General Editors: Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, Richard Lyman Bushman. Volume Editors: Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashhurst-McGee, Richard l. Jensen. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church Historian’s Press, 2008. Hardbound, 7 ¼ x 10 ¼”, 568 pgs. ISBN: 9781570088490
The Joseph Smith Papers, comprising dozens of volumes when complete, will be the largest, most authoritative published collection of Joseph smith documents anywhere. Although broad in scope, the Papers project has a relatively simple aim: to make available essential sources for the study of early Mormon history and of Joseph Smith—the church president and prophet, the city builder, the civic and military leader, the husband and father.
With unprecedented access to Joseph Smith texts, including many never before published, this landmark project provides new information and insights about Joseph Smith, early Mormonism, and nineteenth-century American religion. The documents, topically arranged into several series, include journals, correspondence, sermons, revelations, translations, histories, minutes, and legal and business records.
This inaugural volume features Joseph Smith’s first five journals and reflects the beginning of Mormon record keeping in the church’s earliest years. Joseph smith began recording his first journal in 1832 in a small pocket-size book that he carried along with him during his missionary travels. Studying these personal entries gives the reader an appreciation for Smith’s character, including his private piety and love for family. The work of journal keeping was soon thereafter delegated to scribes.
Joseph Smith’s second journal includes some of the earliest versions of his revelations. The final three journals in this volume, document the origins of the “Mormon War” in Missouri and Joseph Smith’s early efforts to establish a new headquarters for the church in Commerce (later Nauvoo), Illinois.
Two forthcoming volumes in the Journals series will feature Joseph smith’s lengthy Nauvoo journals, kept primarily by scribes Willard Richards and William Clayton. These journals, covering almost every day of Smith’s life from mid-December 1841 to his murder in June 1844, report his activities and discourses as he administered the affairs of growing church and introduced new religious doctrine while also serving a city mayor and head of the militia.