Essay on Sources Cited in Administrative Records, Volume 1

The historical annotation in this volume relies on the expansive documentary record created by Latter-day Saints and others during the era that the Council of Fifty met in , Illinois. Over a dozen members of the council kept journals that cover some or all of this period. The journals of , the clerk of the council, are especially valuable. In addition, the journals of JS, , , , , and others contain crucial information and perspectives. Other Latter-day Saints who were not members of the council, such as and Oliver B. Huntington, likewise kept journals that are useful for reconstructing events in Nauvoo.
In addition to these journals, the Joseph Smith Collection and the Brigham Young Office Files at the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the most vital manuscript sources for understanding the council’s activities. These collections contain the vast majority of the correspondence of JS and as well as letters and other manuscripts from their associates. Copies of many of the records referenced or read in the council can be found in these collections. The records of various organizations or of meetings held in from 1844 to 1846—including the General Church Minutes collection, the Nauvoo High Priests Quorum Record, the Nauvoo House Association records, and the Nauvoo City Council minutes—likewise contain important contextual information.
The annotation sometimes cites minutes from Council of Fifty meetings held in Winter Quarters (located in present-day North Omaha, Nebraska) and in Utah Territory in the late 1840s and early 1850s and again in the 1880s. At these meetings, council members sometimes reflected on events and discussions in the Council of Fifty from the era. These later council minutes (public access to which is restricted) are housed at the Church History Library.
In addition, contemporary newspaper reports situate the minutes of the council within broader state, regional, and national contexts. The church-owned Nauvoo Neighbor and Times and Seasons, published in , are crucial for understanding the Latter-day Saint perspective. Other regional papers, such as the Warsaw Signal and the Quincy Whig, frequently commented on developments in Nauvoo and the surrounding areas. The Sangamo Journal and the Illinois State Register, the party organs of the Whigs and Democrats in , give a state-level view on events in Nauvoo and provide insights into the state’s political dynamics. Similarly, reports from various newspapers across the illuminate national events that were discussed in council meetings.
Local, state, and national government records are also crucial to understanding the context in which the Council of Fifty operated. The records of the Circuit Court as well as those of other courts in neighboring counties illuminate many of the legal challenges faced by Mormons in this era. The published proceedings of the legislature as well as Illinois statutes for 1844 and 1845 are useful for illuminating state politics regarding the Latter-day Saints. The debates published in the Congressional Globe as well as the documents contained in the United States Congressional Serial Set give insights into national political debates and the interactions between Latter-day Saint leaders and federal politicians. The microfilm collection Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, created by the National Archives and Records Administration, provides necessary context for understanding Mormon-Indian interactions.
Finally, the annotation in this volume occasionally cites later reminiscences or autobiographies when they contain vital information on the Council of Fifty or the Mormon experience in . Examples include ’s 1855 letters in the Northern Islander and ’s 1854 History of Illinois.