Conference Notice: Finale of the James K. Polk Project

James K. Polk, serendipitous president of the United States, exercised a remarkable–if unintentional–influence upon the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was Polk, in a sense a Jackson redivivus, who made Deseret a default property of the United States, and so eventually a Territory, consequently a focus of Republican moral reform and hence brought polygamy to an end. Whew. Polk’s correspondence has now been published by the James K. Polk Project.

James Polk, ca. 1849. Manifest Destiny on steroids.

Begun in 1958, the project is about to finish its fourteen-volume letterpress and digital series of the Correspondence of James K. Polk. These volumes, featuring annotated transcriptions of thousands of letters from 1817–49, enable twenty-first-century readers to use the nineteenth-century documents.

Latter-day Saints will be familiar with such projects through the beautifully curated Joseph Smith Papers Project and the forthcoming Brigham Young Project.

A conference commemorating the final volume in the Polk Project will be hosted by the University of Tennessee History Department. The Association for Documentary Editing notes that “the conference will be held at the East Tennessee Historical Society, in Knoxville, on April 12–13, 2019. Academic scholars, public historians, and community members will take stock of what we now know about the eleventh U.S. president and assess the contributions of the project to historical study. Presentations will include a keynote address by Amy S. Greenberg, a roundtable of Polk experts chaired by John C. Pinheiro, and a screening of a Polk documentary by Brian Rose.”

To read the preliminary program, register, and book your hotel room, go to Registration is free. Contact if you have questions.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Could you say something about the forthcoming Brigham Young Project? Is it a papers project like the JSPP? If so, I’m assuming much of it would have to be online, as the papers would be too voluminous to publish in toto…

  2. Everything I needed to know about James K Polk comes from They Might Be Giants –

    Interesting to see how such a large project ends. I hope it’s a good resource for historians and helps put to rest anyone who complains about not being able to see the records of this presidency kept secret by the government.

  3. Kevin, I understand that the BY work will be largely a digital effort—-many of the current documentary editing projects in the US are digital in part or are transitioning wholely that way. I think we will hear more about the Brigham Young work in the next few years.

  4. Frank 2:14pm, the Giants song is great.

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