In the News
Joseph Smith Papers Project
by Shannon Johnson
LDS Living News
A new collection of Joseph Smith papers will be available beginning fall of this year. The Joseph Smith Papers Project is one of the largest in Church history and will enable the public to have access to essential primary documents from the life of Joseph Smith. At the end of publication, the project will consist of more than thirty volumes. But that will take a while. Publication starts in 2008, but the project is so big, only two to three volumes a year will be able to be published.
The papers project will work to provide insight into the prophet’s life as a reference work for scholars and those seeking answers about Joseph Smith, early Mormonism, or Church history. The series will include revelations and translations, journals, documents, legal and business items, historical records, and administrative documents.
The project’s general editor Dean C. Jessee joined the Church Historian’s Office staff in the late 1960s. In all the stacks of documents he found, Joseph Smith’s manuscripts seemed to fascinate him more than the others. “Of all the American visionaries of his time,” he wrote, “Smith had the most lasting impact.”
Jessee produced The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith in 1984 and 2002 and two volumes of The Papers of Joseph Smith in 1989 and 1992, the latter serving as the springboard for the new project. Church and university leaders authorized the establishment of the Joseph Smith Papers Project in spring 2001, and BYU scholars joined with Church Archives to extend Jessee’s earlier work with the help of funding from Larry H. and Gail Miller.
On the Joseph Smith Paper’s website, Ronald K. Esplin, managing editor for the project, says, “Today’s project is not just larger (in scope, in number of volumes, and in number of people involved), but more complex than anything done on Joseph Smith up to this time.”
The site also explains the audiences the projects is intended for: “Most editions need to be concerned mainly with scholarly readers, but the Joseph Smith papers have two audiences, each of which may require different kinds of explanations. Scholarly readers may understand the American historical context for our story but know little of Mormonism. Latter-day Saint readers will know a good deal about the Church and its history, but much less about the broader historical context. All readers will benefit from understanding better the detailed historical circumstances from which the documents emerge and which they, in turn, illuminate.”
The project will not be a documentary history, but rather a comprehensive edition of all existent Joseph Smith documents, including letters, journals, minutes, and histories. Materials to support and provide context will include biographical and geographical directories, glossaries, historical maps, charts, and chronology for periods featured in each specific volume.
Visit josephsmithpapers.net for more information.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008
In the News
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