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.
FEMALE RELIEF SOCIETY.
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.
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.