The Nauvoo Female Relief Society Meeting of April 28, 1842

We’ve had a partial of these minutes up at boap.org in the Parallel Joseph for a long time, but recently we put up the entire transcript. Eliza R. Snow took the minutes. Since her notes constitute the only extensive report of the meeting, it’s impossible to have direct knowledge of how accurate they are. But their form and flow suggest a reasonably careful rehearsal of the day’s events. The minutes are the source of the oft-quoted “turn the key” phrase as well as the pronouncement that the biblical signs (Mark 16:17-18) follow *all* believers, not just males. (See a very different item from these minutes here.) There are some additional details that give us some clues about the operation of the Society, in particular the ongoing expansion of membership. After Nauvoo in some sense, other incarnations of Relief Society never really had the same internal cachet. While the echoes in early Utah ward Relief Societies tried to recruit the glory days, they never had real support from church leadership. But Snow and Whitney and others kept the dream alive, repeating Joseph’s words when the occasion arose. But the auxiliary movement would claim the RS and gradually it became one itself, losing independence and related status along the way.
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Relief Society Organization Minutes

We got around to putting up the Nauvoo Relief Society organization minutes in the Parallel Joseph. It had an abbreviated version previously. The one up now has the text from Eliza R. Snow’s minute book. It’s missing some of the text, but has all the Joseph Smith material I think [Edit: the online text is now the complete Snow minutes for that meeting]. Go to the March 17, 1842 entry if you want to read. The naming debate is interesting. The Relief Society was parallel to a movement in Protestantism to expand the role of women in religion.