Foundational Texts of Mormonism

Examining Major Early Sources

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Mark Ashurst-McGee, Robin S. Jensen, Sharalyn D. Howcroft
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , March
     448 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


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. The documents are examined not merely as sources of information but as artifacts that reflect aspects of the general culture and particular circumstances in which they were created. 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.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Mark Ashurst- McGee is Senior Historian and Senior Research and Review Editor for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, where he specializes in document analysis and documentary editing methodology. He is a coeditor of several volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers and is the author of several articles on Joseph Smith and early Mormon history.

Robin Scott Jensen is Associate Managing Historian and the Project Archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Jensen is a coeditor of the volumes in the Revelations and Translations series of the Joseph Smith Papers and is the author of several articles on Joseph Smith and early Mormon history.

Sharalyn D. Howcroft is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists and an archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers Project specializing in handwriting identification and custodial history.

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