On 27 February 1835, JS held a council at his home in , Ohio, to instruct nine of the newly appointed on the importance of keeping a record of their meetings and decisions. The council then designated and to serve as clerks for the . JS also further instructed the apostles on their duty as traveling high counselors and described their distinctive calling, role, and jurisdiction.
Although an April 1830 revelation instructed the church to keep records, early record-keeping projects were inconsistent. For instance, journal-keeping efforts for JS lapsed after ten days in 1832, resumed semioccasionally from October 1833 until 5 December 1834, and then lapsed again until late September 1835. JS and the church eventually became more consistent at working on and maintaining histories, journals, letters, minutes, and other documents, but in February 1835, such efforts were unpredictable and at times even negligent. The impetus for a renewed concentration on record keeping may have been the barrage of perceived falsehoods and misrepresentations about the church that, in part, led church leaders to continue concerted efforts to publish a collection of JS revelations, to be known as the Doctrine and Covenants. At this 27 February 1835 meeting, JS suggested that incomplete record keeping meant that “we cannot bear record to the church, and to the world, of the great and glorious manifestations which have been made to us, with that degree of power and authority, we otherwise could.”
JS also noted that church leaders had “neglected to take minutes” of decisions on doctrinal and administrative matters. His commentary underscores the fact that the extant records of the early church provide far from complete coverage of early administrative decisions and even revelations. JS’s assertion is confirmed by the lack of early church records for many events mentioned in other sources. For example, there are no extant minutes of the 25 January 1832 at which JS was designated . Various clerks, mainly and , kept minutes of church meetings at least as early as 9 June 1830. However, after Cowdery and Whitmer left for in November 1831, there is no indication that minutes of any church proceedings were kept in until early December 1832. There is also no extant record of the vision or revelation to call the Twelve Apostles and the , which JS alluded to when the Twelve were selected. JS considered the records available in February 1835 so incomplete that he felt “deep sorrow” for the “fountain of intelligence or knowledge of infinite importance which is lost.”
In response to JS’s instruction, the Twelve appointed and as clerks, and Hyde and McLellin began recording the minutes of the Twelve’s meetings, including those of this 27 February meeting, on loose-leaf paper. By May 1835, they acquired a book and began recording minutes of their meetings in it, titling the volume “A record of the transactions of the twelve apostles of the church of christ of latter day saints,” or Record of the Twelve.
Two extant records contain the minutes of the 27 February 1835 meeting. copied one version of the minutes, listing as clerk, into the Record of the Twelve probably sometime in early May 1835, making it the earliest extant version. In 1836, copied another version of the minutes, showing as the clerk, in Minute Book 1. The two original minutes drafted by McLellin and Oliver Cowdery are no longer extant. While the versions in the Record of the Twelve and Minute Book 1 contain much of the same information, each also provides important unique material. The version recorded in the Record of the Twelve, for example, includes more information about the power and authority of the Twelve than the version in Minute Book 1 does. According to the Record of the Twelve version, JS explained that the duty of the Twelve was to “go and unlock the kingdom of heaven to foreign nations”; he also stated that they stood in “the same relation to those nations” as JS stood to them, “as a minister.” JS’s remarks, as recorded in the Record of the Twelve, foreshadow further counsel given to the Twelve Apostles in May 1835, as well as instructions on priesthood that were included in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
The Record of the Twelve is the only known record created by the Twelve Apostles during the first several years after their organization. The record was kept through August 1835 and subsequently used to copy and record patriarchal blessings. For more information on the Record of the Twelve, see Esplin and Nielsen, “Record of the Twelve,” 4–52.
February 27th. of the same year  the met in by request of President J. Smith Jr. After the was opened by prayer, he arose and made the following observations, (Viz) “I have something to lay before this council, an item which they will find to be of great importance to them. I have for myself learned a fact by experience which on reflection gives me deep sorrow. It is a truth that if I now had in my possession every decision which has been given had upon important items of doctrine and duties since the rise of this , they would be of incalculable worth to the saints, but we have neglected to keep record [p. 1]