Money Digging Folklore and the Beginnings of Mormonism

An Interpretive Suggestion



Editor’s Note: The online version of this article was revised after it became public knowledge that the 1830 Martin Harris letter referred to in the article was a Mark Hofmann forgery.

Over the years, LDS church historians have responded to claims that the Mormon movement because as a money-digging speculation with accounts that minimize or deny any such connections. It has been seemingly assumed until very recently that if Joseph Smith believed in and practiced magic to find buried treasure then his story of the inspired discovery of the plates of the Book of Mormon may be suspect. Needless to say, the recent appearance of two letters with gold digging implications gave new life to the discussion of Mormon origins in these terms. The first is purportedly written by Joseph Smith in 1825 to Josiah Stowell. The second is attributed to Martin Harris, written in 1830 to W. W. Phelps.


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