Inventory of Executive record books from Secretary of State, i 1850-1949.

Series 242

Secretary of State Executive record books

Dates: i 1850-1949.

4.50 cubic feet and 7 microfilm reels

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

Scope and Content

From the beginning of territorial government in Utah, statute required the Secretary of the Territory, and later the Secretary of State, to record the official acts of the Governor. Copies of original documents issued by the Governor as he exercised his general responsibilities for directing the affairs of government were transcribed into the record books as official acts until the series was discontinued in 1949.

Entries in the first two volumes overlap somewhat. Record book A contains regular entries made by secretaries Willard Richards, B.D. Harris and possibly different clerks over a three year period from 1850 to September, 1853. After this date, and continuing through 1863, other secretaries apparently used book A as a place to record appointments and commissions made by the Governor. Election returns for the same period were also entered in this volume. After 1863 these lists are entered in record book B.

Richards had originally been Secretary of State under the provisional government of Deseret, and he also served as Secretary pro tem at two different times between 1851 and 1853. Once after Harris, the first federal appointee, left the territory in September, 1851, and again after Benjamin G. Ferris, the second one, left the territory in May, 1853. Richards made all of his entries in book A. Entries made by Harris during his three months in Salt Lake City in 1851 are also recorded in this book.

Record book B was opened by Secretary Ferris in 1852, and his entries continue until April of 1853. After Almon W. Babbitt replaced Richards as permanent Secretary in October of that year, entries continue in Book B. (Christy Best, "Report of the Survey of Selected Territorial Records Extant at the Utah State Archives," Salt Lake City, 1987.)

Two duplicate volumes exist in the series. Documents entered in both"D" volumes are identical. The first seven pages apparently contain a record of the redistricting for elections made by the Utah Commission. A handwritten copy of volume one was kept for the first four months of 1896, in which were recorded communications to the legislature. After that time these were integrated into the main set. During the territorial period, additional copies of the EXECUTIVE RECORD BOOKS were prepared and submitted to various federal officials. Documents were recorded by hand initially, but later published copies of some reports were glued into the books. After statehood all entries are typewritten.

During the territorial period, a wide range of executive actions were recorded, and these included all Governor's proclamations and messages to the legislative assembly; the commissioning or appointment of government officials; documents related to the election process; pardons and other documents related to crime and criminals; reports to the Secretary of the Interior; and selected correspondence related to emergencies or controversial events.

The pattern of documentation began changing dramatically in the 1880's, both in terms of what was recorded and in terms of how the documents were identified. Actions which previously had been recorded in the record books were shifted to other series, marking a tendency to create separate series f or each type of executive action. Political developments affected this trend as well. Federal attempts to reform the territorial government through a series of laws led to changes in what was recorded in this series. The most important of these is the Edmunds Act of 1882, which specifically affected the appointment of officials and the way in which elections were handled. (Edmunds Act, amendment cf 5350 U.S.C., in Compiled Laws of Utah, I (Salt Lake City, Herbert Pembroke Printer, 1888), 110-13.) Changes in the documentation of these functions in this series date from the passage of this act.

As time passed, the identification of documents also became more consistent. In the first few decades of the territorial period, different executive acts were identified directly as "election results",or "respites", or "appointments", etc.; but beginning in the 1880's and increasingly after statehood, those acts still being recorded in the record books were identified and recorded as proclamations. Appointments, for example, were made by proclamation after the 1880's, but offers of reward for criminals were recorded as proclamations only after 1930. After this date virtually the only thing recorded, which is not also a proclamation, are the times when the Secretary of State served as acting Governor.


These were recorded consistently throughout the series. Typically, the Governor issued proclamations to regulate the general operation of government or as a way to commemorate important events. The most common reasons for issuing a proclamation included: the declaration of public holidays; the appointment of various government officials; the times when elections were to be held; terms of the district courts and changes in their boundaries; and the expressions of sympathy upon the death of prominent people.

After statehood, proclamations were increasingly issued to commemorate important events, such as Navy Day or Fire Prevention Week. From 1909 and into the 1930s, the Governor also used proclamations as away of identifying corporations which had not paid license fees. Names were listed in accompanying documents--not recorded in the record books--and the public was put on notice that such companies were not to be allowed to do business in the state.

Military affairs were directed by proclamation throughout the entire period. They were issued to control the mustering or disbanding of the territorial militia, and after statehood for the calling and organizing of military units to serve in wartime.

In the 1940s the first of the Executive Orders appears. Closely related to proclamations in function, executive orders have the effect of law until they expire or are changed; proclamations usually apply to a single event. Only a handful of orders are recorded here, but their use increases in the period after this series was discontinued.

Crime and criminals:

Information about crime and criminals can be found in pardons, reprieves or respites, requisitions for the extradition of criminals, prison reports, and offers for reward or warrants for the arrest of criminals. Pardons of criminals. Pardons of criminals are the most frequently recorded document in this series until 1886. Normally, in granting a pardon, the Governor would summarize the history of the case, and outline his reasons for taking the action.

.Reprieves or respites contain the same information as a pardon, but they differ from them in that they were issued temporarily. The Governor did not have power to pardon criminals who had violated federal law; so until this decision was made by a federal official, the respite was issued.

Requisitions for the extradition of criminals appear occasionally in record books in the 1850's and 1860's. A brief description of the crime for which the person was sought is usually included on the requisition form. Warrants for the arrest of criminals were issued in response to a requisition received from another state; vas sought is usually included o- the requisition form. Warrants for the arrest of criminals were issued in response to a requisition from another state; these usually contain the same information as a requisition issued by Utah's governor. The offer of reward is the only document relating to criminals that continues to be recorded after statehood, and then only until the early 1930's. Occasionally rewards are offered through proclamation after that date.

Governors messages and reports

Copies of the Governor's annual messages to the legislature were regularly recorded until 1920. Printed messages were glued into the books after 1886. Annual messages

Access Restrictions

This series is designated as Public.

Reproduction and Use

These records are available for reproduction and use.

Finding Aids

Indexes: There is an electronic index to the names of individuals mentioned in the records and the volume and page number on which the name appears. View index.

Related Records

Messages to the legislature from the Governor (2009- : Herbert), Series 182, are the printed copies of the messages recorded by hand in this series.

Territorial executive papers from the Territorial Secretary, Series 241, contain information that overlaps with this series. Neither series contains full information.

Criminal warrant register from the Territorial Secretary, Series 305, contains records of warrants issued for the arrest of criminals.

Criminal requisitions registers from the Secretary of State, Series 306, contain information prior to 1881, which was recorded by the Secretary of State.

Pardons granted record books from the Secretary of State, Series 329, contain all pardons granted after 1880.

Oaths of office register from the Territorial Secretary, Series 350, records oaths that correspond to elected and appointed officials mentioned in this series.

Commission registers from the Secretary of State, Series 352, include lists of many officials whose appointments are recorded in this series.

Election papers from the Lieutenant Governor, Series 364, include official bonds, oaths, and certificates also found in this series.

Notaries public commissions registers from the Secretary of State, Series 388, contain appointments which are also recorded in this series.

Journals from the Legislature. Senate, Series 409, contain published copies of governors' messages to the legislature.

Journals from the Legislature. House of Representatives, Series 456, contain published copies of governors' messages to the legislature.

Journals from the Legislative Assembly, Series 3145, contain published copies of territorial governors' messages to the legislative assembly.

Legislative acts, resolutions, and memorial journals from the Secretary of State, Series 3148, contains final copies of the bills often discussed in these journals.

Journal record books from the Legislative Council, Series 3167, cite in the minutes of the council the governor's annual messages to the territorial legislature which are part of this series.

Oaths of office from the Department of Administrative Services (Utah). Division of Archives and Records Service, Series 17170, include original oaths of office for some of the same elected and appointed officials whose duplicate oaths appear in this series, including general officers of the state militia on the governor's staff soon after statehood.

Governors' executive orders and proclamations from the Lieutenant Governor, Series 85039, contain the original copies of executive orders and proclamations which were transcribed in this series until 1949.

Indexing Terms

Executive power--Utah.


Remission (Civil law)--Utah.




11aSept. 9, 1851-May 2, 1863
21bJuly 13, 1852-Dec. 1, 1871
32cJan. 9, 1872-Nov, 18, 1886
43dMay 2, 1887-Jan. 13, 1890
54dMay 2, 1887-Dec. 1, 1895
651Jan 6., 1896-Apr. 5, 1896
661Jan 6, 1896-Mar. 21, 1911
672Mar. 22, 1911-Sept. 4, 1914
783Sept. 10, 1914-May 28, 1937
794Apr. 23, 1937-Dec. 31, 1949

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