Joseph Smith Papers Project TV Show (Sitcom?)

By October 27, 2007

I got word that a tv ad ran on KJZZ featuring a soundbite from Elder Marlin Jensen advertizing a tv program about the Joseph Smith Papers.  A tv listing here shows that on Nov. 5, at 7 pm a one hour show is to air (the site shows the current listing, you have to use the drop down menu to get to Nov. 5).  Does anyone have any more information on this?  This appears to be Larry H. Miller’s TV station. 

Second issue:

Here’s a 2005 blast from the past about the Papers and Larry H. Miller’s role.

The article states the following:

 “The project earned a major stamp of scholarly approval last year when it was endorsed by a division of the National Archives, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.”

 I’ve heard expressions of the hope that this project will be similar to the Hamilton or Jefferson Papers.  I wonder if the JSP will really attain that kind of scholarly acceptance the Jefferson Papers enjoys without being seated or printed at a University.  Questions about where the project is housed as well as its funding source, whether everything was placed in the volumes that should be might keep skeptics furrowing their brows.  Does it matter whether it attains that status? 

Whether accepted fully or not, one thing that is interesting is that it appears that the first volume of the Jefferson Papers appeared in 1950.  Now, 57 years later, Volume 33 is out.  Even though JS’s papers are not as voluminous as Thomas Jefferson’s, we may yet be in for a long wait before we get the whole series out. 


  1. Jared,

    Thanks for the heads up on this. I’ve heard that the program will feature Elder Marlin Jensen, Church Historian, quite prominently, but I haven’t heard much beyond that. I think this is a good sign that we may be nearing the publication of the first volume of the JSP.

    I agree that the lack of a University press might hurt the project’s credibility, but hopefully the scholarly editing and annotation will boost that credibility once the first volume is published.

    Comment by Christopher — October 27, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  2. Jared: Fascinating tidbit about the JSP Days of Our Lives. I’ll have to check it out.

    I think you’re right that being printed by a university press is crucial right now. Supposedly they’re working on that, but my friends on the project have sworn a blood oath not to discuss it with outsiders. We’ll see.

    As for who funds it, I don’t think that’ll be as big of a deal for academics as it is for the Signature Book/Sunstone crowd. The project has a national board comprised of well-respected (non-Mormon) academics that will help other academics see it as top-notch. I think in the end, assuming that they get a good press, it will be the ability and talent of the editors themselves that will define whether or not the Joseph Smith papers meets the standards of the Hamilton or Jefferson Papers.

    Comment by David Grua — October 27, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

  3. Here’s an informal history of the project.

    Comment by David Grua — October 27, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  4. Chris: as for our scholarly editing and annotation, we need to get rid of those silly toe-notes first…

    Comment by benjaminp — October 27, 2007 @ 1:43 pm

  5. David, could you elaborate on the national board comprised of non-Mormon academics and what their role is? Thanks.

    Comment by mormonhistory1830 — October 27, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

  6. I don’t know all the names of those involved, but I know that Harry Stout (Yale), Stephen Stein (Indiana; Jonathan Edwards Papers), Jan Shipps (Indiana), and Mary Jo Kline (one of the leading experts on doc editing) are all involved, as well as Bushman. They oversee the editors and ensure that everything is proceeding according to professional standards. I think they will also work with the press (whoever that will be).

    Comment by David Grua — October 27, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  7. Has anyone heard any word about pricing for the volumes? I’ve checked the Papers of George Washington volumes, for example, and they go for $85 a volume.

    Comment by Justin — October 27, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  8. Justin: I don’t know anything specific about the pricing, but from what I understand they (Ron Esplin and crew) want to make these volumes affordable to ordinary LDS. Let’s hope that affordable means a lot less than $85.

    Comment by David Grua — October 27, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  9. While everybody is tight lipped, I heard recently that they expect to announce the publisher in a month or so. There was some interesting discussion on this at MHA this spring (definitely worth the download).

    I’m rather intrigued by the TV spot, though.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 27, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  10. Justin,

    I’ve heard rumors that customers will have the option of either hardback or leather-bound volumes, with the leather-bound costing around $100 and the hardback much less (around $45 or so).


    I too have heard the announcement of the publisher is in the near future. Let’s cross our fingers and hope it actually happens.

    Comment by Christopher — October 27, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  11. Now that I’ve looked at the prices for the Hamilton volumes, the Washington volumes seem to be a bargain.

    Comment by Justin — October 27, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

  12. Or The Works of Jonathan Edwards, with some volumes going for $160 on sale(!).

    Comment by Christopher — October 27, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  13. Hope you boys enjoy Tom’s free lunch 🙂

    Comment by Bret — October 27, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

  14. There is an interesting that makes it look like the Joseph Smith Papers Project is being prepared with the idea of making it eventually available over the internet.

    Comment by Keller — October 29, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

  15. The intent of the Joseph Smith Papers editors has long been to make them available over the internet. This was a major focus of my presentation at this year’s MHA conference.

    Comment by Jeffrey Cannon — October 30, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  16. Word on the TV show:,5143,695224615,00.html

    Comment by Jared — November 4, 2007 @ 9:48 am

  17. Someone please tell me that one of you is going to do a write up of the show. It is on in a half hour and I can find no access.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 5, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  18. I’m sure we can put something together for you.

    Comment by David Grua — November 5, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

  19. A write up is now available in a recent post:

    Comment by Jared — November 5, 2007 @ 10:58 pm


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