I first conceived of the idea of writing a book to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision shortly after joining the faculty of Religious Education at Brigham Young University more than twenty years ago. It has been an on-and-off again project ever since, with two other book publications and several published articles consuming my attention along the way. During several of those years, I continued to teach a full load of four-to-five classes per semester, filled my share of various committee assignments, and served as department chair and associate dean, which, as most academic administrators will quickly attest, cam be detrimental to serious publication efforts. Consequently, the work limped along at a frustratingly slow pace. Indeed, this book has been so many years in the making that I may have forgotten some of those who helped me along the way.

This book would not have been possible without the support of my employer, Brigham Young University. Former deans Robert Millet, Andy Skinner, Terry Ball, Brent Top, and currently Dan Judd of Religious Education were consistent in their support of this endeavor. Thanks also to Paul Peterson, Arnie Garr, and Alex Baugh, former and present chairs of the Department of Church History and Doctrine, who supported my labors with indispensable study leave opportunities, fellowships, and other forms of substantial financial support. I wish also to thank the Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) for granting me a sizable mentoring grant with which I was able to hire several student research assistants for an entire semester. I wish also to thank Susan Bettis and Josh McDaniel, our former and present college comptroller, who have helped handle the financial intricacies of paying research help outside the country. Linda Godfrey and Connie Brace, department secretaries past and present, have also been very helpful.

I want to give especial thanks to Scott C. Esplin, director of the Religious Studies Center, who committed to publishing this work. He arranged to have the manuscript reviewed by seasoned scholars who gave me invaluable feedback, constructive criticisms, and encouragement. Several members of my own faculty read one or more chapters and likewise provided helpful suggestions. Scott’s capable team of professionals, including Joany O. Pinegar, R. Devan Jensen, Emily V. Strong, Brent R. Nordgren, Emily Cook, Julie Newman, Andrew Johnson, and Sarah Johnson were remarkably helpful—Devan and Emily Strong especially so. Rachel Lyon was the indexer. Deseret Book has also been encouraging of the project since it was first proposed.

Thanks to financial support from the Frederick W. and Jolene Edmunds Rockwood Family Foundation, the Religious Studies Center has been able to print a beautiful book of unusual quality, worthy of the highest expectations, and something of which I am proud. Their financial support has also enabled me to hire excellent research assistance.

Several undergraduate students here at Brigham Young University have served as research assistants through the years. These have included David Choules, Grant Eckstein, Chontal Green, Nate Irvin, Sheri Rowley, Nick Valetta, Lisa Love (Snyder), Beth Lott, Amber Siddell, Megan Shumway, and Christian Solomon. Others who have assisted me include Arran Wytinck in Canada, Hugh Hannesson, Dr. Giovanni Tata, and my research assistants overseas, who have included Sam Stoumont and Eleanor Balmy in Paris and Andrea and Stefano Raimondi in Turin, Italy. I am happy to report that Sam and Eleanor, who did not know each other before working for me, are now married to one another, which shows how lively and romantic staid and stuffy archives and libraries can become. Huguette Tornar of Paris has been particularly helpful as a researcher both in Paris and Geneva, Switzerland, and in translating French documents into English.

I wish to once again thank Wendy Top, my loyal and longest-serving research assistant, who has helped me in so many ways over the past few years, not only with this project but with others along the way. Her research expertise, patience, and abiding cheerfulness have been indispensable.

A work of this magnitude could not have come about without the support of archival and library staff at the following institutions—in the United States: the Huntington Library in San Marino, California where I wrote most of the chapters; the Harold B. Lee Library (Brigham Young University), especially Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Services; the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the New York Historical Society (New York City); the New York Public Library; the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia); the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, Massachusetts); the Library of Congress (Washington, DC); the National Archives and Records Services (Washington, DC); the Newberry Library (Chicago); the Beinecke Library, Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut); and the Schaffer Library, Union College (Schenectady, New York); in France: Les Archives Nationales in Paris, France; Le Centre Historique des Archives (Militaire) at Vincennes, France; Le Centre des Archives Diplomatiques de Nantes; the Archives of the Louvres Museum (Paris); La Bibliotheque Nationale de France; in England: the British Library (London); the British National Archives (Kew, England); Bodleian Special Collections, the Sackler Library, and Harris Manchester College, Oxford University; the John Rylands University Library, the University of Manchester; in Italy: the State Archives of Turin (Italy); the Egyptian Museum (Turin); Cittadi Torino (City Archives of Turin); the city archives of Castellamonte, Italy; and in Switzerland: La Bibliotheque de Geneve.

Finally, to my wife, Patricia, I will ever owe my love and gratitude for putting up with my academic pursuits. She has often traveled with me on research trips and been my loyal amanuensis and careful researcher at various times and several places. She had also been a careful first editor of much of my writings. Furthermore, she has patiently endured my long ramblings, my living in the past when so much in the present has been neglected, and my long absences researching here and there and everywhere from hearth and home. She has ever been my constant first support and encourager. Thank you, sweetheart.