William Rees Palmer was born in Cedar City, Utah on May 7, 1877, the sixth of seven children born to Richard Palmer and Johanna Reese. William R. Palmer attend the district schools, the Parowan Stake Academy in Cedar City from 1890- to 1895, and Brigham Young Academy in Prove, Utah for the school year 1895-96. After serving a two-and-a-half year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints among the white settlers and Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma and Kansas, Palmer became a clerk in the Cedar City Co-op Store. He married Kate Vilate Isom on May 7, 1901. They were parents of eight children. He was employed as a merchant, county assessor, and cashier of the Iron Commercial and Savings Bank. After 1920, he became interested in helping the Cedar City Paiute Band and for many years was their advisor and advocate. During the Depression, he was kept busy in organizations designed to assist the poor, including the Federal Emergency Relief Administration for Cedar City. In 1935, President Heber J. Grant of the LDS Church asked Palmer to visit all the Indian tribes in Southern Utah, Eastern Nevada, and Northern Arizona and to report on their condition. He took an interpreter with him and took many pictures of the Indians while filling this assignment. As chairman of the Parowan Stake Indian Committee, he also encouraged self-help among the Paiutes. He bought baskets made by the Paiute women and encouraged them to make beaded items and to tan buckskin. Many of these items are in his collection. From 1941 to 1951, he served as a traveling archivist for the LDS Church and later for the State of Utah. He published many historical articles and gave radio broadcasts on Indian customs and pioneer history. He died quietly on March 1, 1960.