Patriarchal Blessings

FYI. A change in policy effective this month:

The Church is no longer charging the old $3 fee for obtaining copies of patriarchal blessings. You can now get a replacement copy of your own blessing, or a copy of an ancestral blessing, for the price of a postage stamp. The only catch is that now you may order only four blessings at a time — wait for them to be delivered, then order the next batch.

Anyone may obtain a copy of his own blessing, or that of any deceased direct ancestor, or of a current spouse, or of a direct descendant (whether living or dead). You may not request blessings of your living [grand]parents, any collateral relative (brother, aunt, great uncle, second cousin), your ex-husband, that cute girl you’ve been stalking, or your favorite Mormon celebrity.

Write to: Patriarchal Blessings, Department of Family and Church History, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150.

Provide the full name (maiden and married, if you aren’t sure when a woman received her blessing), birth date, and, if you know it, the applicable date/stake/patriarch. State your relationship to each person whose blessing you are requesting. Be sure to provide your mailing address. You can come to the library in person if that’s more convenient (it won’t speed up delivery, though); telephone requests are not accepted.

And be patient. It may take three or four months to receive copies. They usually warn you that it will take up to six months, but my experience is that they take care of it much faster.

(Disclaimer: Please remember that I am not a Church employee and in no way pretend to speak for the Church. This is merely a piece of good news I learned this week, as a library patron.)

29 comments for “Patriarchal Blessings

  1. Do you have any idea how far back they go? I would love to get my hands on a copy of the patriarchal blessing of a grandmother several times removed who was a polygamous wife.

  2. Michelle, there are gaps in the records, but they have blessings back to Joseph Smith, Sr.’s day. Not everyone received a blessing, of course, and some records were not turned in to the historian’s office as expected. Still, it’s worth asking.

  3. Do you have to include a self addressed stamped envelope, or do they take care of that?

  4. This will be a copy of your current blessing — not an opportunity to try for a better one — right? ;->

  5. Thanks for the info, Ardis. Does it work the same way for people outside the U.S.?

  6. Yes, Wilfried, it does.

    Blessing requests are handled by senior sister missionaries. Those I’ve known now and in the past who have served on that desk have all been monolingual. I’m sure it would help if those writing requests in languages other than English kept it as simple as possible, with the name and birthdate set off by indentation or underlining or some other conspicuous marking, rather than being buried in a paragraph. Ditto the full address where the blessing is to be mailed. I know they have struggled with how to address envelopes going to Central America.

    And speaking of missionaries, if the requested blessing is a replacement copy for a currently serving missionary, or a military serviceman or -woman, indicate that. They give priority to filling those requests as quickly as possible.

  7. Off topic: Ardis, did you see the nice shout out William MacKinnon gave you on p. 65 of the current Dialogue?

  8. Yeah, Kevin, I did. Bill has always been very generous with his acknowledgements and in every other way. He’s first class. Nothing I contribute to Mormon studies or Utah history would have happened without him. His steady employment made it possible for me to hang on long enough to develop a steady client base, but that’s only the most tangible debt I owe him. His moral support and encouragement, and his trust, have been even more important.

  9. My mother worked the patriarchal blessing desk for several months, Ardis. My father is still working at the library, while my mom has been moved over to the Museum. Wonder if you’ve run into either of them.


  10. Thomas, of course! Your father might as well have been working in the library his whole career, as fast as he learned sources and has been able to research patron questions. Your mother usually still works a few hours a week in the library, greeting patrons and helping them figure out where they need to go for whatever their type of question is. From what she’s said, she seems to enjoy working with the public at the museum.

  11. Funny, when I got a replacement copy of mine five or six years ago, they didn’t charge me anything…

    The real question, as far as I’m concerned, is “how do you fix your name when the patriarch’s wife wasn’t paying attention, and spelled it wrong?” On mine I’m “Sara” and only half of my last name was included (I’m hyphenated — and she put in the half of my name that makes my dad turn colors when he sees it used, because he always thinks I dropped his contribution on purpose.) I was too embarrassed to ask for the correction when I was 16, and now it’s been 10 years and I’m in a new stake.

    And, actually, it turns out I wasn’t on any official church records at the time I got my patriarchal blessing (I only got a membership number two years ago,) because I’m physically incapable of having any ordinary clerical experiences.

    Anyway, as I often find occasion to remind members of the various Primary-related mailing lists, it’s harder to find out these solutions when you’re not in the Mountain West.

  12. Sara, er, Sarah, the Church won’t correct the error on your blessing or in the patriarch’s records filed in the archives because, flawed as it is, it is now the historical record. I overhear this question a dozen times a week — there must be a lot of patriarchs with wives who don’t type so very well — and the answer is always the same.

    There is nothing magical about the paper copy you received, though. You can retype your blessing, correcting the name yourself. You can probably format it so it looks nicer than the original, too. (I’ve actually divided mine into verses and footnoted it as if it were a section of scripture, and printed it out on paper to fit into my bound scriptures — couldn’t do that if I clung to the original paper copy.)

  13. BTW, a copy of my patriarchal blessing goes around with me behind one of the tabs in my Day Planner. I find it easier to review it frequently when it’s actually with me most of the day.

  14. Thanks for this, Ardis. I’ve been meaning to get a copy of my blessing. I’m starting to forget what’s in there. My request is sitting in a stamped envelope reading for tomorrow’s mail.

  15. Does anyone know when in pioneer history patriarchal blessing began to be recorded? I’m researching ancestors (in the British Isles) pre-1900 and although we have oral histories of blessings, the index isn’t pulling their names. When did writing it down become standard practice?

  16. I assume that the non-related plural wives of a polygamous ancestor do not count as direct-line ancestors. Is that correct?

  17. j.a.t., patriarchal blessings have been recorded since 1834, and Peter Melling began giving them in England in the late 1830s. I can only guess as to why your ancestors aren’t showing up in the index, but the most likely reasons are that their blessings were not patriarchal blessings in the sense of declaring their lineage (official patriarchs were not all that common in Europe until the last couple of generations), or that the records of the blessings were not forwarded to the historian’s office per usual practice.

    Sara, no, if she’s not your literal grandmother, you aren’t supposed to request her blessing.

  18. Goodness, just yesterday at church I was looking at my raggedy only copy of my PB and thinking, “gee, I should get a clean copy without college cocoa stains all over it. How do you go about that?”

    Yay for Ardis and her endless font of knowledge! I just wish I could get a peek at my mom’s PB–she guards it with all sorts of paranoa. It’s made me curious if it says scary things about her kids, since she fears our seeing it. I had no idea I could get copies of my grandmama’s blessing and such! So cool! New project for Women’s History Month!

  19. My Patriarchal Blessing is dated for April 26, when in fact the blessing was given on February 26. I was at that time a much more dilligent journal keeper than I am now, and I wrote about it the day after. I included some things the Patriarch told me just after the blessing was given that I found significant.

    I remember some time after that I was concerned that the dates did not align. I mentioned this to my father and he replies “Do you really think it makes a whole lot of difference? The blessing is still valid, is it not?”

    I have not worried over it since then.

  20. Dear Ardis, just a line from Spain to thank you for your expertise and kindness. I didn\’t know I could order my ancestors\’ PB. Thank you.

  21. What is this wierd blessing you are all talking about? Is is some kind of star gazer thing that tells you how to live or what will happen to you? My Mormon friends don\’t want to talk about it so I\’m just guessing.

    Where did Christ talk about these Patriarchal Blessing things in the Gospels? Or anywhere in the Bible at all? Hey I have over 20 versions of the Bible plus a few versions of the Koran, The Book of Mormon (did you Mormons know there are 2 versions of this book? Yours and The Community of Christ version) and only Mormons know about this thing.

  22. Michael,

    The Bible absolutely contains accounts of blessings given by a patriarch. Take a look at Genesis 49, for instance.

  23. Thanks for all the info. I just taught my seminary class Genesis 49 and there were a couple of questions that I had to research the answers to and this was very informative.

  24. My great great grandmother was sealed to one man, who then died, and she remarried for time to another, who was my great great grandfather. But the children are sealed to her and her first husband. Can I request a copy of her first husbands blessing?

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