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5 Things You Will Find in the Last Volume of the Joseph Smith Papers

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In an effort to gather together all documents linked to Joseph Smith, the Joseph Smith Papers Project was started. It all began in 2001 with the main purpose to provide a better knowledge and understanding of Joseph Smith and early church history. The papers include journal entries, letters, legal and financial records, and revelations. Now, after 22 years, the final volume of the papers has been released. 

Here are five things you should know about Documents Volume 15 of the Joseph Smith Papers. 

First, unlike the previous volumes, this volume only covers the short span of 6 weeks; May 16, 1844, to June 28, 1844. Many documents were created during the chaos of the last weeks of Joseph’s life. 

Second, it features one hundred and five documents in total. 

Third, within the documents, there are the minutes from the Nauvoo City Council meetings for June 8 and 10, 1844. It was at these meetings that there were discussions that ultimately led to the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor Press. Joseph Smith was arrested on a charge of riot following the destruction of the press. 

Fourth, this volume includes three letters that Joseph wrote to his wife Emma during the final five days of his life. One of those letters was written the morning of June 27, hours before his martyrdom. These letters give us an opportunity to see what Joseph was thinking in his final days. 

Lastly, the final volume contains the formal announcement of the murders. While that document was clearly not written by Joseph Smith, it is a nice addition that completes the story. This announcement is now Doctrine and Covenants 135.

At an event celebrating the release of the final Joseph Smith Papers, Elder Kyle S. McKay read a statement that said:

“The project demonstrates how from its earliest days, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taken seriously the divine charge to keep a record. The Joseph Smith Papers invites fair-minded people to listen to the voices and read the records of Joseph Smith and the early Saints if they wish to evaluate the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know of no other modern religious leader whose life and papers have been examined and shared with such thoroughness. This project declares to the world that the history of the Church of Jesus Christ can withstand scrutiny and that Joseph Smith’s life deserves to be studied. It allows the Church to speak with full confidence about the remarkable life and divine calling of the first prophet of the Restoration.”

What a blessing the Joseph Smith Papers Project has been! Elder Bednar puts it best, “There are remarkable blessings that have come because of this work in the lives of individuals and to the Church itself. All I would simply say is, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’”

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Kaitlyn Hall
Kaitlyn Hall
Kaitlyn is a student at Utah Valley University, where she is studying Public Relations. She served her mission in San Diego California and Chile. Kaitlyn loves sports, country music, being in the mountains and eating chocolate chip cookies.

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