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Notes on the JSP

We are happy to announce the publication of our newest volume, Documents, Volume 7: September 1839–January 1841, which we highlight in this edition of the newsletter. This edition also includes an article that offers a deeper look at the relationship between Joseph Smith and William W. Phelps—a topic covered by Documents, Volume 7—and a report of our staff members’ participation in the annual Church History Symposium.
We are privileged to work with so many who contribute not only to the Joseph Smith Papers Project but also to the broader history community. We hope you will take a few minutes to read about our staff’s work and our latest volume.
Ronald K. Esplin, Matthew J. Grow, and Matthew C. Godfrey
In This Issue
  • Documents, Volume 7: September 1839–January 1841 Is Now Available
  • Highlights from Documents, Volume 7: The Reconciliation of Joseph Smith and William W. Phelps
  • Staff Members Participate in Annual Symposium
Documents, Volume 7: September 1839–January 1841 Is Now Available
Earlier this month, the Joseph Smith Papers published Documents, Volume 7, which covers September 1839 through January 1841. This volume contains 129 documents, including personal correspondence, discourses, minutes, a revelation, and a memorial to the United States Congress. Specific topics addressed in these documents include the practical and spiritual building up of Nauvoo, Illinois; the struggle to obtain redress for the property and lives lost in Missouri; the missionary efforts of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in England; and the introduction of new teachings and doctrines, including baptism for the dead.

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Highlights from Documents, Volume 7: The Reconciliation of Joseph Smith and William W. Phelps
By Matthew C. Godfrey

“Come on dear Brother since the war is past,
For friends at first are friends again at last.”

—Letter to William W. Phelps, 22 July 1840
Documents, Volume 7 covers a period when Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints worked hard to build up Nauvoo, Illinois, as a cornerstone of Zion. Efforts to sell land, construct buildings, and settle the Saints took up much of Smith’s time during these eighteen months. He also expended energy seeking redress from the federal government for the Saints’ expulsion from the state of Missouri, even traveling to Washington DC in fall 1839 and remaining in the surrounding area until March 1840. These efforts were so time-consuming that Smith sent a petition to the Nauvoo high council in June 1840 asking to be relieved of his responsibilities for the Saints’ temporal affairs because he believed his leadership in spiritual matters was suffering.
Yet even with these pressing temporal matters, Joseph Smith still had time to minister to those in need. An example of this is highlighted by two letters in Documents, Volume 7 concerning William W. Phelps’s return to the church in 1840. This story provides insight into Joseph Smith’s character. 

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Staff Members Participate in Annual Symposium
Last month, the Church History Department, including many staff members of the Joseph Smith Papers, teamed up with Brigham Young University to host the annual Church History Symposium. This year’s theme was “Financing Faith: The Intersection of Business and Religion.” The two-day conference featured over forty presentations and two keynote addresses that explored the intersection of finance and religion in the church’s first hundred years. 

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