Historical Summary

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, (2011), x–xii

This book is not a history, but rather a compilation of gospel principles as taught by President David O. McKay. However, in order to put his teachings in a historical framework, the following chronology is provided. This summary omits some important events in his personal life, such as the births of his children and grandchildren.

1873, September 8:

Born in Huntsville, Utah, to David McKay and Jennette Evans McKay.


David McKay leaves on a mission to the British Isles. David O. and his mother assume responsibility for the farm and family (7; numbers in parentheses show David O. McKay’s age).


Receives patriarchal blessing from John Smith (13).


Sustained as secretary of the Huntsville Ward Sunday School (15).


Serves as a teacher and principal at the Huntsville grade school; sustained as a Sunday School teacher in the Huntsville Ward (19–20).


Attends the University of Utah and graduates as valedictorian (20–23).


Fulfills a two-year mission to Great Britain. In addition to his proselyting duties, serves as a leader of all the missionaries in Scotland (23–25).


Teaches at Weber Stake Academy in Ogden, Utah (25–26).


Appointed to Weber Stake Sunday School Board (27).

1901, January 2:

Marries Emma Ray Riggs in the Salt Lake Temple (27).


Appointed as principal of the Weber Stake Academy (28).


Ordained an Apostle by President Joseph F. Smith (32).


World War I is fought (40–44).


Appointed general superintendent of the Deseret Sunday School Union. Publishes Ancient Apostles (45).


Serves as Church commissioner of education (45–47).

1920, December:

On an assignment from the First Presidency, leaves on a one-year tour with Elder Hugh J. Cannon to visit Church missions around the world (47).


Serves as president of the European Mission (49–51).


Sustained and set apart as second counselor to President Heber J. Grant (61).


World War II is fought (65–71).


Sustained and set apart as second counselor to President George Albert Smith (71).


Sustained and set apart as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (77).

1951, April 9:

Sustained and set apart as the ninth President of the Church, with Stephen L Richards as first counselor and J. Reuben Clark Jr. as second counselor. At this time, the Church had approximately one million members (77).

1952, June:

Leaves on nine-week tour of Europe, during which time he visits Church members in nine countries (78).


Receives the Boy Scouts’ highest honor, the Silver Buffalo (79).


Begins 32,000-mile mission tour; first Church President to visit Central American and South American missions; first General Authority to visit the South African mission (80).

1955, August:

Visits Europe with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (81).

1955, September:

Dedicates the Bern Switzerland Temple (82).

1956, March:

Dedicates the Los Angeles California Temple (82).

1956, October:

Dedicates the Relief Society Building (83).

1958, April:

Dedicates the Hamilton New Zealand Temple (84).

1958, September:

Dedicates the London England Temple (85).

1964, November:

Dedicates the Oakland California Temple (91).

1970, January 18:

At age 96, dies in Salt Lake City, Utah. By the end of his administration, Church membership had reached approximately three million.