SALT LAKE CITY — Historians, researchers, archivists and others working on the Joseph Smith Papers Project will soon be housed together in one location at Church headquarters. Staff members are currently split between offices at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo and at the Family and Church History Department in Salt Lake City.
Bringing together nearly all those working on the project in a single location will enhance collaboration, increase productivity and accelerate publication of archival materials dealing with the life, mission, teachings and legacy of Joseph Smith, founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church Historian and Recorder, has called the Joseph Smith Papers Project “the most important Church history project of this generation.”
This unprecedented compilation is expected to produce 25 to 30 volumes, including journals, correspondence, discourses and written histories, as well as legal and business documents.
In the published volumes, scholars will have ready access to a wide range of original historical sources recounting the challenges and accomplishments of Joseph Smith as he led the fledgling Church in the first half of the 19th century.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives endorsed the project late last year, assuring that the highest scholarly standards are being employed in all phases of the work.
Overall funding for the project is being provided by the Church and by a major donation from the Larry H. and Gail Miller family.
To this point, much of the work of the Joseph Smith Papers Project has been conducted through BYU’s Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History. With the move of the project to Church headquarters, BYU will promote research on Latter-day Saint history through its regular academic departments rather than through a separate research institute.
In addition, BYU will create a new Joseph Fielding Smith Fellowship program to encourage research at the university in Latter-day Saint history.
Looking forward to the results of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, Elder Jensen said, “President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught that everything we have in the Church ‘is the lengthened shadow of Joseph Smith,’ and this staff consolidation will ensure the timely and accurate publication of these foundational documents.”