Joseph Smith Papers Project Releases New Book

  By Lok Yi Chan, Church News and Events

  • 20 March 2012

Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844 will be available in major booksellers starting Monday, March 19, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844 will become available starting Monday, March 19, 2012.
  • The second volume of the Histories series will be released later this year.
  • Volume 1 contains accounts of some of the most foundational events of the Church, such as the First Vision and the angel Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith.

“I love reading about these histories in [their] raw form because it really helps me see that [the people] were human. The grammar was not always perfect, and [Joseph Smith and the early Saints] had opinions and struggles and circumstances to deal with just like we have today. So I feel like I gain strength by reading these experiences they had and how they overcame these challenges.”—Patrick Dunshee, manager of marketing and communications for the Church History Department

As part of a continuing effort to collect, preserve, and share Church history, Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, the latest publication of the Joseph Smith Papers project, will become available for purchase starting Monday, March 19, 2012. Like other volumes, this publication will be available in English only.

The suggested retail price of the book is US $54.95, and it will be available both online and in bookstores. The volume will also be accessible from many research libraries around the world.

While the documents included in this volume were written between 1832 and 1844, the book covers events taking place from 1805 to 1844. According to Nathan Waite, an editor for the Church History Department who worked on Histories, Volume 1, this book focuses on events that Joseph Smith was directly involved in, and, of the books published by the Joseph Smith Papers Project so far, is the one most relevant for Church members.

Histories, Volume 1 is different, because this is Joseph Smith sitting down and saying: ‘Okay, what’s our story? What happened in the history of the Church? What are the stories we want to tell our members? What are the stories we want to tell the rest of the world? What does Mormonism mean?’” Brother Waite said. “It’s ‘Let’s tell our story’; it’s ‘Let’s create our identity.’”

Histories, Volume 1 contains accounts of some of the foundational events of early Latter-day Saint history in detail, including the First Vision; the angel Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith; the translation of the Book of Mormon; Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery being baptized and receiving the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist; landmark events in Kirtland, Ohio; and events from Nauvoo, Illinois. Because Joseph Smith and his scribes made several efforts to record the history of the Church, some accounts are represented more than once. For example, there are several accounts of both the First Vision and the translation of the Book of Mormon.

This book also includes part of the first manuscript volume (called volume “A-1”) of the multivolume history Joseph Smith began in 1838. This segment of the book includes events starting at Joseph Smith’s birth and ending in the early 1830s. Volume A-1 has already been published online at josephsmithpapers.org.

It will also include the three official drafts of the history of the Church that Joseph Smith and his scribes created between 1839 and 1841.

“I think there is value in seeing these original histories in their original form because you can then better understand what those people were going through at that time,” said Patrick Dunshee, manager of marketing and communications for the Church History Department.

According to Brother Dunshee, reading these original documents not only enables readers to increase their knowledge of Church history, but also helps them draw a closer and more personal connection to early Latter-day Saints.

“I love reading about these histories in [their] raw form because it really helps me see that [the people] were human,” he continued. “The grammar was not always perfect, and they had opinions and struggles and circumstances to deal with just like we have today. So I feel like I gain strength by reading about these experiences they had and how they overcame these challenges.”

Most reference materials in this book—including biographies, maps, and a glossary—are already available online. The transcripts and annotations, on the other hand, will appear in the book first, and later online.

The Histories series contains two volumes, with the second one scheduled to come out in fall 2012. For more information visit josephsmithpapers.org.