Joseph Fielding Smith

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LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith

For the sixth president of the LDS Church, see Joseph F. Smith.

Joseph Fielding Smith (July 19, 1876 – July 2, 1972) was the tenth President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph's family influence shaped his understanding about religion and of the gospel. He published more books and articles than any other man who became President of the Church. Joseph was a missionary, Church historian, president of the Genealogical Society and president of the Salt Lake Temple, an Apostle, and Church President. He was remembered as an astute theologian and gospel scholar. His entire life of ninety-five-years was in service to the LDS Church.

Early life

Born in Salt Lake City, the firstborn son of Joseph F. Smith, apostle and sixth President of the Church. His grandfather was the patriarch Hyrum Smith and his brother, the Prophet Joseph Smith. He had a zeal for reading and it was said that he had read the Book of Mormons from beginning to end twice before age 10. As a teen, He had a merchandizing job at the Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution, the Church department store.[1] His mother had a revelation that her beloved Joseph would be an Apostle.


Joseph's long life would see him outlive all four monogamous marriages. Joseph married Louie Emily Shurtliff in the Salt Lake Temple on April 26, 1898. In 1908, his wife Louie died leaving him with two daughters. In November 1908, he married Ethel Georgina Reynolds, who bore him five sons and four daughters. In 1937, Ethel died and Joseph would marry Jessie Ella Evans in April 1938. Joseph outlived Jessie by one year, she died on August 3, 1971.

Missionary For Life

Joseph received a patriarchal blessing at age nineteen. In 1899, he left on a two-year mission for England. In April 7, 1910 at age thirty-four, Joseph Fielding Smith was ordained as an Apostle for the Church. Joseph had an incredible knowledge of scripture to which Church President Heber J. Grant said of him, “the best posted man on the scriptures of the General Authorities of the Church that we have.” Prior to WWII, he would supervise the evacuation of LDS missionaries from Europe.

Tenth President

Following the death of President David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith became President of the Church on January 23, 1970 at age ninety-three. Under President Smith's two-and-a-half year administration, the Ogden and Provo temples were dedicated and several Church departments were restructured. Joseph inaugurated the first area conference of the Church in 1971. On July 2, 1972, President Smith died quietly at his home in Salt Lake City. Gordon B. Hinckley said of Joseph, "I have never heard him say a mean or evil or unkind thing…. He speaks generously of those he discusses." He repeatedly said, "I love my brethren."


  • The Signs of the Times (1942)
  • The Restoration of All Things (1945)
  • Church History and Modern Revelation (1953)
  • Answers to Gospel Questions (1957-1966)
  • His compilation Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (1938) is one of the most widely used reference texts in LDS literature.


  • "If you make any mistakes in judgment, make them on the side of mercy."
  • "Our mission is to preach the doctrines of salvation in plainness and simplicity as they are revealed and recorded in the scriptures.” [2]


  1. Joseph Fielding Smith Light Planet
  2. Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of the Church