Milton Backman’s Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration began with an intended single testimonium—that of Joseph Smith. Originally Backman intended to carefully harmonize Joseph’s four dictated statements pertaining to the First Vision—the 1832 recital, the 1835 description, the 1838 account, and the 1842 Wentworth Letter. As the writing progressed, however, Backman felt it would be illuminating to present the accounts of Moroni’s visitations. Further expansion brought in pertinent accounts of the eleven special witness to the Book of Mormon, thus broadening the book’s initial base to include statements of key contemporary observers in the early Mormon movement.
The text is very “Joseph” oriented. Its primary content centers on the Prophet’s own accounts of his interactions with the miraculous. Biographical information on those named in the accounts other than Joseph Smith is intentionally limited; a minimal background sketch on each of the witness merely identifies his role. Moreover, Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration is not a history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York and Pennsylvania. Backman places emphasis on the statements of individuals concerning specific events and not on the overall historical setting.