Exhibition Highlights

A Builder of Men

Courtesy of Education in Zion

 

Have you worked as a student custodian on campus? If so, you have Brigham Thomas Higgs to thank!

In the late 1800s, Brigham Thomas Higgs came to the Brigham Young Academy to supervise and facilitate the maintenance of the school grounds. He helped manage the academy’s heating plant, taught carpentry and woodworking, and was the first to suggest hiring students as part-time custodians.[1] Because adding students to the custodial staff was so successful, Higgs “was given charge of all campus custodial work.”[2] This may have been more than he bargained for, but it provided a chance for hundreds of students to pay for their education, many of whom likely wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

With words such as “Be the man you would be proud to have your son become,” Higgs was an inspiration to many students.[3] One student shared, “[Higgs] was more than a builder of saw mills, . . . bridges, and houses; he was a builder of character, a builder of men.”[4]

Sources:

1. Label text, Education in Zion Gallery.

2. R. H. Boyle, address given in honor of B. T. Higgs, Manavu Ward meetinghouse, July 15, 1939, [2], MSS SC 1570, Brigham T. Higgs Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

3. Boyle, address given in honor of B. T. Higgs, [1].

4. Emma Higgs Wakefield, “Life Sketch of Brigham Thomas Higgs,” 1, MSS SC 1570, Brigham T. Higgs Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, paraphrasing Brigham T. Higgs, “Talk to a Group of College Boys Doing Janitor Work at B. Y. U. University,” typescript, May 5, 1934, 1, MSS SC 1570, Brigham T. Higgs Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

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