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Hyrum Smith’s handwritten copy of Doctrine and Covenants 11 donated to the Church


The document begins, “A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.”

What follows became Doctrine and Covenants 11, handwritten in neat cursive that evenly covers the front and back of the page. 

Experts and archivists with the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rigorously examined the document and confirmed it is the handwriting of Hyrum Smith. Section 11 is his revelation — given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to his brother at Harmony, Pennsylvania, in May 1829. 

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith, carefully looked over the document in its protective sleeve on Thursday, June 30, at the Church Administration Building

“This is a treasure,” he marveled.

Seated next to him was Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr, General Authority Seventy and Church historian. And at the table were Greg and Julie Cook and their family.

Greg Cook recently found the document in Moon’s Rare Books in Provo, Utah, and said he knew he had to purchase it for the purpose of donating it back to the Church. And, as he told President Ballard, he knew “it has significance to you and your family.”

Julie and Greg Cook, left, talk with President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 30, 2022. The Cook family is donating a copy of Doctrine and Covenants 11 handwritten by Hyrum Smith that they were able to purchase from a private collector.

Julie and Greg Cook, left, talk with President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 30, 2022. The Cook family is donating a copy of Doctrine and Covenants 11 handwritten by Hyrum Smith that they were able to purchase from a private collector.

Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Documentation kept with the artifact shows its journey, passing through the hands of private collectors back to 1960, when it appears the Smith family sold it with the family Bible. 

“This has had a windy road back to you and the Church,” Cook told President Ballard as he presented the gift.

A discolored mark in the center of the paper shows where the document appears to have been folded, perhaps being kept against the leather of that family Bible. The penmanship shows the care that was taken in writing the words of the revelation.

From the archives: Church receives President Joseph F. Smith’s Bible nearly 100 years after Doctrine and Covenants revelation

Elder Curtis said Hyrum was the more formally educated of the Smith family members. “He had gone to more schooling than Joseph and was just a great help in the early days of the Church, mainly because of his devotion to the Lord, come what may, culminating with his death because he would not leave his brother Joseph as Joseph went to Carthage.”

The Cooks remarked upon the timing of this donation — coming during the week commemorating 178 years since Joseph and Hyrum were martyred at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844.

Elder Curtis said the document was written in Hyrum’s hand, but “we don’t know if this is the first time it was written or if this was a copy, but if it was a copy, it was a copy made by Hyrum, to whom the revelation is addressed.”

Hyrum Smith was President Ballard’s mother’s great-grandfather. Her grandfather was President Joseph F. Smith, and President Ballard said she told him some of her memories of President Joseph F. Smith, who at age 5 saw his father’s and his uncle’s bodies in 1844 and not much later crossed the Plains with Mary Fielding Smith, who was his mother and Hyrum Smith’s widow. 

President Ballard shared some of those stories with the Cook family, and Elder Curtis called it “a tremendous heritage.”

Hyrum’s influence

Besides the significance of seeing Hyrum Smith’s handwriting and handling an almost-200-year-old artifact, the words in the revelation are also significant, said Elder Curtis.

“Probably the verse we use the most from it is this: ‘Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men,’” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:21) he read out loud.

“And, wow, did that come true in the life of Hyrum Smith and his descendants.” 

A copy of Doctrine and Covenants 11 handwritten by Hyrum Smith, which is being donated by Greg and Julie Cook and their family to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is pictured at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

A copy of Doctrine and Covenants 11 handwritten by Hyrum Smith, which is being donated by Greg and Julie Cook and their family to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is pictured at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

President Ballard during his 46 years as a general authority has spoken many times about Hyrum. “I don’t want the Church to ever lose sight of Hyrum, because in a lot of ways, Joseph was Joseph because he had Hyrum,” he told the Cook family.

And Greg Cook told President Ballard: “The more we have learned about them and drawn closer to them, the greater our faith has been built. It has been a great experience for our family.”

One thing Cook pointed out in Section 11 is how the Lord told Hyrum he was called to assist in the work: “The vast majority of us are assisting, so it’s very relevant to everyone,” reflected Cook.

Timing of the revelation

During May 1829, Joseph and Emma Smith were living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and received a visit from Joseph Smith Sr. and Samuel Smith. 

Joseph Smith Sr. asked for a revelation concerning his own role in the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this became Doctrine and Covenants 4. Samuel meanwhile became convinced of the truth of the doctrines being taught by Joseph and was baptized (see Revelations in Context, “Joseph Smith’s Support at Home”).
Samuel returned to Palmyra, New York, full of praise, and Hyrum visited Joseph shortly thereafter. At this point, he was the oldest brother, after Alvin Smith’s death. When he visited Joseph, he asked him for a revelation for himself.

As Elder Curtis said, pointing to the document on the table, “You are looking at the word of the Lord, to Hyrum, through the Prophet Joseph.”

“I love the way it begins with, ‘A great and marvelous work is about to come forth,’” Elder Curtis continued. “This is 1829, the curtains are about to open. At the time, it was just a handful of believers — no organized church, no worship services, just a handful of believers as the Restoration has begun.”

The next month, in June 1829, Joseph Smith Sr., Samuel Smith, and Hyrum Smith were among the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. And on April 6, 1830, the Church was officially organized.

A generous gift

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rests his hand on the shoulder of Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., executive director of the Church History Department, at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rests his hand on the shoulder of Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., executive director of the Church History Department, at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

As they finished their conversations, President Ballard again thanked the Cooks, saying, “This is a very generous gift.” Elder Curtis added, “We so appreciate the generosity of the Cook family.”

President Ballard wished the children luck with their futures and gave them some advice, sharing memories of his late wife, Barbara, his uncle Joseph Fielding Smith, and his grandfather Melvin J. Ballard, an Apostle.

“Our forefathers are a great resource for our own personal faith,” President Ballard said.

In addition to donating the artifact, the Cooks also presented provenance documentation showing the authenticity back to Hyrum. The Cooks added their own addendum, for they are a part of its story, helping it get back into the hands of the Church.

It will be kept among other sacred records of the Church in the archives.

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