Tracking down the First Vision

When was the First Vision actually written down? When was it published? When was it known throughout the world?

Timeline for the First Vision Publications

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Lucy and some of her children joined the Presbyterian Church after Alvin died (November 1823). If the family knew about the first vision, why would they join a false church?


Sept. 25, 1824

Joseph Smith Sr. Newspaper - X


March 20, 1826

Court Trial for Treasure Digging - X Joseph Sr. implies that he wishes the Lord would reveal himself to Joseph


June 1828

Joseph Smith’s name appears in the Sunday School list for the Methodist sect - X this is contrary to the First Vision account


April 6, 1829

Agreement with Issac Hale - X


June 1829

Articles of the Church of Christ - X


Sept. 22, 1829/ Aug. 27, 1829

“Golden Bible” Palmyra Freeman - X “visited in a dream by the Almighty”


Oct. 22, 1829

Letter to Oliver Cowdery - X


March 1830

1830 Edition of The Book of Mormon - X* no mention of the First Vision; “Mary is the mother of God” and other trinitarian  language throughout the entire book


April 6, 1830/May 21, 1830

“Blasphemy the Book of Mormon” - X


April 1830

Articles and Covenants (v. 1) - X Canonized scripture with no mention of the First Vision


June 2, 1830

The Fredonia Censor (From the Wayne co. Republican) - X “He pretended that he had been entrusted by God with a golden bible”


Summer of 1830

Revelation Book 1 - X


August 28, 1830

Letter to Colesville Saints (v. 1) - X


Dec. 2, 1830

Letter to Colesville Saints - X “The Lord’s appearing is nigh at hand”


Dec. 8, 1830

Buffalo Journal & General Advertiser [Published again on Dec. 29, 1830 in Brockport Free Press] -  X “enabled by supernatural powers to translate”


December 25, 1830

The Gem “Book of Mormon” [Published again on Jan. 5, 1831 in Brockport Free Press] - X


Dec. 28, 1830

The Rochester Republican “Book of Mormon" - X


Dec. 28, 1830

Buffalo Patriot (From the Ontario Messenger) - X


January 6, 1831

Lucy’s Letter to Solomon Mack - X * she says that Joseph, after repenting of his sins, was visited by an angel and was given power to translate the golden plates


May 31, 1831

Lockport Balance - X “Smith pretended to have been directed, in a dream or vision, to a certain spot located …”


June 29, 1831

Jamestown Journal “Progress of Mormonism” - X they quote Martin Harris as having seen Jesus and the Devil, but not Joseph?


Sept. 6, 1831

Buffalo Patriot “Mormonism” - X


Oct. 15, 1831

Daily Albany Argus - X “visited by an angel”


Dec. 7, 1831

Jamestown Journal “The Mormon Delusion” - X “...and that Smith is able to hold converse with celestial spirits whenever he pleases”


March 7, 1832 

The Fredonia Censor “Mormonism” - X “Having repented of his sins, but not attached himself to any part of Christians, owing to the numerous divisions among them, and being in doubt what his duty was, he had recourse prayer. After retiring to bed one night, he was visited by an Angel and directed to proceed to a hill…”


Oct. 1832

Peter Bauder Interview with Joseph Smith - X * He says the interview took place in 1830. “he could give me no christian experience” - talks about the angel



Book of Commandments (started in 1832 and earlier, published in 1833) - X



Circa, Summer 1832 (July, Aug, Sept) - ✔ Joseph first writes down his first vision account. He sees only Christ. This version was hidden in the church’s vault for years and seems to have been unknown throughout the membership of the Church.



Mormonism Unveiled by E.D.Howe - X (story of monkey and angel)



Recorded by Warren Parish  - ✔ This is the second incident of the first vision being recorded



Mormonism Exposed Internally and Externally by Origen Bacheler - X



An Antidote to Mormonism: A Warning to the Church and Nation; the Purity of Christian Principles Defended; and Truth Disentangled from Error and Delusion by James M’Chesney - X



Recorded by Mulholland and Thompson - ✔ This is the third incident of the first vision being recorded. This is the most well known account. It was not published until 1842.



Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions by Orson Pratt - ✔ published as a pamphlet, there is no publication date on the book itself. It was published in Scotland. (There is no date on the pamphlet itself, I'm not sure how the church is dating this document as 1840)



An Exposure on Mormonism: Being a statement of facts to the self-styled “Latter Day Saints” and the origin of the Book of Mormon by Richard Livesey - Unknown



Times & Seasons, The Wentworth Letter - ✔ Published in 1842



The History of the Saints, or, An exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism by John C. Bennett - X Even though Bennett served in the First Presidency as an assistant, his book makes no mention of the first vision. 



A Cry out of the Wilderness (Originally in German: Ein Ruf aus der Wuste) by Orson Hyde - ✔



Mormonism Exposed: In which is shown the monstrous Imposture, the Blasphemy, and the Wicked Tendency of that Enormous Delusion, Advocated by a Professedly Religious Sect Calling Themselves “Latter Day Saints” by La Roy Sunderland - X Sunderland makes no reference to any first vision or the angel Moroni.



Lucy Mack Smith History - X The original oral rough draft has no mention of the First Vision. Instead an angel named Nephi comes and tells Joseph that all the churches are wrong -gold plates.



Mormonism: An exposure of the impositions adopted by the sect called “The Latter-day Saints” by Francis Busteed Ashley - X



Fruits of Mormonism by Nelson Slatter - X



Mormonism Exploded, or, The religion of the Latter-day Saints proved to be a system of imposture, blasphemy and immorality with the autobiography and portrait of the author by Andrew Belfour Hepburn - ✔



Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young [Brigham Young, JoD 2.171] - X “The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven … but He did send his angel to this obscure person, Joseph Smith jun...informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong.


Journal of Discourses, Wilford Woodruff  [Wilford Woodruff, JoD 2.196-197] - X “How did it [the Restoration] come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God, out of heaven...he told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world ...Joseph was strengthened by the Spirit and power of God, and was enabled to listen to the teachings of the angel.. The man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel.”



Journal of Discourses, Hebe C Kimball [Heber C. Kimball, JoD 6.29] - X “Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come himself? No: he sent Moroni and told him there was a record…”



Journal of Discourses, George A. Smith [George A. Smith, JoD 12.334] - X Joseph “saw clearly that something was wrong”; reference to James 1:5 “..the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong, -they had all gone astray, transgressed the laws, … Joseph, feeling that to make known such a vision would be to subject himself to the ridicule of all around him, knew not what to do. But the vision was repeated several times, and in these repetitions he was instructed to communicate that which he had seen to his father.”


June 1957

S. Dilworth Young (First Quorum of Seventy) Improvement Era [After learning about the different First Vision accounts he says:] “This rather shocked me. I can see no reason why the Prophet, with his brilliant mind, would have failed to remember in sharp relief every detail of that eventful day. [He talks about his own dream forty-two years ago with perfect clarity]...How then could any man conceive that the Prophet, receiving such a vision as he received, would not remember it and would fail to write it clearly, distinctly, and accurately?”


If you are aware of other sources that I have not included, please email me at

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