Handwriting Experts and Solomon Spaulding - 1977

  Los Angeles Times June 25, 1977

Trio Challenges Authenticity of Mormon Book

by Russell Chandler

LOS ANGELES - Three Southern Callfornia researchers say they have new evidence that challenges the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, one of the sacred writings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Based on the evidence of three handwriting experts, researchers have declared that portions of the Book of Mormon were written by a Congregationalist minister and novelist who died more than 10 years before Joseph Smith is said to have received the revelations from God through golden plates.

Though controversy about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon has swirled since its publication in 1830, the critics'case until now has rested on circumstantial evidence.

Critics had maintained that similarities of style, subject matter and testimonies of perhaps biased persons linked Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, with Solomon Spaulding, the minister-writer who died in 1816.

But this week the young researchers, none of whom is now a Mormon, revealed that they believe Spaulding wrote 12 pages of "First Nephi," part of the 522-page Book of Mormon.

Asked for comment, a press spokesman for the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City flatly denied that any of the pages of the Book of Mormon were written by Spaulding. The researcher?, Howard A Donald Scales, both of Torrance, Calif., and Wayne L. Condrey of Orange, Calif., say that two years ago they obtained enlarged photocopies of 12 original manuscript pages that are in the Latter-day

Saints archives in Salt Lake City. These reproductions were compared with specimens of handwriting in "Manuscript Story," a novel about the origin of American Indians generally acknowledged to have been writeen in longhand by Spaulding around 1812.

The handwriting analysts, all well known in their field, worked independently and did not know of the Book of Mormon connection, Condrey said in an interview. The first expert to be consulted was Henry Silver. He told The Los Angeles Times: "It is my definite opinion that all of the questioned handwriting... were written by the same writer known as Solomon Spaulding..."

Silver has analyzed thousands of cases, including the so-called Mormon will of Howard Hughes, which was found last year in the world headquarters of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City. Silver emphatically stated then as he still did this week that the writer of the will was none other than Hughes. Other experts have loudly denounced the will as a fake.

The other handwriting analysts who examined the Spaulding materials and the reproduced Mormon pages were Howard C. Doulder and William Kaye. Both live in the Los Angeles area and are frequently called to testify in court cases. Doulder told the Times, "This is one and the same writer," assuming that the photocopied material he was furnished is a true copy of the original documents in Salt Lake.

Note: The above text is taken from an abridged version of the Los Angeles Times news report, as reprinted in the Syracuse Post-Standard of June 25, 1977, under the title "Book of Mormon Newly Questioned."