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Willard Richards Copy of Abraham Manuscript, Early 1842–A [Abraham 1:1–2:18]

As discussed in the general introduction to the Book of Abraham manuscripts on this website, JS and his scribes Oliver Cowdery, William W. Phelps, Frederick G. Williams, and Warren Parrish spent considerable time in 1835 engaged in two separate yet related endeavors: a language-study effort that produced a number of Egyptian alphabet and grammar manuscripts; and the translation of the Book of Abraham, which yielded several Abraham manuscripts. However, their work related to the Book of Abraham did not appear in print until 1842. At least a portion, if not all, of JS’s available Abraham material was published at Nauvoo, Illinois, in three installments of the Times and Seasons in March and May of that year as the Book of Abraham.
The present Willard Richards document, one of three Abraham texts in Richards’s handwriting, was likely produced sometime between late 1841 and early 1842, and originally consisted of passages currently designated Abraham 1:1−2:18. It is incomplete due to a missing page 4, apparently representing the current Abraham 1:9b−12a. This document may have been copied from an earlier, though unknown, manuscript or set of manuscripts. It exhibits certain characteristics—editorial markings, paragraphing, spelling, and the use of ampersands—indicating that it was probably prepared as a printer’s manuscript for the first installment of the Book of Abraham published on 1 March 1842 (Hauglid, Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 150–151).
Richards’s transcript apparently consisted of thirteen lined sheets, one of which, as noted, has been lost. The original punctuation was inconsistent, there were many omitted letters, and Richards seems to have edited his own writing. Additional editing was evidently done by an unknown person. Unlike the Kirtland Abrahamic manuscripts from 1835, this manuscript does not feature hieratic Egyptian characters in the left margin even though it was probably derived from such earlier documents. The back side of page two contains the explanation of Facsimile 1.
Richards’s transcript was likely part of the “Egyptian Grammar” that was listed on a manifest compiled by Willard Richards and Thomas Bullock as they prepared to transport church documents westward in 1846 (“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1]; “Historian’s Office Catalogue 1858,” 1, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL). For more information on this document, see Hauglid , Textual History of the Book of Abraham, 22, 84–85.
Note: The transcript of the Book of Abraham manuscript presented here is used with permission of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. It was published earlier, with some differences in style, in Brian M. Hauglid, A Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2010), 152–181.