Early in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith taught the Saints that the Lord had revealed a law of consecration, in which members would consecrate all their time, talents, and possessions to the Church and its purposes. It has been commonly believed that the law of consecration was not practiced in Nauvoo, where the Church was headquartered from 1839 to 1846. But the recent discovery of twenty affidavits of consecration, handwritten in the summer of 1842 by Latter-day Saints determined to follow an apostolic invitation to consecrate themselves and property to the Church, invite us to reconsider this folk memory.
Accompanying this article are transcripts of these twenty consecration affidavits and photographic images of several of them. From Orville Morgan Allen’s list of property that includes “a wife and 4 children poarly clad” to Augustus Stafford’s “household Furnature including all I posess,” these affidavits testify not only to the striking poverty of the Saints, but also to their willingness to place their all in the hands of their Church leaders “for th bilding up of th kingdom.”