This project has been anticipated for a long time. In 1984, Dean
Jessie published The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. However it
was riddled with Hoffman forgeries. Later volumes 1 and 2 of "The
Papers of Joseph Smith" were published, but the 3rd was held back
because of controversial content. Every few years a rumor would
surface that the project had finally been OKed, only to have it held
up again. I believe the item that was causing so much trouble was
Joseph Smith's diary or history during the Nauvoo period. I've heard
that polygamy and abuse were the issues preventing it's publication.=20
I think the title of the work is something like "The Book of the Law
of the Lord," or something like that.
Now a major effort is underway that includes many more than 3 volumes,
including other controversial areas such as Joseph Smith's finances
and his court cases. But it looks like it may be a while, as they are
shooting for 2015 to have the project done.
I was able to visit with one historian working on the project who said
that the church is more likely to let the volumes be published this
time around, as most of the controversial stuff about Joseph Smith is
old news now. I guess we'll wait 10 years and see.
Deseret Morning News, Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Miller funding Joseph Smith project
26 volumes are planned about life of LDS leader
By Tad Walch
Deseret Morning News
PROVO =97 One of Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller's favorite LDS hymns is
"Praise to the Man" because of the line, "Millions shall know Brother
Larry H. Miller talks to the LDS International Society Monday about
the Joseph Smith Papers Project, aimed at boosting worldwide exposure
of the LDS leader.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News=20
Miller likes it so much he is bankrolling a project to boost the
worldwide exposure of Joseph Smith, who =97175 years ago tomorrow =97
founded The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Joseph Smith Papers Project is expected to produce 26 volumes
stuffed with more than 5,000 documents related to Smith, including
journals, diaries, correspondence, discourses, written history and
The first three volumes of the project are due out next year, Miller
and Brigham Young University church history professor Ron Esplin said
Monday during a presentation at the annual conference of the LDS
The society is a worldwide network of LDS Church members. Esplin asked
for their help to place sets of the Joseph Smith Papers in libraries
and with scholars.
"When Dean Jessee published 'The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith' in
1984, I made a statement that no longer could scholars write about
Joseph Smith without using his own papers," Esplin said. "It wouldn't
be credible research. It turns out the book is not in libraries or on
the shelves of scholars. Scholars still weren't forced to confront
Esplin said the Joseph Smith Papers Project will change the landscape
of scholarship on Smith, allowing historians to access original
documents by going to the set of volumes or to a Web site.
The project earned a major stamp of scholarly approval last year when
it was endorsed by a division of the National Archives, the National
Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Miller stepped in to help in 2001, when the project was expected to be
"I was surprised how modest the amount of money was they asked for,"
Miller said of early meetings with project organizers. "I told them,
first, you did not ask for enough money, and second, you need to do
Esplin praised Miller during his lecture but said afterward that
Miller is humble about his involvement. The acknowledgements at the
front of the first volumes have just one line thanking Miller and his
wife Gail for their contributions, the amount of which are
The Family and Church History Department of the church and BYU's
Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History haver
provided space, resources and manpower, but funding comes from the
Millers. That money has purchased technology and additional manpower.
"This simply could not be done without the resources the Millers have
provided," Esplin said. "With their help we can do more, do it quicker
and do it better. We could not do it on this scale or with this
richness without their help."
Miller's chief role, he said, is to accelerate the project. In
addition to funding, he has contributed the same hard-nosed,
bottom-line business sense that made it possible for him to build a
car-sales empire, preserve the Jazz franchise and finance the Delta
For one thing, he has pushed the editors to complete the project by 2015.
"I suggested we try to finish while Dean Jessee is still around," Miller sa=
Jessee, in his early 70s, is the project's general editor.
Miller is also the financial backer of a historical fiction film about
the founding of the church, "The Work and the Glory." He announced
last week he will fund two sequels based on a series of books by the
Along with a symposium planned next month at the Library of Congress =97
"The Worlds of Joseph Smith" =97 scholars see an increased interest in
the founder of the LDS Church.
Miller, of course, welcomes the interest, although he knows some are
nervous about the scrutiny of the man church members revere as a
prophet who claimed to see God and Jesus Christ.
"Joseph can and will stand up to any degree of scrutiny he's put
under," Miller said. "I haven't read as much as these scholars, but
the more I read, it's clear the more we know and understand him the
clearer it will become that he was who he said he was."
One scholar who anonymously reviewed plans for the Smith Papers
project wrote, "Joseph Smith continues to be an enigma to many, and
it's time we get to know him better."
That's music to the ears of Miller, who said he particularly enjoyed a
new arrangement of "Praise to the Man" during general conference last
weekend. The treatment emphasized the line "Millions shall know
Brother Joseph again."
"The arrangement had the choir sing that line three times," Miller
said. "That made my day."