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The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volume 13 Released

June 23, 2022

The Church Historian’s Press today announced the release of the latest volume of The Joseph Smith Papers. Documents, Volume 13 includes documents from August through December 1843 and details Joseph Smith’s ongoing efforts to lead, teach, and minister to the growing number of Latter-day Saints in the United States and abroad.

During the months covered in this volume, Nauvoo, Illinois, was humming with activity as migrants continued to pour into the city and surrounding towns from the eastern United States and Great Britain. Civic and church leaders worked to develop Nauvoo’s infrastructure, and the city grew closer to becoming the “corner-stone of Zion.” As the Latter-day Saints constructed the Nauvoo temple on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, Smith elucidated key religious principles associated with the temple, such as priesthood, election, and the sealing power, in public discourses and private meetings.

This volume features ninety-eight documents, including Joseph Smith’s correspondence, accounts of his discourses, and petitions seeking redress from the federal government. Key documents include a petition, approved by the city council of Nauvoo on 21 December 1843, asking the United States Congress to grant Nauvoo the rights and powers of a federal territory. Also in December, Joseph Smith and other city leaders took action to protect Nauvoo and its citizens from increased violence by passing a city ordinance that suspended legal processes originating outside the city. Leaders also created a full-time police force, mobilized the local militia, and asked Congress to empower the mayor to, if necessary, “call to his aid a sufficient number of United States forces.” The texts presented in this volume, with their detailed historical annotation, chronicle a tumultuous period in church history and provide necessary context for understanding the explosive events that unfolded during the final six months of Joseph Smith’s life.

Documents, Volume 13 was edited by Christian K. Heimburger, Jeffrey D. Mahas, Brent M. Rogers, J. Chase Kirkham, Matthew S. McBride, and Mason K. Allred. 
 

New Content on the Joseph Smith Papers Website

May 3, 2022

The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce its latest web release. This release features an 1838 land survey documenting Latter-day Saint land claims in Daviess County, Missouri; introductions and documents for five legal cases from Illinois, including cases against Joseph Smith for treason and riot; Nauvoo City treasurer documents; transcripts for Joseph Smith’s office papers; updated images for the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book; and hundreds of new entries for the calendar of documents.

In the Financial Records series, this release includes a short record titled Land Survey, May–July 1838, which contains a survey George W. Robinson made of Latter-day Saint land claims in Daviess County, Missouri, in the spring and summer of 1838. This record, along with an accompanying introduction and annotation, offers important insights into church leaders’ plans for settlement in Missouri. An updated map depicting the land claims recorded by Robinson is also available. Additional financial documents have also been added to the Ohio Agent Papers.

In the Legal Records series, new content includes five introductions and documents that cover several Illinois legal cases. Introduction to State of Illinois v. JS et al. for Riot–A, State of Illinois v. JS for Riot on Habeas Corpus, State of Illinois v. H. Smith et al. on Habeas Corpus, and State of Illinois v. JS et al. for Riot–B describes four riot cases stemming from the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor press, which was ordered by the Nauvoo City Council and Nauvoo’s mayor, Joseph Smith. State of Illinois v. JS and H. Smith for Treason most likely resulted from Joseph Smith’s decision to call out the Nauvoo Legion and declare martial law in Nauvoo amid rising tensions with other citizens of Hancock County, Illinois. There are also introductions and documents for State of Illinois v. JS for Adultery and Fornication, State of Illinois v. JS for Assault and Battery, City of Nauvoo v. Bostwick, Bostwick v. JS and Greene, and Bostwick v. JS.

In the Administrative Records series, more content has been added from the Nauvoo City records. This includes pay orders sent to the city treasurer requesting payment for services rendered to the city. Transcripts for more of Joseph Smith’s office papers, including land records, legal records, city records, and miscellaneous records are also included. Updated images for the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book have been added; all images, including blank pages, for the complete record book are now available.

This release also includes hundreds of new entries for the calendar of documents for August through December 1843.

 

New Content on the Joseph Smith Papers Website

February 8, 2022

The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce its latest web release. This release features the entirety of Documents, Volume 9: December 1841–April 1842, including all annotations and introductions. The release also features an introduction and documents relating to Joseph Smith’s financial agents in Ohio; Trustees Land Book B; introductions and documents to twelve legal cases from Illinois; the first of two deed record books for Nauvoo, Illinois; and transcripts from several letters in Joseph Smith’s office papers.

Documents, Volume 9 includes documents concerning the growth and development of the church and the city of Nauvoo from December 1841 through April 1842. These documents include those reporting the establishment of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo and a Freemasonry lodge in Nauvoo, as well as letters, revelations, land transactions, newspaper editorials, and discourses.

In the Financial Records series, we have published images and transcripts for Trustees Land Book B which, like its predecessor Trustees Land Book A, was used to track and record Joseph Smith’s land transactions as trustee-in-trust in Nauvoo and Hancock County, Illinois. This release also includes the records created by two of Joseph Smith’s financial agents in Ohio: William Marks and Oliver Granger. The extant records for Granger are the most extensive existing for any of Joseph Smith’s agents and consist of both the records Granger created and had in his possession as a church agent and the documents detailing the financial confusion caused by his death. With this release, all extant financial content pertaining to Joseph Smith in Ohio has now been published.

In the Legal Records series, we have added introductions and documents for a number of Illinois legal cases. City of Nauvoo v. F. M. Higbee, F. M. Higbee v. JS–A, F. M. Higbee v. JS–A on Habeas Corpus, and F. M. Higbee v. JS–B detail ongoing conflicts between Joseph Smith and Francis M. Higbee concerning slander and disparaging remarks allegedly made on both sides. State of Illinois v. Sympson, Sympson v. JS, and State of Illinois v. JS for Perjury cover a civil case and a criminal case brought against Joseph Smith for identifying Alexander Sympson as a suspect in the burglary and assault of Richard and Hannah Nott Badham. JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street is a civil suit involving an unpaid promissory note given to Smith and others by the Streets for majority interest in the steamboat Nauvoo. Also included in this release are a series of cases related to Amos Davis, a longtime opponent of Joseph Smith, and R. D. Foster v. Hawn, at which Smith testified.

In the Administrative Records series, we have added the first of two deed record books with deeds dating 20 April 1840–28 August 1843. These books record land transactions in Nauvoo, Illinois, and the surrounding area. We have also added transcripts for the correspondence kept in Joseph Smith’s office in Nauvoo.

 

The Church Historian’s Press Releases Landmark Volume on Book of Mormon Manuscript

January 25, 2022

The Church Historian’s Press recently released The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 5: Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, which gives readers unprecedented access to the earliest Book of Mormon manuscript through full-color photographs, a color-coded transcript, introductions, and reference material.

One of the most significant documents in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the original manuscript was penned by Oliver Cowdery and other scribes as Joseph Smith dictated the text of the Book of Mormon between April and June 1829. The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830 and remains a central volume in the Latter-day Saint scriptural canon.

The manuscript sustained major water damage in the nineteenth century, and many of the original pages were destroyed entirely. Of the manuscript’s nearly 500 pages, portions of 232 pages survive, amounting to roughly 28 percent of the text. Some of what remains is badly faded, obscured, or otherwise damaged. This volume presents photographic and typographic facsimiles of each identifiable manuscript fragment. High-resolution photos of the fragments have been pieced back together as they would have appeared in the original manuscript. The photographs included in the volume—the first complete photographic record of what remains of the original manuscript ever published—allow comparison with the transcript and provide detail that can never be fully captured in transcription.

The transcripts and annotation in this volume rely upon years of work by volume editor Royal Skousen as part of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project. This volume reproduces the original text based on analysis of the manuscript in its present state, as well as of multispectral images and historical photographs. The transcript preserves corrections and revisions of any kind, line and page breaks, and the locations of interlinear insertions. Since several scribes penned revisions in this manuscript, the handwriting of each is rendered in a different color to facilitate analysis. The comprehensive and careful presentation gives researchers unparalleled access to this essential text.

The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 5: Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon was edited by Royal Skousen, linguist and editor of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project, and Robin Scott Jensen, historian for the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Robin Jensen, a Joseph Smith Papers historian, examines a leaf of the original Book of Mormon manuscript.