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Joseph Smith on the Purpose of the Relief Society

[From the minutes of the founding meeting of the Relief Society:] Prest. [Joseph] Smith, & Elders [John] Taylor & [Willard] Richards return’d and the meeting was address’d by Prest. Smith, to illustrate the object of the Society— that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor— searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants— to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties &c. in their public teaching. (Document 1.2, entry for March 17, 1842)

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This collection of original documents explores the fascinating and largely unknown history of the Relief Society in the nineteenth century. The story begins with the founding of the Nauvoo Female Relief Society in 1842, and the complete and unabridged minutes of that organization are reproduced for the first time in print.

The large majority of the print volume covers the even lesser-known period after the Relief Society was reestablished in territorial Utah and began to spread to areas as remote as Hawaii and England. 

This website features the entire contents of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, including all the documents, the editorial matter, and the photographs. The website also includes videos, a chronology, and two thousand brief biographies (fully sourced) of individuals who appear in the documents.

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