Joseph Smith Papers Intern Review
Volume 1, Issue 1 30 March 2012
Brigham Young History Department
Matt Cox, Editor.
Student Contributors: pg.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project this semester working on the third volume of the Journals Project under the direction of Dr. Brent Rogers. The focus of my work has been on the last few months of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s Life from the end of March 1844 until his death in Carthage on June 27th of that year. During his time in Nauvoo Joseph was involved in multiple court cases many of which he referred to briefly in his journals without providing much detail. It has been part of my responsibility to research these cases and summarize them for review by my supervisors for
publication. I have had the wonderful opportunity to see into the life
of the prophet and the trials he faced from apostates, enemies outside of the church, and pressures from within the church as he was brought to court, sat as a judge on municipal cases, or had to go to court against others to defend his name before the public. Of the skills that I have acquired during my time as an intern in Salt Lake
City, is an ability to quickly understand and summarize events and material that can be used to provide an understanding of the short entries in the journal of Joseph Smith. I have also had the opportunity to do extra research beyond the material provided by Dr. Rogers and to find resources which help add to the information available. In the rest of this newsletter you will hear from other Interns as they relate their experiences as part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project.
My work with the Joseph Smith Papers Project has consisted of two principal responsibilities. The first has been to update bibliographies to be used by Joseph Smith Papers researchers over the next several years and that will contribute to the bibliographies used in upcoming volumes. The bibliographies I started with came from circa 1992, so my historiographical research has covered the last twenty years of scholarly contributions. My second responsibility has been to work on context files which form the basis for glossary entries in the JSPP volumes. These context files are one of the most theologically interesting (and challenging) parts of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. My experience has been both intellectually compelling and professionally constructive. Early in the semester I had the opportunity to read several scholarly articles that explained the context and mission of the project and in some cases covered the specific area I researched in my bibliographic work. I also had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Professor Royal Skousen on his Book of Mormon research—definitely one of the highlights of my experience this semester. Working with Mark Ashhurt-McGee has been quite valuable to me when it comes to being precise and organized in my research. My experience here has given me the benefit of learning a concise methodological approach to history, especially when it comes to citations, and organization and digitization of historical sources.
Scott With his Supervisor
Working under the direction of Robin Jensen, the head archivist on the Joseph Smith Papers Project, has helped me to develop analytical and writing skills. Working in this office setting was intimidating at first which allowed me to face my fears by experiencing something new and exciting to prepare me for other larger job opportunities in the future. In the internship I have received various training such as working with websites, handling documents, formatting documents using x-metal pub-man and primo and understanding and using microfilm. I have had the opportunity to work with many documents such as the Newel K. Whitney store day book, the William Law account book, the Nauvoo Land book and Joseph Smith’s journals. I have gone through each of these documents to record and connect the sources that indicate Joseph Smith’s activities. This was done in order to keep a record and complete with fact checking so that the Joseph Smith papers can be accurately published. I was assigned a cubicle where I worked at a computer in order to complete these various assignments given to me by Robin Jensen and his assistant Sharalyn Howcroft, who gave me one on one training. As I worked on these assignments I learned the correct procedures of handling and preserving documents while keeping a proper record. This will benefit me in the future as I am considering a career in archival studies. While participating in this project I learned about the operations of a long term project and the immense time and care taken to publish an adequate work. I understand the importance of tracking details and then making them available to the public. I have learned much about the life and legacy of Joseph Smith and his associates and I feel closer to them. I have learned about the Joseph Smith papers with the 20 volumes the project intends to publish with various series and how I can benefit from this. Working on the Joseph Smith papers was educational and spiritual and I feel more confidence to face the future.
Elsie in her Cubicle
Since I am the first Family History student to ever participate in this internship for credit, this has been quite a unique experience. I have to start out by saying that I am by no means a computer- or web-savvy person. The Joseph Smith Papers Project just happened to be looking for a few people willing to work on the web development side of their project, and I was one of those willing to do it! And even though I am about to graduate, I had no idea that this web developing internship could apply so well to family history! Pretty much, a web developer helps to prepare documents to enter the web and also helps control problems with the Joseph Smith website (www.josephsmithpapers.org). Before web content is released to the public, the interns go through each new page of the website to make sure the text and images are correct and that there are no major problems. For my part of this internship, I am constantly working on one big project or another. Aside from checking web content, the major projects I have participated in so far include: working with document transcriptions in an XML program, text verification, comparing biographies of family members to make sure there are no discrepancies, and preparing a list of less-common names to provide a starting point for their biographies. And how does this all apply to family history? Here’s how. Right now I am also taking Hist 434 – Computers in Family Historical Research and Publication. In this class, we are learning how to use computer programs and the web to publish our research; and this is exactly what I am helping the JSPP do! This is a huge church history project that has everything to do with family history. Because of this internship, I am learning great and interesting ways to create, publish, and maintain a family history website! That is how this internship applies to my major! This internship is a great experience that every history and family history major should want to participate in.
Angela: Our first Family History Intern!
When I first get to the Church History Center I would check in with Joseph Darowski, my coordinator to see what he had planned for the day. I would then go see Julia Woodbury to get folders that contained biographies or geographical biographies, usually called bios and geos. On these I would generally be doing a few different things with. At first I was just seeing if we could find better primary or secondary sources for the information. This called on looking at the sources that the secondary and compiled sources used that we then used. After a little while I was also taking the bios and geos from Pubman, their site that holds all the data, sources, writings, etc. and putting them in XMetal and then putting links and sources to show up on the website once ready. At some point in the day I would also stop by Larry Morris and see if he needed any proof reading for Docs 1, the upcoming book to be published. This usually entailed looking at the historical introduction. In the afternoon I would do second level verifying with Joseph, which has been reading from the actual document or the pictures of it while the other would check the format and wording in XMetal.
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My experience with the Joseph Smith Papers Project has been fulfilling academically and religiously. As an undergraduate history student I have had countless scholastic experiences that have helped me grow as a historian, however my student internship with the Church History Department has been unrivaled in that they have allowed me to fully apply my skills and knowledge. This semester I have interned for Dr. Mike MacKay, who is the joint editor of the Documents volumes that will be included in the Joseph Smith Papers Project. My first project under Dr. MacKay was source compiling for the future volume of Documents 3. There had been past historians who had written up prototype backgrounds and summaries of the documents, which acted as our starting point. I compiled folders of electronic copies of all the source material that could be usable in the future editions of Documents 3. It was the perfect job for a new intern to do, because it allowed me to get familiar with the material, but it also allowed me to gain competency with many online databases and on-site archives. After spending a few weeks becoming acquainted with the project thorough source compiling, I was given two main projects to work on for the remainder of my internship. I assisted Dr. MacKay work on the chronology and dating of the Articles and Covenants, an early founding document of the church that now resembles Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants. My specific duty was to date the different versions of the Articles and Covenants by matching the Book of Mormon quotes in the text to the different editions of the Book of Mormon (i.e. printer’s manuscript or 1830 edition). My last project for the internship has been working with Emma Smith’s narrative of the Book of Mormon translation and the use of seer stones. Emma’s narrative is unique from the countless other witnesses or believers, so I have been asked to provide some critical analysis of her statements and write up a summary report of them. Overall, I have enjoyed the fascinating content involved with the Joseph Smith Papers Project, but I have specifically enjoyed learning from renowned historians who have helped me progress as a student.
WAITING FOR ENTRY
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