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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1963

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TEMPLES, 1963.

1963:  1 Mar.:  Should Juniors take genealogy?

“A study is now being made under the General Authorities of the whole curriculum of the Sunday School and the other auxiliaries, whether there should be junior genealogical classes in the Sunday School, and at what age.  For now, however, we recommend that the regular course of study of the Sunday School be followed which does not provide for any junior genealogical classes.”  (Instructor 98(3):99, 1 Mar., 1963)

May:  Responsibility of adopted children for blood line.

“Question:  I am an adopted child.  My actual parents are still alive and, while I am not personally acquainted with them, I know who they are.  What is my responsibility in genealogical research?  Should I follow the lines of my adopted parents or follow the lines of my real blood parents?

Answer:  If a child is legally adopted that transfers him to the family of his adopted parents, and he is considered henceforth, to all intents and purposes, their child.  In various countries, the adoption may be by custom valid in those countries.  This adoption by custom is recognized as valid since it is accepted as such under the laws of that country.  In the case of a legally adopted child engaged in research, he should trace the lines of his adopted legal parents, regardless of whether he has been sealed to them as their child.

In a ruling on this subject, 17 March 1961, President David O. McKay indicated that in genealogical research, legally adopted children had no responsibility to the ‘natural’ blood line and emphasized that such children should limit their activities to the lines of their adopted parents.

There may be occasions when conditions surrounding the adoption of a child will suggest special consideration.  For example, if a child is adopted because of the death of its parents, rather than because it had been abandoned or voluntarily offered for adoption by its parents, the child or its adopted parents may feel some responsibility to the ancestry of the actual blood parents.  In such cases the problem should be outlined in a letter addressed to the Genealogical Society.  Rulings will be considered on the individual merits of each problem.

A child who is ‘born in the covenant,’ however, and later adopted by foster parents should follow first the lines of his actual blood parents.  He may, if he so desires, also trace the ancestry of his adopted parents.”  (“Pertinent Questions Answered,” IE 66:380-381, May, 1963)

1 Aug.:  The Genealogy course in Sunday School.

“In 1940, the First Presidency effected a consolidation of Sunday School and genealogical work; and A. William Lund, Joseph Christenson, Archibald F. Bennett, and Junius R. Tribe were named as a committee to work out weekly lessons for a genealogical course in the Sunday School, which began Churchwide in January of 1941.  Since that time a genealogical course for adults has been offered each year.  In addition, lessons on genealogical work have been added to various course manuals.”  (George R. Hill, Instructor 98(8):271, 1 Aug., 1963)

Aug.:  For whom is vicarious work performed?

“Question:  In discussing the question of salvation for the dead the question was asked: ‘For whom is vicarious work performed in the temples?’  Some of our members thought that this work is to be done for everyone who is dead.  Then I read the eighty-fifth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses three and four and referred to Ezra 2:62-63, where certain of those returning from Babylon were put from the priesthood.  It has been my understanding that vicarious work is for the dead, such as baptism, endowment, etc., for non-members of the Church who have passed in death.

Answer:  The question in Ezra 2:62-63, has nothing to do with the question of salvation of the dead.  This passage has reference to those who returned from the captivity who had intermarried among peoples who were not entitled to the blessings of the priesthood.  By the action of the authorities these were set aside, and now allowed to participate or take part in the priesthood.  Incidentally, permit me to say, that there was no doctrine taught and no work performed for the dead in the days of Ezra.  For that matter there could be no performance of ordinances for the dead in those early times.  Baptism for the dead and the other ordinances pertaining to salvation for the dead were not practised in Israel or any other place in the world before the resurrection of our Savior.  In fact, it was contrary to the plan of salvation for the ordinances to be performed for the dead until after the Savior had, through his atonement and resurrection, prepared the way for the salvation of the dead.  We are taught in the scriptures that this vicarious work was one that had to wait until the power of redemption had been fulfilled in the mission, death, and resurrection of our Lord.  It was he who through his atonement on the cross opened the door for the salvation of the dead and made it possible for the living, who held the divine authority by partaking of these glorious gifts themselves in the temples of the Lord, to go into the temples and perform this vicarious work for the dead.

Unfortunately there is very little written in the scriptures that has come down to us that throws any light whatever on the salvation of the dead.  That there was established the practice of baptism for the dead in the days following the resurrection of the Savior, we learn from the writings of Paul.  However, that which is recorded is extremely fragmentary, and we do not gain a clear insight into what was done.  The doctrine of salvation for the dead was one that evidently had to wait almost entirely for the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.  This work is one of the urgent duties which pertains to the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, and the Lord has made it obligatory today upon the children to see that the work is done for their fathers.  By fathers, we mean the generations of our kindred dead back to the time of Adam.

In an epistle written to the brethren who were in Great Britain in 1840, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:

[HC 4:231]

According to the doctrine of salvation for the dead, it is the duty of the children to perform the ordinances for their fathers, in fulfilment of the promise made through the prophets.  It was for this purpose that Elijah came to plant in the hearts of the children the promise made by prophecy to the fathers.  It is very evident from the revelations and the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that it is the responsibility of the children to work on the lineage of their fathers and search out their kindred dead as far back as they are able to go.  Therefore to answer the question, it is our duty to search out our own dead and not labor at random, but endeavor to link generation by generation of our own kindred back from generation to generation as far as we can go.

If every family in the Church wouild perform this labor for their dead, they would be doing exactly what the Lord requires of them.  If we do our duty, we will find enough to do without overstepping any bounds.  We need not worry about what the Lord will do with the numerous dead.  We may be sure that his plan will not fail.  The work of salvation for the dead will carry on and eventually the work will be performed for every soul who is entitled to receive it.  It has been stated with reasonable understanding, that during the millennium and after we have done all that we are able, those on the other side will come to those who are still in mortality and aid in this vicarious work by supplying the necessary information which we are unable to procure.  The work of the Lord is perfect, and we should have confidence in him that he will provide the means by which all those who are worthy shall find the means for the ordinances to be granted to them.  This, however, does not exempt the living from performing the ordinances for their dead as far as they are able to go.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Your Question,” IE 66:654-655, Aug., 1963)

Aug.:  Proxy endowments for those over 8 years of age.

“Question:  In some of my ancestral families, I notice that there are a number of children who died young.  I understand that no temple work is ever performed for those who died under the age of eight years.  If this is true, why is it necessary to list such children on a family group record?

Answer:  Your question is based on the erroneous assumption that no temple work is performed for those who died under the age of eight years.  It is true that no baptisms or endowments are performed for those who died before reaching the age of eight years, but they are still sealed as children to their parents.

No family group would be complete without all of its members, therefore it is necesary to list all children on a family group record with their parents.”

(“Pertinent Questions Answered,” IE 66:660, Aug., 1963)

Aug.:  Stillborn children.

“Question:  Is it necessary to list stillborn children on a family group record with their parents?  If so, is any temple work performed for them?

Answer:  Stillborn children should be recorded on the family group record of their parents in their normal chronological order of birth, as though that birth were a normal one.  The manner of recording stillborn children on a family group record is discussed in section 2 of the Genealogical Instruction Manual, pages 40-42.

No temple work will be performed for stillborn children.  President Joseph Fielding Smith makes the following explanation in Volume II, Doctrines of Salvation, page 280.

There is no information given by revelation in regard to the status of stillborn children.  However, I will express my personal opinion that we should have hope that these little ones will receive a resurrection and then belong to us.  I cannot help feeling that this will be the case.

When a couple have a stillborn child, we give them all the comfort we can.  We have good reason to hope.  Funeral services may be held for such children, if the parents so desire.  Stillborn children should not be reported nor recorded as births on the records of the Church, but it is suggested that parents record in their own family records a name for each stillborn child.”

(“Pertinent Questions Answered,” IE 66:660-661, Aug., 1963)

13 Sep.:  Request for money to build film studio.

“1)  You have given us an assignment to improve the temple ceremony as it is presented in the one room temples, and Los Angeles, on film and sound track for the various language groups.

2)  You have given us permission to do this at Brigham Young University at a time when we could dedicate the studio and set it apart for this purpose.

3)  Doing this in the Salt Lake Temple or any other temple would require virtually making a motion picture studio of some part of the temple, including special lighting, cameras, stage facilities, etc.

4)  Brigham Young University’s motion picture facilities are crowded–so–they [i.e., Wilkinson and Whitaker] propose to add a new sound stage at a cost of $91,000 which could be dedicated, locked up, and set apart for this purpose during the periods when these films are not being made.  They have made approximately 50 Church films, and are in the process of making more, and need the additional sound stage anyway.”  (Richard L. Evans to First Presidency, 13 Sep., 1963)  

22 Oct.:  1st Presidency approves $91,000 forfilm.

“[We] are pleased to give our consent to a special appropriation in the amount of $91,000 for the purpose indicated.”  (First Presidency letter to Richard L. Evans, 22 Oct., 1963)

Nov.:  Floorplan of Nauvoo Temple.

“[NOTE:  FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED THROUGHOUT THE ARTICLE, BUT ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THIS ENTRY.]  More and more interest is being focused to the study of Nauvoo history and the Nauvoo Temple.  The following contribution is an attempt to present for the first time in over one hundred years a clear idea of what the Nauvoo Temple actually looked like and how its interior was arranged.

Most of the well-known representations of the temple are either inaccurate or very incomplete.  (For drawings and photographs see the article ‘Nauvoo’ in the July 1962 Era.)  Furthermore, few of the architectural plans have survived.

Apparently several sets of plans were submitted to Joseph Smith, those of William Weeks being the most acceptable. . . .

Not only was the necessity of building the Kirtland Temple revealed, but also its exact form and dimensions.  (HC 1:359-362)  Since the Nauvoo Temple was commenced less than ten years after the Kirtland Temple and since the Lord also showed Joseph Smith in a vision what it should look like (HC 6:196-197, 2nd ed.), it is not surprising that the general form and appearance of the two temples is quite similar.  (These same general instructions regarding the house of the Lord seem to have been carried out also in all of the Utah temples–St. George, Logan, Manti, and Salt Lake City.  Thereafter, there was a change in style and form, but not in function.)

There is another, more practical, reason for this similarity–the Church would have had considerable experience in erecting this type of building.  Therefore, any attempt to re-establish what the Nauvoo Temple looked like, especially its interior, would require a careful study of the Kirtland Temple.  The following conclusions and drawings regarding the interior of the Nauvoo Temple have been made after careful consideration of many printed sources, manuscripts, photographs, and drawings, and of the Kirtland Temple, itself.

In Nauvoo on January 19, 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which he was commanded to build a temple for the purpose of revealing keys and powers of the priesthood and for the salvation of the living and the dead.

Within a month after receiving this commandment, the Prophet selected a site on Block 20 of Wells’ addition, a high point commanding a view of the river and surrounding terrain, and excavation began.

The dimensions of the temple vary from source to source.  One of the important findings of the current excavation will be the proper dimensions of at least the length and breadth of the temple.  This paper used the measurement of 128 feet long by 88 feet wide by 65 feet high with a spire reaching to 165 feet.

The building was built of light gray limestone which was quarried north of the city.  The four walls were ornamented by 30 pilasters, nine on each side and six at each end.  Each pilaster is reputed to have cost $3,000.  The capitals of these pilasters were the famous ‘sun’ stones.  Each capital consisted of five stones–one base stone, one ‘sun’ stone, a stone depicting two hands holding trumpets, and two stones which formed a cap over the ‘trumpet’ stone.  Each such capital is report to have cost $450.  Part of the base of each pilaster was the ‘moon’ stone.  The ‘star’ stones were placed as ornaments in the frieze above the pilasters.

The side walls of the temple were pierced by two rows of eight ‘gothic’ windows and two rows of eight circular windows.  Ten steps led up to the front and only entrance to the temple, where three arched doorways led into a vestibule.  There were also ‘gothic’ and round windows in the front facade, and windows in the rear wall.

The structure was surmounted by a tower of four tiers and capped with a dome.  Atope the dome was a weather vane.  (HC 7:577)  This tower is variously shown to be either hexagonal or octagonal.  The latest research shows it to have been eight sided, and the top three levels pierced with windows.  Apparently there were four clock faces in the next to top level.  The lower portion of the tower was ornamented with free standing columns.  It was possible to ascend to the tower by stairs.  One visitor recorded that he added his name to the hundreds of others ‘from all parts of the habitable globe’ which were scratched there.

The roof of the temple is usually depicted as a ‘comb-roof’ with a sharp pitch.  One contemporary, however, said that the roof was nearly flat so that one could walk upon it with ease.

Most illustrations show some sort of wall around the temple area.  There is some basis for this. . . .

Accurate details and photographs of the exterior of the building are few enough, but certainly plentiful compared with the paucity of information about the temple’s interior.  Aside from Piercy’s drawing of the ‘Temple in Ruins’ (See plate I) this author knolws of no other illustration of any part of the temple’s interior.

It is clear that the temple consisted of a basement which served for baptismal ordinances, a vestibule on the first and second floors, two large halls or ‘stories’ for mass meetings and services, two ‘half-stories’ for anterooms and offices, some rooms in the attic for washings, anointings, and endowments, some rooms under the tower for wardrobes, and the tower itself.

The attic rooms are the best described portion of the temple (See HC 7:531, 535, 542, 544, 555-556, 580, and plate V.)  We know that these rooms were to be used for temple ordinances, offices, and a ‘Council Chamber.’  The records make it very clear that the attic consisted of one large room, hall, or Council Chamber 88 feet 2 incles long and 28 feet 8 inches wide.  The large room was plastered and painted and carpeting on the floor.

The whole area was arched over, and the arch was divided into six spaces by cross beams to support the roof.  On each side of the main hall were six small rooms approximately 14 feet square with those next to the east wall slightly smaller.

These twelve rooms were allocated as follows:  The first four on the south side were used by members of the Council of the Twelve.  The office at the southeast corner was occupied by Brigham Young and contained an altar which was apparently used for sealing ordinances.  The second room on the south was occupied by Heber C. Kimball, the third by Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, and Orson Pratt, the fourth by John Taylor, George A. Smith, Amasa M. Lyman, and John E. Page, the fifth by Joseph Young and other members of the Presidents of the Seventy, and the sixth was a room where the elders could prepare for temple ordinances.

On the north side of the temple the first room was occupied by Bishop Newell K. Whitney and the Aaronic Priesthood, the second by the high council, the third and fourth by President George Miller and the high priets, the fifth by the elders, and the sixth was a room for the sisters.

The altar in Brigham Young’s room was 2 feet 6 inches high and 2 feet 6 inches long, and 1 foot wide.  It rose from a platform about 8 or 9 inches high and extended out on all sides about a foot, forming a convenient place to kneel upon.  It was covered with cushions and scarlet damask cloth, and the sides were covered with white linen.

The side rooms might have been closed off from the main hall by curtains or doors.  Some portraits apparently hung in one or both of the east rooms.

We have some further information about the attic rooms.  We are told that the room was ‘low and lighted by a large half-circle window at the end and by several small skylights in the roof, and that in the entry on each side of the door to the Council Chamber, is a room called a wardrobe, where the priests were to keep their clothing.  On one side was a room intended for a pantry.  These rooms were located in that portion of the temple just under the tower.

Immediately under the main hall of Council Chamber in the attic was the upper of the ‘two great stories {which} will each have two pulpits, one at each end,’ and which would, of course, have been lighted by the two rows of ‘gothic’ windows in the sides of the temple.  (See plate IV.)  We are told furthermore that this upper hall had ‘four {windows} at the farther end.’  One source says that on each side of this floor were rooms in an unfinished condition.

The ‘Grand Hall’ was on the ground floor.  (See plate III.)  It was plastered and painted with biblical scenes, had an arched ceiling, and had pulpits and seats for the choir and band at each end.  (HC 7:560)  The back of the seats were made like some train seats with a movable back so that people could face in either direction.  There were a series of pulpits with semicircular fronts at either end.  Those on the west were for the offices of the Aaronic Priesthood, those on the east for the Melchizedek.  Access to this main hall was through two large arched doorways which led in from the vestibule.

The position of the half-stories was one of the most interesting problems of this paper.  (See plates I, II, III.)  Three statements by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and W. W. Phelps are helpful.  Joseph Smith, in defense of his insistence upon using circular windows in the side of the temple wrote the following:

In the afternoon {February 5, 1844} Elder William Weeks (whom I had employed as architect of the Temple,) came in for instruction.  I instructed him in relation to the circular windows designed to light the offices in the dead work of the arch between stories.  He said that round windows in the broad side of a building were a violation of all the known rules of architecture, and contended that they should be semi-circular–that the building was too low for round windows.  I told him I would have the circles, if he had to make the Temple ten feet higher than it was originally calculated; that one light at the center of each circular window would be sufficient to light the whole room; that when the whole building was thus illuminated, the effect would be remarkably grand.  ‘I wish you to carry out my designs.  I have seen in vision the splendid appearance of that building illuminated, and will have it built according to the pattern shown me.’  (HC 6:196-197)

Later on, Brigham Young, in a general epistle of January 14, 1845, said that, ‘In the recesses, on each side of the arch, on the first story, there will be a suite of rooms or ante-chambers, lighted with the first row of circular windows.’  (HC 6:358)  W. W. Phelps, a printer and educator, says much the same thing in the Times and Seasons.  

After due consideration of the primary sources and drawings of ‘The Temple in Ruins’ I have concluded that the two half-stories were a series of small rooms running alongside of the arches over both of the main halls, and that both rows of circular windows lighted these rooms.

As noted above, the basement was the first part of the temple completed and dedicated and was used mainly for baptismal ordinances.  (See plate V.)  The most important thing in the basement, of course, was the font.  Much information exists about this font, and at least two drawings are extant.  Basically, it was a large oval-shaped basin which rested upon the backs of twelve oxen and had a flight of steps with metal banisters leading up to the basin on each side.  It was located in the center of the basement with its length running east and west.

Joseph Smith has given us the following detailed description of the font:

The baptismal font is situated in the center of the basement room, under the main hall of the Temple, it is constructed of pine timber, and put together of staves tongued and groved, oval shape, sixteen feet long east and west and twelve feet wide, seven feet high from the foundation, the basin four feet deep, the moulding of the cap and base are formed of beautiful carved work in antique style.  The sides are finished with panel work.  A flight of stairs in the north and south sides lead up and down into the basin, guarded by the side railing.

The font stands upon twelve oxen, four on each side, and two at each end, their heads, shoulders, and fore legs projecting out from under the font, they are carved out of pine plank glued together, and copied after the most beautiful five-year-old steer that could be found in the country, and they are an excellent striking likeness of the original; the horns were formed after the most perfect horn that could be procured.

The oxen and ornamental mouldings of the font were carved by Elijah Fordham, from the city of New York, which occupied eight months of time.  The font was enclosed by a temporary frame building sided up with split oak clapboard, with a roof of the same material, and was so low that the timbers of the first story were laid above it.  The water was supplied from a well thirty feet deep in the east end of the basement.

This font was built for the baptisms for the dead until the Temple shall be finished, when a more durable one will supply its place.  (HC 4:446-447)

This temporary font was ready and dedicated November 8, 1841.

The first stone for the new font was laid June 25, 1845, nearly four years later.  It was of white limestone and of about the same dimensions of the former one.

The wooden oxen were also replaced with stone ones.

On three sides of the font there were a suite of rooms ‘fitted up for the washings’ and where people could dress and undress preparatory for baptism.  Heating arrangements had been made to heat the rooms and the water for the font.  The room was unpaved and lighted by small windows.  There was also a drain for the font.

Such is the picture of the Nauvoo Temple which emerges from the records.  It is hoped that further research and excavation will permit more accurate and detailed drawings and even models of the temple to be prepared.”

(Stanley B. Kimball, “The Nauvoo Temple,” IE 66:974-984, Nov., 1963)  [NOTE THAT THE ARTICLE CONTAINS SEVERAL DIAGRAMS OF THE TEMPLE FLOORPLAN.]

[The article contains the following footnote of particular interest:

7. The idea of an angel flying from the spire which is repeated in all of the widely circulated drawings of the temple, probably originated from the finding of some statues in the dome of the temple.  A writer from the Carthage Republican in 1846 states the following, ‘In one of the rooms {under the spire} were a number of wooden statues in half-presenting the front profile.  They were from 18 to 20 feet long.  She {the guide} told us that the wooden images, were to be placed at the angles of the principal story or base of the spire.  There were eight of them, we believe, corresponding to the octagonal shape of the structure.’  This information with no further information as to date or source, was reprinted in the Nauvoo Independent, September 6, 1962.

Another possible reference to this matter is the statement by a Mr. Davidson, an editor in Carthage in the 1860’s who wrote that there was a naked flagstaff atop the temple, ‘no angel on it–she was in the dome.’  Cited, with no further information as to source, in McGavin’s Nauvoo the Beautiful, p. 40.  As far as is known by this writer, these statues were never placed in position.  There is, however, one rather imaginative drawing of the temple which shows them in position just under the dome.  Barnum is said to have had this angel in his New York museum.]

Adoptions now reported as regular sealings.

“Adoptions refer to children being sealed to other than their natural parents.  Since 1963 these have been reported with regular sealings of children to parents.”  (Richard O. Cowan, “Temple Building Ancient and Modern,” BYU Press, 1971, p. 26)

Temple recommends now valid in all temples.

“The new Temple Recommend is valid in any or all of the temples.  Therefore, a separate recommend is not necessary for each temple.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, No. 19, 1963, p. 73)

Additions to worthiness interview.

“Before issuing recommends bishops will assure themselves by searching inquiry that the recipients are free from all kinds of . . . unchristianlike practices; . . . and that they earnestly strive to do their duty in the Church, to attend their sacrament, Priesthood, and other meetings, and to obey the rules, laws and commandments of the Gospel . . .”  [These were added to those already in the GHI 1960.]  (General Handbook of Instructions, No. 19, 1963, p. 74)

Change in policy regarding recommends for divorced persons

“Recommends for Divorced Persons:  Divorces or annulments of marriage in which the applicant has been a party need not be cleared by the First Presidency unless the persons were sealed to each other in the temple, or unless the applicant has had more than one divorce or annulment since baptism.  Nevertheless, bishops and stake presidents should conduct a thorough, searching interview to determine the applicant’s present worthiness to go to the temple and to ascertain whether or not there was any marital infidelity or serious transgression on the part of the applicant in connection with the divorce or annulment.

Divorce Clearances:  If there has been a divorce or an annulment of the marriage of persons sealed to each other in the temple, or if a person has had more than one divorce or annulment since baptism, clearance by the First Presidency must first be obtained before temple recommends can be issued to such persons.  The following steps should be observed:

1. Complete in detail the form provided for this purpose.

2. Applicant should attach a letter setting forth a concise statement of the facts concerning the real reason for each divorce, any marital infidelity on the part of either party, and any serious transgression in the life of the applicant.

3. The stake president and bishop or branch president should each attach a letter setting forth a concise statement of his impressions concerning the real reason for each divorce, any marital infidelity on the part of either party, any seriuos transgression in the life of the applicant, the present worthiness of the applicant to go to the temple, and his recommendation concerning granting a divorce clearance.

4. If the applicant has been divorced from a spouse to whom he or she is still sealed, applicant should obtain and attach a written statement from such former spouse setting forth a concise statement of the real reason for the divorce and any facts bearing upon applicant’s worthiness or unworthiness to go to the temple.  If such a statement cannot be obtained, please give the reason.  Please do not combine applications for divorce clearance with applications for cancellation of sealings.”

(General Handbook of Instructions, No. 19, 1963, pp. 78-79)

“Temple sealing cancelled.”

[Wording on p. 86 is now “temple sealing cancelled,” rather than “temple marriage annulled,” in GHI 1960.]  (General Handbook of Instructions, No. 19, 1963, p. 86)