Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, December 15, 2014

FamilySearch adds link to Joseph Smith Papers has created yet another new website, the Joseph Smith Papers/Family Search website will allow users of to search the Joseph Smith Papers for mentions of their ancestors. Here is a screenshot of the new website:

An announcement of the new website appears in the LDSChurch News Section of the Desert News for 12 December 2014 in an article entitled, "Joseph Smith papers project and FamilySearch" (actually there is a typo in the article title and Joseph is misspelled as "Jospeh). It is always comforting to know I am not the only person in the world that makes typographical errors. This website joins another one previously announced called, "Sacrifice, Faith and Miracles" with information provided by the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website. Unfortunately, this website is down until the first quarter of 2015 for maintenance. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should also be aware of the Brigham Young University, Immigrant Ancestors Project that uses emigration registers to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants in their native countries, which is not found in the port registers and naturalization documents in the destination countries.

I am guessing that very few members of the Church are aware of these valuable research websites. There is no central place where they are all listed.

The FamilySearch Joseph Smith Papers website has an alphabetical listing of the people mentioned in the records. Here is a screenshot of the list:

One of my ancestors is mention both in the LDSChurch News article and in the website itself. The article states:
“The majority of the papers that were written by the Prophet Joseph Smith or written on his behalf, were about people,” said Reid L. Neilson, managing director of the Church History Department. “These people have living descendants. Now you can see how your ancestor once interacted with the Prophet of the Restoration.” 
FamilySearch patron Ben Godfrey was able to make several family discoveries for his fourth great-grandfather, John Tanner. In the Joseph Smith Papers online, Brother Godfrey was able to confirm a family story that John Tanner had made a generous financial donation to the Church that helped prevent foreclosure on the mortgage for the Kirtland Temple block. In another entry, Brother Godfrey discovered that John Tanner was severely beaten by angry mobs in Far West, Missouri. 
“Seeing the sacrifices that John Tanner made inspired me as his descendant. It gives me courage to face the daily challenges in my own life and to understand how we might be the answer to another person’s prayers,” said Brother Godfrey.
Personally, I find it very sad that a descendant of John Tanner would be learning about these stories from a FamilySearch website for the first time. I grew up with the stories of John Tanner and was had access to several books with these accounts when I was very young.

Not much is said in the article about the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Here is a screenshot of the website:

Ironically, all of this information about John Tanner is listed as sources in's Family Tree program. Additionally, all of these accounts are already attached to John Tanner's entry in the Family Tree. Here is a screenshot showing the entries available:

But it should be noted that many of the descendants of those whose stories appear in the Joseph Smith Papers may not be so fortunate. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on John Tanner. Here are several other John Tanner links:

There are literally thousands of references to John Tanner online. Maybe this link to the Joseph Smith Papers from will inspire some to investigate the stories of their ancestors.

1 comment:

  1. The direct links to the primary sources are convenient. One of the great things about the Joseph Smith Papers project is it allows someone to dig around more easily to get the context of events from ancestors' lives by reading the surrounding material.

    One other thing: "Brother Godfrey was able to confirm a family story that John Tanner had made a generous financial donation to the Church that helped prevent foreclosure on the mortgage for the Kirtland Temple block"

    It sounds like he had heard the stories but that he was excited to read the primary sources that were direct evidence of John Tanner's donations, at least that's how I read that part.