Times and Seasons

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Times and Seasons was the name of a periodical run by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is often inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”) in Nauvoo, Illinois, in the mid-nineteenth century. It was printed from November 1839 to February 1846. For its first year, it was a monthly periodical, but it was then printed biweekly on about the 1st and 15th of each month.

Mormon history

Don Carlos Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s youngest brother, first published the newspaper with Ebenezer Robinson. Their purpose in doing so was to keep displaced Saints apprised of the “condition and Welfare of the Church” after the Saints’ expulsion from Missouri under the extermination order of Governor Boggs (Times and Seasons 1 [Nov. 1839]:16). Don Carlos and Ebenezer edited the newspaper, along with Robert Thompson at one time, until January 1842. Don Carlos and Thompson had both died and Robinson ran the paper for only a few issues, with Gustavus Hills, before deeding it to Joseph Smith (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Times and Seasons,”1992).

Times and Seasons served to publish all information related to the Church. This is quite broad ground to cover, and consequently Times and Seasons was a bit of a hodgepodge of information about Church news and history, obituaries, public announcements, mission reports of Church members and letters from missionaries, and notices of excommunicated members and their trial minutes. The newspaper’s editors also responded to slanderous accusations made by enemies of the Church in an attempt to make peace and establish good relationships with the general public.

In addition to Church news, Times and Seasons also kept up to date on world news and political and literary materials. Since it was published in Nauvoo, it also reported on community events. Perhaps the most valuable contribution Times and Seasons archives give us today is original reports of revelations and significant doctrine received by the Prophet Joseph Smith, including the translation of the Book of Abraham now found in the Pearl of Great Price (a book in the Mormon canon), early segments of the History of the Church, and what is now known as the Wentworth Letter, a document written by the Prophet Joseph Smith to an editor of a Chicago newspaper which outlines basic Mormon doctrine. Part of the contents of the Wentworth Letter is now known as the Articles of Faith, which is also part of the Mormon canon.

Times and Seasons was run by a few different editors. Joseph Smith oversaw it for seven months in 1842. John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, both of whom were serving as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and both of whom later served as presidents of the Church, were editors from late 1842 to April 1844. John Taylor then served as sole editor until February 15, 1846, the date of the last publication of Times and Seasons before the Saints left Nauvoo during the Mormon Exodus to the Salt Lake Valley (Crawley, Peter (2005), A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, Volume One 1830–1847, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, pp. 91–96).

The fourth of the Church’s periodicals, Times and Seasons followed The Evening and the Morning Star, published 1832–1834 in Independence, Missouri; Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, published 1834–1837 in Kirtland, Ohio; and Elders’ Journal, published 1837–1838 also in Kirtland, Ohio.