Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home. Part 5–Brigham.

July 24th 1844 I Called at the Prophets office but no one at home. I then took steem Boat for Albany and found on board Elders O. Hyde and O Pratt and sister Sayers. I was truly pleased to meet with these friends. We rode to Albany and Troy. 166 mile. We there took rail cars for Buffaloo. At Schenactady we Joined Elders B Young H. C. Kimball and L. Wight making six of our quorum to accompany each other home. We rode all night.

25th We continued our Journey all day in the cars. Arived at Buffalo in the evening being 365 miles from Troy in 24 hours. Expenses of travelling and sundry articles from Westfield to Detroit $32.20.
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Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home. Part 3–Coming to Grips

July 18th 1844 Elders O. Hyde H. C. Kimball and O. Pratt arived in the City also President B. Young. We met together. Had some Council. I wrote a letter to the Prophet, advising the Elders who have families in Nauvoo to go immediately to them & for all the authorities of the Church to assemble at Nauvoo for a council, by order of the quorum of the Twelve Wilford Woodruff Clerk B. Young President After which Elder O. Hyde and myself accompanied Sister Voice to take tea with a sister who was attending to a house near the state house fronting the Common.

We walked all over the house & took a view of the furniture. It could not have Cost much less than one hundred thousand dollars to have furnished it.
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Priesthood Article in Dialogue

My article on “Early Mormon Priesthood Revelations” is out in the winter 2013 issue of Dialogue. I think they are doing some free access right now, so get on over there!

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Old Timey Blessings

An ancestor, James Whitehead Taylor, converted to Mormonism in Britain during the initial Mormon mission in 1837. He stayed in Britain for well over a decade following that, acting as a missionary himself and finally emigrating to Utah in the 1850s. Taylor was a stalwart, though never a polygamist. After coming to Utah, he received a Patriarchal Blessing. Like so many at the time, it seems cut from the same cloth as those early revelations to the Whitmer boys: they all said basically the same thing (no, Whitehead Taylor’s blessing wasn’t a copy of the Whitmer revelations–but it was very like the others in that particular blessing book kept by the church historian’s office). The Historian was charged with keeping copies of the blessings and the church considered them official documents from the beginning. Joseph Smith Sr.’s earliest blessings were kept and preserved.
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From BoAP Archives: Who is Iscah?

This originally appeared a few years ago at BCC. Since it’s Old Testament times in Sunday School, I thought this curiosity might be fun for you.

Abraham’s family life is the stuff of Jew, Gentile, and Mormon legend. But, I’m not going to break into that territory much. It’s too complex and I don’t have the mental space for it now. But, who is Iscah? The name appears once in the Hebrew Bible, just after the genealogy of Abram:
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LaJean Carruth Reveals the “Lost Sermons”

LaJean Carruth is an expert in nineteenth-century shorthand systems that played a role in Mormon note-keeping, particularly in the Utah period. (LaJean has also given us the heretofore unexpanded notes of the August 1844 succession meetings as well.) Given my own interest in Mormon sermon-making, I find her work absolutely fascinating. Moreover, it is not restricted to library rats like me: The Church History Library has done a wonderful service in providing us access to LaJean’s work. Here is an example http://eadview.lds.org/findingaid/viewer?pid=IE1772001&pds_handle=

Polygamy 101

I don’t really have anything new here, just pointing out my series of posts on D&C 132, starting here. Links to successor posts are in the headers. Have fun.

Nauvoo Council of Fifty Minutes to be Published

The Council of Fifty was Joseph Smith’s attempt to set up a kind of preparatory government for the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Up until now, the minutes, taken by council clerk William Clayton for the most part, have been unavailable for study. The minutes will now appear in the Administrative Records Series of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. This is a boon to historians of Mormonism and Religious Studies scholars who encounter Mormonism of the Joseph Smith period. I for one anxiously await the privilege of pursuing the minutes. Here is a portion of the press release by Church Historian, Steven E. Snow:

Regarding other plans in the Joseph Smith Papers Project, Elder Snow said a few days prior to this recent announcement that the First Presidency “has approved the Church History Department staff to use the Council of Fifty minutes as reference and footnote material in upcoming Joseph Smith Papers books and to eventually publish the minutes in full as a separate volume.”

Elder Snow explained that Joseph Smith established the Council of Fifty in March 1844.

“The minutes of the council meetings, which have heretofore not been available for research, provide a new window into Joseph’s prophetic view on government and the kingdom of God,” he said.

“Following Joseph’s death, the council continued to meet under Brigham Young’s leadership and played a key role in the planning for the trek west. Our historians have been working to prepare these important records for publication for some time. We plan to publish the Nauvoo minutes of the Council of Fifty in the Administrative Records Series of the Joseph Smith Papers.”

For the entire press release, see here.

Joseph Smith Papers: Documents Vol. 1 Launched.

The Joseph Smith Papers team has announced the publication of the first volume in the Documents series. This series will tread fascinating trails in uncovering/publicizing much of the material the heretofore has only grazed the desks of some historians. The editors of this volume, and those editorial groups yet to appear in the series have their work cut out for them. If this first volume is any indication of what is to come, it looks like a revolution in the way we will treat Joseph Smith in our devotional as well as historical literature. Go JSP!

The first volume in Documents is available for order now. Go over to josephsmithpapers.org and scroll down to the bottom right side of the page. And then, order one!

Losing the Context — Preaching in Early Mormonism

The institution of Mormonism has generally prized parts of, or all of Joseph Smith’s literary production. Joseph wrote little himself, seeing that as a kind of separate duty, tasked nearly exclusively to more capable hands. When a document-driven history began to emerge in the late 1830s, Joseph was a driving force, but rarely a contributor beyond supplying those relevant documents.
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Succession Angst Circa 1849

The idea that leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would stay in the Joseph Smith Jr family was embedded in the minds of long time American Mormons. After all, they had lived this idea, from the Smith brothers involvement in all levels of leadership, to revelations that hinted at various sorts of primogeniture, ancient and modern. Royalty might have been a dirty word in early national America, but it’s a natural impulse attested in so many ways. Some early critics of the Nauvoo apostles tell a story of real confusion, worry, and wonder at how the royal family of Mormonism was to continue.
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An 1830 Healing

Late accounts of early Mormon events can be problematic, but sometimes compelling. Here is one passed along to the Church Historian in October 1857. You’ll notice the name of a tragic figure in the report, though she is not the central figure in the story:
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The Gift of Tongues: The Propagation of Sermon Texts in Mormonism

Another blast from the past. It seemed appropriate.

In spite of all the talk about remembering what we feel in a sermon experience, not what we hear, as valid as that may be, it is the text that reigns supreme. Recreating a sermon is not possible. But recording the words spoken on the occasion may be valuable. From the very beginning of Joseph Smith’s career, it was the text that trumped all other things. The Book of Mormon saga places the text in the role of savior, preserver and founder of language and true religion. It was to be expected that Mormons would keep records, and by commandment.
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New Article on the Vision: D&C 76 in Context

See Matthew McBride’s article on section 76 here

Web-reading at its best.

Books and Printing and Mormons. Part 8.

From its very inception Mormonism was linked to the print trade. In this it followed American Protestantism and especially Methodism, whose Book Concern was fabled for volume printing. The industry served two purposes across religious groups in America: it got the “word” out and it helped to support the church infrastructure.
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