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History, circa Summer 1832

with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that they did not adorn their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation8

See 1 Peter 1:15; 2 Peter 3:11; and Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Book of Commandments 24:48 [D&C 20:69].  


agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divisions the wickedness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the minds of mankind my mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament9

Like the Disciples of Christ and other primitivists, JS believed that the mainline churches of his day had strayed from the order and teachings of the New Testament church. (See Hughes and Allen, Illusions of Innocence, chap. 6.)  


and I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world10

See, for example, 1 John 2:2; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 518 [4 Nephi 1:44].  


for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever11

See Hebrews 13:8; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 111, 116 [2 Nephi 27:23; 29:9].  


that he was no respecter to persons12

See Acts 10:34–35; Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B, in Book of Commandments 1:6 [D&C 1:35]; and Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831, in Book of Commandments 40:14 [D&C 38:16].  


for he was God for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and [p. 2]
with regard to the all importent concerns of for the well fare of my immortal Soul which led me to search ing the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that  they contained the word of God thus applying  myself to them and my intimate acquaintance  with those of differant denominations led me to  marvel excedingly for I discovered that <they did not adorn> instead of  adorning their profession by a holy walk and God ly conversation8

See 1 Peter 1:15; 2 Peter 3:11; and Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Book of Commandments 24:48 [D&C 20:69].  


agreeable to what I found contain ed in that sacred depository this was a grief to  my Soul thus from the age of twelve years  to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart  concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind  the contentions and divi[si]ons the wicke[d]ness and  abominations and the darkness which pervaded  the of the minds of mankind my mind become  excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my  sins and by searching the scriptures I found  that mand <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that  they had apostatised from the true and liveing  faith and there was no society or denomination  that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as  recorded in the new testament9

Like the Disciples of Christ and other primitivists, JS believed that the mainline churches of his day had strayed from the order and teachings of the New Testament church. (See Hughes and Allen, Illusions of Innocence, chap. 6.)  


and I felt to mourn  for my own sins and for the sins of the world10

See, for example, 1 John 2:2; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 518 [4 Nephi 1:44].  


 for I learned in the scriptures that God was  the same yesterday to day and forever11

See Hebrews 13:8; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 111, 116 [2 Nephi 27:23; 29:9].  


that he was  no respecter to persons12

See Acts 10:34–35; Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B, in Book of Commandments 1:6 [D&C 1:35]; and Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831, in Book of Commandments 40:14 [D&C 38:16].  


for he was God for I  looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of  the earth and also the moon rolling in their  magesty through the heavens and also the stars  shining in their courses and the earth also upon whic h I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of  heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking  forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in  the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence  in governing the things which are so exceding great and [p. 2]
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JS, “A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought forth and established by his hand firstly he receiving the testamony from on high seccondly the ministering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of—Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel—the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—and the ordinencs, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c—,” History, [ca. summer 1832]; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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and JS; six pages; in JS Letterbook 1, JS Collection, CHL.
JS’s circa summer 1832 history was inscribed in the front of a medium-size, commercially produced blank book. The book’s ledger paper is horizontally ruled with thirty-six (now faint) blue lines and vertically ruled with four red lines. The original book apparently contained nine gatherings of twelve leaves each, but eight leaves have been cut from the final gathering. The text block was sewn all along over recessed cords. The leaves measure 12⅝ x 7¾ inches (32 x 20 cm). The pastedowns and flyleaves were blank white paper. The volume was constructed with front and back covers of pasteboard and a tight-back case binding with a brown calfskin quarter-leather binding. The bound book measures 12⅞ x 8 x ⅞ inches (33 x 20 x 2 cm). The outside covers are adorned in shell marbled paper, with brown body and veins of blue and red. The front pastedown bears the inscriptions “c=c/i” and “/i=”, possibly original merchandising notes. The original front flyleaf, and any inscriptions it may have borne, is no longer extant.
The history was inscribed by Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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and JS with quill pen in black ink (now oxidized to brown) on the first three leaves of ledger paper. The first five pages of the history were numbered by Williams. Later, the book was turned over so the back cover became the front and the last page became the first. One or more texts were inscribed in this side (the back) of the book, as is evident from inscriptions visible on the remaining stubs of the eight now-excised leaves. The volume was also repurposed as a letterbook. Beginning on the recto of the fourth leaf in the front of the book (immediately following the history) are ninety-three pages of copied outgoing letters, dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835, in the handwriting of Williams, JS, Orson Hyde

8 Jan. 1805–28 Nov. 1878. Laborer, clerk, storekeeper, teacher, editor, businessman, lawyer, judge. Born at Oxford, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Nathan Hyde and Sally Thorpe. Moved to Derby, New Haven Co., 1812. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, ...

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, and Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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. The book’s pagination also began anew with the copied letters. The first page of letters bore the inscription “1a”, which is only partially legible on the now-trimmed page but is complete in photocopy and microfilm copies at the Church History Library.1

The photocopy may have been made from the microfilm. The letterbook was filmed on 12 November 1968. (Microfilming report, entry no. JP 1068, Historical Department, Microfilm Reports, 1949–1975, CHL.)  


The front flyleaf is missing; perhaps it bore a title related to the history and was removed when the volume was converted to a letterbook. The back flyleaf is also missing. At some point, Williams began an index for the letters. This incomplete index is inscribed on paper that does not match the original ledger paper. It was apparently a loose leaf inserted in the volume—as is Williams’s index to the contents of Revelation Book 22

At some point, Williams’s index for Revelation Book 2 was attached with adhesive wafers to the inside front cover of the book.  


—although it is currently bound in the front of the volume as a result of late twentieth-century conservation. This index does not list the history.
A reconstruction of the physical history of the artifact helps explain the current material context of the document. Photocopy and microfilm images of the book, as well as an inspection of the conservation work now present in the volume, indicate that the text block separated from the binding at some point. Also, the initial three leaves containing the history were excised from the volume. The eight inscribed leaves in the back of the volume may have been cut out at the same time.3

These eight leaves have not been located.  


Manuscript evidence suggests that these excisions took place in the mid-twentieth century. A tear on the third leaf, which evidently occurred during its excision, was probably mended at the time. This tear was mended with clear cellophane tape, which was invented in 1930.4

Cole et al., Encyclopedia of Modern Everyday Inventions, 22; Edelman, “Brief History of Tape,” 45–46.  


The three leaves of the history certainly had been removed by 1965, when they were described as “cut out,” although they were archived together with the letterbook. The size and paper stock of the three excised leaves match those of the other leaves in the book. Also, the cut and tear marks, as well as the inscriptions in the gutters of the three excised leaves, match those of the remaining leaf stubs, confirming their original location in the book.5

Cheesman, “Analysis of the Accounts Relating Joseph Smith’s Early Visions,” 126; Jessee, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” 277–278.  


The three leaves were later restored to the volume, apparently in the 1990s.6

The leaves were still detached when they were photographed for a 1984 publication.a They were reattached by 2000, when scanned images that show them as such were made by the Church Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.b The leaves are also reported as being reattached in a 25 February 2001 register of the JS Collection, which states that they were “reattached in the 1990s.”c  


aJessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 15–20.

bTurley, Selected Collections, vol. 1, disc 20.

cFaulring, “Annotated Catalog of the Joseph Smith Collection.”

This restoration was probably part of a larger conservation effort that took place, in which the entire volume was rebound, including binding the formerly loose index of letters. The first gathering, which contains the history, was slightly trimmed in connection with this conservation work. The volume shows marked browning, brittleness, and wear. It is listed in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, and early Salt Lake City, Utah, inventories made by the Church Historian’s Office, as well as in the 1973 register of the JS Collection, indicating continuous institutional custody.7

“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1]; “Inventory. Historian’s Office. 4th April 1855,” [1], Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL; Johnson, Register of the Joseph Smith Collection, 7.  


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