Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision
(Detail of stained glass window originally created in 1913 for the Adams Ward chapel, Los Angeles, California)
are two general categories of accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision of Deity
that were written during his lifetime:
The firsthand accounts recorded by Joseph Smith or under his
JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835, pp.
Joseph Smith described his early visionary experiences to a visitor at his home
in Kirtland, Ohio, in November 1835. His description was written down, and
Warren Parrish later copied it into Joseph Smith’s journal.
History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, pp. 2–3
This best-known account of Joseph Smith’s first vision opened what was to
become a six-volume history of his life. Copied by scribes into a large bound
volume, this account was later canonized by The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in the Pearl of Great Price.
a. In the
early 1840s, Howard Coray began making an edited copy of the history begun in
1838. His copy was discontinued after a hundred pages. Although some portions
of this copy vary from the original, the account of Joseph Smith’s first vision
is virtually identical to its source text:
1838–ca. 1841, draft copy, pp. 2–4
JS, “Church History,”
Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1842, 3:706–707
This brief history of the church, often referred to as the “Wentworth letter,”
was prepared at the request of a Chicago newspaper editor. The extent of Joseph
Smith’s involvement in writing it is not known, but it was published with his
signature. This account borrowed language from Orson Pratt’s A[n]
Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions
The early accounts written by contemporaries who heard Joseph Smith
speak about the vision include the
Pratt, A[n] Interesting Account, pp. 3–5
This is the earliest published account of Joseph Smith’s first vision of Deity.
It was written by Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and
published as a pamphlet in Scotland in 1840.
Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste
[A cry out of the wilderness], pp.
Another member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Orson Hyde, published this account
of Joseph Smith’s earliest visions in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1842. He wrote the
text in English, relying heavily on Pratt’s A[n] Interesting
and translated it into German for publication.
Richards, Journal, 11 June 1843
Following an 11 June 1843 public church meeting at which Joseph Smith spoke of
his earliest vision, Levi Richards included an account of it in his diary.
Interview, JS by David
Nye White, Nauvoo, IL, 21 Aug. 1843; in David Nye White, “The Prairies, Joe
Smith, the Temple, the Mormons, &c.,” Pittsburgh Weekly
Gazette, 15 Sept. 1843, 
In August 1843, David Nye White, editor of the Pittsburgh Weekly
interviewed Joseph Smith in his home as part of a two-day stop
in Nauvoo, Illinois. His news article included an account of Joseph Smith’s
Neibaur, Journal, 24 May 1844
On 24 May 1844, German immigrant and church member Alexander Neibaur visited
Joseph Smith in his home and heard him relate the circumstances of his earliest