Letterbook 1

the Apostolic platform, and who can look at this, and and not exclaim  in the language of Isaiah, [“]the earth is defiled under the inhabitants  thereof because they have transgressed the Laws, changed the ordinances  and broken the everlasting covenant”
The plain fact is this, the power of  God begins to fall upon the Nations, and the light of the latter  day glory begins to break forth through the dark atmosphere of  sectarian wickedness and their iniquity rools [rolls] up into view  and the Nations of the Gentiles are like the waves of the sea casting  up mire and dirt or all in commotion and they hastily are  preparing to act the part allotted them when the Lord rebukes  the nations, when he shall rule them with a rod of iron &  break them in peaces like a potters vessel, The Lord has  declared to his servants some Eighteen months since that  he was then withdrawing his spirit from the earth, and  we can see that such is the fact for not only the churches a  dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or but very  few, and this is not all, the governments of the earth are  thrown into confusion & division, and distruction to  the eye of the spiritual beholder seemes to be writen by  the finger of an invisable hand in Large capitals upon  almost evry thing we behold——
And now what remains to be done  under circumstan[c]es like these, I will proce[e]d to tell you  what the Lord requires of all people high and low, rich  and poor, male and female, ministers & people professors  of religion, and nonproffessors in order that they may  enjoy the holy spirit of God to a fulness, and escape the Judg ments of God which are almost ready to burst upon the nations  of the earth— Repent of all your sins and be baptized  in water for the remission of them, in the name of the  father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive  the ordinance of the laying on of the hands of him who  is ordained and sealed unto this power, that ye may  receive the holy spirit of God, and this according to  the holy scriptures, and of the Book of Mormon; and [p. 16]
“Letter Book A,” JS Letterbook 1, [ca. 27 Nov. 1832–ca. 4 Aug. 1835]; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, JS, Orson Hyde, and Oliver Cowdery; ninety-three pages, including one inserted leaf of an incomplete index (table of contents); JS Collection, CHL. Includes redactions, use marks, and archival marking.
This letterbook was inscribed in 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 paper in the final gathering, however, is missing the horizontal lines. The original book apparently contained nine gatherings of twelve leaves each, but eight leaves were cut from the final gathering. The text block was likely sewn all along over recessed cords, but the book underwent conservation efforts in the late twen-tieth century and was rebound. The leaves measure 12⅝ × 7¾ inches (32 × 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 vol-ume measures 12⅞ × 8 × ⅞ inches (33 × 20 × 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 origi-nal merchandising notes.
The first three leaves of the volume contain JS’s earliest extant attempt to write a history of his life. 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 on the eight leaves that were later cut out, as is evident from inscriptions visible on the remaining stubs of the excised leaves.
The volume was also repurposed as a letterbook. The letterbook begins on the recto of the fourth leaf in the front of the book (immediately following the history). The letters occupy ninety-three pages. The book’s pagination also began anew with the copied letters. The first page of letters bore the inscription “1a”, which is only partially extant on the now-trimmed page but is complete in photocopy and microfilm copies at the Church History Library. Page 78 is blank. The front flyleaf is now missing—possibly because it bore a title related to the history and was removed when the volume was converted to a letterbook. The letters were copied with quill pens in ink that is now brown. The pagination appears to have been added at different times and possibly in different hands. There are 101 blank pages between the end of the letter transcripts and the excised pages in the back of the book. There is illegible ink transfer on page [130] from a loose leaf document that was placed between pages [130] and [131] before its ink had dried. There are also smudges of ink on some of the succeeding pages.
At some point, Frederick G. Williams began an index or table of contents that identifies the letters copied into pages 1–25 of the letterbook. 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 2—although it is currently bound in the front of the volume as a result of the late twentieth-century conservation. The index is horizontally ruled with forty-three manually inscribed graphite lines.
The front cover of the book is labeled “Letter Book | A”, in black ink. The “A” is written in a formal style that matches the covers of other manuscript volumes in the holdings of the Church History Library. On the spine, a paper label with the hand-lettered title “KIRTLAND LETTER BOOK” was pasted over an earlier, now only partially visible title, “L[tr?] | B[k?]”, written in black ink. These inscriptions are in unidentified handwriting. A small “3” is stamped in dark brown ink at the bottom of the spine. Graphite use marks and copy notes on some pages were apparently made in connection with work on JS’s 1838–1856 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. The entire volume was rebound, apparently in the 1990s, including the formerly loose leaf containing a partial index of letters. The back flyleaf was replaced with a leaf of laid paper.
Letterbook 1 was used in Nauvoo, Illinois, during the compilation of JS’s 1838–1856 history and is listed in the inventory of church records made in connection with the exodus from Nauvoo. The volume is likely accounted for in subsequent Historian’s Office inventories, which list multiple letterbooks. It is also listed in the 1973 register of the JS Collection. These archival records indicate continuous institutional custody.