The inaugural volume of the much-anticipated Joseph Smith Papers , released today, brings to light a project that has been under way for many years. This landmark publishing venture begins with Joseph Smith’s personal journal entries, covering the years 1832 to 1839.
This unprecedented compilation, to be published by The Church Historian’s Press, will eventually comprise 30 volumes, including journals, correspondence, discourses and written histories, as well as legal and business documents.
Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church historian and recorder, has called the Joseph Smith Papers Project “the most significant Church history project of this generation.” When finished, it will be the most complete and authoritative collection of documents related to Joseph Smith Jr., founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The Joseph Smith Papers will rank among the most significant projects in the history of American religion,” said Kenneth Minkema, director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Divinity School.
The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1, grants readers a window into the life and personality of the Mormon prophet. Journal writings include doctrinal teachings and revelations as well as accounts of daily encounters and significant spiritual experiences, such as the First Vision and the Kirtland temple dedication.
Informative annotations, maps, textual photos, reference materials and other tools provide context and bring the text to life. Editors present the text just as it was written, preserving the language, grammar and often nonstandard spelling of Smith and his scribes and conveying an authentic sense of the times.
The fragile, 19th-century documents were previously seen only by a select few. Now, the curious of any faith or scholarly background can obtain a firsthand view of the religious leader directly from the transcripts of original manuscripts.
The project follows the highest scholarly standards of documentary editing and has been endorsed by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a division of the National Archives.
For information on the Joseph Smith Papers project, visit JosephSmithPapers.org.
Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839
General Editors: Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, Richard Lyman Bushman
Publisher: The Church Historian’s Press
Published 1 December 2008; hardcover, $49.95