BYU Religious Studies Center
"My Dear Sister: Letters Between Joseph F. Smith and His Sister Martha Ann Smith Harris" is edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and David M. Whitchurch.

MY DEAR SISTER: Letters Between Joseph F. Smith And His Sister Martha Ann Smith Harris,” edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and David M. Whitchurch, BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, $49.99, 672 pages (nf)

After the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faced a tumultuous future. At this time, Joseph Fielding Smith was 5 years old and his sister Martha was 3. Bound by their love of the gospel, these two siblings and children of Hyrum Smith helped each other navigate through difficult periods of time.

“My Dear Sister: Letters Between Joseph F. Smith And His Sister Martha Ann Smith Harris” is a collection of letters that give personal insight into the lives of these two important figures in Latter-day Saint history.

The editors, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and David M. Whitchurch, are well-known for their work in writing about church history. In order to supplement the biographical information, the editors collected countless letters and pictures that speak to the amazing life Martha and Joseph led. A transcript is included with the image of each of the more than 240 letters.

The book is organized by “Letters and Transcripts by Decade.” It begins with the year 1854 and end in 1916. The book begins with explanations about the letters and their significance. It also talks about the Smith family and its role in the restoration of the gospel.

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“My Dear Sister” is an incredible collection that provides an intimate look at the church during this time period. Most enjoyable are the pictures that are included in the book. They truly bring to life Joseph and Martha and help the reader realize that these were real people.

The letters in the book vary in subject. One letter is from Joseph expressing his sadness over the sickness of a dear friend, plans to meet up in Provo and information about their children’s mission calls.

While this book will appeal to historians of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it will also be beneficial to those who are seeking to improve their knowledge of the church.