A Multiplicity of Witnesses: Women and the Translation Process


LDS women, translation, translation process, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints


Four women in early Church history—Mary Musselman Whitmer, Lucy Mack Smith, Lucy Harris, and Emma Hale Smith—played significant roles in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and offered their own witnesses of the plates’ reality. While their names and narratives are well known, scholars and members of the Church have largely overlooked their powerful and important contributions to the work of translation, since they were not a part of the official three or eight witnesses. This chapter addresses this gap in scholarship and historical memory by looking at a variety of sources (both those that are frequently cited and those that have been largely neglected) that recount these women’s experiences with the plates. It considers the various ways in which they came to know of the plates’ temporality and divinity and shows the multiplicity of witnesses that emerge when we privilege ways of knowing and seeing beyond the visual. Evaluating these women’s memories of and interactions with the plates helps us to understand better the translation process and the truly communal effort it required.

Original Publication Citation

“A Multiplicity of Witnesses: Women and the Book of Mormon Translation Process.” The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon: A Marvelous Word and a Wonder. Eds. Dennis L. Largey, Andrew H. Hedges, John Hilton III, and Kerry Hull. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center Fall 2015 133-53. (co-authored with Rachel Cope).

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Religious Studies Center




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor