The Joseph Smith Papers Project has recently released volume 3 of the Documents series, as announced on its newly designed and updated website. This new volume covers the years 1833–34 of Joseph Smith’s life and ministry, and is a rich collection of important primary source materials related to the Church in Kirtland, Ohio and Jackson County, Missouri during this time.
The new volume is edited by Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, Brent M. Rogers, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford, and William G. Hartley. Alison Palmer is the leader editor on the editorial staff for this volume.
As the manager of the FairMormon blog, I was invited along with other bloggers to an event highlighting the release of the new volume and was graciously granted a review copy for this blog post.
According to Dirkmaat, there is “a great diversity of the types of documents in this volume.” Types of documents included in the new volume include letters, minutes, deeds, revelations, notes, and, for the first time in any volume of the Joseph Smith Papers, a transcription of architectural drawings for such things as the plat of the city of Zion and the Kirtland House of the Lord designs. Color images of the documents included in the new volume will be available on the Joseph Smith Papers website in the future.
Dirkmaat also discussed exciting documents in the new volume like the March 18, 1833 minutes of “an assembly of the high Priests” in Kirtland that collectively saw a “heavenly vision of the saviour and concourses of angels and many othe[r] thing[s].” The new volume also contains important documents relating to the violence inflicted against the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, during the summer of 1833. This includes the July 29, 1833, letter of John Whitmer to Church leaders in Kirtland describing the violence in Jackson County and Joseph Smith’s reply written on August 18, 1833, entirely in his own hand. Brent Rogers described the significance of these texts. “The documents series is great because you see a chronological unfolding of Joseph Smith’s life,” Rogers explained. “You also learn about his contemporaries, including some lesser-known members and individuals.”
In addition to the new volume, the Joseph Smith Papers today launched a newly designed web site (linked above). With web traffic having tripled since the earlier website’s launch and a social media presence that includes over 50,000 followers on Facebook, the Joseph Smith Papers is gaining a significant presence online. The new website, besides having a refined search engine, features new photographs, both historic and modern, videos, chronologies, and other features. The new website has also been formatted for optimal tablet and phone usage.
Forthcoming volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers include the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon (forthcoming Summer 2015) and the 3rd and final volume in the Journals series (forthcoming Fall 2015). The highly anticipated Council of Fifty minutes are planned to be released in Fall of 2016.