2014 News and Updates
Project Reviewed in Relevant Journals
The Joseph Smith Papers Project was reviewed in three journals this year. Reviews in American History recently published a review by John G. Turner, associate professor of religious studies at George Mason University and the author of a book on Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young.
Turner stated, “The Joseph Smith Papers is already the single most valuable resource for students of early Mormonism. The books are weighty, in both senses of the word. One should not take the JSP volumes on vacation, lest one incur expensive excess-baggage fees. They are, however, a pleasure to behold and to study. For their attention to detail, for their abundant citation of other primary sources, for their lavish inclusion of photographs and maps, for their contextualizations of Smith’s prophetic career, the JSP is indeed a ‘great and a marvelous work.’”
Documents, volumes 1 and 2, were reviewed by Susan Staker in the latest issue of the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal. Staker is author and editor of many books in Mormon history. She stated in her review, “The tools provided by the Joseph Smith Papers Project in general and the Document series in particular are invaluable and go a long way in this important enterprise.”
Finally, Mark A. Mastromarino, who has worked on the editorial staffs of the papers of John Marshall, Andrew Jackson, George Washington, and John Adams, published a review in the Mormon Studies Review. The published volumes, he wrote, “demonstrate that piety and professionalism, faith and reason, need not be in conflict.” Furthermore, “This documentary edition of the papers of the founding father of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined, if not displaced, leading-edge projects dedicated to more secular founders.”
For more reviews of the Joseph Smith Papers volumes, see our Reviews page.
Joseph Smith Papers Project Publishes Documents, Volume 3
Project Also Updates Website
The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the release of the third volume in its Documents series, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834 (The Church Historian’s Press, $54.95). The Documents series presents in chronological order the core of Joseph Smith’s documentary record. This volume contains 88 documents, including revelations, correspondence, minutes of meetings in which Joseph Smith participated, licenses provided to church officers, legal documents, architectural and city plans, and an effort to create a topical guide to the scriptures. These documents allow readers to see both the administrative growth of the Church of Christ and Joseph Smith’s maturation as its leader.
Documents, Volume 3 covers a time when Joseph Smith faced growing opposition and violence as he sought to gather church members from across the continent and establish a city of Zion in Missouri. Several documents in this volume detail this opposition, which culminated in the expulsion of the Saints from Jackson County, Missouri. In the midst of these challenges, the church continued to develop as an organization. Minutes of meetings, for example, describe the formation of a high council, a body of men responsible for aiding in church governance and administering church discipline. The volume also includes 13 revelations—pronouncements to church members in the voice of Deity—which were later printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. One revelation, later known as the “Word of Wisdom,” presented dietary guidelines to church members, which became a distinguishing feature of the LDS faith. The volume features another distinctive revelation, which explains the nature of Jesus Christ and humankind’s relationship to God and became integral to Mormon theology. Documents, Volume 3 is also the first volume in The Joseph Smith Papers to publish transcripts of architectural plans for building temples and city plans. These plats and architectural drawings demonstrate not only Joseph Smith’s vision of the city of Zion but also his practical plan to develop a temple-centered community, where believers would gather and prepare for the second coming of Christ. All the documents transcribed in this volume are accompanied by extensive introductions and footnotes that offer readers new research and historical context about the documents and their creation.
The editors of Documents, Volume 3 are Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, Brent M. Rogers, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford, and William G. Hartley.
This week the Joseph Smith Papers Project also releases its updated website. Improvements to the site include the following:
- More responsive design for tablet and phone users, intuitive navigation, and improved readability.
- Improved search capabilities, including more accurate relevance sorting, increased speed, suggested search as you type, and person/place/topic/genre/date filters.
- New “Purchase Our Published Volumes” section with individual pages for each published volume, including downloadable table of contents, videos, reviews, etc.
- More than 100 new photographs and illustrations, highlighting people, places, and documents.
- Quick access to our growing video library, including dozens of videos contextualizing Joseph Smith and his papers.
The publication of The Joseph Smith Papers two centuries after the birth of the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opens a window on a life filled with what he called “marvelous experience” amid constant opposition. Joseph Smith left an extensive legacy of letters and other written records that is now being made widely available.
The Joseph Smith Papers edition is expected to span more than twenty volumes when complete. The Documents portion of the series will comprise about half of the total. Documents, Volume 3, along with all previously published volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers, is available for purchase through Deseret Book Company, the distributor for the project, and many other booksellers.
Program Special Focuses on Documents, Volume 3
History of the Saints, a television documentary series that presents the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, produced a special episode that will feature Documents, Volume 3, which will be in bookstores the first of December. Historians Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and Brent M. Rogers, the editors of the volume, as well as historians Andrew H. Hedges and Matthew C. Godfrey, were interviewed for the show.
The episode will air Sunday, 23 November, and can be viewed on the following stations:
- KSL at 10:00 a.m. MST
- KIFI ABC at 10:30 a.m. MST
- KJZZ at 4:00 p.m. MST
It will also be broadcast on many radio stations in Utah and Idaho.
New Content on Joseph Smith Papers Website
The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the addition of the following new content to its website, josephsmithpapers.org:
- Over two hundred documents dating from 1840, including land sales for what would become Nauvoo, Illinois.
- Images for the Book of the Law of the Lord.
- Exchange of letters between JS and James Arlington Bennet in 1843.
- Updated Calendar of Documents, including documents through March 1834.
- New and updated reference material, including source citations for thirteen biographical descriptions and fourteen new and updated glossary entries.
Also recently added are nearly two hundred documents from 1839, a transcript of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, images for the Draft Notes to the Manuscript History of the Church, and a transcript for the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language. In the coming months more documents from the Documents, Journals, Histories, Revelations and Translations, Legal and Business Records, and Administrative Records series will be added. Eventually the website will contain images and transcripts of all extant and available Joseph Smith papers.
Joseph Smith Papers Staff Present at Western History Association
A number of Joseph Smith Papers staff members are participating in the 54th annual conference of the Western History Association, held in Newport Beach, California, this week.
Brenden W. Rensink, who served on the program committee, will take part in a roundtable discussion titled, “Indigenous Genocide Studies in the West and the World.”
Three others will participate in the session “Western Encounters, Alliances, and Experiences: Mormons, Indians, and U.S. Federal Law.” Brent Rogers will present “‘The men act very strange’: Encounters of Mormon Missionaries, Native Americans, and Federal Agents, 1830s–1850s”; Matthew J. Grow and Jeffrey Mahas will present “‘As soon as we get Cousin Lemuel converted I don’t fear’: Mormon Attempts at Indian Alliance in Nauvoo, 1844–1846.”
The Western History Association was established in 1961 and seeks to promote the study of the North American West.
Project Editor Attends Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents
Each year, in connection with their annual conference, the Association for Documentary Editing sponsors the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents, a training workshop during which participants learn principles of documentary editing from experts in the field.
Editor Alison Palmer completed training at this year’s institute in Louisville, Kentucky, which certifies that she demonstrated a thorough understanding of documentary editing essentials, such as transcription, annotation, and organization of documents. Palmer joins nine other members of the Joseph Smith Papers team who have graduated from the program.
Foundations of Faith Exhibit Showcases Joseph Smith Documents
Several documents from Joseph Smith’s lifetime are currently on display in a new exhibit in Salt Lake City. “Foundations of Faith: Treasures from the Historical Collections of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” opened at the Church History Library on 4 September 2014 and is expected to remain at the library for several years.
Many of the most significant documents found on the Joseph Smith Papers website are featured at the exhibit, including the first edition of the Book of Mormon (1830); the first British edition of the Book of Mormon (1841); the Book of Commandments (1833); the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (1835); Joseph Smith’s earliest journal (1832–1834); his 20 March 1839 letter to the church from jail in Liberty, Missouri; Emma Smith’s Collection of Sacred Hymns (1835); the published prayer of dedication for the Kirtland, Ohio, temple, given 27 March 1836; and the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book (1842–1844).
Joseph Smith Papers associate managing historian Robin Scott Jensen and volume editor Alex D. Smith were interviewed for the online exhibit, where the documents and artifacts can be viewed alongside supplemental articles, images, and videos to enhance visitors’ understanding.
Read more about the exhibit in a recent news release.
Joseph Smith Papers Editors to Participate in BYU Education Week
Staff members of the Joseph Smith Papers will present at Brigham Young University’s Education Week, to be held 18–22 August 2014 in Provo, Utah.
On Tuesday, 19 August, Matthew J. Grow will present “Insights into Joseph Smith’s Early Revelation from the Joseph Smith Papers,” followed on Wednesday by Matthew C. Godfrey, “The Context behind the Revelations: Using the Joseph Smith Papers in the Study of the Doctrine and Covenants.” Both will discuss the historical context of specific revelations in order to help readers of the Doctrine and Covenants understand the content and settings of those texts.
On Thursday, Gerrit J. Dirkmaat will present “‘The Great Affliction That Is Falling upon Us on All Sides’: The Rising Tide of Persecution in Ohio and Missouri in 1833.” Using revelations, letters, and teachings of Joseph Smith from that period, Dirkmaat will detail the difficulties the church leader faced, including the internal and external threats to the church in Ohio and Missouri.
Ronald K. Esplin’s presentation on Friday, “Joseph Smith in Nauvoo: New Perspectives on the Pivotal Final Months,” will share insights from the Nauvoo Council of Fifty minutes and from Joseph Smith’s journals on how his sense of mission influenced his actions in the Nauvoo period.
Each speaker will base his presentation on research completed for volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers.
New Content on Joseph Smith Papers Website
The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the addition of the following new content to its website, josephsmithpapers.org:
- Almost two hundred documents dating from 1839, including land sales for what would become Nauvoo, Illinois.
- Transcript of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon.
- Images for the Draft Notes to the Manuscript History of the Church.
- Transcript for the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language.
- Images and transcripts of the four issues of the church newspaper Elders’ Journal.
- Two new finding aids: The Gold Plates and the Translation of the Book of Mormon and Publishing the Revelations.
- New and updated reference material, including source citations for twenty-two biographical descriptions and ten new and updated glossary entries.
Also recently added are histories Joseph Smith assigned to be written, as published in Histories, Volume 2 and early published versions of revelations found in Revelations and Translations, Volume 2. In the coming months more documents from the Documents, Journals, Histories, Revelations and Translations, Legal and Business Records, and Administrative Records series will be added. Eventually the website will contain images and transcripts of all extant and available Joseph Smith papers.
Joseph Smith Papers Project Introduces E-book Edition
The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce that Journals, volumes 1 and 2, are now available as e-books through Amazon and Deseret Bookshelf. These volumes mark the beginning of an entire e-book collection; other volumes will be available in this format in the coming months.
Joseph Smith Papers Welcomes New Historians
The Joseph Smith Papers Project recently added three historians to our team.
David W. Grua received a PhD in American History from Texas Christian University. He has published scholarly articles on Mormon and Native American history in Western Historical Quarterly, Journal of Mormon History, Federal History, and other peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. He has also presented papers at the annual conferences of the Western History Association, the Mormon History Association, and other professional venues. He previously worked as a historian for the Church History Museum and, as a student at Brigham Young University, as a research assistant for the Joseph Smith Papers, where he contributed to volumes one and two of the Journals series.
Elizabeth A. Kuehn, formerly a research assistant with the project, is a PhD candidate in early modern European history at the University of California, Irvine, and holds an MA in European and women’s history from Purdue University. She has presented at the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association and at the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Before joining the project, she was an instructor in the history department and religious studies program at the University of California, Irvine.
Spencer W. McBride holds a PhD in history from Louisiana State University, where he was named the T. Harry Williams Fellow and served as the assistant book review editor for the Journal of the Early Republic. His research interests include the intersections of religion and politics in early America, and he has presented on this topic at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association and several other conferences. Before joining the Joseph Smith Papers, he was an instructor of history at Louisiana State University.
Read more about the staff of the Joseph Smith Papers on our Project Team page.
C-SPAN Interviews Richard E. Turley Jr.
Reporters from C-SPAN recently visited the Church History Library in Salt Lake City and spoke with Richard E. Turley Jr., assistant church historian and recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the interview, Turley described the Joseph Smith Papers Project and chronicled some of the events in Joseph Smith’s life.
A video of the interview can be accessed here.
Volumes 1 and 2 of Documents Series Honored
At the annual conference of the Mormon History Association, held 5–8 June 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, volumes 1 and 2 of the Documents series received the association’s Best Documentary Editing/Bibliography Award. The award is presented for the year’s best published book of documentary editing or bibliography on Mormon history.
Volume editors for Documents, Volume 1 are Michael Hubbard MacKay, Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford, and William G. Hartley. Volume editors for Documents, Volume 2 are Matthew C. Godfrey, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford, and William G. Hartley.
The Documents volumes join volumes from the Histories series (2013) and the Journals series (2009) as recipients of the award.
Plenary Session Focuses on Council of Fifty Minutes
In 2013, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints granted the Joseph Smith Papers Project permission to publish the Nauvoo-era “Record of the Council of Fifty or Kingdom of God.” The minutes, which have never before been publicly available for research and have never been published, will form volume 1 of the Administrative Records series. This volume is scheduled for publication in late 2016. The record will also be used extensively in annotation for volume 3 of the Journals series, to be published in late 2015.
On 6 June 2014, at a plenary session of the Mormon History Association conference in San Antonio, Texas, Richard E. Turley Jr., assistant church historian and recorder, and Matthew J. Grow and Ronald K. Esplin, general editors of the Joseph Smith Papers, provided details about the council minutes based on research by themselves as well as by volume editors Mark Ashurst-McGee and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and research assistant Jeffrey David Mahas.
Turley described the Council of Fifty as a governing body organized in Nauvoo, Illinois, in March 1844, a few months before Joseph Smith’s death. The Nauvoo-era record contains minutes of meetings from March 1844 to January 1846, which were chaired by Joseph Smith and later Brigham Young and include their instruction on government and the Kingdom of God.
The minutes are contained in three physical volumes, all of which were inscribed by William Clayton, one of Joseph Smith’s principal scribes. Turley also traced the custodial history of the record, which has been in the church’s continuous possession.
Because of the conference’s location in Texas, Grow focused on one purpose of the council’s formation: the possibility of forming settlements in Texas or other locations outside of what then constituted the United States. At the time, Latter-day Saints were facing opposition both from church members who had broken with Joseph Smith and from enemies outside of the church. These settlements were intended to be places of refuge should church members need to leave Nauvoo. In March and April 1844, Lucien Woodworth, a council member, traveled to Texas and negotiated with Texas president Sam Houston regarding a possible settlement. When Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845, Grow explained, “the council’s previous interest in Texas evaporated” and the focus shifted westward, beyond the Rocky Mountains.
Esplin observed that the minutes provide a better understanding of how the Council of Fifty related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time. Joseph Smith made a clear distinction between the ecclesiastical function of the church, including ordinances, temple work, and priesthood keys, and the political and temporal function of the Council of Fifty, which focused on “protecting the church and providing it space to flourish.” Specifically, Esplin discussed the Council of Fifty’s connection to two important initiatives in Nauvoo: finding potential resettlement locations and supporting Joseph Smith’s candidacy for president of the United States in 1844.
As recorded in meeting minutes, Joseph Smith stated that the council’s purposes included helping create a government that would protect Latter-day Saints and other minority groups. On 11 April 1844, Esplin noted, Joseph Smith highlighted the inclusion in the Council of Fifty of three men who were not Mormons. Smith told the council that this was intended
to show that in the organization of this kingdom men are not consulted as to their religious opinions or notions in any shape or form whatever and that we act upon the broad and liberal principal that all men have equal rights, and ought to be respected, and that every man has a privilege in this organization of choosing for himself voluntarily his God, and what he pleases for his religion. . . . God cannot save or damn a man only on the principle that every man acts, chooses and worships for himself; hence the importance of thrusting from us every spirit of bigotry and intollerance towards a man[’]s religious sentiments, that spirit which has drenched the earth with blood. . . . It becomes our duty on account of this intollerance and corruption—the inalienable right of man being to think as he pleases—worship as he pleases &c being the first law of every thing that is sacred—to guard every ground all the days of our lives. I will appeal to every man in this council . . . to say that the principles of intollerance and bigotry never had a place in this kingdom, nor in my breast, and that he is even then ready to die rather than yeild to such things. Nothing can reclaim the human mind from its ignorance, bigotry, superstition &c but those grand and sublime principles of equal rights and universal freedom to all men.
On the question of whether the minutes would alter the understanding of this period of Mormon history, Esplin said that because church members kept better records in the 1840s than in earlier years, much of what the council minutes contain is also referred to in diaries and letters of council participants, and information about many council initiatives has long been available. Thus, the records do not contain “a hidden history but a fleshing out of some aspects of that history,” he explained.
More information on the session can be found in this report from the Deseret News.
New Videos Describe Accounts of the First Vision
The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the addition of two new videos to the website. These videos, which outline the accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision of Deity, join several videos already on the site that build context around Joseph Smith’s papers.
In the first video, two historians from the LDS Church History Department, Jed Woodworth and Steve Harper, join Joseph Smith Papers volume editors Karen Davidson and Mark Ashurst-McGee to discuss the four firsthand accounts of Smith’s vision. In the second, Karen Davidson and general editor Ron Esplin provide details on the origins of the secondhand accounts recorded by Smith’s contemporaries.
Links to the videos can be accessed in the right-hand margin of the home page. Transcripts of the accounts are available in the Histories and the Documents series and are also available on this website. See the finding aid titled “Primary Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision of Deity” for links to the documents.
Joseph Smith Papers Contributors to Present at Conference
Several contributors to the Joseph Smith Papers are scheduled to present at the forty-ninth annual conference of the Mormon History Association, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, 5–8 June 2014.
A special plenary session will be held during the conference to discuss the Nauvoo Council of Fifty minutes, which The Joseph Smith Papers received permission late last year to publish. The session, titled “The Council of Fifty and Its Records: A First Glimpse,” will be chaired by editorial board member Reid L. Neilson, with board member Richard E. Turley Jr. and general editors Ronald K. Esplin and Matthew J. Grow as panelists.
Other presentations include the following:
Mark Ashurst-McGee, “Zion and Its Redemption.”
Alexander L. Baugh, “Old and New: The History of the Original and Reconstructed Liberty Jails.”
Jeffrey G. Cannon, “Visually Documenting the Mormon Experience in South Africa: The Mission Photographs of June Bennion Sharp, 1912–1915.”
Matthew C. Godfrey, “‘The Redemption of Zion Must Needs Come by Power’: Insights into the Camp of Israel Expedition, 1834.”
Robin Scott Jensen, “‘Gather Up and Preserve a History’: Scrapbooks and the LDS Church Historian’s Office.”
Elizabeth A. Kuehn, “Financing Zion and Building the Stakes of Zion: Understanding the Intended and Actual Roles of the Kirtland Safety Society.”
Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, “Editors Meet Critic: Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 1.”
Reid L. Neilson, “A Light in the Darkness: Apostle Ezra T. Benson’s 1959 Sermon at Moscow’s Central Baptist Church.”
The Mormon History Association was created in 1965 as an affiliate of the American Historical Association and became a separate organization in 1972. Its purpose is to encourage understanding and scholarship in the field of Mormon history.
New Content on Joseph Smith Papers Website
The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the addition of the following new content and features to its website, josephsmithpapers.org:
- Histories Joseph Smith assigned to be written, as published in Histories, Volume 2, with all their accompanying annotation: John Whitmer, History, 1831–circa 1847; William W. Phelps, “Rise and Progress of the Church of Christ,” April 1833; John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839; and “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” December 1839–October 1840. An overview of the assigned histories can be found in the introduction to Histories, Volume 2.
- A finding aid describing Joseph Smith’s history-writing endeavors and the relationship between all of the histories posted on this website.
- Early published versions of revelations found in Revelations and Translations, Volume 2, with all their accompanying annotation: Images of Oliver Cowdery’s Copy of the Book of Commandments; Proposed Sixth Gathering of the Book of Commandments; and revelations printed in The Evening and the Morning Star and its reprint Evening and Morning Star, along with a side-by-side comparison.
- Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832.
- A finding aid for documents written in Joseph Smith’s hand.
- New and updated reference material, including source citations for thirty-eight biographical descriptions, twenty-six new and updated geographical entries, twenty-four new and updated chronological entries, two videos giving character sketches of Joseph Smith's grandparents, and forty-seven maps.
Also recently added are documents from January through March 1842 and five accounts of Joseph Smith’s 7 April 1844 discourse on the “subject of the dead.” In the coming months more documents from the Documents, Journals, Histories, Revelations and Translations, and Administrative Records series will be added. Eventually the website will contain images and transcripts of all extant and available Joseph Smith papers.
Joseph Smith Papers Staff to Present at AML Meeting
Kay Darowski, a web editor for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and Joseph F. Darowski, a web historian for the project, will present at the annual meeting of the Association for Mormon Letters on Saturday, 12 April 2014, at the Utah Valley University Library.
Their presentation, titled “The Joseph Smith Papers: What Are They Good For?,” will discuss how documentary editing projects like the Joseph Smith Papers benefit both academic and artistic endeavors.
The Association for Mormon Letters was founded in 1976 to promote quality Mormon literature, whether it be writing by, for, or about Mormons.
Joseph Smith Papers Hires New Editorial Staff
The Joseph Smith Papers Project has filled two editorial positions.
Shannon Kelly, formerly an editorial assistant for the project, started as an associate editor this month. In her new role, her responsibilities will shift from source checking and proofreading to coordinating and working on all aspects of the editorial process. Kelly has worked for the Joseph Smith Papers since she was hired as an intern in June 2012, and she became an editorial assistant in August 2013. She graduated with a BA in humanities and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University, where she wrote and edited for Stowaway magazine and served as an editorial assistant for BYU Studies.
Keaton Reed has filled the editorial assistant position. He will help research and source check reference material for the geographical and biographical directories available in the print volumes and online. Reed received a BA in technical communication from Utah State University.
To read full biographies of The Joseph Smith Papers staff, see our Project Team page.
Joseph Smith Papers Staff Interviewed for Upcoming Documentary
Glenn Rawson, writer and producer of the History of the Saints television series, interviewed Richard Lloyd Anderson, Alexander L. Baugh, and Sharalyn D. Howcroft for an upcoming documentary on Lucy Mack Smith.
The documentary, titled “Lucy Mack Smith: First Mother of the Restoration,” will largely use Lucy’s own words to give an overview of her life and provide context for Joseph Smith Jr.’s experiences. A TV special that outlines her life up to 1834 will air on KSL on Saturday, 5 April 2014, at 9:00 a.m. MDT. The full documentary, which will tell her story from birth to death, will be available in October 2014.
Joseph Smith Papers Project Welcomes New Product Manager
Ben Godfrey has joined the Joseph Smith Papers Project as the new senior product manager for the Joseph Smith Papers website. Godfrey graduated summa cum laude from Utah State University with a BA in communication and an emphasis in new technology. Before joining the Church History Department, he spent twenty years in the technology industry in various management positions. At Apple, he held several senior-level positions in software engineering and product management. He also spent several years managing international teams and development relationships in Europe and Asia. In addition to this work, Godfrey has traveled across the United States and internationally to speak on topics such as technology’s ability to improve education, government, and public safety.
In his role with the Papers, Godfrey will coordinate with designers, editors, writers, and scholars to develop the project’s website. He will also be involved in reaching out to research libraries and the media to share information about the project.
Users of the Joseph Smith Papers website can expect many changes to the site. A new media viewer was released in February, with additional improvements to the viewer planned for the coming months. In coming months, the site’s search interface will be updated, enhancing the way results are ranked and displayed to help users find relevant documents quickly. Finally, a major site redesign is planned for later this year that will refresh the look and feel of the site, improve navigation, introduce new features, and provide better support for mobile devices.
Joseph Smith’s Habeas Corpus Hearings to Be Presented in Utah
“Habeas Corpus and the Courts: Individual Liberties from Joseph Smith to Abraham Lincoln to Guantanamo,” which was originally presented in Illinois last year, will be performed at the University of Utah on 25 March and at Brigham Young University on 26 March 2014.
The event is sponsored by the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in conjunction with the S. J. Quinney College of Law and the J. Reuben Clark Law School. Joseph Smith Papers editorial board member Jeffrey N. Walker will be part of a four-person panel to discuss the hearings following the performance.
For more information and to reserve free tickets, see the following links.
25 March 2014 at the University of Utah: http://today.law.utah.edu/?events=the-habeas-corpus-hearings-of-joseph-smith
26 March 2014 at Brigham Young University: https://secureinstantpayments.com/sip/cart/event.php?EID=1259
New Members of National Advisory Board Announced
Richard Lyman Bushman and Dean C. Jessee recently joined the Joseph Smith Papers Project’s National Advisory Board. Bushman and Jessee, both former general editors of the project, are accomplished scholars of Joseph Smith and early American history. They join Terryl L. Givens, Susan Holbrook Perdue, Stephen J. Stein, and Harry S. Stout, as well as Laurie Maffly-Kipp, who was added to the board earlier this year.
Richard Bushman received his BA and PhD degrees from Harvard University. He is Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University and was formerly honored as the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Before joining the Columbia faculty, he taught at Brigham Young University, Boston University, and the University of Delaware. He has published several significant works on early American history, including From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690–1765 (1967), which was awarded the Bancroft Prize; Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (1984); The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities (1992); and Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (2005).
Dean Jessee, a founder of The Joseph Smith Papers, began gathering Joseph Smith’s papers in the late 1960s and eventually published three volumes that compiled some of Smith’s important writings: Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (1984, 2001) and Papers of Joseph Smith, volumes 1 and 2 (1989, 1991). He is also well known for other publications on nineteenth-century Mormon history, including Brigham Young’s Letters to His Sons (1974) and numerous articles. He received an MA degree in LDS church history from Brigham Young University.
The National Advisory Board now comprises seven scholars. Information about each of these scholars and the members of the Joseph Smith Papers Project staff can be found on our Project Team page.
New Document Viewer on Joseph Smith Papers Website
The Joseph Smith Papers is excited to announce the release of a new document viewer to facilitate navigation of the sometimes-complicated documents found on our website and to improve the overall user experience. Enhancements include:
- Table of contents to navigate to specific entries in large documents such as journals, histories, and minute books.
- Gallery view that displays thumbnails of all pages, providing a visual overview of the document and the ability to jump to a specific page.
- Slider navigation at the bottom of the viewer to allow quick access to specific pages.
- Full-screen viewer that gives users more room to view documents and read transcripts on large screens.
- Navigation by original source page number. Documents on the website were previously organized by image numbers, which often did not correspond to page numbers in the original sources.
- Image rotation tool that helps users better view text written sideways or upside down.
We would like to thank our partners from several departments at the corporate offices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for helping us develop the new viewer and for their continuing support of our project. In particular we thank Ben Godfrey, Kevin Nielson, and David Willden of the Church History Department, Darren Brown, Andrew Clark, and Doug Stringham from the Publishing Services Department, and Mike Bohman, Bill Bush, Tyler Dalton, Matt De Young, Brooke Frandsen, Clint Goodman, Michael Jasper, Jon Lewis, Tyler Replogle, and Dennis Sagers from the Information and Communications Services Department for their fine work and expertise.
Associate Managing Historian Robin Scott Jensen to Present at Conference
Robin Scott Jensen, associate managing historian and project archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, will present at the A. Dean Larsen Book Collecting Conference, to be held on 13 and 14 March 2014 at Brigham Young University.
Jensen’s presentation, titled “Beyond the Volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers,” will introduce conference attendees to the project’s development and production processes and instruct them on methods to access the information found in the volumes.
Each year, professional and amateur book collectors gather for the A. Dean Larsen Book Collecting Conference at the Harold B. Lee Library’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections to be instructed by professionals in related fields and to engage in the area of rare book collecting.
Joseph Smith Papers Featured in Recent Programs
Editorial Board member Richard E. Turley Jr. and volume editors Matthew C. Godfrey and Mark Ashurst-McGee joined Doug Wright on the program Everyday Lives, Everyday Values to discuss the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers. The program aired on KSL NewsRadio in December and can be accessed at this link: http://img.ksl.com/audio/2013_12_15_everyday_values.mp3.
Mark Ashurst-McGee also appeared on the FairMormon Frameworks podcast in January. The podcast can be heard at the following link: http://blog.fairmormon.org/2014/01/08/fairmormon-frameworks-14-mark-ashurst-mcgee-church-history/.
Laurie Maffly-Kipp Joins National Advisory Board
The Joseph Smith Papers Project welcomes Laurie Maffly-Kipp to the project’s National Advisory Board. Maffly-Kipp received her PhD in American history from Yale University and has taught at Amherst College, Yale University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author or editor of several books, including Religion and Society in Frontier California (Yale University Press, 1994), Proclamation to the People: Nineteenth-Century Mormonism and the Pacific Basin Frontier (University of Utah Press, 2008), and Setting Down the Sacred Past: African-American Race Histories (Harvard University Press, 2010). Her contributions to her field have earned her a place as a distinguished professor in the humanities at the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, located at Washington University in St. Louis.
Maffly-Kipp joins board members Stephen J. Stein, Harry S. Stout, Terryl L. Givens, and Susan Holbrook Perdue. The National Advisory Board, made up of recognized scholars in American religious history and documentary editing, was instituted to ensure scholarly standards are maintained through an independent peer review of The Joseph Smith Papers. In addition to reviewing each volume prior to publication, board members consult with project editors more generally on matters of content and style.
New Content on Joseph Smith Papers Website
The Joseph Smith Papers Project announces the addition of the following new content and features to its website, josephsmithpapers.org:
- Nearly one hundred letters, discourses, minutes, and other documents dating from January through March 1842.
- Five accounts of Joseph Smith’s 7 April 1844 discourse on the “subject of the dead,” given at a general conference shortly after the death of Elder King Follett. These accounts were recorded by Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton. An amalgamation of the Bullock and Clayton reports was published in the 15 August 1844 issue of the Times and Seasons.
- “Missouri Extradition Attempt, 1842–1843, Selected Documents,” an appendix to Journals, Volume 2; these twelve documents relate to the state of Missouri’s efforts to extradite Joseph Smith from Illinois for alleged involvement in an assassination attempt on former Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs.
- New and updated reference material, including source citations for thirty-five biographical descriptions, two new and updated geographical entries, and three new maps.
Also recently added are Joseph Smith’s histories as published in Histories, Volume 1, a transcript of the 1833 Book of Commandments, and a calendar (or list) of all known Joseph Smith documents created through January 1833. In the coming months more documents from the Documents, Journals, Histories, Revelations and Translations, and Administrative Records series will be added. Eventually the website will contain images and transcripts of all extant and available Joseph Smith papers.
Documents, Volume 2 Topic of Blog Event
On 2 December, the Joseph Smith Papers Project held a blog event to introduce Documents, Volume 2. Editorial board member Matthew J. Grow, managing historian Matthew C. Godfrey, volume editor Mark Ashurst-McGee, and lead production editor Riley M. Lorimer spoke about the volume. Details about the event are found at the following links.
TV Program Discusses Documents, Volume 2
A new episode of the program History of the Saints (KSL 5 TV) focusing entirely on Documents, Volume 2 aired Sunday, 1 December 2013. The episode drew on interviews with a number of historians, including Matthew C. Godfrey and Mark Ashurst-McGee, two of the editors of the volume. The program can be accessed at the following link:
A special episode of the program focusing on the first volume of the Documents series aired earlier and is also available online:
Both of these volumes of the Documents series are now available in stores and can be ordered online at these links: