How did we get the Doctrine and Covenants? (part 3)
This posting is the third in a series promoting our exhibit of the history of the Doctrine and Covenants, which will be up from now until April graduation. Previous posts have discussed the early manuscript versions of revelations and publishing revelations in The Evening and Morning Star in Independence, Missouri in 1832.
The first attempt to put these revelations in book form, entitled “A Book of Commandments,” was started in December 1832 at the Church’s press in Independence, Missouri. Over the next several months, much work was done to begin printing selected revelations, with the goal to produce three thousand copies by the end of the year. By July 1833, most of the new volumes had been printed in sheets: five sheets could be folded into thirty-two pages that made up the Book of Commandments. However, on 20 July 1833, a mob of Missourians upset by an article in The Evening and Morning Star attacked the building that housed Phelps’ press, throwing it along with the printed sheets into the streets. Mary Elizabeth and Caroline Rollins, sisters who watched the attack from behind a nearby fence, were among some courageous Saints who rescued pages that were later bound and distributed to other Saints. It is not known exactly how many copies of the Book of Commandments ended up being saved, but only approximately 30 copies are known to have survived to the present day, making this one of the rarest (and most expensive) publications in Mormon and American history.
One of the few existing copies of the Book of Commandments (1833), a copy of the first issue of The Evening and Morning Star (1832) and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants are all on display in the Special Collections Reading Room, as well as manuscript revelations from the Newel Kimball Whitney papers, documenting the history of one of the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Come to Special Collections (1st floor of the HBLL) and take advantage of this special opportunity to view some important documents from early Church history!
Note: Since the exhibit is in the Special Collections Reading Room, you will be required to put all belongings in a locker provided in the lobby before you can enter to see the exhibit.