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Rules of behavior for youth

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: Vault MSS 293

Scope and Contents

Handwritten account of "rules of behavior." This item (2 pages) was likely written by Joseph Smith III, son of Joseph Smith, the founder and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was created in January 1845, about seven months after Joseph Smith, Jr. was killed. The rules are believed to be based on George Washington's "Rule of Civility."


  • Other: 1845


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to use material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Smith III was born on November 6, 1832, in Kirtland, Ohio, to Joseph and Emma Hale Smith. He moved with his parents to Far West, Missouri, in 1838, then to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1839 while his father was imprisoned. While in Nauvoo, Joseph III became a general of the junior Nauvoo militia.

After his father's death at Carthage (Illinois) Jail in June 1844, the majority of church members chose to follow Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles, who left Nauvoo in 1846. Due to a strained relationship with Young and the Apostles, the Smiths and some other families chose to recognize James J. Strang as church president and remained in Nauvoo.

Joseph III began to study and eventually practiced law. In 1856, he married Emmeline Griswold and they had five children. After Emmeline died of probable tuberculosis, he married their housekeeper, Bertha Madison, on November 12, 1869, with whom he had seven children. Bertha Madison Smith died from injuries sustained in a carriage accident in 1895. On January 12, 1898 Joseph Smith III wed Ada Rachel Clark of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and they had three sons.

By the early 1850s the midwestern Latter Day Saints who had followed Strang until he started practicing polygamy began to call for the need to establish a reorganization of the Church, and many believed Joseph III should be its head. Smith would not take on this mantle until he felt inspired to do so, which occurred at a conference in Amboy, Illinois on April 6, 1860, where, at age 28, he was sustained as president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church). During his time as president, Joseph III sought to distinguish the RLDS Church from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, particularly in his opposition to the doctrine and practice of plural marriage and other teachings from his father's later years in Nauvoo.

Joseph III moved from Nauvoo to Plano, Illinois, in 1866 where he took over editorship of "The Saint's Herald," and Plano became the headquarters of the RLDS Church. In 1881 he moved to Lamoni, Iowa, which then became the new headquarters for the church. In Smith's final years, members of the church began to move to Independence, Missouri, and Joseph III moved there in 1906, where he entered a state of semi-retirement. His son, Frederick, remained in Lamoni and took over active leadership of the church.

Joseph Smith III died on December 10, 1914, in Independence, Missouri.


1 folder (0.1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The original catalog records states that this item was found in William Huntington's diary. It is unclear if this is the referring to the journal found at Vault MSS 272.


The history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Mormonism (Mormon and Western American Manuscripts collection development policy, V.B.5.a, January 2020).

Processing Information

Updated; Ryan Lee; 2021.

Register of Rules of behavior for youth
Leslie Evens
2011 October 10
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