The Minutes of the Nauvoo-Era Council of Fifty
New Insights From Recently Released Documents
DATE: October 13 (Fullerton) and October 14 (La Canada – Flintridge).
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
We are delighted to have as our October 2016 Miller Eccles speaker, Dr. Matthew J. Grow, Director of Publications at the Church History Department. Dr. Grow will speak about one of the most anticipated volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers Project, The Minutes of the Council of Fifty, March 1844–January 1846. Scheduled to be released shortly before Dr. Grow’s presentation, these minutes have hitherto been restricted and unavailable to researchers. This promises to be a groundbreaking presentation.
THE TOPIC: On March 11, 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith organized a council that he and his closest associates saw as the beginning of the government of the literal kingdom of God on earth. Known both as the Council of the Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty, the council operated under Smith’s leadership until his murder less than four months later. Under Brigham Young’s leadership, the council continued to meet in Nauvoo from February 1845 to January 1846. In September 2016, the minutes of the council, which have never been publicly available, will be published as the latest volume in The Joseph Smith Papers. This landmark book contains hundreds of pages of hitherto unknown statements by Smith, Young, and other early Latter-day Saints.
The Council of Fifty played a major role in managing Joseph Smith’s presidential campaign, exploring possible future settlement sites, and in planning the migration of the Latter-day Saints to the American West. The minutes provide an unparalleled view of decision making at the center of what participants viewed as the nascent kingdom of God on earth. They thus shed new light on the development of Latter-day Saint beliefs and on the history of Nauvoo and the church during this critical era, while also providing new perspectives on American religious history, political culture, and western migration in the nineteenth century.
THE SPEAKER: Matthew J. Grow is Director of Publications at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. He leads a team of forty historians, editors, and web specialists creating historical publications for academic and popular audiences. Along with Ron Esplin, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Gerrit Dirkmaat, and Jeff Mahas, he prepared the minutes of the Council of Fifty for publication. His newest book is The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (co-editors Jill Derr, Carol Madsen and Kate Holbrook; Church Historian’s Press, 2016). In 2015, he authored The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane (co-author Ronald W. Walker, Oxford University Press). Grow is also the author of biographies of Parley P. Pratt (along with Terryl Givens; Oxford University Press, 2011) and Thomas L. Kane (Yale University Press, 2009), both of which received the Best Book Award from the Mormon History Association.
Previously, Dr. Grow was an assistant professor of history and director of the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana. He received his PhD in American history from the University of Notre Dame. He and his wife Alyssa live with their four children in Sandy, Utah.
Posted by Scott Volmar