We are excited that editors Matthew Grow and Eric Smith as well as contributors Richard Bennett, Jedediah Rogers, Matthew Godfrey, Spencer McBride, Christopher Blythe and Jeffrey Mahas will be here Wednesday, September to speak about and sign copies of their new book, The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History (published by the Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book). They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

Three months before his death, Joseph Smith established the Council of Fifty; a confidential group that he believed would protect the Latter-day Saints in their political rights and one day serve as the government of the kingdom of God. The Council of Fifty operated under the leadership of Joseph Smith and then Brigham Young. The council’s minutes had never been available until they were published by the Joseph Smith Papers in September 2016. This book is a compilation of essays that will give an initial appraisal of how the council’s minutes enhance our understanding of Mormon history during the critical era of the last months of Smith’s life to the trek west. Some fifteen leading Mormon scholars—including Richard Bushman, Richard Bennett, Paul Reeve, and Patrick Mason—narrate and analyze the contributions of the records of the council to key questions.

The essays included are:

  1. Richard Bushman, “The Separatist Impulse in the Nauvoo Council of Fifty”
  2. Richard E. Turley Jr., “Injustices Leading to the Creation of the Council of Fifty”
  3. Spencer W. McBride, “The Council of Fifty and Joseph Smith’s Presidential Ambitions”
  4. Patrick Mason, “God and the People Reconsidered: Further Reflections on Theodemocracy in Early Mormonism”
  5. Benjamin E. Park, “The Council of Fifty and the Perils of Democratic Governance”
  6. Nathan B. Oman, “’We the People of the Kingdom of God’: Constitution Writing in the Council of Fifty”
  7. Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, “Lost Teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Other Church Leaders”
  8. R. Eric Smith, “Insights into Mormon Record-Keeping Practices from the Council of Fifty Minutes”
  9. Matthew J. Grow and Marilyn Bradford, “’To Carry Out Joseph’s Measures Is Sweeter to Me Than Honey’: Brigham Young and the Council of Fifty”
  10. Jeffrey D. Mahas, “American Indians and the Nauvoo-Era Council of Fifty”
  11. Matthew C. Godfrey, “A Monument of the Saints’ Industry: The Nauvoo House and the Council of Fifty, 1845–46 141”
  12. Christopher James Blythe, “With Full Authority to Build Up the Kingdom of God on Earth”: Lyman Wight on the Council of Fifty 151
  13. Richard E. Bennett, “’We Are a Kingdom to Ourselves’: The Council of Fifty Minutes and the Mormon Exodus West”
  14. Jedediah S. Rogers, “The Council of Fifty in Western History”
  15. W. Paul Reeve, “The Council of Fifty and the Search for Religious Liberty”


“An excellent and up-to-date study of the Council of Fifty, a must-read for anyone interested in Mormon and American history.”

–Andrew H. Hedges, Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, and Coeditor of Journals 2 and Journals 3 of The Joseph Smith Papers

Matthew J. Grow is Director of Publications at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers.

Eric Smith is the editorial manager for the Publications Division, Church History Department. In that role, he edits print and web publications for the Church Historian’s Press, including publications of the Joseph Smith Papers.


The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History. Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book, 2017. Hardback. 206pp. $21.99.


Other titles by Matthew J. Grow

The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History. Church Historian’s Press, 2016. Hardback. $49.95

From the Outside Looking In: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture. Oxford University Press, 2015. Paperback. $35.00

Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism. Oxford University Press, 2011. Hardback. $36.95

The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young & Thomas L. Kane. Oxford University Press, 2015. Reg. $39.99, SALE $9.99

Other titles by Matthew J. Grow and Jeffrey D. Mahas

The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records, Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844-January 1846. Church Historian’s Press, 2016. Hardback. $59.95

Other titles by Richard Bennett

An Eye of Faith: Essays in Honor of Richard O. Cowan. Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book, 2015. $29.99

Far Away In the West: Reflections on the Mormon Pioneer Trail. Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book, 2015. Hardback. $27.99

Mormons at the Missouri: Winter Quarters, 1846-1852. University of Oklahoma Press, 1987. Paperback.  Various used paperback and hardback copies, $12-$35

The Nauvoo Legion in Illinois: A History of the Mormon Militia 1841-1846. Arthur H. Clark Company, 2010. Hardback. $39.99

School of the Prophet: Joseph Smith Learns the First Principles, 1820-1830. Deseret Book Company, 2010. Reg. $21.99, SALE $3.99

We’ll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846-1848. University of Oklahoma Press, 2009. Paperback. $21.95

Other titles by Jedediah Rogers

The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2014. Hardback. $49.95

Other titles by Matthew Godfrey

The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, vols. 2, 3, 4. The Church Historian’s Press. Hardback. $54.95/ea


Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional (USPS)–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax

One Response to Evening with the Authors–The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History (Sep 6)

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