'A record shall be kept'

New Joseph Smith Papers book covers early histories

The first of two volumes documenting very early efforts of the Church to keep its own history has been released as part of the anticipated 21-volume Joseph Smith Papers project undertaken and published by the Church History Department.

Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832-1844 was unveiled March 19 at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. It is now available through its distributor, Deseret Book, or other outlets.

As noted by Richard L. Jensen, one of the volume editors, Volume 1 contains histories that involved the Prophet Joseph Smith more directly, either as author or supervisor. Volume 2, expected to appear this fall, will contain histories that have a less-direct link to the Prophet, undertaken in response to his assignment but not prepared under his supervision. That volume will carry the title Assigned Historical Writings, 1831-1847.

With meticulous transcripts and detailed document analysis, the new volume contains these eight narrative histories:

Discussing new Joseph Smith Papers release at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City are volum
Discussing new Joseph Smith Papers release at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City are volume editors Richard L. Jensen, left, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Karen Lynn Davidson and lead production editor Nathan N. Waite. | Photo by R. Scott Lloyd

An appendix is included in the book, apostle Orson Pratt's 1840 work, "A[n] Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions," published in Scotland. This is because the Wentworth letter is largely drawn from Pratt's work. Shaded type indicates which portions were used in the Wentworth letter.

Mark Ashurst-McGee, another volume editor, said of the book, "You'll find much more new material than has been published before in the new physical descriptions and historical introductions to these documents."

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