Index Provides Primary Sources for Quotes in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Since the time Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith was first published in 1938, the volume has been an indispensable resource for accessing and studying Joseph Smith’s words. The book’s editor, Joseph Fielding Smith, was church historian and recorder as well as an apostle, and he later became president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was also a grandson of Joseph Smith’s brother Hyrum.
Aided by research assistants, Smith compiled the words of Joseph Smith contained in B. H. Roberts’s History of the Church and from other—for the most part, secondary—sources. Other editors had previously compiled Joseph Smith quotes, but Joseph Fielding Smith noted in his introduction that such publications had “left in the hearts and minds of all who were interested in the sayings of the great latter-day Prophet, a longing for more of his sayings, which longing was not satisfied.” Joseph Fielding Smith’s compilation quickly became definitive, and in many ways, it is a predecessor to the Joseph Smith Papers Project—an early attempt to gather the writings and words of the founder and first prophet of the Latter-day Saint church.
Because Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith was based on secondary sources, it is considered an outdated source for scholarly use. But because it remains popular and accessible, we have published on our website an index linking quotations in Teachings to more original texts of Joseph Smith’s words. Though the passages in Teachings are generally accurate, they often differ in various ways from the more original sources in this index; in some cases, the sources demonstrate that a passage in Teachings did not originate with Joseph Smith but instead with a scribe, newspaper editor, or other associate.
To view the index and start exploring the original sources, check out “Sources for Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
Special thanks to student researcher Michael Duval for helping compile the index.