Church History
Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources: Oliver Cowdery

Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources: Oliver Cowdery, Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources (2021)

Oliver Cowdery, Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources (2021)

Oliver Cowdery


Photograph of Oliver Cowdery

Oliver Cowdery, ca. 1845, daguerreotype, copy by Coe studio, 1883, Church History Library, PH 1700 3773.

Oliver Cowdery was born in Wells, Vermont, in 1806. He was working as a schoolmaster in Manchester, New York, when he met the Smith family. In 1829, he began assisting Joseph Smith with the translation of the Book of Mormon in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and was recipient of several revelations during that time (Doctrine and Covenants 6–9). During the translation, Cowdery was baptized and received priesthood authority (Doctrine and Covenants 13), and later that year he was one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon (Doctrine and Covenants 17). He was present when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized on 6 April 1830. Several early revelations were directed in whole or in part to Cowdery (Doctrine and Covenants 18; 23:1–2; 2426). In September 1830, he was called by revelation to “go unto the Lamanites [Native Americans] and preach my gospel unto them” (Doctrine and Covenants 28:8; see also Doctrine and Covenants 32). In compliance with this revelation, during the winter of 1830–1831, Cowdery led a group of missionaries to modern-day Kansas. For nearly two years he resided in Jackson County, Missouri, where he helped oversee the Church’s printing operations (Doctrine and Covenants 57:13; see also section 69). In December 1832, he married Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, a daughter of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman Whitmer. In September 1833, they moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where Cowdery was appointed assistant president of the Church, served on the Kirtland high council (Doctrine and Covenants 102:3), and helped edit several Church periodicals. He and his family moved to Far West, Missouri, in 1837, but Cowdery was excommunicated and expelled the following year. In 1848, Cowdery requested and received readmission to the Church in Kanesville, Iowa.

References in the Doctrine and Covenants

Doctrine and Covenants 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 47, 52, 53, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 66, 68, 69, 70, 102, 104, 106, 110, 111124