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Eliza R. Snow Called to Help Organize the Relief Society

[From her 1885 reminiscence:] Not long after the re-organization of the Relief Society, Pres. Young told me he was going to give me another mission. Without the least intimation of what the mission consisted, I replied, “I shall endeavor to fulfil it.” He said, “I want you to instruct the sisters.” Altho’ my heart went “pit a pat” for the time being, I did not, and could not then form an adequate estimate of the magnitude of the work before me. To carry into effect the President’s requisition, I saw, at once, involved public meetings and public speaking—also travel abroad, as the Branches of the Society of the sisterhood extended at that time, through several Counties in Utah, and ultimately, all the vallies of the mountains—numbering, at present date, nearly three hundred; besides other Branches in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Islands of the sea, wherever the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints” has established its Branches. Some years ago, by mutual consent, the word female was dropped, and the Society called “Relief Society.” (Document 3.5)

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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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