What was once a one-man operation in the old Church Historian's Office has evolved into a large-scale effort that Elder Marlin K. Jensen, current church historian, called "the single most significant historical project of our generation."

In the 1960s, Dean Jessee pioneered the work of collecting, transcribing and publishing documents created by the LDS Church's founder.

The Joseph Smith Papers is a documentary-editing project that over the next 20 years will publish 30 volumes of documents produced by the Prophet and his scribes or owned by his office, including journal entries, recorded revelations and discourses, correspondence, meeting minutes, and business and legal records. Approximately 2,000 documents will be included, along with annotations and visual aids. Each volume will be 500 to 700 pages long.

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