Review of Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volumes 7-9

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Almost fifty years ago, my wife, Patricia, and I had the distinct privilege to work for incoming Church Historian Leonard J. Arrington in combing through the archives of the Church History Library in Salt Lake City for source materials long since shelved, considered lost, or otherwise off-limits. Along the way, we also enjoyed working with a team of other dedicated scholars brought in to work under Arrington’s kind and learned tutorship. Among them was a talented archivist/historian named Dean Jessee, who was an assiduous student of the document, particularly the papers of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. Owning a passion for the original manuscript and for letting primary sources speak for themselves, Jessee was less the interpreter and more the preserver. The publication of the multivolume Joseph Smith Papers a half century on owes much to the quiet, painstaking, and transformative work of this good man. They are a legacy to his vision, drive, and effort through years of ups and downs too many and sometimes too painful to discuss here. They are also a tribute to the leadership of Elder Steven E. Snow, recent Church Historian and Recorder from 2012 to 2019, who did so much to see these latest volumes published.