The Joseph Smith Papers Project ( offered a lifeline to this biography. The absolutely stupendous collection of documents pertaining to Joseph Smith’s life and works is a treasure trove to scholars, including those, like myself, who have research interests in individuals close to the Prophet. Writing this biography convinced me that W. W. Phelps’s life and labors were closely connected with that of Joseph Smith and nearly match rivaled connections Joseph Smith had with Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, and Brigham Young. My greatest appreciation regarding this biography goes to the editors and staff of the Joseph Smith Papers Project (JSPP) and those who have supported and financed it.

Particularly, I wish to thank Ronald K. Esplin, chief editor of the JSPP over the past decade. Ron encouraged me to resurrect my Phelps biography, which had lain fallow too long, and provided ample support from the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I extend specific gratitude as well to other editors of Joseph Smith Papers (JSP) volumes: Matthew C. Godfrey, Robin Scott Jensen, Brian M. Hauglid, Jeffrey D. Mahas, Richard Lyman Bushman, Steven C. Harper, Dean C. Jessee, Alexander W. Baugh, Richard L. Jensen, David J. Whittaker, Matthew J. Grow, Andrew H. Hedges, Richard Lloyd Anderson, Max H Parkin, Robert J. Woodford, Grant Underwood, and Mark Ashurst-McGee.

Many Religious Education colleagues gave me encouragement and access to sources. These include Alexander W. Baugh, Richard E. Bennett, Frank F. Judd Jr., Brian M. Hauglid, Matthew J. Grey, Brent L. Top, Robert Freeman, Dennis Wright, Fred E. Woods, Kent P. Jackson, Mary Jane Woodger, Craig C. Manscill, and Anthony R. Sweat.

I appreciate additional assistance from Michael Marquardt, Christopher Smith, Jonathan Neville, Ronald Romig, Orion Trunk, Henry Kosak, David Small, Steven Wattrous, and John Allen.

Many thanks go to the publishers of this biography at the Religious Studies Center of Brigham Young University, particularly publications director Thomas Wayment and executive editor Devan Jensen. I also appreciate the editing by managing editor Don Brugger and student editors Ashlin Awerkamp and Tyler Balli, as well as the design and typesetting by production supervisor Brent Nordgren and graphic designer Emily Strong.

My wife, Karen Joy Hoyal Van Orden, gave me unceasing encouragement and comfort throughout and provided editing assistance with each chapter.