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New Joseph Smith Papers volume covers Nauvoo period of church

Published: Thursday, Nov. 17 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

Covering the historically rich Nauvoo period of LDS Church history, the latest volume in the Joseph Smith Papers series was published Tuesday.

"Journals, Volume 2" is available at Deseret Book and other retail outlets for a suggested price of $54.95.

It follows the publication in 2008 of "Journals, Volume 1" and is actually the fourth volume to be released in the series, including "Revelations and Translations," Volumes 1 and 2, published in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

The latest release covers the Prophet's life from December 1841 to April 1843. This 17-month period includes some of the most significant and dramatic events in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Among them are the founding of the female Relief Society in Nauvoo, the revelation directing the performance of proxy baptisms for the dead, the translation and publication of the Book of Abraham (now part of the Pearl of Great Price) from ancient scrolls that came into the Prophet's possession, the beginning of construction of the Nauvoo Temple, and the revelation of other ordinances associated with the temple.

Like most of the journal entries printed in Volume 1, the Prophet's Nauvoo journal entries were written entirely by scribes in his behalf. Consistent with documentary practices of the day, the journal entries sometimes are written in the first-person, as though Joseph had written them himself.

As with other volumes in the series, the documents have been scrupulously transcribed, preserving imperfections in spelling, punctuation and grammar, the effect being an intimate look into the time and circumstances under which they were created.

For example, one entry contains the notes taken by scribe Willard Richards during the habeas corpus hearing held in Springfield, Ill., Jan. 4, 1843, before U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Pope to determine whether Joseph Smith should be extradited to Missouri to answer accusations in the attempted assassination of former Missouri Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs.

The transcribed entry looks much like the hastily written notes of a newspaper reporter, as illustrated by this paragraph:

"January 5, 1843 8 1/2 repaired to mr [Justin] Butterfields room. 9. enterd Cort Room — the room was crowded — before the[y] Entered, with spectators. Mostly of a very respctable class in society. anxious to hear the decision — although the public exp[r]ession was decidedly in favor of an acquittal"

Willard Richards, who arrived in Nauvoo in August 1841 after a four-year mission to England, was the principal scribe and kept the journals until the Prophet's death in 1844. The task was assumed by William Clayton, with assistance from Eliza R. Snow and Erastus Derby, during a four-month period from June 30 to Dec. 20, 1842, while Richards moved his wife and son from Massachusetts to Nauvoo.

The journal entries in the newly published volumes come mainly from two of four small record books Richards kept, titled "President Joseph Smith's Journal." The content in the final two record books will be published in the third and final volume of the Journals series.

In addition to the journal entries, the new volume includes two appendices containing selected documents from the Missouri extradition attempt of 1842-43 and an excerpt from William Clayton's journal of April 1843, which Richards apparently used as a reference for Joseph Smith's journal for that period.

Reference material includes a chronology for the years 1839-43, geographical and biographical directories, a set of maps, charts of church and city officers, and a glossary of terms. A chart shows corresponding section numbers between revelations published in Joseph Smith's day and their publication in later editions of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Though the journal entries cover significant events, many of them pertain to the day-to-day duties of Joseph Smith as Nauvoo mayor, store operator, newspaper editor and general of the Nauvoo Legion. They thus offer insights into his personality.

"In one entry, for instance, we read the story of Joseph, while serving in his capacity as mayor and chief justice, presiding over a court case in Nauvoo," said Alex D. Smith, one of the volume editors, in a video recording on the project website.

"There's a commotion going on outside in the street. And wanting to find out what's going on, he runs out and sees two boys fighting. He immediately stops them and then rebukes the bystanders for not intervening sooner.

"When he comes back into the courtroom, Willard Richards, who was his journal keeper at the time, records the Prophet as saying, 'Nobody is allowed to fight in this city but me.' "

Email: rscott@desnews.com

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