The Church Historian's Press The Church Historian's Press


Nauvoo Female Relief Society, Report, June 30, 1843

Nauvoo Female Relief Society, Report, June 30, 1843, in “Female Relief Society,” Nauvoo Neighbor (Nauvoo, IL), July 12, 1843, vol. 1, no. 11, p. 2.

See image of the original document at

This first annual report of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, dated June 30, 1843, established the organization’s pattern of systematic reporting on its donations, expenditures, and activities. Reform organizations of the time, including women’s groups, often issued similar annual reports of their activities and finances.1 At the organizational meeting on March 17, 1842, Eliza R. Snow was elected secretary and Elvira A. Cowles was elected treasurer. Joseph Smith gave “$5.00 in gold piece” at the inaugural meeting “to commence the funds of the Institution.”2 On March 24, in response to a question, Emma Smith suggested that in-kind contributions, “such as jewelry, clothing &c.,” could be donated to the society and placed “into the hands of the Treasurer.”3

The minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society record many of the donations and expenditures in charitable causes during the organization’s first year. In a June 16, 1843, meeting of the Relief Society, treasurer Elvira Cowles Holmes reported “she was not altogether prepared to give a full and correct statement of the Receipts and Expenditure of the Society but would make a statement so soon as she could see Mrs. Smith and adjust some unsettled accounts— suffice it to say about 500 dollars have been recd. and nearly 400 expended during the first year of the Society— much good had been done and the hearts of many made to rejoice.”4 Two weeks later, Snow wrote this report of the Relief Society’s first year of activities, including an account of donations received and expenditures, for the Nauvoo Neighbor and the Times and Seasons. The versions appear to be identical to one another, including in the typesetting; the Neighbor version was the first published and is therefore featured here.


The first annual report of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo; being a correct statement of the receipts and disbursements of the society, from its organization, March 16th [17th] 1842 to March 16th 1843, to wit.

Received in donations of money, clothing, prov[i]sions5 &c. &c.


Expended in appropriations for the relief of the poor.


Leaving at the time aforesaid, a balance of


as follows, to wit.


$, 29,00

Share in the Nauvoo House6


Note of hand by J. [James] Emmett




Cow, the use of which is appropriated to widow H.




various articles of clothing, provision &c &c



An apology is due to the members of the Society for our delay in presenting this report. We would only say, it was unavoidable in consequence of circumstances beyond the control of the Treasurer, Mrs. E. A. Holmes, which rendered it impossible for her to make satisfactory returns at an earlier period.

We hope the Ladies of the Society will feel encouraged to renew their exertions, knowing that the blessings of the poor are resting upon them: We feel assured from what has passed under our personal observation, that many during the inclemency of the winter, were not only relieved, but preserved from famishing, through their instrumentality. More has been accomplished than our most sanguine anticipations predicted, and through the assistance and blessing of God, what may we not hope for the future?

By Order of the President.8

ELIZA R. SNOW, Secretary.

Nauvoo June 30th 1843.


  1. [1]See, for instance, the “Annual Report of the American Female Moral Reform Society,” Advocate of Moral Reform (New York City), June 1, 1841, 7:81–83.

  2. [2]Document 1.2, entry for Mar. 17, 1842.

  3. [3]Document 1.2, entry for Mar. 24, 1842.

  4. [4]Document 1.2, entry for June 16, 1843.

  5. [5]text: In the copy used for transcription, there is a blank space between the v and the s.

  6. [6]In January 1841 Joseph Smith dictated a revelation that commanded the building of a home for himself and his family, which would also serve as a “house for boarding, a house that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein; therefore let it be a good house, worthy of all acceptation, that the weary traveler may find health and safety while he shall contemplate the word of the Lord.” The revelation named the building as the Nauvoo House and specified that funds should be raised for its construction by selling shares for fifty dollars. In August 1842 Hyrum Smith encouraged the purchase of stock, as “it is important that the Nauvoo House should be finished that we may have a suitable house wherein to entertain the great ones of the earth and teach them the truth.” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:23, 60, 64–66; Joseph Smith, Journal, Aug. 29, 1842, in Andrew H. Hedges et al., eds., Journals, Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843, vol. 2 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee et al. [Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011], 121.)

  7. [7]text: In the copy used for transcription, this line and the next line are obscured by a fold in the page. Obscured text supplied from “Female Relief Society,” Times and Seasons, Aug. 1, 1843, 4:287, which appears to share identical typesetting with the Nauvoo Neighbor version.

  8. [8]Emma Smith.