During his service as an LDS temple president in Recife, Brazil (from 2009-2012), Professor Frederick G. Williams of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese gave public lectures in Portuguese on Dr. Frederick G. Williams, Counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Since returning home from his mission, Professor Williams has given the same lecture in English at LDS stake centers in Oregon, Idaho, California, and Utah. These lectures represent a vast amount of research and publication that Williams has done on the subject.
Williams, a grandson twice removed of his namesake in the First Presidency of the Church, had always harbored the desire to publish a comprehensive biography on his illustrious ancestor. In 2009, just before beginning their service as president and matron of the Recife Brazil Temple, he submitted a 900-page manuscript to BYU Studies, which was published in 2012 as The Life of Dr. Frederick G. Williams, Counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
The road to publication extended over 50 years and came in stages. The first was when he and his wife Carol moved from California to Utah to attend Brigham Young University. In their free time they travelled around the state interviewing descendants and researching in the LDS Church History Library.
The second significant stage came when the couple moved to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin for his MA and PhD degrees in Luso-Brazilian Literature. During those five years they took advantage of the relative proximity to Nauvoo and Kirtland and took research trips to those and other Church history locations.
The third stage came in 1999, when, after 27 years of teaching at the University of California, Williams accepted the invitation to join the faculty at BYU. The move gave his wife the privilege of singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and gave him the opportunity to be near the Church archives, and to consult with professional historians. He was awarded the Gerrit de Jong, Jr. Professorship, which, coupled with a College of Humanities leave, gave him the funds to travel and do research, and the time to compose and complete the work.
Professor Williams is back teaching at BYU. The documentary history on his great great grandfather was sold out by mid 2013, but Deseret Book still carries it as an eBook.