Documents, Volume 7: September 1839–January 1841


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The seventh volume of the Documents series, published in April 2018, contains personal correspondence, discourses, minutes, a revelation, and a memorial to the United States Congress, among other documents. The volume shows Joseph Smith and the church endeavoring to establish another gathering place for the Saints. Specific topics addressed in these documents include the practical and spiritual building up of Nauvoo, Illinois; the struggle to obtain redress for the property and lives lost in Missouri; the missionary efforts of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in England; and the introduction of new teachings and doctrines, including baptism for the dead.

Volume Editors

Matthew C. Godfrey, Spencer W. McBride, Alex D. Smith, and Christopher James Blythe are historians for the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Additional Content


About This Volume

The documents in this volume help illuminate this difficult period in Joseph Smith’s life—a time when he was trying to regroup church members after their forced expulsion from Missouri and attempting to establish a new gathering place for the Saints. The documents reveal a church leader striving to unify his people and extend the church’s reach through missionary work, especially through the efforts of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They show a man concerned for the health and well-being of his followers—and a man striving to obtain redress for the wrongs they suffered in Missouri. These documents are critical to understanding Joseph Smith as a person, as a husband and father, and as a prophet to his people; to comprehending the foundations of the Latter-day Saint experience in Nauvoo; and to grasping the larger context of events in the United States and elsewhere that influenced Smith and the church from 1839 to 1841.


“If the Joseph Smith papers were going to have a catchphrase, ‘Fantastic’ would be my number one choice. Each and every volume has been ‘Absolutely Fantastic!’ and Documents, Volume 7 is no exception. . . . In this Volume 7 you will read documents concerning the founding of Nauvoo including efforts to pass the Nauvoo Charter, Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee’s trip to Washington DC and their visits with Congress and Martin Van Buren as they attempted to get the federal government to intervene and give the saints restitution for their losses in Missouri, the arrival of John C. Bennett in Nauvoo and into the life of Joseph Smith, the reception of LDS Doctrine and Covenants 124, and other important events. . . . To call Volume 7 a great feast for historians and those interested in the life of Joseph Smith is not an exaggeration.”

—Andrew Hamilton, “Godfrey, et al, ‘JS Documents, 7’ (Reviewed by Andrew Hamilton,” Dawning of a Brighter Day (blog), 10 May 2018,