The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volume 12. March-July 1843

We are nearing the end of the Documents series of the Joseph Smith Papers with three more volumes in various stages of production. At the end of his life, Joseph Smith produced, approved, or simply “touched” many more documents than in earlier years, hence the shortness of the period for this volume—but it is packed with pivotal paper. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had expanded to tens of thousands and Joseph Smith was in the center of its growth in many ways. Here are a few of the items represented in Documents, Volume 12.

Pages from D12-Introduction

It represents the period in which Joseph and his wife, Emma Hale Smith were sealed (May 1843).

Two important blessings are found in the volume: one to Joseph Smith’s plural wife Sarah Ann Whitney and another to Sarah’s in-name-only husband (partly to avoid ignorant suiters), widower Joseph C. Kingsbury. These are two important pieces of the picture of sealing for the living and dead, and plural marriage.

The volume includes Joseph Smith’s final “written” revelation, the July 12, 1843 revelation on plural marriage (Doctrine and Covenants 132). The revelation is represented by its earliest surviving copy, written by the same Joseph Kingsbury above.

Many discourses are represented in the volume (such as the important June 11, 1843 sermon and the very interesting April conference) some with only previous suspected sources. The year of 1843 was Joseph Smith’s most productive for documented preaching.

The volume has documents relating to Joseph Smith’s work as civic leader, his persistent problems with the government of Missouri, building a new temple, a new city, and the influx of converts infused with the spirit of “gathering.” We get a much richer source collection for this short period for Joseph Smith’s work and life than ever before.

Volume editors David W. Grua, Brent M. Rogers, Matthew C. Godfrey, Robin Scott Jensen, and Jessica M. Nelson (Christopher James Blythe was unable to attend—sorry Christopher if you were there and I missed seeing you) held a digitally streamed question and answer session yesterday. I had a thousand questions in my head for them and they patiently held forth for amateurs like me. The JSP team is a dedicated, careful, and talented group.

This volume is essential for any scholar dealing with this period in the history of the church and it offers riches for anyone interested in Joseph Smith and his life work. It is a welcome addition to an already stellar body of work.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the head’s up. I get the new volumes for Christmas every year, so now I know what one of my presents will be.

  2. A great review. Thanks for the write-up.

  3. Thank you 🙏God Bless!

  4. J. Stapley says:

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I guess the question to ask you, WVS, is how you think they did with that last revelation?

  5. I think they did really well. I was hoping there might be more contemporary info about the handwriting change in the Kingsbury ms, but they (Robin) came up with the same thing I did, a late report about Hyrum Smith wanting Kingsbury to hurry it up, essentially. So much about polygamy of that era is later tales that it’s really hard to get a good picture of what was happening on the ground.

  6. Is the question and answer available to listen to by chance? I am thoroughly enjoying this volume!

  7. n8c, I don’t think there was a recording.

%d bloggers like this: