Mormon Handbook


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Timeline of Key Events

1805 —
Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont. He was the fifth of eleven children born to Lucy Mack Smith and Joseph Smith, Sr.
*1820, Spring —
First Vision
Joseph claims that at age 14 he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and was told not to join any church as all were corrupt.
*1823, Sept. 21 —
Angel Moroni
Joseph claims that at age 17 he saw an angel named Moroni, who told him of an ancient record engraved on gold plates, buried in a nearby hill. The angel visits him once a year, for five years, until Joseph was allowed to translate the plates.
1827 —
Emma Hale
Joseph elopes and marries Emma Hale.
*1829, May 15 —
Joseph and Oliver Cowdery claim that John the Baptist conferred upon them the Aaronic priesthood.
1830 —
Book of Mormon, Church of Christ
Joseph publishes his translation of the plates as the Book of Mormon, which he says is “another testament of Jesus Christ”. He also founds the Church of Christ.
1833 —
Book of Commandments
Joseph collects his revelations and publishes them as the Book of Commandments, later renamed Doctrine and Covenants.
1835 —
Joseph marries his second wife, Fanny Alger, who at the time was a teenager working in the Smith home. Over the next nine years until his death, he would have as many as 49 wives.
1835 —
Doctrine and Covenants
Doctrine and Covenants published with several revelations altered from the originals in the Book of Commandments. Section 101 prohibiting polygamy introduced.
1838 —
Church name change
The church changes its name to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
1842 —
Book of Abraham
Book of Abraham published. It introduces new doctrines of the cosmos (Kolob), exaltation, premortal life, polytheism, and prooftext for denying Blacks the priesthood. Abraham 1:21-27
1843 —
D&C, Section 132
Joseph gives a revelation authorizing polygamy. It warns that if his wife Emma rejects it “she shall be destroyed”. D&C 132:54
1844 —
Joseph orders a newspaper press critical of his polygamy to be destroyed. In response, the Governor of Illinois has him arrested and put in jail. An angry mob storms the jail and kills Joseph and his brother Hyrum.
1847 —
Utah Migration
Those who sided with Brigham Young as Joseph’s successor follow him to the Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah.
1852 —
Polygamy admitted
At a special general conference, the church publicly admits the practice of polygamy.
1890 —
The Manifesto
Under pressure by the federal government, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth Mormon prophet, issues a manifesto prohibiting the practice of polygamy.
1904 —
Second Manifesto
In response to continued polygamy within the church, Joseph F. Smith, the sixth Mormon prophet, issues a second manifesto threatening excommunication for members practicing polygamy.
1978 —
Priesthood ban
The church lifts its ban on denying Blacks its priesthood.
Today The LDS church has over 16 million members and 60,000 missionaries worldwide. About 6 in 10 of its membership is outside the United States.
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