Website expands access to the writings of Joseph Smith

Online resource includes Prophet's first letterbook, historical missives

The earliest-known account of Joseph Smith's First Vision — penned partially in his own hand — is part of a broad assortment of new content just added to the Joseph Smith Papers Project website, the Church History Department has announced.

The latest material was added June 5, expanding the resources already available on the life and papers of the Prophet.

The first known account of the First Vision, some of it in the Prophet Joseph Smith's own hand, is c
The first known account of the First Vision, some of it in the Prophet Joseph Smith's own hand, is contained in Letterbook 1, part of new content added to Joseph Smith Papers website. | Intellectual Reserve Inc.

"The Joseph Smith Papers website provides free online access to many of the documents that make up the Joseph Smith Papers," said Patrick Dunshee, marketing and communications manager for the department. "In time the website will house all the documents associated with this important project."

Accessed via, the new content features actual photo reproductions of the documents, each page placed side-by-side with a meticulous transcription of that page. Included are these items:

Also included in that letterbook are instructions regulating the affairs of the Church in Missouri and for building the city of Zion. Among these are a Nov. 27, 1832 letter from Joseph to William W. Phelps giving information concerning Zion. Parts of the letter are today published as Doctrine and Covenants 85.

A letter written about June 25, 1833, gives more information about the city of Zion and describes the complex of temples that are to be built for the work of the Church's quorums.

The manuscript now on the website contains content published today as Abraham 1:4-2:6 and is dated about October 1835. It is in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, one of Joseph Smith's scribes at the time. Evidence, such as cancellations and insertions, suggests that it may have been copied from an earlier draft. It has been in the Church's possession since the Nauvoo period. The transcription is from a work by Egyptian scholar Brian M. Hauglid published in 2010 by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU.

In addition to the website content, the Joseph Smith Papers Project will encompass about 20 printed volumes, six of which have been published already. Eventually, the website will offer all of the content that the printed volumes do plus more.

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