Last month, the Joseph Smith Papers published Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839, and it is now available for purchase. This volume—which contains documents including letters, minutes of meetings, revelations, land transaction records, and accounts of discourses—illuminates one of the most difficult periods of Joseph Smith's life and for the Latter-day Saints at large. Documents, Volume 6, traces this pivotal period in church history that includes the "Mormon War" in Missouri, the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from the state, Joseph Smith's time in Liberty jail, and the initial settlement of the Nauvoo, Illinois, area.
After relocating from Kirtland, Ohio, to Far West, Missouri, in 1838, Joseph Smith helped organize new settlements for the Saints in Adam-ondi-Ahman and De Witt, Missouri. The growth of the Mormon population in these areas caused increasing resentment among earlier settlers, which led to violent conflict. In late October 1838, Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs ordered that the Saints be expelled from the state. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Smith and other church leaders were arrested and imprisoned and thousands of Latter-day Saints began their forced evacuation from Missouri. Many suffered while fleeing to western Illinois, where they sought refuge.
In April 1839, Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners escaped from custody and reunited with the Saints in Illinois, determined to once again establish a safe gathering place for the church. Documents at the end of this volume show Joseph Smith directing the settlement of Commerce, Illinois, where the church acquired large tracts of land in order to lay the foundations of the city that would become Nauvoo.
To learn more about documents and events covered in Documents, Volume 6, you can view videos featuring some of the historians who contributed to the volume. The videos associated with this volume are titled "Joseph Smith's Letters to Emma from Liberty Jail," "Mormon Settlement of Nauvoo, Illinois," and "A Mormon Zion in Missouri."
The volume was edited by Mark Ashurst-McGee, David W. Grua, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Brenden W. Rensink, and Alexander L. Baugh, with Suzy Bills as the lead production editor, assisted by Kelley Konzak and Keaton Reed