March 10, 2005 Symposium Marking the Bicentennial of Joseph Smith to be Held on May 6-7

Scholars from Around the World to Participate

Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
Public Contact: (202) 707-5383

In recognition of the anniversary of the 200th birthday of the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Library of Congress, in cooperation with Brigham Young University, is presenting a two-day symposium, “The Worlds of Joseph Smith,” on May 6 and 7 in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church. Leading scholarly experts will examine Smith’s religious, social and theological contributions.

A small exhibit of books and other materials related to Smith’s life, drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress and the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be on view in the foyer of the Coolidge Auditorium during the two days of the symposium.

This is one of many scholarly conferences and exhibits on various religious traditions that the Library of Congress has held over the years, including “Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture,” “In the Beginning Was the Word: The Russian Church and Native Alaskan Cultures,” “Let There Be Light: William Tyndale and the Making of the English Bible,” “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic,” and, most recently, “From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America.”

The symposium will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May 6, and conclude at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. There will be two sessions during the day on May 6, “Joseph Smith in His Own Time” and “Joseph Smith and the Recovery of Past Worlds,” and an evening session from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. titled “Meeting Joseph Smith.”

The morning session on May 7, beginning at 9 a.m., is “Joseph Smith Challenges the Theological World,” and the afternoon session is “Joseph Smith and the Making of a World Religion.” Speakers will include the distinguished biographers of Smith, Richard Bushman and Robert Remini, as well as other scholars from the United States and Europe. A detailed schedule follows.

The symposium is open to the public at no charge, but seating is limited and reservations for each session are required. Reservations can be made online at or by calling (202) 707-5383.

The Worlds of Joseph Smith - Conference Schedule

Friday, May 6

  • Session 1: Joseph Smith in His Own Time (9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.) - Presiding: Richard Turley, Family and Church History, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Presenter: Richard Bushman, Columbia University, author of “Building the Kingdom: A History of Mormons in America” (2001) and other books on Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church, whose talk is titled “Joseph Smith’s Many Histories”
  • Responses: Robert Remini, University of Illinois at Chicago; Richard Hughes, Pepperdine University; and Grant Underwood, Brigham Young University
  • Session 2: Joseph Smith and the Recovery of Past Worlds (2 to 4:30 p.m.) - Presiding: Noel Reynolds, Brigham Young University
  • Presenter: Terryl Givens, University of Richmond, whose most recent book (2004) on the Mormons is titled “Latter-day Saint Experience in America”
  • Responses: Margaret Barker, independent scholar from England; John Clark, Brigham Young University; and John W. Welch, Brigham Young University
  • Evening Session: Meeting Joseph Smith (7:15 to 8:30 p.m.) - Presiding: Bruce L. Olsen, Public Affairs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Message: Elder Dallin H. Oaks, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Saturday, May 7

  • Session 1: Joseph Smith Challenges the Theological World (9 to 11:30 a.m.) - Presiding: Andrew Skinner, Brigham Young University
  • Presenter: David Paulsen, Brigham Young University
  • Responses: Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.; Randall Balmer, Columbia University; and Robert Millet, Brigham Young University
  • Session 2: Joseph Smith and the Making of a World Religion (1:30 to 4 p.m.) - Presiding: Jill Derr, Brigham Young University
  • Presenter: Douglas Davies, University of Durham, England, whose most recent book is “An Introduction to Mormonism,” will speak on “World Religion: Dynamics and Constraints”
  • Responses: Gerald McDermott, Roanoke College; Roger Keller, Brigham Young University; and Jan Shipps, Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis


PR 05-038
ISSN 0731-3527