Today, April 6th, is the anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The history of the LDS church is unescapably tied to the history of Utah and also Provo and it can be a fascinating topic to delve into. In celebration of the 1830 founding of this influential religion, I have compiled a list of key works that explain more about its founder and first prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr.
Each of these books illuminates a different perspective of this complex and visionary man who, while born into humble circumstances, started a movement that would touch the lives of millions. Even if you think you already know a lot about Joseph Smith, I guarantee you will discover a wealth of new details in the following volumes.
WITNESS TO THE MARTYRDOM
By John Taylor
On June 27, 1844, John Taylor, was in Carthage Jail along with Joseph and Hyrum Smith and was severely wounded during the fatal altercation with the mob. He recovered his health and put into writing his recollections of the Prophet's final days on earth. John Taylor's detailed first-person account of the Martyrdom is a witness to the goodness and deep faith of the leading Brethren of the restored Church.
JOSEPH SMITH: ROUGH STONE ROLLING
By Richard Lyman Bushman
While many “experts” continue to view Joseph Smith as a controversial figure, renowned scholar (and Latter-day Saint) Richard Bushman locates Joseph in his historical and cultural context, fleshing out the many nuances of nineteenth-century American life that produced such a fertile ground for emerging religions.
THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH BY HIS MOTHER
By Lucy Mack Smith
In this incomparable classic, Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the prophet Joseph Smith, Takes a tender look back at the extraordinary life of her son. She relates with stirring personal detail the events that shaped his character, as well as the visions and miracles of the gospel restoration that reshaped the world.
PRECEPT UPON PRECEPT
By Robert L. Millet
Latter-day Saint doctrine is based on the restoration of a correct understanding of God's "character, perfections, and attributes." In Precept upon Precept, esteemed Latter-day Saint scholar and speaker Robert L. Millet explored how the restoration of one truth led to questions that led to answers and the restoration of more truths—line upon line, precept upon precept.
JOSEPH SMITH PAPERS
Compiled by various historians and The Church Historian’s Press
And finally, for those who want access to it all, we have the JOSEPH SMITH PAPERS. This project “is an effort to gather together all extant Josephs Smith documents and to publish complete and accurate transcripts of those documetns with both textual and contextual annotations.” Print volumes available at the library include documents, histories, revelations and translations, and journals.