Note on Seer Stone Images

These photographs show a brown stone measuring, at its outermost points, 5.5 by 3.5 by about 4 cm, as well as a pouch that holds the stone and a small box in which the stone and pouch have been stored for many years. The stone matches some descriptions of the seer stone used by Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon. One contemporary observer remembered Smith’s seer stone as an “oval-shaped, chocolate-colored stone, about the size of an egg, only more flat.” According to , Joseph Smith gave the seer stone he used in the translation to after the translation was completed. Shortly after Cowdery died in 1850, his brother-in-law acquired the stone from Cowdery’s widow, . apparently acquired the stone from his brother Phineas, and it remained in his possession throughout his life. Young, who apparently did not have any seer stones other than those that had belonged to Smith, stated in 1853 that he had “Josephs 1st Seer Stone, which I [h]ad from O[liver] C[owdery].” Zina Diantha Huntington Young, a plural wife of Brigham Young, bought two seer stones from his estate, and she and her daughter Zina Young Williams Card then donated them to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The box bears the handwritten name of Zina Williams Card. The note on the box links this stone to Card, and through her, to the history of the stone used by Joseph Smith to translate. In 1882, apostle saw this stone in church president ’s possession. Richards recorded in his diary that “the pouch containing it [the stone] [was] made by Emma,” meaning , the wife of Joseph Smith. (Church History Library, Salt Lake City. Photographs by Welden C. Andersen and Richard E. Turley Jr. These images have been color corrected using photo-editing software but are otherwise unaltered.)
  1. 1

    “Mormon Relics,” Weekly Inter Ocean [Chicago], 26 Oct. 1886, 9.  

    Weekly Inter Ocean. Chicago, IL. 1874–1907.

  2. 2

    Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 32.  

    Whitmer, David. An Address to All Believers in Christ. Richmond, MO: By the author, 1887.

  3. 3

    “David Whitmer,” Historical Record, Oct. 1888, 623.  

    The Historical Record, a Monthly Periodical, Devoted Exclusively to Historical, Biographical, Chronological and Statistical Matters. Salt Lake City. 1882–1890.

  4. 4

    General Church Minutes, 30 Sept. 1855.  

    General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL. CR 100 318.

  5. 5

    General Church Minutes, 17 Apr. 1853, as transcribed by LaJean Purcell Carruth, copy in editors’ possession.  

    General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL. CR 100 318.

  6. 6

    Zina Young Card, Cardston, Alberta, Canada, to Franklin D. Richards, Salt Lake City, 31 July 1896, in Historical Department, Journal History of the Church, 31 July 1896.  

    Historical Department. Journal History of the Church, 1896–. CHL. CR 100 137.

  7. 7

    Richards, Journal, 9 Mar. 1882.  

    Richards, Willard. Journals, 1836–1853. Willard Richards, Papers, 1821–1854. CHL. MS 1490, boxes 1–2.