Happy Birthday Relief Society!

The Nauvoo Female Relief Society had its founding meeting 175 years ago today. This necessary-to-complete-restoration organization has had a marked effect on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A comprehensive history of Relief Society still waits to be written but a number of important volumes are recently in the wind from the Church Historian’s Press and Alfred A. Knopf. Not in any order of importance, see

1. Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow, eds., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2016).

2. Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook, eds., At the Pulpit: 185 years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2017).

3. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017).

May I also recommend you pursue the Relief Society meeting minutes of April 28, 1842 here. You’ll see two documents in parallel, the original minutes, and an edited version by church historian George A. Smith, put together 16 years later. The contrast is remarkably revealing if somewhat disappointing. The sisters did not give up however. They read and reread Joseph Smith’s commission from the original in the succeeding decades. It became a powerful totem for women in their spiritual service and leadership.

Yay Relief Society. Can’t wait for 200.

Association for Documentary Editing

Dear Readers, here’s a note from a group I belong to. Its work may be of interest if you are involved in publishing archival materials. If you are not involved in such a project but you are acquainted with someone who is, please pass the information along. Thanks.

Are any of you historians, librarians, archivists, English professors, or literary critics out there interested in transcribing primary source documents and making them accessible to the public? The Association for Documentary Editing (ADE) can help answer questions about that process. The ADE promotes documentary editing through the cooperation and exchange of ideas among a community of editors. For more information, visit http://www.documentaryediting.org. You can also contact the membership chair at Pamela.Pierce@dickinsonstate.edu. The Association would enjoy learning more about your group/project and developing ways that we could work collaboratively.

Best,

W. V. Smith
ADE Member since 2008.