Church History
Doctrine and Covenants 121–123

Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources: Doctrine and Covenants 121–123,Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources (2020)

Doctrine and Covenants 121–123, Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources

Doctrine and Covenants 121–123

Black and white photo of a small, crude brick building

Liberty Jail, located in Liberty, Missouri, USA. Joseph Smith dictated inspired letters while being held as a prisoner here in March 1839. Excerpts from the letters were later canonized as sections 121–123 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Photograph by J.T. Hicks, ca. 1878. Church History Library, PH 1031.


Historical background and the earliest manuscript of each revelation, as published in The Joseph Smith Papers

Letter to the Church and Edward Partridge, 20 March 1839

In the Clay County, Missouri, jail on 20 March 1839, Joseph Smith dictated a letter addressed to Bishop Edward Partridge; church members in Quincy, Illinois; and the Saints “scattered abroad.” The letter was the second general epistle Joseph Smith directed to the church while in the jail, with the first missive composed on 16 December 1838. More …

Photograph of a manuscript letter.

Letter to the Church and Edward Partridge, 20 March 1839.

Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, circa 22 March 1839

Doctrine and Covenants 122 and 123 comprise excerpts from Joseph Smith’s circa 22 March 1839 letter, which is also excerpted in Doctrine and Covenants 121. More …


Biographical facts and historical images of individuals associated with the revelations

Historical Background

Revelations in Context

Essays on the background of each revelation

Within the Walls of Liberty Jail

D&C 121, 122, 123

On December 1, 1838, a Latter-day Saint named Caleb Baldwin was incarcerated in the lower level of Liberty Jail in Clay County, Missouri, on charges of “crimes of High Treason.” His prison companions included members of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More …

Photograph of iron bars

Iron window bars from Liberty Jail, Church History Museum.

Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days

Narrative history of events surrounding the revelations

Volume 1, Chapter 31

How Will This End?

As promised, General Doniphan’s forces were gone the next morning. Rather than execute Joseph and the other prisoners, General Lucas ordered his men to escort them to his headquarters in Jackson County. More …

Photograph of a rifle

Rifle carried by David W. Patten as he attempted to free three hostages held by renegade Missouri militiamen. The rescue succeeded, but Patten was killed in the effort.

Rifle owned by David W. Patten, ca. early 19th century, maple, metal, silver, Church History Museum.

Volume 1, Chapter 33

O God, Where Art Thou?

The days dragged on for the prisoners in the Liberty jail. By the end of winter, the number of letters and friendly visitors to the prison had dropped sharply as the Saints fled to Illinois, leaving the prisoners feeling even more isolated. More …

While Joseph wrestled with the Lord, the apostles in Quincy had an important—and potentially life-threatening—decision to make. More …

Photograph of a part of a mill wheel.

Face wheel fragment from Jacob Hawn’s gristmill along Shoal Creek in Caldwell County, Missouri, the site of a brutal attack on the Saints.

Face wheel, Hawn’s Mill, 1835, iron, Church History Museum.

Church History Topics

Essays on subjects related to the revelations

Amanda Barnes Smith

19th-century photo and white photo of a middle-aged woman, seated, in a dark dress.

Amanda Barnes Smith.

Church History Library, PH 5962.

Amanda Barnes Smith (1809–86) is best known in early Latter-day Saint history for receiving inspiration that helped her nurse her wounded son, Alma, back to full health after the 1838 massacre at Hawn’s Mill. More …

American Legal and Political Institutions

The system of government established in the United States was unusual and widely seen as experimental. More …


In 1838, Joseph Smith and other Church members fled from mobs in Ohio and moved to Missouri. More …

Extermination Order

The “extermination order” refers to an executive order signed by Lilburn W. Boggs, the governor of Missouri during the Mormon-Missouri War of 1838. More …

Hawn’s Mill Massacre

Jacob Hawn was one of the first settlers along Shoal Creek in northwestern Missouri. More …

Mormon-Missouri War of 1838

The Mormon-Missouri War was an armed conflict between the Latter-day Saints and other citizens of northern Missouri in the fall of 1838. More …

Quincy, Illinois, Settlement

The city of Quincy, Illinois, is best known in Latter-day Saint history as a point of relocation for Latter-day Saint refugees after their expulsion from Missouri in 1839. More …


Throughout the 1830s and 1840s in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, the Latter-day Saints experienced significant persecution and harassment at the hands of mobs. More …


Maps and information about places associated with the revelations from The Joseph Smith Papers, Historic Sites, and other helpful sources


Timeline placing each revelation in the context of key events in the Church’s first century

View the chronology …