‘Mormon Land’: What Joseph Smith looked like and why it mattered to his followers then and now

Historian Benjamin Park examines the reported discovery of the first known photograph of the church founder, its importance in the evolving history of the faith he started, and how so many were intrigued by this charismatic leader.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Church founder Joseph Smith.

In the days and weeks after the reported discovery of the first known photograph of Joseph Smith, a debate erupted: Is this really him? Here’s why it could be; here’s why it couldn’t be.

Underneath all the chatter lurked some fundamental questions: What do we know about what the Mormon founder looked like? Why does it matter? Will we ever know if this tiny locket image shows one of America’s most influential religious leaders?

Historian Benjamin Park, an associate professor at Sam Houston State University, explored those topics and more in a recent piece for The Salt Lake Tribune. Park, who also is writing a history of Mormonism, discusses the big questions surrounding this small photo.

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