Joseph Smith Jr. has been a topic of conversation since his First Vision in 1820. Today, the discourse continues. Whether discussing the possibility of a Joseph Smith photograph or his relationship with Brigham Young, historians continue to learn new things about the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The plural wives of Joseph Smith are the focus of Todd Compton’s book, In Sacred Loneliness: The Documents. As a sequel to his 1997 volume, The Documents provides the primary sources Compton used in his book about Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages. In this interview, Todd Compton discusses his new publication, shares thoughts about reactions to his research, and provides highlights from his book.
After attending a Relief Society meeting in 1857, Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal that “the house was full of females.” As someone who practiced plural marriage instituted by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the comment could have applied to Woodruff’s home life. In this interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich discusses how early Latter-day Saint sources shed light on female authority and plural marriage.
Truman Madsen is perhaps best known for his Joseph Smith lectures. The BYU professor thought of the Prophet as a window through which he could see Jesus Christ. But his contributions extend far beyond lectures given at Brigham Young University. Those who knew him best, like his wife, Ann Madsen, say there was much more to Truman G. Madsen than meets the eye.
Brigham Young was known by many different names. To some, he was the Lion of the Lord or an American Moses. To others, he was simply “Brother Brigham.” In this interview, Chad Orton discusses the many ways he finds inspiration in the prophet’s life—and reveals what he’d include in a second edition of his biography of the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Zion’s Camp—also known as the Camp of Israel—was a formative experience in the life of 28-year-old Joseph Smith. However, like the Law of Consecration, it’s a pioneer experience rife with misunderstanding. In this interview, historian Matt Godfrey separates fact from fiction and discusses the purpose of Zion’s Camp.
A new photograph of Joseph Smith seems to pop up every few years. However, all of the candidates have been ruled out—until now. While not the slam dunk some media outlets would have you believe, the Smith/Larsen daguerreotype makes a stronger case than we’ve seen before. In this interview, Lachlan Mackay walks through some of the historical details.