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Weekly Excerpt

Lucy Meserve Smith Recollection of Providing Aid to Handcart Companies

[From her 1889 reminiscence:] We did all we could, with the aid of the good brethren and sisters, to comfort the needy as they came in [to the Salt Lake Valley] with HandCarts late in the Fall [of 1856] they got their hands and feet badly frosted. Br. Stephen Nixon and wife nursed/ and took care of them til they were better we favoured them br. & Sis. N. by quilting a quilt very nicely for them, as our Society was short of funds then we could not do much, but the four Bishops could hardly carry the bedding and other clothing we got together the first time we met. We did not cease our exersions til all were made comfortable. When the Hand Cart Companies arived, the Desks of the Seminary were loaded with provisions for them. Just at the session of our Oct. Conference news came where these Hand Cart Co’s were. President [Brigham] Young and others were excited and anxious for fear those Co’s would be caught in the snow in the mountains they could not go on with the Confernce. The Pres’t called for men teams clothing, and provisions, and they were soon on the way to meet the Companies. . . . The sisters stripped off their Peticoats stockings and every thing they could spare, right there in the Tabernacle and piled into the wagons to send to the saints in the mountains. (Document 2.4)

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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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