First Vision Accounts
Joseph Smith Account 1842

From “In 1842, Boston lawyer George Barstow asked his friend John Wentworth, owner and editor of the weekly Chicago Democrat, to write to Joseph Smith requesting a summary of the doctrines and history of the Latter-day Saints. Barstow was working on a history of New Hampshire, and he sought information about the Mormons for possible inclusion in the book. Barstow ultimately made 1819 the closing date of his study, and because the Mormons did not organize as a church until 1830, they did not have a place in his volume. Joseph Smith’s essay was published instead as 'Church History' in the church’s newspaper Times and Seasons.... No manuscript copy has been located, and it is not known how much of the history was originally written or dictated by Joseph Smith. “Church History” echoes some wording from Orson Pratt’s An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records [see Orson Pratt's account].... Whatever his debt to ... others, Joseph Smith took responsibility for “Church History” when it was published in the┬áTimes and Seasons.┬áHis name appears as author, and a note below his name further confirms his approval: 'This paper commences my editorial career, I alone stand responsible for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward.'” (Historical Introduction, “Church History,” 1 March 1842,

See early account at

Joseph Smith

When about fourteen years of age I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and upon enquiring the plan of salvation I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one plan, and another to another; each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfection: considering that all could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so much confusion I determined to investigate the subject more fully, believing that if God had a church it would not be split up into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, he would not teach another principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing the word of God I had confidence in the declaration of James; "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him," I retired to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day. They told me that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to "go not after them," at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.