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History, circa Summer 1832

and he said inquire again and I inquired again and also the third time and the Lord said unto me let him go with them only he shall covenant with me that he will not shew them to only but four persons and he covenented withe Lord that he would do according to the word of the Lord therefore he took them and took his journey unto his friends to Palmire [Palmyra]

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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Wayne County & State of N York and he brake the covenent which he made before the Lord and the Lord suffered the writings to fall into the hands of wicked men and Martin

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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was Chastened for his transgression and I also was chastened for my transgression for asking the Lord the third time wherefore the Plates was taken from me by the power of God and I was not able to obtain them for a season and it came to pass after much humility and affliction of Soul I obtained them again when Lord appeared unto a young man by the name of 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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and shewed unto him the plates in a vision and also the truth of the work and what the Lord was about to do through me his unworthy Servant therefore he was desiorous to come and write for me to translate now my wife

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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had writen some for me to translate and also my Brothr Samuel H Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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but we had become reduced in property and my wives father

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

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was about to turn me out of doores & I had not where to go and I cried unto the Lord that he would provide for me to accomplish the work whereunto he had commanded me [4 lines blank] [p. [6]]
and he said inquire again and I inquired again  and also the third time and the Lord said unto  me let him go with them only he shall covenant  with me that he will not shew them to only but  four persons and he covenented withe Lord that he  would do according to the word of the Lord29

Martin Harris was permitted to show the translation manuscript to five members of his extended family: his wife, Lucy Harris Harris; his brother Preserved Harris; his father, Nathan Harris, his mother, Rhoda Lapham Harris; and his wife’s sister Polly Harris Cobb. (JS History, vol. A-1, 9; Pilkington, Autobiography and statements, 15–16; “Married,” Geneva [NY] Gazette, 3 June 1812, 3; Tuckett and Wilson, Martin Harris Story, 176–179; see also Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, [10]–[12]; bk. 7, [1].)  


therefore  he took them and took his journey unto his friends  to Palmire [Palmyra]

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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Wayne County & State of N York and he  brake the covenent which he made before the  Lord and the Lord suffered the writings to  fall into the hands of wicked men30

Sometime after Harris read or showed the manuscript to other acquaintances, it was lost or stolen.a Martin Harris and several others believed that his wife, Lucy Harris Harris, stole the manuscript. Conflicting accounts claim she burned it or gave it to others.b  


aPreface to Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., iii; JS History, vol. A-1, inserted page 1.

bHowe, Mormonism Unvailed, 22; Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 247–248; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, [5]–[8].

and Martin

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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 was Chastened for his transgression and I also was  chastened also for my transgression for asking  the Lord the third time wherefore the Plates was  taken from me by the power of God and  I was not able to obtain them for a season  and it came to pass afte[r] much humility and  affliction of Soul I obtained them again31

JS later recounted that he again received the plates from the angel “in a few days.” (JS History, vol. A-1, inserted page 1; compare Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, [9]; see also Revelation, July 1828, in Book of Commandments 2:3–5 [D&C 3:6–13].)  


when  Lord appeared unto a young man by the name  of Oliver Cowd[e]ry

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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and shewed unto him the  plates in a vision and also the truth of the  work and what the Lord was about to do through  me his unworthy Servant32

Cowdery heard about JS and the gold plates while residing in Wayne County, New York, and then boarded with JS’s parents. (Morris, “Conversion of Oliver Cowdery,” 7–8.)  


therefore he was desiorous  to come and write for me and to translate now my  wife

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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had writen some for me to translate and  also my Brothr Samuel H Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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33

Emma and Samuel Smith wrote down the words of the Book of Mormon as JS spoke them. (Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289–290; see also Givens, By the Hand of Mormon, 26–37.)  


but we  had become reduced in property and my wives  father

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

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was about to turn me out of doores I &  I had not where to go and I cried unto the  Lord that he would provide for me to accom plish the work whereunto he had comman ded me34

JS and Emma Smith were living in a house on the property of her father, Isaac Hale. On 6 April 1829, the day after Oliver Cowdery arrived at his home, JS entered into an agreement with Hale to buy the home and thirteen acres of surrounding land and he made a down payment on the purchase. Cowdery most likely supplied money for this payment, and he then began work as the principal scribe for JS’s translation of the Book of Mormon. (Isaac Hale to JS, Agreement, Harmony, PA, 6 Apr. 1829, JS Collection, CHL; Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:14; Oliver Cowdery, Far West, MO, to Warren Cowdery, [Kirtland, OH], 21 Jan. 1838, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 81; see also Revelation, Mar. 1829, in Book of Commandments 4:11 [D&C 5:34].)  


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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.  


Facts