Church Buys Printer’s Manuscript of Book of Mormon from Community of Christ

  • 20 September 2017

These are the first few pages of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon. It is enclosed by folding the casing and then by sliding it into an additional case.

The Church recently acquired the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri.

Elder Steven E. Snow, Church Historian and Recorder, said: “We hold the Book of Mormon to be a sacred text like the Bible. The printer’s manuscript is the earliest surviving copy of about 72 percent of the Book of Mormon text, as only about 28 percent of the earlier dictation copy survived decades of storage in a cornerstone in Nauvoo, Illinois.”

George Schweich, a grandson of early Church member David Whitmer, stands next to the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Schweich inherited the manuscript from his grandfather and sold the manuscript in 1903 to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (later renamed Community of Christ). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the manuscript on September 18, 2017.

Elder Snow expressed gratitude for the care taken of the manuscript by the Community of Christ for more than a century. He also offered appreciation to the generous donors who provided the means to acquire this treasure for the Church.

The entire printer’s manuscript was published in 2015 as part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It can be found in volume 3 of the Revelations and Translations series. Eventually, digital images of the entire manuscript will be posted online at josephsmithpapers.org.

Plans are currently under way to display the manuscript to the public at the Church History Library in the coming months.

According to the Community of Christ’s website, the sale price of $35 million was provided by generous donors.

This is the first page of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon.

The printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon rests on a table in this early 20th-century photograph. © Image courtesy Community of Christ Library-Archives. All rights reserved.

The Grandin printing press that was used to produce the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon in Palmyra, New York, is on display.

This historic photograph shows the Grandin building in Palmyra, New York, where the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon was published.

A volume of the Joseph Smith Papers Project featuring the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon was released August 4, 2015, by the Church Historian’s Press, an imprint of the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The third volume of the Joseph Smith Papers includes the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Part 1 covers 1 Nephi 1 through Alma 35, while part 2 covers Alma 36 through Moroni 10.

This case encloses the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon, protecting and preserving the manuscript for future researchers and interested Church members.