“New Web Site Features Joseph Smith’s Life, Mission,” Ensign, Oct. 2005, 78–79
The life and mission of Joseph Smith are the subjects of a new Church Web site featured at www.josephsmith.net. Presented in a multimedia format, the site is a compilation of history, art, and academic research about the Prophet’s life, the places he lived, and the events he influenced.
The Church has launched the site during the bicentennial year of the Prophet’s birth to increase members’ access to commentaries, testimonies, and artwork about the Prophet. Much of the information was previously unavailable online.
“Josephsmith.net takes the most authoritative statements about the role of the Prophet in restoring the gospel and consolidates them into one location,” said Steven Olsen, assistant managing director of the Church’s Family and Church History Department.
Content on the site is divided into five sections that detail Joseph Smith’s mission as a prophet to restore the Church, the historical events of his life, and comments from Joseph Smith’s contemporaries.
The “Mission of the Prophet” section includes information on seven important events and blessings of the Restoration, such as temples, the translation of the Book of Mormon, and the restoration of priesthood authority.
In the “Life of the Prophet” section, visitors can choose one of 14 categories describing time periods in Joseph’s life, including his call from God, his trials and persecutions, his marriage to Emma Smith, his role in temple building, and his Martyrdom.
The “Witnesses of the Prophet” section includes 45 testimonies, including statements from all 14 Presidents of the Church since Joseph Smith and testimonies from the present First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Sections contain six tabs that allow visitors to navigate extra resources: quotes about Restoration events from Joseph Smith and his contemporaries; responses on why each event is significant; and a list of further readings from the scriptures, Church curriculum, and academic papers. Each section also has a multimedia slide show displaying images of the Prophet’s letters or journal entries and artists’ depictions of Restoration events, places, and people.
Brother Olsen said the site is designed in multiple layers to allow members to research according to the degree of information they need. The site includes a topical search function to help visitors easily locate quotes or statements.
Josephsmith.net also features 21 virtual tours of Church history sites, including the Sacred Grove; the Peter Whitmer home, where the Church was organized in 1830; and the room at Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred in 1844. The virtual tours were included so that members who may never be able to visit the sites can see the locations of the Restoration.
The site, created by the Family and Church History Department, is just the beginning of attempts to increase members’ access to information from the Church’s library and historical archives.
Many of the scanned images of the Prophet’s original writings were available only upon special request at the Church archives in Salt Lake City. Previously, only a handful of authorized visitors saw these documents each year. Brother Olsen said he anticipates additional original-document images will be added to the site in the future.
“This is the best site to get information on the Prophet and his role in the Restoration,” said Brother Olsen.