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New Content on the Joseph Smith Papers Website

January 31, 2023

The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce its latest web publication. This release features the entirety of Documents, Volume 11: September 1842–February 1843, including all annotation and introductions; two case introductions and accompanying documents for four legal cases from Illinois and Missouri; Henry G. Sherwood’s Nauvoo account book; twenty-four additional versions of documents from 1829 to 1831; a new glossary for terms found in financial records; almost four hundred new biographical entries; and hundreds of new 1844 entries for the calendar of documents.

Documents, Volume 11 includes documents related to the many roles Joseph Smith filled during the fall and winter of 1842–1843. For most of the fall of 1842, Joseph Smith was in hiding from authorities who were trying to extradite him to Missouri for allegedly ordering an assassination attempt on former Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs. In January 1843 a federal court in Springfield, Illinois, ruled that the state of Missouri failed to prove that the charges warranted Smith’s extradition. His release from state custody was celebrated with songs and parties in Smith’s honor. While in hiding, Joseph Smith continued to attend to ecclesiastical and civic responsibilities: writing letters to the Saints about proxy baptisms for the dead, serving as editor of the church newspaper in Nauvoo, the Times and Seasons, and responding to letters. After Smith’s release, he delivered several sermons in his home and in the unfinished Nauvoo temple. Elected mayor in the February 1843 city election, he worked with the city council to address various municipal challenges and helped pass ordinances designed to resolve issues stemming from Nauvoo’s expanding population. He also presided over, testified in, and initiated trials against several individuals accused of violating Nauvoo’s religious and legal codes. The documents in this volume include correspondence, editorials, reports of discourses, minutes of meetings, municipal and legal documents, land deeds, and poems.

In the Legal Records series, this release includes two case introductions and accompanying documents. One introduction discusses three cases stemming from the ongoing conflict between Robert D. Foster and Joseph Smith in 1844. The other case, State of Missouri v. Pratt et al. for Murder, follows legal proceedings for the 1838 murder of Moses Rowland at Crooked River. In addition to several other charges Joseph Smith faced at this time arising from the 1838 conflict between Latter-day Saints and Missouri residents, he was charged as an accessory to this murder. Smith and other prisoners escaped from the state’s custody in 1839, and the murder case was eventually dismissed. Despite the dismissal, in 1840 Missouri officials unsuccessfully attempted to extradite Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints for this and other crimes allegedly committed in 1838.

In the Financial Records series, this release presents an account book kept by Henry G. Sherwood. Sherwood served as the Nauvoo city marshal, a city tax assessor and collector, a member of the city watch, and a financial agent for Joseph Smith and the church. Sherwood recorded in this small book the transactions he oversaw for Joseph Smith and the city of Nauvoo, and he then used it to verify accounts, submit claims to the city council requesting payment, or copy other records into the proper books. Sherwood’s account book contains entries from November 1839 to June 1844.

The Joseph Smith Papers website seeks to be comprehensive in presenting all extant Joseph Smith documents, including other versions that contribute to understanding an original nonextant text or that were authorized by Smith. This release presents twenty-four other versions of revelations and other documents from 1829 to 1831. All known versions that meet the above criteria are listed in the calendar of documents. Future releases will include images and transcripts of more document versions.

A glossary of terms used in financial records has been added to the website. Most of these terms relate to goods purchased at various stores. There are hyperlinks from the financial documents to the glossary definitions. From the main glossary page, users can opt to see just the financial glossary terms, just the legal glossary terms, just the general glossary terms, or all glossary terms.

This release also includes 385 new biographical entries. These entries do not have biographical sketches of the people, but they do have links to the documents the people are mentioned in, allowing users to see the connections individuals may have had with Joseph Smith. Finally, the release includes hundreds of new entries for the calendar of documents for January through mid-May 1844.