From Manuscript to Printed Page: An Analysis of the History of the Book of Commandments and Revelations
This article is one of several in this issue about the Book of Commandments and Revelations, a foundational document of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Book of Commandments and Revelations (BCR) is a surprisingly unpretentious document, judging by its physical condition. Instead of appearing regal and glorious as would befit its important contents, the Book of Commandments and Revelations looks ragged, worn, and somewhat fragile. But for anyone interested in historical artifacts, the Book of Commandments and Revelations provides a rich experience. This article discusses the physical description and provenance of the BCR—why, how, and when it was created; how it was used; and its chain of custody. Archivists use many tools to determine provenance of a document. One such tool, diplomatics, involves understanding the process of record keeping by analyzing other manuscripts, learning the contextual history surrounding the scribes, and employing document and paper analysis.