The Church Historian's Press


Church of Christ organized

The Church of Christ (later renamed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was organized in Fayette, New York.


Emma Smith designated “Elect Lady”

A revelation (now found in section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants) to Joseph Smith regarding his wife, Emma Hale Smith, called her an “Elect Lady” and instructed her to “expound Scriptures & exhort the Church.”


Lucy Mack Smith speaks to Latter-day Saints

Lucy Mack Smith addressed a gathering of emigrating Latter-day Saints at Lake Erie in New York. See chapter 1, “Where Is Your Confidence in God?”


Elizabeth Ann Whitney sings in tongues

After receiving her patriarchal blessing in the partially completed Kirtland temple, Elizabeth Ann Whitney stood and sang in tongues. See chapter 2, “Adam-ondi-Ahman.”


Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star begins publication

This semimonthly church periodical helped spread the gospel and communicated with Saints throughout the British Mission.


Female Relief Society of Nauvoo organized

The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo was organized in Nauvoo, Illinois. Emma Smith was elected president. Other officers appointed that day were Sarah Marietta Kingsley Howe Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney, counselors; Eliza Roxcy Snow, secretary; Phebe M. Bartholomew Wheeler, assistant secretary; and Elvira A. Cowles, treasurer.


Emma Smith instructs Nauvoo Relief Society

As president of the Nauvoo Relief Society, Emma Smith was crucial in shaping the organization. Her words show her priorities as well as her leadership. See chapter 3, “We Are Going to Do Something Extraordinary.


Elizabeth Ann Whitney instructs Nauvoo Relief Society

Elizabeth Ann Whitney’s remarks as second counselor in the Nauvoo Relief Society show how she helped to lift the burdens of her fellow sisters. See bonus chapter, “The Privilege of the Sisters.”


Fifth meeting of Nauvoo Relief Society held

The minutes of the fifth meeting of the Relief Society show the format of these meetings and demonstrate that they were participatory events. This meeting includes addresses by Sarah Cleveland, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Presendia Buell, Lucy Mack Smith, Elizabeth Durfee, Eliza R. Snow, and Patty Sessions. See chapter 4, “After the Order of Heaven.”


Final Nauvoo Relief Society meeting held

The final meeting of the Nauvoo Relief Society was held.


Joseph and Hyrum Smith murdered

Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in Carthage, Illinois.


Lucy Mack Smith speaks at general conference

In this first account of a woman speaking in general conference, Lucy Mack Smith shared her testimony and recounted events from the church’s early history. See chapter 5, “This Gospel of Glad Tidings to All People.”


Trek west begins

Latter-day Saints began the westward journey from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley.


Saints arrive in Salt Lake Valley

The first group of Latter-day Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.


Female Council of Health organized

The Female Council of Health was organized in Salt Lake City by this date. 


Phoebe M. Angell addresses Female Council of Health

Phoebe M. Angell, president of the Female Council of Health, spoke at the August 1852 meeting about the importance of combining faith with practical knowledge and experience in treating the sick. See chapter 6, “Seek to the Lord for Wisdom.”


Local Relief Societies formed

Roughly two dozen local Relief Societies were formed in Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah Territory. 


Women organize Indian relief effort

Latter-day Saint women in Salt Lake City independently organized a society to make clothing for American Indian women and children. Matilda Dudley Busby was chosen as president.


Brigham Young advises women to organize

Brigham Young, president of the church, advised Latter-day Saint women to organize into societies within local wards to assist American Indians and others in need.


Thirteenth Ward Relief Society covenant presented

Matilda Dudley Busby, president of the Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward Relief Society, presented a “covenant” for Relief Society members both in 1854 and 1857. See chapter 7, “Thirteenth Ward Relief Society Covenant.”


“Utah War” disrupts church operations

The “Utah War”—the threat of armed conflict between Latter-day Saints and the United States government—disrupted church operations. This led to Relief Society organizations being discontinued.


Gathering of Cedar City “Benevolent Society”

The Cedar City “Benevolent Society” functioned much like other early Relief Societies in the 1850s. The minutes of this meeting show how the organization provided women with leadership and the opportunity to bear testimonies, and focused on the local poor and needy. See bonus chapter, “Double Diligence.”


Elicia A. Grist’s address published in Millennial Star

In Elicia A. Grist’s published article, she spoke about the distinct responsibilities of women. See chapter 8, “We Have Each a Mission to Perform.”


Brigham Young reestablishes Relief Society

Brigham Young called for the reestablishment of the Relief Society in local wards. Roughly a dozen wards responded within the next four months.


Eliza R. Snow commissioned to help reestablish Relief Society

Brigham Young called again for the organization of the Relief Society. Around this same time, Young commissioned Eliza R. Snow, one of his plural wives, to assist in reestablishing local societies. Through writing, speaking to local wards, and other efforts, she emphasized the importance of the Relief Society and provided guidance on how societies should be organized.


Mary Isabella Horne addresses Salt Lake City Seventeenth Ward Relief Society

Mary Isabella Horne, who served on various levels in the Relief Society, spoke about faith in times of trial to a group of women in Salt Lake City. See chapter 9, “God Will Enable Us to Overcome.”


Eliza R. Snow instructs Salt Lake City Seventeenth Ward Relief Society

Eliza R. Snow visited the Seventeenth Ward as part of her effort to expound on the purposes of the Relief Society. See chapter 10, “Let Us Cultivate Ourselves.


First Relief Society hall built

The first separate Relief Society hall, to be used for both business and worship, was dedicated in the Salt Lake City Fifteenth Ward.


Zina D. H. Young addresses Lehi Relief Society

Zina D. H. Young, who assisted Eliza R. Snow in organizing Relief Society organizations and training new presidencies, spoke to the women in Lehi, Utah, about God’s awareness of them. See chapter 11, “We Serve a Just God.


Mary Isabella Horne invited to lead simplification effort

Brigham Young invited Mary Isabella Horne, president of the Salt Lake City Fourteenth Ward Relief Society, to lead Latter-day Saint women in an effort to simplify meal preparation and apparel.


Jane H. Neyman speaks to Beaver Relief Society

Jane H. Neyman spoke to the Beaver, Utah, Relief Society about charity and unity, and their importance in Relief Society. See chapter 12, “Be Forbearing and Forgiving.

Women protest Cullom Bill

Women of the Salt Lake City Fifteenth Ward met to protest the Cullom Bill, proposed federal legislation designed to punish polygamists and limit the church’s power. In the next three months, thousands of other Latter-day Saint women met in similar protest (or “indignation”) meetings.


First Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Meeting held

Mary Isabella Horne convened the first Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Meeting and was appointed president of the meeting.


Suffrage granted to Utah women

Stephen A. Mann, territorial secretary and acting governor of Utah Territory, signed into law an act conferring woman suffrage in Utah. Utah became the second state or territory (after Wyoming Territory) to grant woman suffrage. 


Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association formed

Brigham Young’s daughters, with the aid of Eliza R. Snow, organized themselves as the First Young Ladies’ Department of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association. This and other departments for young women soon became known as the Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association. 


Mary Isabella Horne accepted as Retrenchment Association president

Mary Isabella Horne was “unanimously accepted” as president of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association. This society and its department for young women were collectively called the Senior and Junior Cooperative Retrenchment Association for a time, and later General Retrenchment or Ladies’ Semi-Monthly Meeting.


Drusilla D. Hendricks speaks to Smithfield Relief Society

Drusilla D. Hendricks recounted experiences from her life and encouraged the Smithfield, Utah, Relief Society members to trust in the Lord when faced with significant challenges. See chapter 13, “The Prayer of Faith.”


Rebecca E. Standring speaks to Lehi Relief Society

Rebecca E. Standring spoke about unity and expanded the definition of family in her address to women of Lehi, Utah. See bonus chapter, “Sisters in Very Deed.”


Woman’s Exponent inaugurated

The first issue of the Woman’s Exponent was published. 


Eliza R. Snow addresses Senior and Junior Cooperative Retrenchment Association

Eliza R. Snow talked about spiritual and intellectual edification, as well as the proper development of domestic skills as part of the cooperative movement. See chapter 14, “An Elevation So High above the Ordinary.”


Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association renamed Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association

The association was officially renamed the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, or YLMIA.


First Primary organized

The first Primary Association was organized in Farmington, Utah Territory, under the leadership of Aurelia Spencer Rogers.


Mary Ann Freeze instructs Salt Lake City Eleventh Ward Young Men’s and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations

Mary Ann Freeze spoke to the young women and young men about how each individual has worth and purpose. See chapter 15, “Our Mission.”


Mary B. Ferguson addresses young women of Spanish Fork

Mary B. Ferguson instructed the young women of Spanish Fork, Utah, on faith and work. See chapter 16, “Essay on Faith.”


General presidencies sustained

At a quarterly conference of the Salt Lake Stake Relief Society, general presidencies were sustained for the Relief Society, Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, and Primary Association. Eliza R. Snow was sustained as Relief Society general president, Elmina S. Taylor as YLMIA general president, and Louie B. Felt as Primary general president.


Lillie T. Freeze speaks to young women of Salt Lake City Eleventh Ward

Lillie T. Freeze discussed the transition from youth to adulthood. See chapter 17, “The Fruits of Our Labor.”


Eliza R. Snow speaks to Kanab Relief Society

Eliza R. Snow spoke to the women in Kanab, Utah, about the individual quest for salvation. See chapter 18, “Every Sister Should Come Forward.”


Ellenor G. Jones instructs young women of Salt Lake City Eleventh Ward

Ellenor G. Jones taught the young women about the power of prayer. See chapter 19, “The Power of Prayer.”


Women protest Edmunds Act

Two thousand Latter-day Saint women assembled in Salt Lake City to protest the recently enacted Edmunds Act, a federal law designed to bring an end to the Latter-day Saints’ practice of polygamy.


First general Relief Society conference held

The first annual general Relief Society conference was held in Salt Lake City. The organization continued to hold semiannual conferences until 1945.


Young Woman’s Journal commences publication

The first issue of the Young Woman’s Journal was published. 


Elvira S. Barney gives invocation at meeting of Utah Woman Suffrage Association

Elvira S. Barney’s prayer at this suffrage meeting shows one way women engaged publicly in theological discourse. See chapter 20, “Prayer.”


Manifesto issued

The Manifesto—a statement announcing the church’s intention to end the practice of polygamy—was read and accepted in the church’s general conference.


Latter-day Saint women join National Council of Women

The Relief Society and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association became two of the ten original member organizations of the National Council of Women.


Mattie Horne Tingey speaks at World’s Congress of Representative Women

Mattie Horne Tingey spoke on the role of women, and how they had a responsibility to develop their intellects and their talents, in a session of the World’s Congress. See chapter 21, “The School of Experience.”


Julia Cruse Howe speaks at General Retrenchment Association

In this retrenchment meeting, Julia Cruse Howe spoke about service and willingness to help in the church. See bonus chapter, “A Drone in the Hive of Deseret.


Sarah M. Kimball’s speech delivered at National Council of Women

Sarah M. Kimball’s address, read by Marilla Daniels, explored philosophical ideas of spiritual enlightenment and eternal progress. See chapter 22, “Our Sixth Sense, or the Sense of Spiritual Understanding.


First MIA conference held with Young Ladies’ and Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Associations

These annual meetings—often called conjoint conferences or June conferences—were held around the first of June each year in honor of Brigham Young’s birthday, and continued until 1975.


First single female missionaries serve missions

The first two single female missionaries, Amanda Inez Knight and Lucy Jane Brimhall, served in England. Latter-day Saint women began participating in missionary work soon after the church was organized, often informally. Some married women served missions with their husbands before 1898. 


Ann M. Cannon speaks at MIA June conference

Ann M. Cannon spoke to officers of the Mutual Improvement Associations about prayer. See chapter 23, “Prayer.”


Bathsheba W. Smith addresses Relief Society

Bathsheba W. Smith, general president of the Relief Society, encouraged members to embrace the future with responsibility and action. See chapter 24, “We Have Still a Greater Mission.”


Rachel H. Leatham speaks at general conference

Rachel H. Leatham, soon after returning from a proselytizing mission, spoke at an outdoor overflow meeting during general conference. See chapter 25, “God Has Revealed It unto Me.”


World War I

World War I, also known as the Great War or the First World War, was fought from 1914 through 1918.


Final issue of Woman’s Exponent published

The final issue of the Woman’s Exponent was published.


Church organizations replace handwritten minute books with standardized forms

As a result of this change in record-keeping practices, the historical record lost many spontaneous utterances of everyday members in their regular meetings.


Relief Society Magazine commences publication

The Relief Society Magazine (which began as the Relief Society Bulletin in 1914) was the official publication of the Relief Society through 1970.


Amelia Flygare speaks at MIA June conference

Amelia Flygare spoke to Mutual Improvement Association officers on how every person can make valuable contributions to the work of God. See chapter 26, “A Great Locomotive.”


Annie D. Noble speaks at MIA June conference

Annie D. Noble described how she gained a personal witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a testimony meeting at a June conference. See chapter 27, “Knowledge Now Which Is Definite.”


Emma N. Goddard speaks at MIA June conference

Emma N. Goddard taught Mutual Improvement Association leaders about raising a righteous generation during a time of war by focusing on loving their neighbors. See chapter 28, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor.”


Jennie Brimhall Knight speaks at Relief Society general conference

Jennie Brimhall Knight taught Relief Society sisters about forgiveness. See chapter 29, “Forgiveness Is like Mercy.”


Amy Brown Lyman addresses women at Relief Society general conference

Amy Brown Lyman spoke on the value of faith to members of the Relief Society. See chapter 30, “The Value of Faith.”


Young Woman’s Journal and Improvement Era combined

The Young Woman’s Journal, the publication for the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, and the Improvement Era, the publication for the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, were combined and called the Improvement Era.


Lalene H. Hart speaks at Relief Society general conference

Lalene H. Hart, who chaired the social service committee in the early 1930s, spoke about what it meant to be a leader in the Relief Society. See chapter 31, “Sensing Responsibility of Office.”


YLMIA changes name to Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association

The Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (YLMIA) adopted the name Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association (YWMIA) because women was seen as a more dignified descriptor than ladies.


Elsie Talmage Brandley addresses youth and leaders at MIA June conference

In her speech Elsie Talmage Brandley addressed issues and challenges identified by young Latter-day Saints in a survey. See chapter 32, “The Religious Crisis of Today.”


Kate M. Barker speaks at Relief Society general conference

Kate M. Barker spoke about prayer, faith, and obedience to members of the Relief Society. See bonus chapter, “There Is a Difference.”


World War II

World War II, also known as the Second World War, began in 1939 and continued until 1945.


Relief Society begins holding annual conference

The Relief Society began holding only one conference per year, in either September or October. 


Leone O. Jacobs speaks at Relief Society general conference

Leone O. Jacobs talked about continually increasing in righteousness. See chapter 33, “Prepare Thy Heart.”


Mary J. Wilson speaks at Relief Society general conference

Mary J. Wilson encouraged her listeners to prioritize eternal salvation over wealth. See chapter 34, “Cultivating Life’s Eternal Values.”


Korean War

The Korean War lasted from 1950 through 1953.


Marianne C. Sharp gives address at Relief Society general conference

Marianne C. Sharp spoke on the relationship between intelligence and obedience. See chapter 35, “Gaining Knowledge and Intelligence.

Margaret C. Pickering speaks at Relief Society general conference

Margaret C. Pickering talked about compassionate service. See chapter 36, “Unto the Least of These.”


Relief Society Building dedicated in Salt Lake City

The Relief Society Building, which members donated funds to build, was dedicated in connection with Relief Society general conference. This building at the church’s headquarters contains the offices for the Relief Society general presidency, and in 1984 the Young Women and Primary general presidencies also began to have their offices in this building. 


Louise W. Madsen speaks at Relief Society general conference

Louise W. Madsen spoke on how God rewards unity with power. See chapter 37, “Union of Feeling.”


Alice C. Smith gives address at Relief Society general conference

Alice C. Smith gave a talk on visiting teaching. See chapter 38, “My Yoke Is Easy and My Burden Is Light.


New church magazines commence

The Ensign, New Era, and Friend commenced publication, replacing the Relief Society Magazine, Improvement Era, Millennial Star, and other church publications.


Church begins holding area conferences

The church began holding area conferences to give members outside of the United States the chance to meet with and learn from general church leaders.


YWMIA becomes part of Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women

For a brief time, the church’s organizations for young women and young men were combined into a single organization called Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women. At this same time, changes in the structure of the MIA program put all adult women eighteen years of age and older under the stewardship of the Relief Society. 


Lucrecia Suárez de Juárez speaks at Mexico and Central America Area Conference

Lucrecia Suárez de Juárez spoke on happiness, motherhood, and the power of the Relief Society in this first area conference in Mexico. See chapter 39, “Relief Society Brings Happiness.”


Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women organization separates into two

After being combined for two years into a single organization called Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women, the church’s organizations for young women and young men were again separated. The organization for young women ages twelve to eighteen was named Young Women, which continues to be the name of this auxiliary organization.


Auxiliary general conferences end

Auxiliary conferences for the Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary, and Sunday School were discontinued. Firesides and other broadcasts became a popular venue over the following years for women leaders to address church membership.


Belle S. Spafford speaks at Brigham Young University devotional

Soon after being released as Relief Society general president, Belle S. Spafford spoke on women and society to BYU students. See chapter 40, “Latter-day Saint Women in Today’s Changing World.”


BYU Women’s Conference begins

The Brigham Young University Women’s Conference began under the sponsorship of the Associated Students of BYU Women’s Office. Oversight for the conference moved to the university president’s office in 1984, and the conference has been cosponsored with the Relief Society since 1990.


First women’s fireside held

This special women’s fireside included addresses from Relief Society and Young Women leaders, as well as the church president.

Consolidated Sunday meeting schedule commences

The consolidated meeting schedule, often called the “block schedule,” moved auxiliary meetings to Sundays, and meant that members would attend all their meetings during a three-hour block on Sundays. Young men and young women continued to have a weeknight evening activity each week.


Ardeth G. Kapp speaks at Brigham Young University Women’s Conference

Ardeth G. Kapp spoke on building testimony and activity on a solid gospel foundation, and receiving direction from God. See chapter 41, “Drifting, Dreaming, Directing.”


First Young Women fireside held

The first worldwide Young Women fireside was broadcast from Salt Lake City. Held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the church, the event included addresses by the Young Women general presidency and the church president.

General Relief Society meeting

The annual Relief Society meeting was designated the general Relief Society meeting. This name was changed two years later.


Elaine A. Cannon speaks at Young Women fireside

Elaine A. Cannon advised the young women to develop a relationship with God. See chapter 42, “Season of Awakening.”


General women’s meeting

The annual women’s meeting was designated as the general women’s meeting. This meeting was open to women twelve and older, and continued for the next few years. In 1984, the age was lowered so that women ten and older could attend.

Women begin consistently speaking at general conference

Women leaders began to consistently speak at the church’s semiannual general conference. See “Latter-day Saint Women Speakers in General Conference.


Francine R. Bennion addresses BYU Women’s Conference

Francine R. Bennion gave an address in response to a request from the BYU Women’s Conference committee that she focus on the topic of suffering. See chapter 43, “A Latter-day Saint Theology of Suffering.”


Jutta B. Busche speaks at BYU Women’s Conference

Jutta B. Busche gave the closing address at this conference on God’s love and learning to have the Spirit in one’s life. See chapter 44, “The Unknown Treasure.

Elaine L. Jack gives Church Educational System fireside address

Elaine L. Jack encouraged initiative and action in young adults in this discourse. See chapter 45, “Get a Life.”


Relief Society begins annual general meeting

The annual general women’s meeting was replaced with a general Relief Society meeting in the fall and a general Young Women meeting in the spring.


Young Women begin annual general meeting

The Young Women organization began an annual general meeting.


Chieko N. Okazaki gives general conference address

Chieko N. Okazaki spoke about unity and diversity in this address. See chapter 46, “Baskets and Bottles.”


Irina Kratzer speaks at BYU Women’s Conference

Irina Kratzer spoke about joining the church and the miracles in her life. See chapter 47, “Decisions and Miracles: And Now I See.


Sheri L. Dew speaks at BYU Women’s Conference

Sheri L. Dew encouraged her audience to learn to rely on the Holy Spirit, understand their worth, and participate fully in the church. See chapter 48, “Knowing Who You Are—and Who You Have Always Been.”


Bonnie D. Parkin speaks at general Relief Society meeting

Bonnie D. Parkin spoke about the importance of covenants to members of the Relief Society. See chapter 49, “With Holiness of Heart.”


Maurine Jensen Proctor speaks at BYU Women’s Conference

Maurine Jensen Proctor shared her insights on contemplation and revelation. See bonus chapter, “Serious Reflection Precedes Revelation.


Virginia H. Pearce gives address at BYU Women’s Conference

Virginia H. Pearce spoke on the power of prayer in this keynote address. See chapter 50, “Prayer: A Small and Simple Thing.”


Julie B. Beck gives BYU devotional address

Julie B. Beck taught young adults at Brigham Young University about the purpose of quorums and Relief Societies. See chapter 51, “Why We Are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies.”


Judy Brummer gives fireside address

Judy Brummer gave a fireside address, using her life in South Africa as an example of how Heavenly Father has a mission for each of his children. See chapter 52, “Our Father in Heaven Has a Mission for Us.”


General women’s meeting reinstituted

This meeting, for women ages eight and above, replaced the Relief Society and Young Women annual general meetings.

Julie Willis gives BYU-Idaho devotional address

Julie Willis spoke about the importance of questions, and how they can bring light and understanding. See bonus chapter, “Gaining Light through Questioning.


First general women’s session

The name of the general women’s meeting was changed to the general women’s session, and the meeting was considered the opening session of the church’s semiannual general conference.


Linda K. Burton gives Utah South Area Conference address

Linda K. Burton spoke on the importance of the Sabbath. See chapter 53, “Our Sabbath Day Gifts.”


Gladys N. Sitati speaks at BYU Women’s Conference

Gladys N. Sitati spoke on contention and cultivating peace. See chapter 54, “Resolving Conflicts Using Gospel Principles.”