Guide to the William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 1. First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City records

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information


Collection Overview +/-

Title: William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 1. First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City records
Dates: 1873-1975 (inclusive)
Collection Number: MSS-002A
Summary: This collection documents William M. Paden's service as minister (1887-1912) to First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as the operation of that church. The materials consists of correspondence, financial statements, flyers, histories, programs, publications, and reports. The materials date from 1873-1975. This collection is Series 1 of 5 in the Paden papers (MSS-002A to MSS-002E).
Repository: Westminster College, Giovale Library
1840 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
Phone: (801) 832-2250

Collection Inventory +/-

box 1, folder 1: Anniversary addresses (10th)
box 1, folder 2: Church Messenger, Vol. I, No. 8 (1898 October 8)
box 1, folder 3: Correspondence (1899-1929)
box 1, folder 4: Deeds
box 1, folder 5: Donation book (1873)
box 1, folder 6: Donation book (1897)
box 1, folder 7: Financial appeal to the Ladies of the Presbyterian Church
box 1, folder 8: Financial statements (1891-1897)
box 1, folder 9: McNiece, Robert G. (1892)
box 1, folder 10: Men's League
box 1, folder 11: News clippings (1902-1975)
box 1, folder 12: Outlook, p. 407-412 (1887 July)
box 1, folder 13: Presbyterian advance, p. 21-22 (1930 June 12)
box 1, folder 14: Presbyterian banner (1912 December, 1913 January)
box 1, folder 15: Programs (1906, 1927, undated)
box 1, folder 16: Sabbath School report (1902-1903)

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

William Mitchell Paden was born December 3, 1854 in Vanceville, Pennsylvania to Edward B. Paden (1820-1903) and Rachel Ann Paden (1928-1906, nee Amrine). He was raised in their Presbyterian home in Pigeon Creek, Pennsylvania. William was the first of 9 children in the family, his siblings being Henry Amrine Paden (1857-1892), Rev. Thomas Ross Paden, Sr. (1859-1933), Frances Mary Paden (1861-1942), Lulu Rachel Paden (1863-1938), Margaret J. Paden (b. 1866), John Marquis Paden (1870-1948), Olive A. Paden (1873-1940), and Boyd Emery Paden (1875-1946), all born in Pennsylvania.

William Mitchell Paden enrolled in Princeton College in New Jersey in 1876, and stayed at Princeton for his seminary training from 1880 to 1883. After graduation and ordination by the Redstone Presbytery, he was called to become the pastor of the Hollond Memorial Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

During the summer of 1887, Paden was invited to speak at the First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City. Samuel Wishard, the Synod executive who extended the invitation, asked him to stay in Utah to work within the Great Basin pastorate. Paden returned briefly to Philadelphia and delivered his resignation to his congregation.

On November 1, 1887, Paden delivered his first sermon in Salt Lake City and would serve as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church until October 15, 1912. During his time as pastor, Paden cleared the Church's existing $10,000 debt and "liquidated a loan from the Board of Church Erection." Other accomplishments included an increase in membership, the hiring of an assistant pastor, installing an organ in 1911, the opening of a mission in the southwest section of Salt Lake City, and reaching an enrollment of 700 with an active membership of 500.

After a brief trip to Pennsylvania, Paden returned to Utah to become the assistant to Josiah McClain until McClain's retirement in 1913 and was then promoted to the position of Synodical Superintendent of Missions. In 1928, at the age of 74, Paden retired to concentrate fully on his writings. He became recognized through his writings by both Mormons and non-Mormons as an authority on Mormonism. In addition to writing about Mormonism, he devoted his time to the history of the Utah Synod. While his journal writings have never been published, several of his sermons and various articles were published.

Throughout his professional life, Paden was concerned with the involvement of the LDS church in politics. His primary concern was polygamy, and the sense of lawlessness that he believed was a result of its practice in Utah. He actively campaigned against the election of Brigham H. Roberts and played a key role in the movement that prevented Roberts' seating in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was also an influential figure in the unsuccessful attempt to unseat Utah Senator Reed Smoot. Paden, among supporters like Senator Fred T. Dubois of Idaho, fought to remove Smoot.

He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah) from 1898-1915.

William Mitchell Paden died on September 16, 1931, in St. Luke's Hospital in Salt Lake City, and was buried in the Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Washington, Washington County, Pennsylvania near his childhood home.

Sources of this biographical note:

  • Baird, Paul Jesse. The mystery of ministry in the Great Basin. Miami, Arizona : Tri-Church Parish of Copper Hills United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., undated, p. 12.
  • Paden/Peden Family History and Genealogy, entries for William Mitchell Paden and Edward B. Paden, viewed online May 28, 2015 (
  • Pastoral history of First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City, viewed online May 7, 2015 (

Content Description +/-

This collection documents William M. Paden's service as minister (1887-1912) to First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as the operation of that church. The materials consists of correspondence, financial statements, flyers, histories, programs, publications, and reports. The materials date from 1873-1975 and describe both the daily operations of the church and special events (such as anniversaries). Paden was largely responsible for clearing the church's monumental debt. This collection is Series 1 of 5 in the Paden papers (MSS-002A to MSS-002E).

The correspondence (Folder 3) is all incoming addressed to Paden. A letter from Rev. John A. Ingham, dated October 16, 1899 urges Paden to support efforts to expel Mormon leader B.H. Roberts from the 56th Congress.

Several of the letters in the correspondence file Thomas J. Sherrard's letters (1903-1904, Chambergsburg, Pa.) are a response to Paden's request for information on the early history of First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City. Sherrard writes that he has 80 letters from Rev. Josiah Welch, and that "the letters of Mr. Welch I jave just completed and will have them bound ... I hope to forward them to you before long." Another letter is from Samuel Welch, a long hand-written letter dated July 14, 1903 which is a biographical account of the Welch family, including his youngest brother Josiah Welch, born 1841.

The letter from editor James H. Snowden, typed on The Presbyterian Banner letterhead and dated July 8, 1929 is a response to Paden's offer to write an article: "I want you to write one or two articles on Mormonism as you mentioned, for our issues next fall or winter ...".

There are also letters from several officers of the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. which concern mission work, travel expenses, and Mormonism in general.

The donation books (Folders 5-6) are Paden's: one his own (dated 1897, titled "Roll of the First Presbyterian Church, Mart 1st, 1897") and one belonging to an unknown Utah minister (dated 1873). Both donation books follow similar formats including a list of church members, whether they donated and how much, and also the status of their pledge (for instance, if the person has paid their donation in full, Paden wrote "PAID" next to the name).

Other subjects of materials in the collection are a proposed constitution of the Men's League (Folder 10), various articles, reports, and newspaper clippings concerning the First Presbyterian Church.

The "News clippings" file (Folder 11) is comprised of photocopies of articles from several sources:

  • "Anti-Mormon reasoning", and article from the Deseret Evening News dated October 18, 1902
  • "Church anniversary--First Presbyterian Church established in this city 27 years ago", an article from an unidentified newspaper, dating about 1898
  • An article from the Salt Lake Tribune dated April 12, 1975 about the donation to the church of an historical painting of the original First Presbyterian Church building (1874-1905) at Second East and Second South. The article includes a photograph of the minister next to the painting

The edition of the Presbyterian Advance (Folder 13) contains a rare reprinted photograph of William M. Paden, his brother Boyd E. Paden, and his nephew T. Ross Paden sitting together. All were Presbyterian ministers.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Open to public research.

Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Twenty-four hours advance notice is encouraged.

Restrictions on Use:

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material must be obtained from the director of the Giovale Library.

Preferred Citation:

William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 1. First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City records, 1873-1975, MSS-002A, Giovale Library Archives, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Administrative Information +/-


Arranged alphabetically by subject, and thereunder chronologically within each folder.

Processing Note:

Note on processing of the full set of Paden papers (MSS-002A to MSS-002E): The William Mitchell Paden collection was processed by Josh Ivie in 2005, described in five series, and originally assigned as one collection number (ACC-008). While the original order of the records is unknown, the collection's final arrangement is based on careful examination and consideration of all records. The dates on many of the records are missing, due to age, damage, or lack of inclusion. Some records are incomplete, missing parts due to damage (e.g., a second page of an article). An attempt was made to link these gaps to the loose articles included, but not all could be found.

While it is unclear when Westminster College acquired the Paden Collection, Paul Jesse Baird's "Presbyterian Pioneers in Utah," (1996) provides an explanation. Baird describes a "catch-all" trunk Paden used to collect all types of records related to the Presbyterian Church. Paden was said to have used this trunk during the years that he was pastor of the Salt Lake First Presbyterian Church, and later as he served as the Synodical Superintendent of Missions. After his death, his sister, Lou Rachel Paden, moved the trunk to the attic of the Westminster College library, of which she was a librarian. The next time the trunk was known to be opened was during President Steele's presidency (1939-1952). Paden also donated a large portion of his library to the college. Unfortunately, most of that library was lost in the Converse Hall fire of 1926.

Further documentation of this collection's origins can be found in the correspondence of Paden's nephew, T. Ross Paden located in the Emil Nyman Westminster College Library Archivist's biographical files, 1909-1981 (ACC-057). Paden's nephew wrote on June 10, 1981 to Westminster College archivist, Emil Nyman, asking about the status of his uncle's collection as well as informing Nyman that he was sending other records that belonged to his uncle. It is unknown what materials were then added.

It is a fact that college archivist Emil Nyman knew Paden personally; records dated after Paden's death were most likely placed in his collection by Nyman.

Materials within the Paden papers that have no relationship to Paden or his work were removed, including records dated after Paden's death. For more information regarding William Mitchell Paden see the George W. Martin papers, 1884-1937 (MSS-001) and the Presbyterian Church in Utah collections (MSS-003A to MSS-003C).

A decision was made in 2013 to split the Paden papers into five collections (one for each series) in line with the historical treatment of other multi-series collections held by the Giovale Library Archives. The resulting set of Paden collections are:

  • William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 1. First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City records, 1881-1975 (MSS-002A)
  • William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 2. First Presbyterian Home Mission records, 1881-1925 (MSS-002B)
  • William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 3. First Mormonism and politics newspaper clippings, 1880-1935 (MSS-002C)
  • William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 4. Utah and Mormonism publications, 1880-1935 (MSS-002D)
  • William Mitchell Paden papers. Series 5. Writings, 1886-1932 (MSS-002E)


Paden, William Mitchell, 1854-1931


Collection materials are in English.


0.6 linear feet

Language of the Finding Aid:


Author of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid written 2005 by Josh Ivie. Expanded May 2015 by Sarah Shaw.

EAD Creation Date:

2015 May 7 by Sarah Shaw


Describing Archives : A Content Standard (DACS)



Related Material:

Related collections and photographs in Giovale Library Archives:

Related photographs in Giovale Library Archives

Related collections and photographs held by other institutions:

Subjects +/-

Corporate Names:

First Presbyterian Church (Salt Lake City, Utah)--Archives
First Presbyterian Church (Salt Lake City, Utah)--History--Sources
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Synod of Utah--History--Sources

Subject Terms:

Anti-Mormonism--United States--History--Sources
Presbyterian Church--Utah
Presbyterian church buildings--Utah

Form or Genre Terms:

Clippings (information artifacts)
Donor lists
Financial statements
Fliers (printed matter)
Programs (documents)

Personal Names:

Ingham, John A.
McNiece, Robert G. (Robert Gibson), 1839-1913
Paden, William Mitchell, 1854-1931--Archives
Roberts, B. H. |q (Brigham Henry), 1857-1933
Sherrard, Thomas J. (Thomas Johnston), 1845-1905.
Snowden, James H. (James Henry), 1852-1936
Welch, Josiah, 1841-1877
Welch, Samuel, 1837-1918

Geographical Names:

Salt Lake City (Utah)--History--Sources