This volume of the Joseph Smith Papers was edited by Mark Ashurst-Mcgee, David W. Grua, Elizabeth A. Kuehn (who spoke at the FairMormon Conference last year about the Kirtland Crisis of 1837), Brenden W. Rensink, and Alexander L. Baugh. It covers the aftermath of the Kirtland Crisis of 1837 and the move to Far West, the identification of Adam-ondi-Ahman, the formation of the Danites, Hawn’s Mill, the Extermination Order, the stay at Liberty Jail, and the beginning of the building of Nauvoo.
As with all of the volumes, it contains an explanation of the Joseph Smith Papers Project and its methodologies, a volume introduction that gives the general history of the time covered by the volume, section introductions with more detailed history and context of the documents contained in each section, the documents themselves, and reference material such as source notes, timelines, maps, biographical information, organizational charts, and works cited. Each document is introduced by a source note and historical introduction. The document transcripts then contain extensive footnotes with sources and explanations. In some cases, the footnotes are multiple levels deep.
The editors did a good job of explaining controversial events and putting them in context, but also freely admitted when things are unclear. In the first document, the source note discusses Joseph Smith’s plural marriage with Fanny Alger, including Oliver Cowdery’s allegations of adultery. It is explained that “A few individuals who knew JS well recounted later that he had received a revelation about the doctrine of plural marriage as early as 1831, possibly in connection with his work on the revision, or new ‘translation’ of the Bible” (page 12). “After his separation from Alger and the controversy arising from Cowdery’s accusations, JS set aside the practice of plural marriage for several years” (page 13). A later footnote explains “It is unclear precisely what information JS entrusted to Cowdery regarding JS’s relationship with Fanny Alger. Later accounts variously claim that Cowdery performed a marriage ceremony between JS and Alger, was called upon by JS to mediate between JS and Emma Smith after the relationship with Alger was discovered, or had been taught the doctrine of plural marriage privately and took a plural wife contrary to JS’s instructions” (page 91, footnote 454). [Read more…] about Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents Volume 6: February 1838 – August 1839