For the first time, a hard cover book has been published that contains historical documents about the first 50 years of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History, was released mid-February by the Church Historian’s Press in time for the Relief Society’s 174th Anniversary on March 17, according to a news release on Mormon Newsroom.
“This collection of original documents explores the fascinating and largely unknown history of the Relief Society in the nineteenth century,” according to the Church Historian’s Press Web page where digital selections of the book can be viewed for free.
A majority of the book sheds light on the lesser known times in the organizations history, such as its reestablishment in the territory of Utah and on how it spread to far reaching areas of Hawaii and England, according to the Church Historian’s Press Web page.
“This extraordinary volume has never been published in its entirety, so this will be new to most readers,” said Jill Mulvay Derr, a retired senior research historian of the Church History Department, in the news release.
Joseph Smith, the first president of the Church, established the Relief Society in Nauvoo, Illinois, on March 17, 1842, according to lds.org.
“Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need,” according to Handbook 2: Administering the Church.
Tessa Wade, a Relief Society president and a sophomore studying business management, said the Relief Society has helped her understand who she is and what her role is as a daughter of God in the world today.
“It’s helped me really see that God created us in a certain way that we can have an influence and a voice that the world needs,” Wade said. “We need to be able to share it more and the only way we can share it is if we know about it.”
Wade said the place women can learn this is in Relief Society. Then the spirit teaches them how to applty it in school, as a student and in their families and apartments.
The Relief Society was one of the first organizations in the world that gave women a voice, according to the news release.
The Relief Society has women speak out either in their meetings, teaching lessons, or giving talks, said Kate Holbrook, specialist in women’s history, Church History Department said in the news release.
The prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Relief Society was established to relieve the poor, help the destitute, help the widow and the orphan, correct morals and strengthen community virtue, according to Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith.
Wade said she has learned so much from the girls and has grown to love each one as if they were family. She enjoys being a president of her ward Relief Society.