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Charity Never Faileth
A history of the Relief Society
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1842
A group of women in Nauvoo organize a sewing society to make shirts for the temple workmen. The prophet praises them for their efforts and tells them he will "organize the sisters under the priesthood after a pattern of the priesthood". 
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March 17, 1842
Joseph Smith organizes the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Emma Hale Smith is elected to be president. She selects Elizabeth Ann Whitney and Sarah M. Cleveland to be her counselors. Eliza R. Snow is appointed to be secretary.
Sept. 5, 1842
The sisters of the Relief Society petition Thomas Carlin, the governor of Illinois, on behalf of Joseph Smith. One thousand women sign the petition.
  July 1843 
 A visiting committee consisting of four members is appointed in each ward to assess the needs of the members, solicit contributions from Church members, and to assist those who are in need of help. This is the start of the visiting teaching program which is still in place today.
March 16, 1844 Due to persecution and the events leading up to the prophet Joseph Smith's death, the Relief Society holds its last meeting in Nauvoo.

 
1844 
The Relief Society has grown from 20 members to 1,344 members.
 February 1854
After settling in the Salt Lake Valley and in an effort to heed the counsel of Brigham Young, sixteen women gather together as members of the "Indian Relief Society" to befriend and make clothes for the Indians. They meet weekly until June of 1854.
June 1854 - Brigham Young exhorts each ward to form their own "Indian Relief Society". The members of the original Indian Relief Society disband to join their own ward organizations. Over twenty Indian Relief Societies were organized during 1854 with member contributing enough bedding and clothing to meet the demands of the time. The members also assist in providing for the poor in their wards as well as providing such things as meetinghouse carpets and supplies for handcart companies. 
1857 
The Relief Society efforts are interrupted due to the widespread disorganization of wards during the Utah Expedition. 
1866  
Brigham Young appoints Eliza R. Snow to assist bishops in re-establishing the Relief Society organization in each ward. Using the minutes she had recorded in the early Nauvoo days, Eliza provides a "Constitution" for all local units which unites them in name, purpose, and organization. 
 1869 
Under the direction of the Relief Society the Young Ladies' Retrenchment Association is organized.
1872 
Concurrent with her position as Relief Society president, Eliza R. Snow  aids Louisa L. Greene with the creation of the Woman's Exponent. 
June 15, 1876 
Under the direction of Brigham Young the Deseret Silk Association is organized with Zina D.H. Young as president. President Young announces the growing, harvesting, and spinning of silk as a homemaking skill and Relief Society sisters are called upon to assist in these efforts.
1876 
Brigham Young appoints Emmeline B. Wells to head up a grain storage program. Relief Society sisters are enlisted to help in this project 
 1878 
Under the direction of the Relief Society the children's Primary program is organized with Aurelia S. Rogers acting as president.
1880 The Relief Society now has approximately 300 local units each providing for the needs of those within its ward boundaries. The visiting teaching program is in action. Eliza R. Snow is set apart as the general Relief Society president.
July 1882 
The Relief Society opens the Deseret Hospital.
1888  
Zina D.H. Young is called as the General President of the Relief Society.
1895 
Relief Society members successfully campaign for a provision assuring women's right to vote and hold public office.
1898 
The increase in  Relief Society membership as well as geographical location prompt greater centralization to assure continuity and unity throughout the Church. Annual dues for members are introduced to help defray the general board's traveling and operating expenses. 
1901
Bathsheba W. Smith is called to be the general president of the Relief Society. 
1902  
The first Relief Society handbook is published. 
1902
 Mothers classes are introduced. The curriculum is prepared by each stake.
1902  
The Relief Society provides nursing classes under the supervision of Emma A. Emprey. 
1909 
The general Relief Society presidency establishes its first official headquarters in a newly constructed Bishop's Building in Salt Lake City. 
1910  
Emmeline B. Wells is called as the general president of the Relief Society. 
 1910 
The Relief Society suspends nursing program due to a concern over whether or not the classes offered could meet the rising standards of professional nursing
1913  
The Relief Society board revives the nursing program under the title of  'The Relief Society School of Obstetrics and Nursing' in order to meet the needs of the community. 
1914 
Standardized lesson plans on theological, cultural, and homemaking topics, are introduced by the general Relief Society board members. The lessons are to be taught on a rotating monthly schedule with each topic being assigned to a particular week in the month. 
1918  
At the close of World War I, the Relief Society sells 205,518 bushels of their wheat storage to the U.S. government at its request. A "Wheat Trust Fund" is established for the purpose of purchasing more wheat in the future. 
1919
The Relief Society Social Services Department is established by general secretary-treasurer Amy Brown Lyman. 
1920  
The Relief Society board closes the nursing program after establishing an arrangement with LDS Hospital for those who wished to continue in their training. 
1921 
Clarissa S. Williams is called as the general president of the Relief Society. 
1921  
National concern over high rates of maternal and infant mortality cause the Relief Society to use interest from the Wheat Trust Fund to sponsor hundreds of health clinics for expectant mothers, babies, and preschool children. Sisters in European missions prepare "maternity chests" for needy mothers and home deliveries. 
1928 
Louise Y. Robison is called as the general president of the Relief Society.
 
 
1936  
The Church Welfare Plan is established by the Church and the Relief Society is given the main responsibility for preserving food, providing clothing and bedding, and teaching welfare principles to the sisters. 
1938
Mormon Handicraft is started in Salt Lake City to help women at home earn money by selling their handiwork on consignment. 
1940  
Amy Brown Lyman is called as the general president of the Relief Society. 
1940-1945
Sister Lyman encourages efforts to limit meetings, simplify activities, and strengthen homes fragmented by the demands of war.
 
Relief Society members donate their time and efforts to the Red Cross as well as local welfare assignments.
 
Because some of the curriculum is not relevant for members in foreign countries, the general Relief Society board begins to provide alternative lesson materials for units in other countries.
 
Relief Society sisters in the United States and Canada send clothing, food and thousands of quilts to help the Saints in Europe after World War II. Sisters in Hawaii send similar help to those in Japan. 
 
 
  1944  
The collection of charity funds through visiting teachers is terminated. These duties are now overseen by bishops. 
1945  
Relief Society membership reaches 102,000.
1945  
Belle S. Spafford is called to be the general president of the Relief Society. She also serves as the president of the U.S. Council of Women for two years (1968 - 1970). 

During her administration (1945-1974) the reporting and financing systems, magazine and lesson materials, and Social Services become the responsibility of the priesthood leaders and professional Church departments.

1949
 The first Relief Society in Japan is organized. 
  1966  
Due to rapid growth in Mexico and South America the Relief Society Magazine is now printed in Spanish. 
Sept. 1971 
Relief Society membership, which now includes all LDS women, exceeds one million. 
  1974  
Barbara B. Smith is called to be the general president of the Relief Society and during her administration joins with Church officials in opposing passage of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 
1978 
The Relief Society transfers 266,291 bushels of wheat and nearly 2 million dollars in assets to the First Presidency for use in the Welfare program. 
  1978  
The Relief Society helps establish the Women's Research Center at Brigham Young University. 
1978 
The Relief Society transfers 266,291 bushels of wheat and nearly 2 million dollars in assets to the First Presidency for use in the Welfare program. 
  1978 
Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the first general women's fireside was held. This has become an annual event called the General Women's Meeting and is broadcast worldwide. 
February 4, 1980
President Barbara B. Smith appears on the Phil Donahue show to "explain the role of Mormon women in the Church". 
1984  
Barbara W. Winder is called to be the general president of the Relief Society. During her administration the focal point of Relief Society action is aimed at the local ward levels instead of the general board level. Local wards are encouraged to find opportunities for service, learning, sisterhood and spirituality. 
1988 
The Nauvoo Monument to Women Garden finds a permanent location and becomes a visible symbol of honor for women throughout the world.
  1990  
Elaine L. Jack is called to be the general president of the Relief Society. General membership reaches 2,784,000.
April 5, 1997
Mary Ellen W. Smoot is called to be the general president of the Relief Society.
April 1999  
Hundreds of Relief Society sisters bid good-bye to the 20th century by contributing more than 1,999 hours of service to humanitarian projects in one evening. 
Sept. 25, 1999
The Relief Society issues a declaration affirming the role of women.  Mary Ellen W. Smoot, president of Relief Society organization, reads the statement and explains that it's  part of "an effort to respond to the inquiries from outside the [LDS] church, and to remind ourselves of the grand blessings of womanhood."
March 2000  
There are nearly 4 million members of the Relief Society in over 160 countries worldwide. 

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