Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Joseph Smith Papers -- Impressions and Reflections No. 2

One of the unique features of The Joseph Smith Papers publications is the simultaneous publication of the documents online on the Joseph Smith Papers Project Website. The Rights and Use Information for the Website is extremely restrictive. Even as a practicing attorney, I had to think for some time about whether or not to even comment on the publications in fear of violating the restrictions. I will proceed with my commentary but will avoid using any of the material from the Website directly. Where necessary for understanding, I will refer to either the pages of the physical books or refer the reader to Website for further review. Normally, I would use short quotes from the source Website in my commentary, but in this case, given the restrictive nature of the use policy, I will refrain from quotes of any of the materials contained in the supplementary writing, not directly from the historical sources.

The entire transcription process will be contained in thirty volumes. The publication schedule proposed two volumes per year beginning in 2008. However, it is now 2009 and the second volume was just published. I may not live long enough to see the end of this project, or what is more likely, I may not have enough money at the end of the project to purchase the volumes or have the eyesight or understanding left to read them.

One of my concerns in starting such a project, a commentary on books to be published, is that the material may be so specialized as to lack general interest. However, the subject, Joseph Smith, is of such importance that all of the materials will likely have relevance no matter how obscure the documents may be. Another concern is whether I can keep going on such a project, long enough to cover the material. That remains to be seen. Hopefully, the use restrictions are not so onerous as to make me lose interest in the project altogether.

So here is goes. My commentary of impressions and reflections on The Joseph Smith Papers.

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