Joseph Smith Papers Conference Call for Papers 2020

To commemorate the 2020 release of volumes 10 and 11 of the Documents series, which cover the history of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints from May 1842 to February 1843, the Joseph Smith Papers Project will host the fourth annual Joseph Smith Papers Conference on September 18, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The theme for this year’s conference is “Joseph Smith’s Connections and Networks.”

During the Nauvoo period, Joseph Smith was at the center of several municipal, legal, political, economic, ecclesiastical, and familial networks. In addition to his responsibilities as church president, Smith was Nauvoo’s mayor, lieutenant general of the Nauvoo Legion, trustee-in-trust for the church, newspaper editor, and United States presidential candidate. Indeed, he may have been Nauvoo’s most connected citizen. Smith’s connections and networks were also fostered by his theology. His scriptural translations connected him and the Latter-day Saints to biblical peoples and places. The religious ceremonies he introduced created inseparable ties between him and his friends. And the revelations he delivered united heaven and earth as well as joined together the past, present, and future. Classifying Joseph Smith as a “connected” prophet provides scholars with an interpretive strategy to analyze the broad themes and details of his prophetic voice and worldview during the Nauvoo period and throughout his life.

We invite scholars to consider the kinds of histories, narratives, and questions that emerge from focusing on Joseph Smith’s connections and networks. Potential paper topics include (but are not limited to) academic studies of how his interrelated worldview affected the development of the church, revelations, and priesthood as well as his theology, finances, legal involvement, and family life. Papers need not focus exclusively on Smith but are free to explore, for example, how his outlook shaped missionary work, affected the lives of his followers, or differed from the worldviews of other religious figures.

Scholars from all academic disciplines, career stages, and backgrounds are invited to apply. We welcome proposals based in any methodology or academic discipline including (but not limited to) history, sociology, women’s studies, gender, race, religious studies, anthropology, theology, philosophy, linguistics, political science, communal studies, economics, or legal history. As the main purpose of this conference series is to demonstrate how scholars can use the Joseph Smith Papers, authors of accepted proposals will be expected to orient their papers primarily from the project’s documents, which can be accessed online at

Paper proposals should consist of a brief abstract (no more than 500 words) and a current CV; both should be sent to Chase Kirkham ( by February 21, 2020. Successful abstracts will include 1) an explanation of the proposed project, 2) a clear thesis statement, and 3) an explanation of how the author intends to use the Joseph Smith Papers in his or her presentation as well as what specific documents will be featured in the paper. Scholars whose proposals are accepted will be notified by March 10, 2020 and will receive advance copies of the annotated documents found in volumes 10 and 11 of the Documents series. Some travel funding will be available for graduate students and early career scholars living outside of Utah whose papers are accepted for the conference.

The Joseph Smith Papers Project is an effort to gather together all extant Joseph Smith documents and to publish complete and accurate transcripts of those documents online and in print, with both textual and contextual annotation. All such documents will be published electronically at, and a large number of the documents are in process of being published in approximately two dozen print volumes. The print and electronic publications constitute an essential resource for scholars and students of the life and work of Joseph Smith, early Latter-day Saint history, and nineteenth-century American religion.