In 1842, a group of Latter-day Saint women wanted to help their community by sewing clothes for the men who were building the Nauvoo Temple. They told Joseph Smith about their idea for a “Ladies Society.” The prophet felt inspired that this should be more than a service club—that it should be officially organized as part of the Church. The prophet said, “The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized.”
The Relief Society was organized on March 17, 1842, and today it celebrates it’s 180th anniversary. Emma Smith was the first Relief Society president and Jean B. Bingham is our General Relief Society President today. The Relief Society is one of the largest women’s organizations in the world.
And here’s something interesting to think about. Although we don’t know what the Relief Society was named back when Jesus Christ was on earth, it makes sense that a similar organization has always existed. As Eliza R. Snow said, “Although the name may be of modern date, the institution is of ancient origin. We were told by our martyred prophet that the same organization existed in the church anciently.”
- Relief Society History
- “Relief Society: A Restoration of an Ancient Pattern,” Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society (2017), 7.
This article was adapted from the article “A few women wanted to help their community” in the Gospel Living app.