It was Friday, March 12, 1897, only 20 years since Thomas Edison had invented the first phonograph. President Wilford Woodruff of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had just turned 90 years old. He knew his voice would be preserved for the ages and chose his six points carefully.
Joseph J. Daynes Jr., President Woodruff's son-in-law, brought a phonograph to the LDS Church office "for the purpose of showing its workings, and to get Pres. Woodruff to talk into it," the Journal History of the church states. Phonographs in that day used hard, waxlike cylinders to record two minutes at a time. A needle made indentations into the wax as the cylinder spun on a spindle.
The prophet agreed to make the recording on the condition that he could keep the cylinders so they couldn't be used for "advertising."
A few months ago, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, a professor of church history and doctrine at BYU, spoke at the BYU Studies Symposium about the recording. He said the two counselors in the First Presidency in 1897 — President George Q. Cannon and President Joseph F. Smith — were also present and recorded their witness that they had listened to the prophet's testimony as he spoke it.