 1855-1856; 8th session, 1858-1859; 19th session, 1870-1871; and 21st session, 1874 are missing. Handwritten copies for the 8th, 19th and 21st sessions are available in series 3167 (Senate) and series 16660 (House).

Indexing Terms

  • Young, Brigham, 1801-1877.
  • Utah. Legislature—Publication of proceedings.
  • Legislators—Utah—Selection and appointment.
  • Legislative bodies—Utah—Committees.
  • Legislation—Utah.
  • Utah—Officials and employees—Selection and appointment.
  • Utah—Politics and government—1851-1880.

Container List

1 1851-1852, First Annual and Special Session; 1852-1853, Second Annual and Adjourned Sessions; 1853-1854, Third Annual Session; 1854-1855, Fourth Annual Session; 1856-1857, Sixth Annual Session
2 1857-1858, Seventh Annual Session c 1956
3 1859-1860, Ninth Annual Session; 1860-1861, Tenth Annual Session; 1861-1862, Eleventh Annual Session; 1862-1863, Twelth Annual Session; 1863-1864, Thirteenth Annual Session; 1864-1865, Fourteenth Annual Session; 1865-1866, Fifteenth Annual Session; 1866-1867, Sixteenth Annual Session; 1868, Seventeenth Annual Session; 1869, Eighteenth Annual Session
4 1872, Twentieth Session
5 1876, Twenty-Second Session; 1878, Twenty-Third Session
6 1880, Twenty-Fourth Session

Page Last Updated October 18, 2012.