Though lawsuits, financial problems, violent opposition, and other impediments often interfered with Joseph Smith's attempts to write and oversee the creation of church history, sustained interest and repeated efforts yielded significant results, including several important narrative histories. Presented in this first volume of the Histories series are the six histories that Joseph Smith personally wrote, dictated, or supervised.
With the assistance of Frederick G. Williams, Joseph Smith first set about recording his own history in the summer of 1832. In it he recounted for the first time in writing his first vision of Deity and the discovery of the gold plates. Two years later a more ambitious project, the 1834-1836 history, was initiated. Like the 1832 history, this manuscript remained unfinished.
In April 1838, Joseph Smith began work on a new "history of this Church from the earliest perio[d]," the work that would eventually become the multivolume History of the Church. This volume of The Joseph Smith Papers presents in parallel columns for convenient comparison the three earliest surviving manuscripts of that history.
The fourth narrative history in this volume, "Extract, from the Private Journal of Joseph Smith Jr.," is not in fact taken from any journal but was based largely on Smith's 1839 petition for legal redress. "Church History" (familiarly known as the "Wentworth letter") and its near-twin document "Latter Day Saints," both of which Joseph Smith signed as author, are important declarations to the non-Mormon world of the history and beliefs of the church. They include the statement of beliefs now known as the Articles of Faith.
Four additional histories, assigned by Joseph Smith but not dictated or supervised by him, will form the content of Histories, Volume 2.
George B. Wilson, Paperback First Edition edition, ISBN 10: 0814629458, ISBN 13: 9780814629451