Apparently, there’s been a lot of speculation as to whether this photograph shows Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism. The Deseret Morning News is following the LDS church’s party line: we don’t know. However, it seems that, alas, the photograph isn’t Joseph, the Seer. Here’s historian Will Bagley’s take on it:
“Smith recorded having his picture taken in 1844, but this ain’t it. Another problem with it is that the Daguerreotype has “Taken in 1854” scratched on the back. The guy’s clothing matches that date perfectly, while people didn’t dress like that in 1844. But the main problem is that Eborn Books is promoting Tracy’s book–and using the “anything goes” approach to selling it. My sources inside the church say they aren’t buying it (no matter what is implied in the KSL piece). Apparently the CoC church is fighting for its copyright and might sue people using it without authorization: I went to a website where I’d seen the picture and it said they had to take it down. I note that my friends who first showed me the picture at RLDS archives in about 1996 said they weren’t going to make any claims unless they could back them up, and they still haven’t.”
So, unless Joseph Smith miraculously reappeared alive in 1854 and looked much younger than 48 (his age in 1854 had he survived), this isn’t him.