Adapted from the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia.
James Edward Talmage was a member of the Council of
the Twelve Apostles, and a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah. He was born
Sunday Sept. 21, 1862, at Hungerford, Berkshire, England, the son of James
Joyce Talmage and his wife, Susannah Preater. He is the first son and second
child in a family of eight. He was baptized and confirmed a member of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the place of his birth,
June 15, 1873, and on the 18th of the following August was ordained a Deacon
in the Ramsbury branch of the London conference.
The entire family left England May 24, 1876, landed
in New York June 5th, and arrived in Salt Lake City June 14th following.
His career in the Church was upward and onward from the time of his baptism.
In Provo, Utah, where the family had established a home, he was ordained
a Teacher December 17, 1877, and an Elder June 28, 1880. On September 29,
1884, he was ordained a High Priest, and was set apart as an alternate
High Councilor in the Utah Stake of Zion.
On December 7, 1911, he was appointed and sustained
to be one of the Apostles, to fill the vacancy caused by the appointment
of Elder Charles W. Penrose as second
counselor in the First Presidency, and on the following day (Dec. 8th)
was ordained an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and was set apart as one
of the Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, under the hands of President Joseph
F. Smith, assisted by his counselors and members of the Council of
In 1888 (June 14th) he married Mary May Booth (daughter
of Richard Thornton Booth and his wife, Elsie Edge Booth), at the Manti
Temple, and from this union there came the following children: Sterling
B., born May 21, 1889; Paul B.,born Dec. 21, 1891; Zella, born Aug. 3,
1894, died of pneumonia April 27, 1895; Elsie, born Aug. 16, 1896; James
Karl, born Aug. 29, 1898; Lucile, born May 29, 1900; Helen May, born Oct.
24, 1902, and John Russell, born Feb. 1, 1911.
` Elder Talmage obtained his early schooling in the
National and Board schools of his home district in England, and was an
Oxford diocesan prize scholar in 1874. He entered the Brigham Young Academy
(now University) at Provo, Utah, in 1876, and followed to completion the
high school and normal courses, and in his 17th year was a teacher of elementary
science and English in the institution named. His early predilection was
for the sciences, and in 1882-83 he took a selected course, mainly in chemistry
and geology, at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. Though a special student
and not a candidate for a degree, he passed during his single year of residence
nearly all the examinations in the four-year course and was later graduated;
and in 1883-84 he was engaged in advanced work at Johns Hopkins University,
He returned to Utah in the fall of 1884, in response
to a summons from the home institution, and served as professor of geology
and chemistry, with varied activities in other departments, in the Brigham
Young Academy from 1884 to 1888. While still a member of the faculty, he
was elected a member of the board of trustees of the Brigham Young Academy.
During his residence in Provo, he served successively as city councilman,
alderman and justice of the peace.
In 1888 he was called to Salt Lake City to take the
presidency of the Latter-day Saints College, which position he held until
1893. He was president of and professor of geology in the University of
Utah, 1894-97. In the year last named he resigned the presidency, but retained
the chair of geology, which had been specially endowed; and ten years later
(1907) he resigned the professorship to follow the practical work of mining
geology, for which his services were in great demand. In 1891 he received
the degree of Bachelor of Science, and in 1912 the honorary degree of Doctor
of Science, from his old alma mater, Lehigh University. In 1890 he was
given the honorary degree of Doctor of Science and Didactics by the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 1896 was awarded the Doctor
of Philosophy degree by Illinois Wesleyan University for nonresident work.
Dr. Talmage was elected to life membership in several learned societies,
and for many years was a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society (London),
Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (Edinburgh), Fellow of
the Geological Society (London), Fellow of the Geological Society of America,
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Associate of the Philosophical
Society of Great Britain, or Victoria Institute, and Fellow of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Talmage traveled extensively, having traversed
most of this country and of Europe many times in the course of scientific
pursuits. He was a delegate from the Royal Society of Edinburgh to the
International Geological Congress held at St. Petersburg (Petrograd)) in
1897, and was a member of the party that crossed the Urals into Siberia.
Throughout the period of his professional career as teacher and professor,
Dr. Talmage was particularly active and efficient in encouraging scientific
study by popular lectures and writings, and for this labor his deep love
for science and his exceptional command of language and ability as a public
speaker particularly fitted him.
Impelled by the same spirit, he took charge of the
little Deseret Museum in 1891, and had the satisfaction of seeing the institution
become large and influential. He retained the directorship until 1919,
when the Deseret Museum ceased to exist as a unified institution, its collections
being segregated to form the L. D. S. University Museum, and the L. D.
S. Church Museum, respectively. In his teaching work Dr. Talmage was the
first to establish courses in domestic science and agricultural chemistry
in the intermountain West.
When called to special ministry in the Church he
promptly relinquished his profession as a mining geologist and engineer,
the practice of which had grown to be extensive and lucrative, and from
that time he devoted himself entirely to ecclesiastical service.
Dr. Talmage was the author of many scientific and
theological works, among which are: "First Book of Nature" ( 1888 ); "Domestic
Science" ( 1891 ); "Tables for Blowpipe Determination of Minerals" ( 1899);
"The Great Salt Lake, Present and Past" (1900) ;"The Articles of Faith"
(1899), a comprehensive exposition of the doctrines of the Church; "The
Great Apostasy" ( 1909 ); "The House of the Lord" (1912 ), a discussion
of holy sanctuaries, ancient and modern; "The Story of Mormonism" ( 1907
); lectures delivered at Michigan, Cornell and other universities; "The
Philosophical Basis of Mormonism" ( 1915 ); "Jesus the Christ" (1915);
"The Vitality of Mormonism" ( 1919 ), and numerous pamphlets and contributions
Bishop Orson F. Whitney,
author of the "History of Utah," said of him: "Professionally a scientist
and a preceptor, with gifts and powers equalled by few, Dr. Talmage is
also a writer and speaker of great ability and skill. He is an absolute
master of English, both by pen and tongue, and possesses a musical eloquence
of marvelous fluency and precision. His style of oratory, though not stentorian,
is wonderfully impressive, and his well stored mind, capacious memory,
quick recollection and remarkable readiness of speech render him a beau-ideal
instructor, in public or in private."
Elder Talmage served in the Quorum of the Twelve
until his death July 27, 1933 at Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of seventy.