Joseph Smith Papers Documents Volume 3 Release Presentation

Ok, here I am on the fourth floor of the Church History Library. The official release date for Docs vol. 3 is today, but books arrived a week early, so you may have already purchased a copy. Waiting for the group to begin. The volume editors are here along with some media outlets and bloggers.

Matt Grow, Gerrit Dirkmaat

Gerrit Dirkmaat (left), Matt Grow (right)

Matt Grow talking about the Joseph Smith Papers (JSP). Printer’s manuscript of Book of Mormon to be published in the format of the Manuscript Revelation Books (there will be two oversized volumes). The last of the Journals volumes will be released next year. This promises to be one of the more important volumes in the papers.

In 2016, Documents volume 4, the first of the Admin records series (Council of 50), and the first volume in legal series will be released.

The JSPP website growing, 50,000 followers of the JSP on Facebook, 500 documents on Nauvoo period published. Search capabilities enhanced. A new version of the JSPP website to be opened in a few days will have pages for each published volume. About 100 new photos will be released today or the next few days. Within the next month or so the JSPP will release lesson plans for Religious Studies instructors at universities.

Presenters: Gerrit Dirkmaat, Alison

Presenters, left to right: Brent Rogers, Alison Palmer, Gerrit Dirkmaat

Volume contents discuss Kirtland developments. Contemporary minutes of foundational events like school of the prophets (March 1833). Frederick G. Williams reporting on a shared vision by attendees (often referenced by a late Zebedee Coltrin account ca. 1870). The volume details how almost simultaneously “the wheels come off” in Kirtland and Independence, largely because of gathering issues.

Plat of the city of Zion in Missouri. Plat was modified with names on lots, etc. over time.

Plat of the city of Zion in Missouri. Plat was modified with names on lots, etc. over time. The small center block was pasted over with another drawing. You can see the original with a backlight.

Alison Palmer talking about typesetting the volume. Zion plat an example of problems displaying figures. The plat was divided into segments and parallel text transcripts are given. There are a

Zion Plat divided into segments with text transcription.

Zion Plat divided into segments with text transcription.

considerable number of images that are treated similarly. Eventually color images of the various drawings and plats will be available online. The plan is to use the JSPP website ( to release document images around the time of print volume release. Then full print copy material, including front and back matter to appear 18 months later.

Brent Rogers, one of the volume editors is speaking about the personalities that appear in Docs 3. Letters from a variety of locations to Joseph Smith detail the leadership problems inherent in the expanding church. This was especially true for the upheavals in Zion. The church goals vs. realties are made very clear by the correspondence in the volume.

Volume editors discuss Vienna Jacques and her interaction with Joseph Smith, her contributions in Jackson County. As usual, these early document materials were generated by men. The editors have developed biographical sketches of the women mentioned in the volumes along with those known to be connected to certain events narrated by the documents.

Matt Grow mentioned that because the volumes in the Joseph Smith Papers were published by a new press (The Church Historian’s Press) they were not initially on university library buy lists (typically, university libraries do more or less automatic buys from established academic presses). It took some time and effort to get the new press in library purchase queues. One of the Project’s goals was to have the JSP volumes available in research libraries world-wide. The Larry H. Miller Foundation recently made a generous grant to the JSPP, allowing the Project to seed volumes in institutions around the world.JSP Docs V3_Cover

Some previews: Documents vol. 5 will involve the Kirtland Bank issues. Journals volume 3 (2015) will have coverage of polygamy in Nauvoo, including the July 12, 1843 revelation. The latter will receive full coverage in a later volume of the Documents series (that series will probably contain 12 volumes). The Council of Fifty volume is approaching review draft status, scheduled to be out to volume reviewers early next year (2015). Feedback edits and responses later in the year. Then off to typesetting hopefully sometime late next year. The volume is scheduled for 2016. It won’t be a facsimile volume (like the Manuscript Revelation Books volume in the Revelations and Translations series or the Printers Manuscript of the Book of Mormon volumes) but it will contain images from the minute books.


  1. “Within the next month or so the JSPP will release lesson plans for Religious Studies instructors at universities.”

    Now that is a really newsworthy announcement!

    (And, in general, this is all so groundbreaking and wonderful!)

  2. Thanks for covering the event for us, WVS.

  3. Thanks, Jason. John f. that is pretty great news, and augers for some cross-pollination with Church teaching too, although without Church encouragement, they may largely be unused there. BCC will do its part there, I hope. I failed to mention that fellow blogger, Steve Evans, was in the room, giving Twitter the what for. Nice work, Steve.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for this report from the front lines!

  5. Very informative, WVS. Thanks. By the way, I believe some of the editors will be at Benchmark Books this coming Thursday, December 4, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

  6. The JSPP site redesign looks lovely:

  7. Whoa–Matt Grow with hipster glasses and sideburns… Will wonders at the JSPP never cease?

  8. It’s great the church is doing this. However, will we ever be privy to what was edited out of the various Joseph Smith Papers volumes? Will we see what criteria was used to edit out certain papers?

  9. I got to, as they say, “be like the cool kids” and join the fun this morning. I met THE Steve Evans–though I was expecting some sort of space-time continuum shift, no such thing happened. And, in my Mormdork drive to check out original plans and plats afterward (which are very impressive–surprising that they have survived as well as they have), I didn’t even say Hi to Bill properly. And, Kristine, the first thing I did when I walked in was congratulate Mr. Grow on his new hipster look.

  10. Good to meet you, Bryan.

  11. J. Stapley says:

    Jason, the editors are very clear about their criteria for considering a document a Joseph Smith paper. Nothing has been edited out. Even documents that have veritable legends like the Council of Fifty minutes and the Book of the Law of the Lord are being made available, the latter is completely online at the website. I believe the criteria is generous,

  12. J. Stapley says:

    …that said, I would love to see things like the Bible revision mss and the Book of Abraham mss that have already been widely available still have the JSPP wizardry. Maybe we’ll get lucky.

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