Appendix 5: Willard Richards, Draft Notes of Joseph Smith’s Activities, 1842, 1844, Introduction
The four short documents in this appendix appear to be notes and made of some of JS’s activities in January, March, April, and December 1842 and May 1844, respectively. Some of the information contained in these notes, inscribed on loose sheets of paper, is also featured in the JS journal entries of the same dates, though frequently in more detail and in a more polished form, suggesting that the notes were inscribed first and that Richards later used the notes as source material for JS’s journal. The notes are therefore critical to understanding the process by which Richards created JS’s journals. The documents reproduced here are the only extant notes about JS kept by Richards, though they are likely only a small sample of such texts Richards recorded in his effort to keep JS’s journal.
JS’s -era journals were kept in two records. The first was kept by , , , and , who recorded entries from December 1841 to December 1842 in the large ledger titled “The Book of the Law of the Lord.” Beginning 21 December 1842 and continuing to the final week of the prophet’s life, Richards inscribed entries in four small volumes designated as “President Joseph Smith’s Journal.” Entries in the former record are clean and relatively free from cancellations, insertions, and other scribal evidence that traditionally indicate point of first inscription. Many of the entries were clearly written retrospectively, also suggesting that the journal text within the Book of the Law of the Lord was copied from some other source. The book’s large size would have rendered it inconvenient for JS’s scribes to carry around, and its concurrent use as a ledger for recording donations for construction of the meant that it was kept in the “counting room” on the lower floor of JS’s .
Unlike the massive Book of the Law of the Lord, the subsequent JS journal—President Joseph Smith’s Journal—was kept in small, pocket-sized memorandum books that could easily have carried with him. Textual evidence, such as space left to add detail later and incomplete words from hurried note taking, indicate that many of the entries in this second journal were inscribed contemporaneously. Other entries appear to have been written days after the events they describe and were likely based on draft notes like those reproduced here.
Three of the four notes describe events recorded in entries during the periods for which Richards was the scribe of JS’s journals. The third draft note below, however, describing events of December 1842, was created when was recording JS’s journal in the Book of the Law of the Lord. Clayton had taken over recording JS’s journal while Richards was traveling in the East. Richards had returned from his trip by December 1842, however, and he may have created this third note anticipating that he would record the entries himself (he resumed keeping JS’s journal less than two weeks after the dates listed in the note). It is also possible that Richards instead created the note to assist Clayton’s journal keeping. Alternatively, Richards may have created this note for later use in compiling JS’s history, an assignment JS had recently given Richards and which Richards started on 1 December.
Comparing the first three notes with entries of corresponding dates in the Book of the Law of the Lord shows that and chose to include only some of the information contained in these notes when inscribing JS’s journal. The first note below, chronicling JS’s activities during January 1842, contains only a few similarities to the JS journal entries of the same days, though some of the information in this first note corresponds to events recorded in JS’s journal under different dates. The second and third notes very closely parallel the corresponding journal entries. The fourth note, on which the entry of 23 May 1844 in President Joseph Smith’s Journal was very heavily based, was likely atypical as most of the entries in that record do not appear to have been copied from other sources.
Because these notes are not part of JS’s official journal, editorially supplied identifications of people and places, along with other contextual annotation, are not included in this appendix. Readers interested in finding more information regarding the events recorded here may consult Journals, Volume 2 and the entry of 23 May 1844.