Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, Leaves Acquired from the University of Chicago; handwriting of ; four pages; CHL.
In the twentieth century, the University of Chicago special collections processed and held in its collection two leaves from the Book of Mormon. The leaves are nonsequential. The first bears text of what is now Alma 3:5–4:2, and the second of what is now Alma 4:20–5:23. In summer 1984, the University of Chicago sold these two leaves to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Around the time of the sale, officials at both the University of Chicago and the church determined that the leaves were likely authentic pieces of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Anomalies in the text, however, have led some to believe these leaves (referred to here as the “Chicago leaves”) are forgeries. The Chicago leaves have sometimes been associated with Mark Hofmann, who in the 1980s forged a number of documents relating to Latter-day Saint and American history, though there is no evidence that the leaves ever passed through Hofmann’s hands, nor is there any other documented connection between the leaves and the infamous forger.
Sillitoe and Roberts, Salamander, 306–307; Sem C. Sutter to Robin Scott Jensen, Email message, 31 July 2020, Church History Department Information about Leaves from the Book of Mormon, CHL. In their 1988 history of Hofmann’s forgeries, Linda Sillitoe and Allen D. Roberts recounted that shortly after the church took possession of the Chicago leaves, Hofmann asked a cousin-in-law to supply him with money to purchase “two pages of the original Book of Mormon manuscript, housed at the University of Chicago Library.” Sillitoe and Roberts do not give a source for this information. It is unclear whether Hofmann knew the leaves had already been sold to the church. (See also Lindsey, A Gathering of Saints, 147–148.)
Sillitoe, Linda, and Allen D. Roberts. Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1988.
Church History Department Information about Leaves from the Book of Mormon, 1983–2020. CHL.
Lindsey, Robert. A Gathering of Saints: A True Story of Money, Murder and Deceit. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.
Scholars disagree about the authenticity of the Chicago leaves. Because of their questioned status, the images and transcripts of the leaves are presented as an appendix. We present by way of introduction to the images and transcripts two examinations of the evidence, one written by each of the volume’s editors. With these two essays, readers and scholars may evaluate for themselves the complex history and characteristics of the Chicago leaves.
now the heads of the Lamuni[tes were shorn & they were na]ked save it were a skin wh[ich was girted about their loins] and also their armour w[hich was girted about them &] their Bows & their arrows & th[eir stones & their slings] &C. & the skins of the Lamuni[tes were dark according to the] mark which was set upon the[m their fathers which was] a curse upon them because of th[eir transgression & their] rebellion against their Brethren wh[ich consisted of] Nephi & Jacob & Joseph & Sam which w[er]e ju[st & holy] men & their Brethren saught to destroy <t>hem th[erefore] they were cursed & the Lord God set a mark upon t[hem yea] upon Lamun & Lemuel & also the sons of Ishmae[l & the] Ishmaeliteish women & this was done that their [seed] might be distinguished from the seed of their Bret[hren] that thereby the Lord God might preserve his peop[le that] they might not mix & believe in incorrect tradit[ions] which would prove their destruction and it came t[o pass] that whosoevere did mingle his seed with that of the [Lamu]nites did bring the same curse upon his seed theref[ore] whomesoever suffered himself to be led away by th[e la]munites were called under that head & & there was [a mar]k set upon him and it came to pass that whosoever w[ould] not believe in the tradition of the Lamunites but bel[ieved] in those Rcords which were brought out of the land of Jer[usalem] & also in the drat tradition of their Fathers which w[ere] Correct which believed in the commandment<s> of Go[d &] Kept them were called thee Nephites or the people of [Nephi] from that time forth & it is they which have Kep[t the] Records which are true of there <their> People & also of th[e people] of the Lamunites now we will return again to the Aml[icites] for they also had a mark set upon them yea they set the mark upon themselves yea even a mark of red upo[n their] forheads thus the word of God is fulfiled for these ar[e the] <words> which he saith to Nephi Behold the Lamunites ha[ve I] Cursed & I will set a mark upon them that they & the[ir] seed may be seperated from thee & thy seed from this [time] hence forth & forever except they repent & turn of their wickedness & turn to me that I may have mercy upon [th][e]m & again I will set a mark upon him that minglee[th] his seed with thy Brethren they <that> they may be cursed a[lso] & again will I set a mark upon him that fighteth a[ga]inst thee & thy seed & again I say he that departeth [from] [p. ]