The Beautiful Death in the Smith Family

BYU Studies Vol. 45, No. 4, pp. 121-150, 2006

30 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2007

See all articles by Samuel M. Brown

Samuel M. Brown

University of Utah School of Medicine


Mormon founder Joseph Smith lived and worked in a cultural world distinct in several important ways from that familiar to modern readers. Death in many senses dominated this worldview, and the primary documents confirm the centrality of death to Smith and his family. In this paper, I demonstrate the extent to which the Smiths participated in this culture, known as the "beautiful" or "good" or "holy" death. Understanding this context illuminates the social and emotional valence of Smith's religious innovations, depathologizes his mother Lucy's famous bereavements, and provides important new context for the meaning of martyrdom in early Mormonism.

Keywords: Mormonism, Death, Religious Culture, Martyrdom

Suggested Citation

Brown, Samuel M., The Beautiful Death in the Smith Family. Available at SSRN:

Samuel M. Brown (Contact Author)

University of Utah School of Medicine ( email )

1645 E. Campus Center
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics