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Sarah M. Kimball Remembers Founding of Relief Society

[From her 1882 reminiscence:] M,iss [Margaret] Cook . . . remarked that she would be pleased to contribute needle work [to the temple] if it could be made available. I proffered material for her to make up, and suggested that others might feel as we did. We then agitated the subject of organising a Sewing Society. The object of which should be to aid in the erection of the Temple. . . A Constitution and bye laws was prepared and submitted to President Joseph Smith. He pronounced it the best constitution that he ever read, then remarked this is not what the sisters want, there is something better for them. I have desired to organise the Sisters in the order of the Priesthood I now have the key by which I can do it The organisation of the Church of Christ was never perfect until the women were organised. He then said I want you (E. R. Snow) to tell the sisters who delegated you that their offering is accepted of the Lord, and will result in blessing to them. . . . And I will organise you in the Order of the Priesthood after the pattern of the church. And I wish Emma [Smith to be nominated and elected President of the Organisation in fulfilment of the revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants which Says She is an Elect Lady. An Elect Lady is one who is elected. (Document 4.10)

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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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