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History, circa Summer 1832

I fell into transgressions and sinned in many things which brought a wound upon my soul and there were many things which transpired that cannot be writen and my Father

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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s family have suffered many persicutions and afflictions and it came to pass when I was seventeen years of age I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision for behold an angel of the Lord21

JS identified this angel as Moroni, the last ancient American prophet to write in the Book of Mormon. ([JS], Editorial, Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 42–44; see also Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VI,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1835, 1:112; and Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 50:2, 1835 ed. [D&C 27:5]. For JS’s other accounts of this experience, see JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835; JS History, vol. A-1, 4–7; JS, “Church History”; and JS, “Latter Day Saints.”)  


came and stood before me and it was by night and he called me by name and he said the Lord had forgiven me my sins and he revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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Ontario County N.Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers the servants of the living God in ancient days and deposited by the commandments of God and kept by the power thereof and that I should go and get them and he revealed unto me many things concerning the inhabitents of of the earth which since have been revealed in commandments & revelations and it was on the 22d day of Sept. AD 182222

Later accounts clarify that Moroni first appeared late in the night of 21–22 September 1823. (JS History, vol. A-1, 5; Oliver Cowdery, “Letter IV,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, 1:78–79.)  


and thus he appeared unto me three times in one night and once on the next day and then I immediately went to the place and found where the plates was deposited as the angel of the Lord had commanded me and straightway made three attempts to get them and then being excedingly frightened I supposed it had been a dreem of Vision but when I considred I knew that it was not therefore I cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul why can I not obtain them23

In 1835, Oliver Cowdery wrote that JS was “sensibly shocked” each time he attempted to remove the plates from their repository. (Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VIII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 2:197–198; see also Knight, Reminiscences, 1; and Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 5, [5].)  


behold the angel appeared unto me again and said unto me you have not kept the commandments of the Lord which I gave unto you therefore you cannot now obtain them for the time is not yet fulfilled therefore thou wast left unto temptation that thou mightest be made accquainted with the power of the advisary therefore repent and call on the Lord thou shalt be forgiven and in his own due time thou shalt obtain them [p. 4]

Frederick G. Williams handwriting begins.  


I fell into transgressions and sinned in many things  which brought a wound upon my soul and there were many  things which transpired that cannot be writen and my Father

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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s  family have suffered many persicutions and afflictions and it  came to pass when I was seventeen years of age I called again  upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision  for behold an angel of the Lord21

JS identified this angel as Moroni, the last ancient American prophet to write in the Book of Mormon. ([JS], Editorial, Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 42–44; see also Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VI,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1835, 1:112; and Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 50:2, 1835 ed. [D&C 27:5]. For JS’s other accounts of this experience, see JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835; JS History, vol. A-1, 4–7; JS, “Church History”; and JS, “Latter Day Saints.”)  


came and stood before me  and it was by night and he called me by name and he said  the Lord had forgiven me my sins and he revealed unto  me that in the Town of Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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Ontario County N.Y.  there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings  which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers the servants  of the living God in ancient days and deposited by th[e]  commandments of God and kept by the power thereof  and that I should go and get them and he revealed  unto me many things concerning the inhabitents of  of the earth which since have been revealed in com mandments & revelations and it was on the 22d day of  Sept. AD 182 182222

Later accounts clarify that Moroni first appeared late in the night of 21–22 September 1823. (JS History, vol. A-1, 5; Oliver Cowdery, “Letter IV,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1835, 1:78–79.)  


and thus he appeared unto me three  times in one night and once on the next day  and then I immediately went to the place and found  where the plates was deposited as the angel of the Lord  had commanded me and straightway made three attempts  to get them and then being excedingly frightened  I supposed it had been a dreem of Vision but  when I considred I knew that it was not therefore I  cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul  why can I not obtain them23

In 1835, Oliver Cowdery wrote that JS was “sensibly shocked” each time he attempted to remove the plates from their repository. (Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VIII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 2:197–198; see also Knight, Reminiscences, 1; and Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 5, [5].)  


behold the angel  appeared unto me again and said unto me you  have not kept the commandments of the Lord  which I gave unto you therefore you cannot now obtain  them for the time is not yet fulfilled therefore thou  wast left unto temptation that thou mightest be made  accquainted of with the power of the advisary therefore  repent and call on the Lord thou shalt be forgiven  and in his own due time thou shalt obtain them [p. 4]
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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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