The Church History Library/Archives staff have been hit with a wave of telephone calls today from Church members looking for confirmation of the latest rumor to hit the LDS
fan rumor mill. This one concerns the daguerreotype which has been studied as a possible — possible — image of Joseph Smith.
Community of Christ Archivist Ronald E. Romig and Historian Lachlan Mackay published a study in the Saints Herald, v. 141, no. 12 (December 1994), “What Did Joseph Look Like? Possible Early Photographic Image of Joseph Smith, Jr., Studied,” which, so far as I can determine, remains the chief source of information about this image. In the last few days, however, a rumor has started in the seminary circuit, reportedly sparked by a talk given by the president of a certain southern temple, that this daguerreotype has been confirmed by the Joseph Smith Papers Project team as an authentic image of Joseph Smith.
No, it has not.
The JSPP team has not issued any statement about this image; some project members privately believe it *is* a Joseph Smith image, while others are equally adamant that it is not. The Newsroom at lds.org has issued no statement. Neither has the Museum of Church History and Art, or anyone else in the world of the LDS Library or Archives.
Because no one in the archives has any new information to give to callers, all they can do is refer questioners to the Community of Christ, which owns the daguerreotype — but I don’t suppose their poor archivist is enjoying the rash of calls and emails from our people.
So you heard it here — or rather, you didn’t hear it here — or maybe you heard it NOT here, first: The rumor that the church has uncovered a Joseph Smith image, or endorsed a previously studied one, is false.