43991218

Letterbook 1

for the Presidency of the high Priesthood after  the order of Aaron a standard for the people  Nos 19-20-21 House of the Lord the law of the  Kingdom of heaven and Messinger to the people  for the high Priesthood after the order of  Aaron Nos-16-17-18 house of the Lord  for the teachers in Zion Messinger to the  Church Nos 13-14-15 house of the Lord  for the Deacons in Zion helps in governm ent underneath must be writen on  each house holiness to the Lord
The scale of the plot is 40 perches  to the inch

“A discription of the house of the Lord which is to built first in Zion” • 25 June 1833

A discription of the house of the Lord  which is to be built first in Zion—
This house of the Lord for the Presidency  is eighty seven feet Long and sixty one  feet wide and ten feet taken off of the  east end for the stair way leaves the inner  court 78 feet by 61, which is Calculated and  divided for seats in the following manner  Viz The two Aisles 4 feet wide each, the middle  block of pews are 11 feet 10 inches long and  and 3 feet wide each and and the 2 lines  drawn through the middle are four inches  apart for which a curtin is to drop at  right angles and divide the house into  four parts if necessary the side blocks  of pews are 14 and half feet long and  3 feet wide, the 5 pews in each corner  of the house are twelve feet 6 inches long  the open spaces between the corner and  side pews are for five places. those in the  west are 9 feet wide and the east ones  are 8 feet and 8 inches wide and the chim ney—— [p. 41]
PreviousNext
On 27 November 1832, while residing at Kirtland, Ohio, JS wrote a lengthy letter to William W. Phelps, who earlier that year had settled at Independence, Missouri. JS’s missive included a reminder stressing the importance of record keeping and history writing to the young church. Portions were later added to the Doctrine and Covenants, the church’s official collection of commandments and revelations. JS began by noting that he wished “to communicate some things which . . . are laying great with weight upon my mind.” He then went on to observe, “Firstly, it is the duty of the lord’[s] clerk whom he has appointed to keep a hystory and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion . . . and also the[ir] manner of life and the[ir] faith and works.” (JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, Independence, MO, 27 Nov. 1832, JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4 [D&C 85:1–2].)
JS’s dispatch to Phelps reminding those in Missouri of the importance of record keeping coincided with a new record-keeping initiative in Ohio. This letter became the first entry, identified as “Letter first” and “Letter 1,” recorded in what was subsequently designated Letter Book A or Letterbook 1. This record of ninety-three manuscript pages, now published in the Administrative Records series on the Joseph Smith Papers website, preserves copies of early church-related communications dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835. The transcribed text is in the handwriting of JS, Frederick G. Williams, Orson Hyde, and Oliver Cowdery.
Correspondence captured in Letterbook 1 includes six early letters composed or received by Oliver Cowdery, four from 1829 and two from 1831. Other letters reflect ongoing communications between the two centers of the early church located in Kirtland and Independence. Two entries describe the plat of the proposed “City of Zion” to be built at Independence and the dimensions of the “house of the Lord” to be erected there. The concluding item in the collection is a letter that incorporates a set of minutes from a council held in Kirtland on 4 August 1835 censuring the Twelve Apostles for failing to fully comply with their fund-raising responsibilities as they conducted a mission among the branches of the church in the East. Note that letters from Letterbook 1 written to or from JS will also appear with individual introductions in the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers.
Letterbook 1 was initiated during a remarkable surge in record keeping, beginning with the calling of Oliver Cowdery and later John Whitmer as church historians in 1830 and 1831. Revelations and commandments recorded in Revelation Book 1 were sent to Missouri in late 1831 to be published on the church’s first press, and Revelation Book 2 was in use in Kirtland by February 1832. Sometime in 1832, probably between July and September, JS and Frederick G. Williams worked together on a brief history of JS’s early visionary experiences. JS purchased the small volume that contains his first journal in November 1832 and began penning entries that same month. That fall another record, containing the minutes of early church conference and council meetings and now designated Minute Book 1, was commenced. In January of the following year, in another epistle recorded in Letterbook 1, JS again wrote to Phelps encouraging him as editor of the church’s first periodical, The Evening and the Morning Star, then printed in Independence, to set “forth the rise and progress and faith of the church,” that is, to begin publishing items on the history of the church.
This upwelling in record keeping was unusual for the time. As scholar Dean C. Jessee has observed, “So primitive were some aspects of record keeping in nineteenth-century America that much of the early Latter-day Saint experience was a pioneering effort. . . . Although Mormon record keeping was inaugurated by [an] 1830 revelation, details for carrying out that commandment were largely hammered out on the anvil of experience in the years that followed.” (Dean C. Jessee, “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History,” Journal of Mormon History 3 [1976]: 27.) Thus, during a brief span in the early 1830s, JS, along with those working under his direction, commenced the systematic collection and recording of critical documents pertaining to church governance and administration. Throughout the remainder of JS’s lifetime, correspondence-copying, revelation-recording, minute-taking, journal-keeping, and history-writing activities would remain imperative commitments.

Facts