Joseph Fielding Smith was the tenth prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church. He was known as an able writer and wrote numerous books.Joseph Fielding Smith was born on July 19, 1876. His father was Joseph F. Smith (sixth prophet of the Church) and his grandfather was Hyrum Smith, the brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was an avid reader in his youth and loved to learn about the gospel. By the time he was ten, he had read the Book of Mormon from beginning to end twice.
Joseph Fielding married Louie Emily (Emyla) Shurtliff in the Salt Lake Temple on April 26, 1898. A year later he left on a Mormon mission to England where he served for two years. In April of 1906 he became assistant Church historian. His wife tragically died in 1908, leaving behind two young daughters. That November, Joseph Fielding Smith married Ethel Georgina Reynolds, and together they had another five sons and four daughters. On April 7, 1910, Joseph Fielding Smith was ordained an apostle for the Church at 34 years old. When he was ordained, many criticized him and the Church for practicing nepotism, but Joseph Fielding Smith was determined to serve the Church in whatever capacity he was called.
As an apostle, Joseph Fielding Smith gained a reputation for his incredible knowledge of the scriptures. President Heber J. Grant called him “the best posted man on the scriptures of the General Authorities of the Church that we have” (Joseph Fielding Smith: Gospel Scholar, Prophet of God, Francis M. Gibbons, p. 290). Joseph Fielding published more books than any other president of the Mormon Church, though that was never his intent. Most of the books were compilations of talks or answers to questions he had received about the Church. Many of his writings are still used today and are widely referenced.
In 1937 Joseph Fielding Smith’s wife Francis passed away. He married again, this time to Jessie Ella Evans in 1938. Sadly she too passed away one year before President Smith. On January 23, 1970, Joseph Fielding Smith became President of the Mormon Church. He helped reorganize some of the organizations of the Church and consolidated all of the various Mormon Church magazines into three magazines. He once said, “Our mission is to preach the doctrines of salvation in plainness and simplicity as they are revealed and recorded in the scriptures” (Gibbons, p. 472). President Joseph Fielding Smith served for two years until his death on July 2, 1972.