Essay on Sources Cited in Journals, Volume 3

The annotation for this volume is based on a variety of sources. Among the most important are the personal journals of several of JS’s close associates—especially , , and —which provide significant details about many events that are mentioned only briefly in JS’s journal. Such sources were also used to make sense of Willard Richards’s scanty notes of many of the sermons JS delivered during this period and to flesh out the reasons behind his deteriorating relationships with men like , , and in early 1844. To better understand the latter issue, the editors also made limited use of a record titled “Record of Doings at Nauvoo in 1844,” which was purportedly written by Law himself and was published by Lyndon W. Cook in his book William Law (1994). No manuscript version of this record has been located, making it impossible not only to check the accuracy of the transcription but also to determine whether or not it was indeed originally inscribed by Law himself. While significant questions about the record’s legitimacy and accuracy therefore remain unanswered, the volume and series editors felt justified in using it to a limited extent based on internal evidence contained in the record itself, information Cook provided to Robin Jensen on 15 December 2011, and records contained in the Leonard Arrington Collection in the Special Collections and Archives of Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library that indicate Arrington solicited such a record on behalf of Cook from a member of the Law family in 1978.
In addition to personal records, reports published in various contemporary newspapers provide important details about events and activities referenced in the journal. Particularly helpful were the church-owned Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor, two papers published in that reported on many of the religious, civic, political, military, and legal issues in which JS was involved. Both papers, as well as others like the Warsaw Signal and Quincy Whig, also contain important information about the movements and intentions of anti-Mormons and church dissenters during this period. Additional information on these and related topics is found in the Nauvoo High Council Minutes, the Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, the Nauvoo Legion Minute Book, the Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book, and the Nauvoo Mayor’s Court Docket Book, all of which are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today and are available for research. Annotation detailing the discussions that took place in meetings of the Council of Fifty, most of which are only briefly referenced in the journal, was informed by the Council of Fifty Record. This record is reproduced in the Administrative Series of The Joseph Smith Papers.
Published collections of state statutes, as well as court records held in the LDS Church History Library and other locations, are instrumental in understanding the numerous legal issues raised in these journals. Records held in the Hancock County Circuit Court in Carthage, Illinois, are especially helpful in understanding the events and charges that resulted in JS’s incarceration in the jail in June 1844, as well as other cases in which he was involved. Additional light on these and other legal issues, as well as JS’s voluminous correspondence during this period, has been shed by various documents contained in the Joseph Smith Collection housed in the Church History Library.
Documents generated as part of early church historians’ efforts to compile a history of JS’s life and the early years of the church were also consulted and used, especially when evidence suggests that either the historians themselves or the people providing them with information were eyewitnesses to the events they describe in the history. Among the more important of these are numerous reminiscent accounts about the events leading up to JS’s death, which were provided to church historians in the 1850s by people who accompanied JS at jail. Of these reminiscences, the accounts by and are particularly helpful. ’s History of Illinois is also an important source for understanding events in Carthage. In general, these and other non-contemporaneous sources were used only when other sources were not available.