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Documents in Joseph Smith’s Handwriting

Although Joseph Smith left a sizeable collection of written records, few documents remain that are considered holographs, that is, written in his own handwriting. In his earliest history, in one of the rare passages we have in his own handwriting, Joseph Smith wrote of learning to read and write despite limited formal education: “It required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructid in reading writing and the ground rules of Arithmatic which const[it]uted my whole literary acquirements.”

The majority of the time, Joseph Smith relied on scribes and clerks to compose, copy, or take down his dictation of the thousands of pages attributed to him, including sacred texts, correspondence, journals, histories, administrative records, and other documents. The scarcity of surviving records he personally wrote gives added significance to their pages. In many cases, they allow a deeper connection to his personality, thoughts, and emotions than texts penned by scribes or reproduced in print. Readers should bear in mind, however, that because a large portion of Joseph Smith documents survive as copies, there is not always a correlation between holographs and more direct access to Joseph Smith’s mind. In some cases, documents not found in his handwriting may have a closer connection to Smith than texts in his own hand.

The list below presents the journal entries and letters or other documents written, either entirely or substantially, in Joseph Smith’s hand. Documents with very minor portions written by Joseph Smith, or those with just his signature, are not included. As explained in our Editorial Method, Smith’s handwriting is rendered in bold in transcripts. Images of the documents can be enlarged for viewing details of the original. If the document listed is currently on our website, a link is included; other documents will be forthcoming.

Book of Mormon Manuscript Excerpt, circa May 1829 [Alma 45:22]

History, circa Summer 1832

Entries from Journal, 1832–1834

27 November 1832

28 November 1832

29 November 1832

30 November 1832

1 December 1832

2 December 1832

3 December 1832

4 December 1832

5 December 1832

6 December 1832

4 October 1833

5 October 1833

6–12 October 1833

13 October 1833

14–18 October 1833

20–25 October 1833

26 October 1833

29 October 1833

30–31 October 1833

5–13 November 1833

14–19 November 1833

16 January 1834

26–28 February 1834

1–2 March 1834

3 March 1834

14 March 1834

15 March 1834

16 March 1834

17 March 1834

18 March 1834

19 March 1834

20 March 1834

21 March 1834

22 March 1834

23 March 1834

24 March 1834

25 March 1834

26 March 1834

27 March 1834

28 March 1834

29 March 1834

30 March 1834

31 March 1834

1 April 1834

Entries from Journal, 1835–1836

[22] September 1835

23 September 1835

24 September 1835

19 December 1835

20 December 1835

21 December 1835

22 December 1835

Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 March 1831

Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832

Letter to Emma Smith, 13 October 1832

Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 November 1832

Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 18 August 1833

Note to Newel K. Whitney, circa October 1833─Early 1834

Letter to Emma Smith, 18 May 1834

Letter to Almira Mack Scobey, 2 June 1835 (at end of Letters to John Burk, Sally Phelps, and Almira Scobey, 1─2 June 1835)

Letter to Sally Waterman Phelps, 20 July 1835

Letter to Emma Smith, 19 August 1836

Letter to Emma Smith, 4 November 1838

Letter to Emma Smith, 12 November 1838

Letter to Emma Smith, 1 December 1838

Letter to Emma Smith, 21 March 1839

Letter to Emma Smith, 4 April 1839

Letter to Henry G. Sherwood, 7 November 1839

Letter to Emma Smith, 9 November 1839

Letter to Emma Smith, 20 January 1840

Statement, February 1840

Letter to Newel K. Whitney, 12 December 1840

Agreement with Ebenezer and Elender Wiggins, 14 May 1841

Note of Authorization, 24 February 1842

Complaint against William Thomas, 2 August 1842

Letter to Newel K. and Elizabeth Smith Whitney, 18 August 1842

Letter to Lucien Adams, 2 October 1843

Note to William Clayton, 9 December 1842

Autograph to Barbara Matilda Neff, May 1844

Letter to Emma Smith, 27 June 1844 (postscript)