Should We Accept the Purported Photograph of Joseph Smith as Really Him?

Getting Ahead of Ourselves in 2017

Provenance Is Key

  • The CHL acquired the manuscript from the Community of Christ in 2017
  • The Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) acquired the manuscript from George Schweich in 1903
  • Schweich acquired it from his mother, Julia Schweich, who acquired it from her sister-in-law, Sylvia Whitmer; these transfers occurred between 1895 and 1903
  • Sylvia Whitmer acquired it from her husband, David J. Whitmer, upon his death in 1895
  • David J. Whitmer acquired it from his father, David Whitmer, upon the elder’s death in 1888
  • David Whitmer acquired it from his brother-in-law Oliver Cowdery upon Cowdery’s death in 1850
  • Oliver Cowdery maintained possession of the manuscript after co-editing the Book of Mormon for a new edition with Joseph Smith in 1837
  • Joseph Smith received back the manuscript from John H. Gilbert in 1830 after Gilbert finished using it to typeset the original edition of the Book of Mormon
  • John H. Gilbert received pages of the manuscript in installments during the printing process throughout 1829 and 1830 from Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery
  • Oliver Cowdery and two associates prepared the printer’s manuscript in 1829 by copying from the original dictation manuscript

The Artifact’s Provenance, So Far

Exchanges of Heirlooms

Candidates Other than Joseph Smith

Postscript: Intentions and Disclosures



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