A Note on the Nauvoo Library and Literary Society


Mormon historian Kenneth W. Godfrey provides a brief note about the Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute, which was founded in January of 1844 with Benjamin Winchester as chairman and Charles A. Foster as secretary. Seven prominent Mormons in Nauvoo were chosen to deliver lectures to the institute. A constitution, consisting of four articles and twenty-four by-laws, was unanimously adopted by those assembled. According to the by-laws, one method of obtaining stock in the institute was to donate books to the library. Joseph Smith himself was a member of this organization, and the LDS Church Archives holds a notice documenting which books Joseph Smith donated and how much stock he had in the institute. Thus from a perusal of the minutes we know the titles of over four hundred books held by the Nauvoo library. These titles provide the historian with an excellent source of studying and evaluating, to some extent at least, the intellectual climate of Nauvoo.


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