Letterbook 1

in zion fearfulnes will speedily lay hold of the hypocrite, I did not  expect that you had lost commandments, but thought from your  letters you had neglected to read them, otherwise you would not  have writen as you did, it is in vain to try to hide a bad spirit  from the eyes of them who are spiritual for it will shewe itself in  speaking & in writing as well as all our other conduct, it is also useless  to mak[e] great pretentions when the heart is not right before God, for God  looks at the heart, and where the heart is not right the Lord will  expose it to the view of his faithful saints, we wish you to render  the Star as interesting as possable by setting forth the rise progress and  faith of the church, as well as the doctrine for if you do not render  it more interesting than at present it will fall, and the church suffer  a great Loss thereby——
Joseph Smith Jr.

Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith to “the Bishop his councel and the inhabitents of Zion” • 14 January 1833

Kirtland Mills Geauga Co Ohio Jany. 14-1833
From a conference of 12 High Priests to the Bishop his councel and  the inhabitents of Zion, Orson Hyde and Hyram [Hyrum] Smith being appoint[ed]  by the said conference to write this Epistle in obedience to the commandment  given the 22 & 23 of Sept last which says: [“]But verily I say unto you all those to  whom the kingdom has been given from you it must be preached unto  them that they shall repent of their former evil works for they are to  be upbraided for their evil hearts of unbelief and your brethren in Zion  for their rebellion against you at the time I sent you.” Bro Joseph & certain  <others> have writen to you upon this all important subject, but you have <never> been  apprised of these things by the united voice of a conference of those high priests  that were present at the time this commandment was given, we therefore  Orson & Hyram the committe appointed by said conference to write this Epistle  having received the prayers of sd conference that we might be enabled to write the  mind & will of God upon this subject, now take up our pen to address you in the  name of the conference, relying upon the arm of the Great Head of the Church,  in the commandment above alluded to the Children of Zion were all, yea even  evry one under condemnation, and were to remain in that state until they  repented and remembred the new covenant even the Book of Mormon and the  former commandments which the Lord had given them, not only to say but to  do them and bring forth fruit meet for the Fathers Kingdom otherwise. [p. 20]
“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.