David Hale’s Store Ledger [Long Version]

New Details about Joseph and Emma Smith, the Hale Family, and the Book of Mormon

In December 1827, Joseph and Emma Smith arrived in Harmony, Pennsylvania, to live while Joseph translated the gold plates. Harmony was the home of Emma’s family, and Emma’s brother David Hale had a small store that was used for trading goods and work among the neighbors. David kept a ledger that records Joseph’s purchases of leatherwork, a shovel, a pocketbook, a pocketknife, and a comb. Joseph sold some pork and traded his own labor, and also hired others to help him with heavy chores. The ledger is now in the collections of Brigham Young University. This document provides a unique window into Joseph Smith’s life during his time in Harmony, during which the Book of Mormon was translated.

The printed version of this article includes photos and a transcript of only the ledger pages on which Joseph Smith’s trading activity is recorded. This PDF, the extended version of the article, includes a transcript of the ledger pages from 1827 to 1830, when Joseph left Harmony. The extended version also adds more information about the Hale family, how the store exchanges worked, and the provenance of the ledger. Blue text indicates text that is not in the original print version.

About the author(s)

Mark Lyman Staker is Lead Curator of Church Historic Sites at the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He earned his PhD at the University of Florida. He has received both the Mormon History Association and John Whitmer Historical Association’s Best Book awards for Hearken O Ye People (Kofford Books, 2009). He received the Mormon History Association’s J. Talmage Jones Award of Excellence for an Outstanding Article for “Thou Art the Man: Newel K. Whitney in Ohio,” BYU Studies 42, no. 2 (2003): 74–138.

Robin Scott Jensen is Associate Managing Historian and Project Archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers Project and coedited the first two volumes in the Revelations and Translations series (published 2009 and 2011, respectively). He specializes in document and transcription analysis. In 2005, he earned an MA degree in American history from Brigham Young University, and in 2009 he earned a second MA in library and information science with an archival concentration from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is now pursuing a PhD in history at the University of Utah. He completed training at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents in 2007. He has published several articles and edited documents, including “A Witness in England: Martin Harris and the Strangite Mission,” BYU Studies 44, no. 3 (2005): 78–98.



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Print ISSN: 2837-0031
Online ISSN: 2837-004X