General Church Recorder, License Record Book, Dec. 1837–May 1862; handwriting of , , , , , , , , and at least one unidentified scribe; 146 pages; CHL. Includes Hebrew, redactions, index, and archival markings.
The License Record Book of the general church recorder is a large blank book measuring 12¾ × 8 × 1 inches (32 × 20 × 3 cm). The book consists of ledger paper that is untrimmed on the fore edge, with thirty-eight blue horizontal lines printed on each page. The volume contains twelve gatherings of 12 leaves (24 pages), making a text block of 144 leaves. There are two sheets of endpaper and one pastedown in the front and back of the volume. The volume is bound with all-along sewing in a case binding that is supported with recessed cords and a tight-back spine. The exterior of the volume consists of square-edge boards with marbled decoration and a leather quarter binding. The spine is inscribed in faded ink: “License Records Book A”. Three archival labels were later pasted on the spine. One of the labels reads “CERTIFICATES OF MEMBERS” in ink, with the alternative title “Record of church members 182 Nauvo” added in smaller letters in graphite. The remnants of a label of similar design and material are located at the bottom of the spine; only a partial, illegible character is visible. Above this label was later added a smaller label with the archival notation “N 6861”.
The volume was primarily inscribed in brown and black ink; a few entries were made in graphite, and later scribes, particularly and , used blue ink as well. Pages 1–135 have been numbered, with the exception of pages –, which are unnumbered but were counted; two pages between pages 115 and 116, which were not counted; and a page between pages 126 and 127, which was the first and only page of an aborted record of seventies’ licenses kept by . Pages 2–6 are blank though numbered. The handwriting and ink in the first entry on each page often match that of the page number, indicating that the clerks paginated as they worked, with numbering pages 1–18; Robinson, 19–55; Thompson, 56 and 61–85; Sloan, 86–115; , 116–133; and , 134–135. On pages 1–11, Cowdery and Robinson initially maintained an index of certificates recorded in the volume, alphabetized by the certificate recipient’s name; each of the index pages contains two or three stylized letters inscribed on the first line in brown ink. In December 1838 and January 1839, Robinson used the two sheets of endpaper at the front of the volume to list the licenses he had signed. Interspersed among his 1838 entries, Robinson copied the transliterated Hebrew text for Psalm 37:4, switching the order of the two phrases in the verse.
Until began recording in this book in October 1841, many of the entries included the signature of the recorder as well as a scribal signature for JS, for another member of the First Presidency, or—in the case of ’s entries—for or . Sloan included only his own signature, a practice that continued until November 1843, when he began omitting his signature. , Phelps, and at least one unidentified scribe apparently followed Richards’s lead in not signing their entries.
On 6 December 1837, was appointed the “Recording Clerk” for elders’ licenses signed by the (Missouri) church presidency. Cowdery began copying licenses two days later. He may have already been in possession of this volume, as the first page contains a copy of the minutes of a 26 February 1836 meeting in , during which Cowdery, , and were appointed as a committee “to draft rules and regulations concerning licenses.” It is unclear when Cowdery copied these minutes into the volume. Cowdery continued recording licenses in his capacity as recording clerk until 3 February 1838. On 10 February, the high council and bishopric stripped Cowdery of his position as recording clerk because of his role in a dispute between the recently rejected Zion presidency and other church leaders.
At some point prior to 1 June 1838, transferred the record book to the leadership of the church, possibly to . At the April 1838 general conference of the church, Robinson had been appointed “general Church Recorder and Clerk for the first Presidency” and a resolution had been passed requiring all licenses to be signed by a member of the First Presidency, with Robinson acting as clerk. From 1 June to the end of September 1838, he recorded licenses into the volume. Sometime in winter 1838–1839, Robinson recorded a list of certificates he gave between 24 December 1838 and 26 January 1839. Afterward, the record book was apparently not used until April 1840, when and began copying new licenses as “pro tem” recorders or clerks. By the end of May 1840, Robinson again took over recording licenses in the volume and continued to do so until at least July. On 3 October 1840, Thompson formally replaced Robinson as general church clerk; Thompson began recording licenses within two days after that appointment. Thompson died in August 1841, and on 2 October was appointed at a general conference of the church to become the church clerk. Sloan began recording licenses the next day. On 30 July 1843, as Sloan prepared to leave for a mission, JS appointed as Sloan’s replacement, and Richards recorded his first licenses that day. Richards continued to record entries in the record book until 1846; beginning in 1844, other clerks in his employ—such as , , and at least one unidentified scribe—appear to have increasingly assumed responsibility for recording licenses. Bullock recorded the last licenses in , Illinois, on 5 February 1846. On 16 May 1862, Bullock recorded the final entry, under the heading “Great Salt Lake City”.
Evidence indicates the volume has remained in continuous institutional custody. Beginning with in fall 1841, church recorders also used the volume, turned over and rotated 180 degrees, to record church membership information in , such as certificates received and an 1842 census of church members. The volume, identified as the 1842 census, appears in early church inventories. Further, made his final license entry in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.
This certifies that John W Clark has been ordained to the office of an Elder agreeable to the rules and regulations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and has received a License from under my <our> hand<s>
Joseph Smith Jr Prest.
To whoom it may concern
This certifies that has been ordained to the office of [blank] agreeable to the rules and regulations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, And has received a License from under our hands
Joseph Smith Jr Prest.
Var yetan La cau mishauloat La ba cau, Va hitgnegnay gnal yeahovau [p. 23]