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Notes on the JSP
From the Gen Editors

As we've welcomed in the new year, we've also reflected on the past, particularly the happenings at the Joseph Smith Papers Project during recent months. We're pleased to highlight some of these exciting developments.

Following the August 2015 publication of Revelations and Translations, Volume 3, we released the third and concluding volume in the Journals series on November 30. This volume, which spans from May 1843 to June 1844, provides a foundation for understanding the turbulent but productive final year of Joseph Smith's life.

As we've moved forward with the project, we've also made discoveries about documents in previously published volumes. For example, we recently learned of an early manuscript version of the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants section 11. This revelation is featured in Documents, Volume 1 and on our

To make content on our website easier to find and use, we've added new search functions and made existing tools more powerful. These improvements will enable you to increase the efficiency and success of your research.

As our staff members have been busy working on future volumes for the Joseph Smith Papers, they have also made time to present at conferences, write journal articles, and contribute to books. We've also been pleased to welcome several new employees to the team to assist in our goal of publishing a comprehensive collection of Joseph Smith's papers.

For more details about these noteworthy items, we invite you to read the articles in this edition of our newsletter.

We're also looking forward to an exciting 2016. In May, we'll publish Documents, Volume 4, featuring Joseph Smith's activities in 1834 and 1835. We're also finalizing Administrative Records, Volume 1: The Council of Fifty Minutes in Nauvoo, 1844–1846, which will be published in September.

We're grateful for your interest in and support of the Joseph Smith Papers.


Ronald K. Esplin, Matthew J. Grow, and Matthew C. Godfrey
General Editors
In This Issue
Volume Updates
Final Installment in Journals Series
Now on Shelves
Documents V3

Now Available

"This work will be referenced for generations."
We are excited to announce the release of Journals, Volume 3: May 1843–June 1844, the final volume in the Journals series. The volume, which chronicles the final year of Joseph Smith's life, is now available for purchase in hardcover and e-book formats.

Journals, Volume 3 features the conclusion of Joseph Smith's second Nauvoo journal, illuminating his roles as church president and prophet, mayor, presidential candidate, judge, and militia leader.

The volume also covers the establishment of the Council of Fifty; includes many of Joseph Smith's sermons, such as those on salvation, priesthood ordinances, and humanity's potential to become like God; and offers glimpses into his temple-related activities. The volume enables readers to study Smith's daily life and personality as well as to situate him and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints within nineteenth-century American history.

Included as appendixes to Journals, Volume 3 are two accounts never before published—one by Willard Richards and the other by William Clayton—of Joseph Smith's activities during the final two weeks of his life, providing invaluable primary source material for studying the events leading to his martyrdom.

"With a level of professionalism and disclosure that is pointedly incredible," writes scholar Jonathan A. Stapley, "the editors present the most intimate details of the Mormon prophet's personal and religious life. . . . This work will be referenced for generations."
News and Announcements
New and Improved Search Tools
Ready to Use
In our continued quest to help you explore the documents and other resources on, we've added new tools to make the search process more robust. Here's a sampling of the many search options:
  • You can start a search on any page of the website. Simply click on the search icon at the top right of the page, and then enter a term into the search box.
  • Our improved weighting algorithm will help ensure that the search results are relevant to what you're looking for.
  • You can further refine the results by selecting or unselecting options on the right side of the page. Options include searching transcripts only, specific document categories (for example, revelations/translations, histories, and journals), reference material, biographical or geographical directory entries, the glossary, events, and/or date ranges.
  • The search results will now include documents in which the search words are near each other but not an exact phrase. For instance, if you search for the phrase blessed with power to overcome (without surrounding quotation marks), one of the results will be Revelation, 2 November 1835, which contains "blessed with power while to overcome."
  • Finally, after selecting a document, you can search within that document and its accompanying annotation via the search box below the document title.
With these tools, it's easier than ever to find the information you're looking for—whether it be an early Joseph Smith revelation or journal entry, a biographical sketch of an early church leader, or a chronology of significant events mentioned in Joseph Smith's papers.
Home Page
New Discoveries
Early Version of 1829 Revelation in Hyrum Smith's Handwriting
In May 1829, Joseph Smith dictated a revelation for his brother Hyrum. The revelation, which emphasizes God's "great and marvelous work" and Hyrum's role in it, was later published as section 11 in the Doctrine and Covenants.

When we featured the revelation in Documents, Volume 1, the earliest version we knew of was the
copy printed in the Book of Commandments, which was typeset between November 1 and December 31, 1832. Recently, however, we learned of an early manuscript version of the revelation, probably predating the Book of Commandments copy.

The undated version is of particular interest because it is in the handwriting of Hyrum Smith. The contents of this version and the Book of Commandments version have minor variations, mostly in spelling and punctuation; the Book of Commandments version also contains verse numbers and a heading: "1 A Revelation given to Hyrum, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, May, 1829."

The version in Hyrum's handwriting has long been in private possession and only recently came to our attention. The individual who owned the manuscript from around 1960 until 1982 attested that he acquired it from Hyrum's descendants.

This manuscript, which is still privately owned, is notable for being the only version in Hyrum's handwriting. The lack of a heading, date, and other contextual evidence related to its creation suggest the manuscript is an early, personal version of the revelation and might be a rare original or dictation copy.
Staff News
Staff Members Busy Writing and Presenting
Our staff had a busy year in 2015. Outside of their Joseph Smith Papers assignments, staff members wrote or contributed to thirty-three books, articles, dissertations, and book reviews. Additionally, project employees gave sixty-five presentations at conferences, seminars, church gatherings, and other events throughout the United States and abroad.

Not surprisingly, many of the publications addressed topics closely related to Joseph Smith. For example, in "Abner Cole and The Reflector: Another Clue to the Timing of the 1830 Book of Mormon Printing," published in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Robin Jensen argued that the timing of Cole's unauthorized printing of Book of Mormon passages provides insight into the timing of the printing process for the first edition of the Book of Mormon. In "Symbol of Mormonism: The Nauvoo Boarding House," published in the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, Alex Smith explored the significance of the Nauvoo House, a building the Saints began constructing in response to a Joseph Smith revelation and that Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were temporarily buried in shortly after being martyred. Additionally, Spencer McBride highlighted in "Pilgrimage to History," which was published in the New York Archives, how Latter-day Saints can better understand their religious history by studying the history of New York and how scholars of New York history can benefit from obtaining a deeper understanding of early Latter-day Saint history.

Presentations given by our staff treated a variety of topics. Matthew Grow gave a presentation titled "Nineteenth-Century Mormon and Catholic Mutual Perceptions" at the Mormon Studies conference. During the Western History Association's annual conference, Brent Rogers presented on "Imperium in Imperio: Sovereignty and the State in Utah Territory." At the Digital Humanities Summer Institute Colloquium, Nathan Waite connected the past with the present in "Finding Your Family Tree in the Joseph Smith Papers: An Example of Digital Humanities Engaging the General Public." To make that connection yourself and find out whether your ancestors are mentioned in Joseph Smith documents on our site, visit  

New Staff Welcomed to the Project
Over the past year, we've been pleased to welcome several new staff members to the Joseph Smith Papers team:
Mason Allred, historian, earned a bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University–Hawaii, followed by a master's and a doctoral degree in German studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a cultural historian of media, historiography, and historical experience. He has contributed to three scholarly books and has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Jewish Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Popular Culture, and Transit.
Suzy Bills, editor, earned a bachelor's degree in history and minors in editing and dance from Brigham Young University. She also completed a master's degree in business administration at the University of Phoenix. After working as senior editor at a corporation for seven years, she started her own editing and writing business. Suzy has also taught editing courses at Brigham Young University, and she is on the board of directors for the Latter-day Saint Publishing Professionals Association.
Christopher Blythe, historian, earned a bachelor's degree in religious studies at Utah State University and a bachelor's degree in anthropology at Texas A&M University. He then completed a master's degree in history at Utah State University and a doctoral degree in American religious history at Florida State University. He has published in several journals, including the Journal of Mormon History, Communal Societies, Nova Religio, and the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal.
Nicole Fernley, editor, completed a bachelor's degree in humanities and a master's degree in English at Brigham Young University. After working for a year as a technical writer at a nuclear engineering laboratory, Nicole accepted a position in the Publishing Services Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following nine years in that position, she worked as a freelance editor for five years and also taught business communication courses at LDS Business College.
Rachel Gessel, editorial assistant, graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary humanities and with minors in music and editing. While at the university, she edited for BYU Studies and the Religious Studies Center. She also wrote and edited articles for Stowaway magazine. After graduating, she was hired as an intern at the Joseph Smith Papers, and she recently transitioned to her current position.
Caroline Larsen, editor, completed a bachelor's degree in English language and minors in editing and English literature at Brigham Young University. While there, she worked for BYU Magazine and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, and she was a volunteer editor on several academic journals. Following graduation, she completed an editorial internship in the Publishing Services Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
To learn more about these and other employees, visit our Project Team page.  
New Content Available on
Joseph Smith Papers Website
At the end of January, we added the following content to our website:
  • The transcript for volume E-1 of the Manuscript History of the Church, covering 1 July 1843 through 30 April 1844
  • Annotation for volume C-1 and addenda to C-1 of the Manuscript History of the Church, pointing readers to the original sources used to compile this history
  • Images of the Joseph Smith Office Papers, a collection of more than 350 documents that were received or created in Joseph Smith's office from 1835 to 1844 and that are now housed at the Church History Library
We also recently added documents from 1841, documents for sixteen legal cases from New York and Ohio, and the earliest manuscript copy of the revelation on eternal marriage (now D&C 132). More documents will be added in coming months. Eventually, the website will contain images and/or transcripts of all available Joseph Smith papers.
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