2017 News and Updates

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Website Publishes Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript

October 31, 2017

The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce that its latest web content release is now live. Of particular significance is the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, included here with all the annotation from the print volume and the typographic facsimile transcript, which provides a detailed color-coded reproduction of the text. The Printer's Manuscript was recently purchased by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Community of Christ. A page from the manuscript is currently on display at the Church History Library.

In addition to the Book of Mormon manuscript, we have added a correspondence chart for the various manuscript and print editions of the Book of Mormon.

We have also added over 120 new documents from October through December 1843, including letters, discourses, Nauvoo City Council minutes, and land deeds. Highlights include:

Added to the Legal, Business, and Financial Records series are several more documents from the Nauvoo Municipal Court.

This release also includes new entries on the Calendar of Documents for 1838 and 1839 as well as a topic article identifying many of the primary sources related to priesthood restoration.

Documents, Volume 6, Now Available

September 26, 2017

Today is a big day at the Joseph Smith Papers: the release of Documents, Volume 6, covering February 1838 through August 1839. This volume—which includes letters, minutes of meetings, revelations, land transaction records, and accounts of discourses—illuminates one of the most difficult periods of Joseph Smith’s life and for the Latter-day Saints at large. Documents, Volume 6 traces this pivotal period in church history that includes the “Mormon War” in Missouri, the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from the state, Joseph Smith’s time in Liberty jail, and the initial settlement of the Nauvoo, Illinois, area.

The volume was edited by Mark Ashurst-McGee, David W. Grua, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Brenden W. Rensink, and Alexander L. Baugh, with Suzy Bills as the lead production editor.

After relocating from Kirtland, Ohio, to Far West, Missouri, in 1838, Joseph Smith helped organize new settlements for the Saints in Adam-ondi-Ahman and De Witt, Missouri. The growth of the Mormon population in these areas caused increasing resentment among earlier settlers, which led to violent conflict. In late October 1838, Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs ordered that the Saints be expelled from the state. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Smith and other church leaders were arrested and imprisoned and thousands of Latter-day Saints began their forced evacuation from Missouri. Many suffered while fleeing to western Illinois, where they sought refuge.

In April 1839, Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners escaped from custody and reunited with the Saints in Illinois, determined to once again establish a safe gathering place for the church. Documents at the end of this volume show Joseph Smith directing the settlement of Commerce, Illinois, where the church acquired large tracts of land in order to lay the foundations of the city that would become Nauvoo.

Volume editor David A. Grua will give a lecture on Thursday, September 28, at 7 p.m. in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The lecture, “All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience,” will draw on examples and insights from the new volume to explore Joseph Smith’s letters written from the Clay County jail in Liberty, Missouri.

If you are interested in obtaining a signed copy of the book, the volume editors will do a book signing at Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City on October 4, 2017, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. They will be speaking about Documents, Volume 6, at 6:00 p.m.

Website Reaches Publication Milestones

August 8, 2017

The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce that its latest content release is now live. This release includes two items of particular significance:

  • The final installment of Joseph Smith’s journals, from May 1843 to June 1844. This portion of the journals covers the final year of Smith’s life, including the events that led up to his murder. The Journals series is now complete in print and online.
  • Complete footnotes giving the sources behind Joseph Smith’s multivolume manuscript history. Also, page numbers for the most widely available edition of that history, B. H. Roberts’s History of the Church, are now included in the document viewer to allow readers to trace back from the Roberts edition to more original documents.

The completion of these two projects marks a significant milestone for the project, as well as for project founder and National Advisory Board member Dean C. Jessee, who began work on Joseph Smith’s papers in 1972. Jessee published two volumes of Smith's journal more than two decades ago and has spent many years identifying the primary sources used to compile the manuscript history.

We have also added almost 150 new documents from June through September 1843, including letters, discourses, Nauvoo City Council minutes, and land deeds.

Added to the Legal, Business, and Financial Records series are several more documents from the Nauvoo mayor’s court and Nauvoo Municipal Court.

This release also includes new biographies, geographical descriptions, and event entries.

Finally, Revelation Book 1 and Revelation Book 2 have been updated so that users can view the typographic facsimile transcriptions which provide detailed, color-coded reproductions of the texts.


Documents, Volume 5, Now Available

May 15, 2017

The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce the release of Documents, Volume 5, covering October 1835 through January 1838. This volume contains 118 documents, including revelations, discourses, prayers, legal documents, and personal letters, as well as more unusual documents such as banknotes, a map, an essay on abolition, and a study of the Egyptian language. Specific topics addressed in these documents include the completion of the House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio, and the attendant endowment of power; the forced migration of the Latter-day Saints from Clay County, Missouri; the economic collapse in Kirtland in 1837; and Joseph Smith’s attempts to overcome dissent in the church.

This volume brings to life the highs and lows of the early church during the momentous and often emotional months from October 1835 to January 1838. Joseph Smith joyfully spent fall and winter 1835–1836 pronouncing new revelations, organizing quorums, and introducing sacred ordinances. The excitement of the time culminated in spring 1836, when the Saints celebrated the completion of the first Latter-day Saint temple, the House of the Lord in Kirtland.

“Joseph oversaw the continuing organization of the church and dedicated the first temple in this dispensation,” says Brent M. Rogers, coeditor of the book. But the Saints’ delight was soon subdued. “However much that signal event brought a spiritual pinnacle to the church and its members, it was followed by some great trials.”

The euphoria the Saints experienced at the church’s growth during this time began to fade as the Saints in Missouri faced expulsion from their homes and the Kirtland economy began to collapse. A national financial panic in 1837 hit Kirtland and its citizens hard, and the recently founded Kirtland Safety Society bank crumbled. Tensions ran high, and some Saints—including some of Joseph Smith’s closest friends—turned on Joseph, declaring him to be a fallen prophet. Facing threats to his life, he spent time in hiding until a revelation commanded the First Presidency to leave and seek refuge among the Missouri Saints.

The texts presented in Documents, Volume 5, and the extensive annotation accompanying them constitute one of the best sources for researching and understanding this tumultuous period. This volume also highlights the activities and perspectives of women by including letters from Emma Smith to her husband and the accounts of eyewitnesses such as Eliza R. Snow, Mary Fielding, and Vilate Murray Kimball.

Documents, Volume 5, was edited by Brent M. Rogers, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Christian K. Heimburger, Max H Parkin, Alexander L. Baugh, and Steven C. Harper. The volume is now available for purchase from Deseret Book and Amazon.


New Content on Joseph Smith Papers Website

May 2, 2017

The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the addition of the following new content to its website, josephsmithpapers.org:

Additionally, several updates have been made to the website:

  • In the Manuscript History of the Church, page breaks are being added that correspond to the page numbers in B. H. Roberts’s six-volume publication in the early twentieth century, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See the Introduction to History, 1838–1856 (Manuscript History of the Church) for more information.
  • In document transcripts, the Document Information section at the foot of each page has been updated to include two new fields. “Print Volume Location” gives the volume and page number where the current document can be found in the Joseph Smith Papers letterpress edition (where applicable), and “Handwriting on This Page” identifies the scribe or scribes who wrote the current page.


Call for Papers

March 2, 2017

The project invites paper proposals for a conference to be held on October 20, 2017, at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. While paper proposals need not specifically be about Joseph Smith, they should draw from the corpus of his surviving documents from 1835 to 1839.

See here for details.

New Content on Joseph Smith Papers Website

February 16, 2017

The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the addition of the following new content to its website, josephsmithpapers.org:

Also recently added are images and transcripts for Joseph Smith’s Bible Revision manuscripts (Old Testament Revision 2, New Testament Revision 1, New Testament Revision 2), images of the Bible used for the revision, documents from 1842, and documents from the Nauvoo Mayor’s Court. In the coming months more documents from the Documents, Journals, Histories, Revelations and Translations, Administrative Records, and Legal, Business, and Financial Records series will be added. Eventually the website will contain images and/or transcripts of all extant and available Joseph Smith papers.