Saints and the San Francisco Earthquake



In mid-April 1906 about one hundred and twenty-five Latter-day Saints lived in San Francisco, the “Paris of the West,” whose hilly neighborhood straddled the San Andreas fault line. In addition, the city constantly drew visiting Saints—tourists, business people, travelers, and guests. LDS medical and university students were also temporary residents. The local branch had several dozen members scattered throughout the crowded city. The headquarters building for the California Mission, where President Joseph E. Robinson, his young family and several missionaries lived, stood at 609 Franklin Street—affectionately called “Six-Ought-Nine” by missionaries.

The dramatic experiences of the Saints who witnessed the terrible earthquake on 18 April 1906 became etched in memory but not written in the historical literature of Mormonism. The best surveys of LDS history in California, Dr. Eugene Campbell’s dissertation and Leo J. Muir’s two volume history, give the earthquake only brief mention. To piece together the story of the Saints and the earthquake, this account draws from materials published in 1906, from contemporary diaries and correspondence, and from oral and written reminiscences by Saints who were there.


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Print ISSN: 2837-0031
Online ISSN: 2837-004X