A Textual and Archival Reexamination of Lucy Mack Smith's History
Foundational texts of Mormonism
New York, NY
Oxford University Press
Joseph Smith, founding prophet and martyr of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, personally wrote, dictated, or commissioned thousands of documents. Among these are several highly significant sources that scholars have used over and over again in their attempts to reconstruct the founding era of Mormonism, usually by focusing solely on content, without a deep appreciation for how and why a document was produced. This book offers case studies of the sources most often used by historians of the early Mormon experience. Each chapter takes a particular document as its primary subject, considering the production of a document as an historical event in itself, with its own background, purpose, circumstances, and consequences. By studying the documents not merely as sources of information, but as artifacts that reflect the culture in which they were created, truths about that culture are revealed. This book will help historians working in the founding era of Mormonism gain a more solid grounding in the period's documentary record by supplying important information on major primary sources.