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Essay on Sources Cited in Journals, Volume 2

Historians’ understanding of both the history of the Mormon church and JS’s life during the Nauvoo era is greatly enhanced through the rich documentary record that exists for this period. Several of JS’s close associates, including Wilford Woodruff, William Clayton, and Willard Richards, kept detailed journals during this time. These have been referenced repeatedly in this volume, generally to flesh out events and phenomena perfunctorily covered in JS’s journal. Given the public nature of many of JS’s activities, the editors of this volume made liberal use of several local contemporary newspapers for the same purpose. Of these, the Times and Seasons and The Wasp (later renamed the Nauvoo Neighbor)—two papers published in Nauvoo—have been most helpful, as they frequently carried detailed accounts of events JS’s scribes could only briefly describe in the journals. The Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), Quincy [IL] Whig, and other contemporary papers have also been cited extensively, often for the light they shed on the movements and sentiments of anti-Mormons and dissenters affecting JS’s life during this time.

The Nauvoo High Council Minutes, the Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, the Nauvoo Legion Minute Book, the Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book, and the Nauvoo Mayor’s Court Docket Book are similarly invaluable for understanding JS’s public and administrative roles in Nauvoo, the local militia, and the church. They also provide insight into how these various bodies were governed and into the issues that came before them. The Relief Society Minute Book provides the same type of information for the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, as well as detailed accounts of several important discourses JS delivered to the leading women of the church. All of these, including the municipal records, are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today and are readily available to researchers. The Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minute Book provides important information about JS and his associates’ involvement with Freemasonry in Nauvoo and is an indispensable source for information on John C. Bennett’s last days in Nauvoo.

Published collections of state statutes and various court decisions, as well as court records held in the LDS Church History Library and other locations, are instrumental in understanding the numerous legal issues raised in these journals. Records held in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, in Springfield, Illinois, have been particularly helpful in explaining the resolution of Missouri’s efforts to extradite JS for his alleged complicity in the 1842 assassination attempt on Lilburn W. Boggs. Additional light on other legal issues, as well as on numerous other issues raised in the journals, has been shed by various documents contained in the Joseph Smith Collection housed in the Church History Library. This collection contains many of JS’s journals, correspondence, and legal records. Other collections held in the Church History Library and in Brigham Young University’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections have been similarly useful. Documents generated as part of early church historians’ efforts to compile a history of JS’s life and the origins of the church have also been consulted, especially when evidence suggests that the historians—particularly Willard Richards—were eyewitnesses to the events they later described in the history. These include the manuscript history of the church and the rough draft notes upon which it is based. In general, these and other noncontemporaneous documents were used only when other sources were not available.