43990868

Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book

said it was an unpleasant task, but her desire was to do good— wish’d all the members of this Society

A church organization for women; created in Nauvoo, Illinois, under JS’s direction on 17 March 1842. At the same meeting, Emma Smith was elected president, and she selected two counselors; a secretary and a treasurer were also chosen. The minutes of the society...

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to assist her— said it was necessary to begin at home— to eradicate all evil from our own hearts— and warn those who wish to join, with us, to come calculating to divest themselves of every thing wrong and unite to expose iniquity, to search it out and put it away— She said the Society had other duties to attend to than seeing to the wants of the poor. Exhorted the members so to conduct as to have the honor of commencing a good work and of carrying it out— enforc’d the necessity of walking in a manner that would be approbated of God.
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While the Officers of the Board were examining petitions of various persons who applied for membership Mrs. Prest.

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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call’d on the Society to occupy the time; which was spent much to the edification of those present, by Mother Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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and others, by way of exhortation, admonition, encouragement &c. &c.
After passing examination on the various petitions presented; the following names were presented to the Society, and the persons received as members, to wit.
Mercy Ann BruceSarah Head
Nancy N. TracySarah Davis
Olive FarrSophronia Norris
Susannah BehymerMary Sloan
Julia StoneDelia Curtis
Emily WhitmarkCatharine Wood
Charlotte CurtisMary Munjar
Jane AllenMary C. Coray
Elizabeth JohnsonCaroline Kingsbury
Loisa M. LymanJane Ann Green
Mary E. LightnerAmy Clothier
[p. [27]]
said it was an unpleasant task, but her desire was to do  good— wish’d all the members of this Society

A church organization for women; created in Nauvoo, Illinois, under JS’s direction on 17 March 1842. At the same meeting, Emma Smith was elected president, and she selected two counselors; a secretary and a treasurer were also chosen. The minutes of the society...

View Glossary
to assist  her— said it was necessary to begin at home— to eradicate  all evil from our own hearts— and warn those who wish  to join, with us, to come calculating to divest themselves  of every thing wrong and unite to expose iniquity, to search  it out and put it away— She said the Society had other  duties to attend to than seeing to the wants of the poor. Exhorted  the members so to conduct as to have the honor of commencing  a good work and of carrying it out— enforc’d the necessity  of walking in a manner that would be approbated of God.
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While the Officers of the Board were examining  petitions of various persons who applied for membership  Mrs. Prest.

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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call’d on the Society to occupy the time; which  was spent much to the edification of those present, by  Mother Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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and others, by way of exhortation, admon ition, encouragement &c. &c.
After passing examination on the various petitions  presented; the following names were presented to the  Society, and the persons received as members, to wit.
Mercy Ann BruceSarah Head
Nancy N. TracySarah Davis
Olive FarrSophronia Norris
Susannah BehymerMary Sloan
Julia StoneDelia Curtis
Emily WhitmarkCatharine Wood
Charlotte CurtisMary Munjar
Jane AllenMary C. Coray
Elizabeth JohnsonCaroline Kingsbury
Loisa M. LymanJane Ann Green
Mary E. LightnerAmy Clothier
[p. [27]]
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On 17 March 1842, JS first formally organized Latter-day Saint women in a group with distinct responsibilities and authority. At JS’s invitation, twenty women assembled in the large room above his dry goods store in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, to be organized, as one woman recalled his description, “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” (Sarah M. Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Sept. 1883, 51). Priesthood quorums—units of men assembled according to priesthood office and usually headed by a president and two counselors—had been organized previously. The women assembled on 17 March elected JS’s wife Emma Hale Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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president, and she selected two counselors; a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ordained or set apart the three-member presidency to their new callings or offices. These were the first ecclesiastical positions in the church for women.
The name the women selected for their institution, the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, paralleled that of contemporaneous women’s benevolent societies in the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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. Two or three weeks prior to the 17 March meeting, a group of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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women had met to form a “ladies society” to sew shirts for temple workmen, an effort probably informed by the broader benevolent movement. When JS invited these women to be organized as part of the church structure, they abandoned their plans for an independent society with a constitution and bylaws. JS told them at the initial meeting, “The minutes of your meetings will be precedents for you to act upon—your Constitution and law” (Minutes, 17 Mar. 1842). This record of Relief Society “organization and proceedings” includes minutes for seventeen meetings in 1842, thirteen in 1843, and four in 1844. By the last recorded meeting in March 1844, a total of 1,331 women had enrolled as members, most of them joining the first year (Maureen C. Ward, “‘This Institution Is a Good One’: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 17 March 1842 to 16 March 1844,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 [Fall 2002]: 87–203).
JS attended nine Relief Society meetings in 1842 and addressed six of them. These minutes document his instructions regarding women’s new responsibilities, authority, and forthcoming temple blessings—the only record of teachings JS directed specifically to women. The minutes detail donations for and visits with the poor, contributions for temple

JS revelation, dated Jan. 1841, commanded Saints to build temple and hotel (Nauvoo House). Cornerstone laid, 6 Apr. 1841. Saints volunteered labor, money, and other resources for temple construction. Construction directed by committee, which included Reynolds...

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construction, and women’s efforts at moral reform and civic activism. Discussions reported in this record refer explicitly or implicitly to tensions mounting in Nauvoo over JS’s political influence and threatened extradition to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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, the defection of prominent church and civic leader John C. Bennett

3 Aug. 1804–5 Aug. 1867. Physician, minister, poultry breeder. Born at Fairhaven, Bristol Co., Massachusetts. Son of John Bennett and Abigail Cook. Moved to Marietta, Washington Co., Ohio, 1808; to Massachusetts, 1812; and back to Marietta, 1822. Married ...

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, and the tumult surrounding the introduction of plural marriage. The record of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo ends on 16 March 1844; a decade passed before Relief Society meetings resumed in the Salt Lake Valley.

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