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Emma Hale Smith certificate of guardianship

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 5941

Scope and Contents

Handwritten certificate, dated 3 May 1847, establishing Emma's guardianship of the Smith children: Julia, Joseph, Frederick, and Alexander; includes Emma's signature.


  • 1847 May 3


Conditions Governing Access

Original restricted. Photocopy available for public use.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Emma Hale Smith certificate of guardianship must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical note

Emma Hale Smith (1804-1879) was the first Relief Society President in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the wife of the Church's founder and first prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr.

Emma Hale Smith was born in 1804 at Willingborough Township (later Harmony), Susquehanna, Pennsylvania to parents Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. As a child she was well educated and physically active. She was a member of the Methodist Church, but later was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Oliver Cowdrey in 1830. She married Joseph Smith, Jr. on January 18, 1827, in New York. Together they had eleven children, six of whom died early deaths. She was with Joseph Smith on the night he obtained the records from which The Book of Mormon was translated and she even assisted him as a scribe during part of the translation.

Emma was a prominent member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, being called "an elect lady" in a revelation canonized in Latter-day Saint scripture. She was the editor of "A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints", published in 1835 and later became the first Relief Society president in 1842. Much of her married life was characterized by moving around the eastern United States to escape from mobs that sought the lives of her family members and there were periods where she took care of her children on her own while Joseph was imprisoned. Finally, when Joseph Smith was murdered in June 1844, she stayed in Nauvoo while the rest of the members of the Church went West. She married Lewis Crum Bidamon, was affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints, and lived in Nauvoo, Illinois, for the rest of her life.

Emma Smith died on April 20, 1879, in the Nauvoo House in Nauvoo, Illinois.


1 folder (0.05 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

This document was previously housed with Vault MSS 432. In the process of creating the Joseph Smith exhibit, it was determined that this item should be separately catalogued.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; 1979.


LDS cultural, social, and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts collection development policy IV.a.i.1, November 2013).

Processing Information

Updated for DACS compliance; Ryan K. Lee; 2018 July 5

Register of Emma Hale Smith certificate of guardianship
Benjamin Sipes
2011 June 24
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States