26015

History, circa Summer 1832

for now I had been tempted of the advisary and saught the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandment that I should have an eye single to the Glory of God24

See Matthew 6:22; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 533 [Mormon 8:15].  


therefore I was chastened and saught diligently to obtain the plates and obtained them not untill I was twenty one years of age and in this year I was married to Emma Hale

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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Daughtr of Isaach Isaac Hale

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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who lived in Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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Susquehanna County Pensylvania on the 18th January AD, 1827, on the 22d day of Sept of this same year I obtained the plates—and in December following we mooved to Susquehana by the assistence of a man by the name of Martin Harris

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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who became convinced of the vision and gave me fifty Dollars to bare my expences and because of his faith and this rightheous deed the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and shewed unto him his marvilous work which he was about to do and he imediately came to Suquehannah and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to new York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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with some of the characters so we proceeded to coppy some of them and he took his Journy to the Eastern Cittys and to the Learned25

In early 1828, Harris visited Luther Bradish in Albany, New York, and Charles Anthon and Samuel Mitchill in New York City. An extant document bearing the title “Caractors,” which contains several rows of copied characters, appears to be related to the document Harris carried with him. (JS History, vol. A-1, 9; “Caractors,” [ca. 1828], CCLA.)  


saying read this I pray thee and the learned said I cannot but if he would bring the blates plates they would read it but the Lord had forbid it and he returned to me and gave them to me to translate

To produce a new text through a revelatory, rather than scholarly, process, by the “gift and power of God.” In the Book of Mormon, the ancient prophet Mosiah translated records into his own language using “interpreters,” or “two stones which was fastened ...

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and I said cannot for I am not learned but the Lord had prepared spectacles26

JS recounted that he found these spectacles with the plates. (JS History, vol. A-1, 7; JS, “Church History”; see also “Urim and Thummim,” in Glossary.)  


for to read the Book therefore I commenced translating the characters and thus the Propicy prophecy of Isiaah was fulfilled which is writen in the 29 chaptr concerning the book27

See Isaiah 29:11–14.  


and it came to pass that after we had translated 116 pages28

This page count may be a retrospective approximation based on the later manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon used by the printer. The top of page 117 in that copy marks the beginning of the book of Mosiah, which corresponds to the end of the period covered in the pages lost by Harris. (See Skousen, Printer’s Manuscript, 284.)  


that he

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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desired to carry them to read to his friends that peradventur he might convince them of the truth therefore I inquired of the Lord and the Lord said unto me that he must not take them and I spake unto him (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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) the word of the Lord [p. 5]
for now I had been tempted of the advisary and saught  the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandme[n]t  that I should have an eye single to the Glory of God24

See Matthew 6:22; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 533 [Mormon 8:15].  


 therefore I was chastened and saught diligently to obtain the  plates and obtained them not untill I was twenty one  years of age and in this year I was married to Emma  Hale

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...

View Full Bio
Daughtr of Isaach [Isaac] Hale

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...

View Full Bio
who lived in Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

More Info
 Susquehan[n]a County Pensylvania on the 18th January  AD, 1827, on the 22d day of Sept of this same year I ob tained the plat[e]s—and the in December following we  mooved to Susquehana by the assistence of a man by the  name of Martin Har[r]is

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...

View Full Bio
who became convinced of th[e]  vision and gave me fifty Dollars to bare my expences  and because of his faith and this rightheous deed the  Lord appeared unto him in a vision and shewed unto  him his marvilous work which he was about to do  and <h[e]> imediately came to Suquehannah and said the Lord  had shown him that he must go to new York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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 <with> some of the characters so we proceeded to coppy some  of them and he took his Journy to the Eastern  Cittys and to the Learned25

In early 1828, Harris visited Luther Bradish in Albany, New York, and Charles Anthon and Samuel Mitchill in New York City. An extant document bearing the title “Caractors,” which contains several rows of copied characters, appears to be related to the document Harris carried with him. (JS History, vol. A-1, 9; “Caractors,” [ca. 1828], CCLA.)  


<saying> read this I pray thee  and the learned said I cannot but if he wo uld bring the blates [plates] they would read it but  the Lord had forbid it and he returned to me  and gave them to <me> <to> translate

To produce a new text through a revelatory, rather than scholarly, process, by the “gift and power of God.” In the Book of Mormon, the ancient prophet Mosiah translated records into his own language using “interpreters,” or “two stones which was fastened ...

View Glossary
and I said I said  cannot for I am not learned but the Lord  had prepared spectticke spectacles26

JS recounted that he found these spectacles with the plates. (JS History, vol. A-1, 7; JS, “Church History”; see also “Urim and Thummim,” in Glossary.)  


for to read  the Book therefore

Frederick G. Williams handwriting begins.  


I commenced translating the char acters and thus the Propicy [prophecy] of Isiaah was fulfilled which  is writen in the 29 chaptr concerning the book27

See Isaiah 29:11–14.  


and  it came to pass that after we had translated 116  pages28

This page count may be a retrospective approximation based on the later manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon used by the printer. The top of page 117 in that copy marks the beginning of the book of Mosiah, which corresponds to the end of the period covered in the pages lost by Harris. (See Skousen, Printer’s Manuscript, 284.)  


that he

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...

View Full Bio
desired to carry them to read to his  friends that peradventur he might convince them  of the truth therefore I inquired of the Lord and the  Lord said unto me that he must not take them  and I spake unto him (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...

View Full Bio
) the word of the Lord [p. 5]
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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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