Early Mormon Women Found Female Relief Society
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Sarah Granger Kimball, Margaret Cook, Eliza R. Snow, and Emma Hale Smith
Time Period
On March 17, 1842, Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called on female followers in Nauvoo, Ill. to gather and organize a relief society. Sarah Granger Kimball, Margaret Cook, Eliza R. Snow, and Smith’s wife, Emma Hale Smith, formed the Female Relief Society to help "the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes" -- and to "save souls."

The society gave women an official role in the institutional hierarchy, but it was officially disbanded because of conflicts with male leaders in March 1844, and reformed in 1867 when Eliza R. Snow was appointed to help establish chapters in each ward.

Today, the Relief Society includes all Mormon adult women. Its role continues to be compassionate service, as well as to "look after the spiritual welfare and salvation" of Mormon women.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Women and Religion
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Women and Religion in American History
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism)
Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism): Other ARDA Links

Smith, Joseph

Joseph and Emma Smith statue- Panoramio- photo by Hansel und Gretel (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Relief Society Magazine, cover- Internet Archive

Emma Hale Smith portrait- Internet Archive- from The Relief Society Magazine, vol 6 (1919)

Eliza R. Snow portrait- Hathi Trust- from Poems, Religious, Historical, and Political, vol 2 by Eliza R. Snow

15th Ward Relief Society Hall- Internet Archive- from Charities and Philanthropies by Emmeline B. Wells
Book/Journal Source(s)
Lippy, Charles, and Peter Williams, 2010. Encyclopedia of Religion in America. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Web Source(s)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website, "Relief Society"
Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, "Relief Society"
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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