The Prophets Have Spoken, but What Did They Say?
Examining the Differences between George D. Watt’s Original Shorthand Notes and the Sermons Published in the Journal of Discourses

From 1851 to 1868, George D. Watt took shorthand of hundreds of speeches given by LDS leaders. A few of his shorthand notes were preserved but were inaccessible to researchers because no one could read the Pitman shorthand. Some notes have now been transcribed. These notes reveal that extensive rewriting and polishing was done between the taking of the notes and the publication of these speeches in the Journal of Discourses. No longer should scholars rely on the edited versions of these speeches to learn the speaking style, character, and personality of these speakers. This article presents notes from several speeches and full transcripts of two of Brigham Young’s speeches, making it easy to compare the original shorthand, Watt’s longhand transcript, and the published version.

Purchase this Issue