At the recent history symposium focusing on women in Mormon History, the director of the LDS Church History Library announced a new research aid entitled “Women in Church History.” Among the various highlighted documents was a link to CR 11 175, Relief Society record, 1880-1892. This caught my eye because it has been restricted in the past and closed to research, though some researchers have been granted access. I’m always grateful for wider access to historical documents such as these, and this one in particular is important. Thanks to the dedicated staff and administrators at the CHL for their ongoing work.
As it is the anniversary of the founding of Relief Society, I thought it would be fun to reproduce from this document the ordinations of the first General Presidency. May it ever increase. [Note that this is a first pass transcription, you can verify it yourself if you would like]
Minutes of general meeting held in Fourteenth Ward Assembly Hall July 17th 1880
[John Taylor had almost forgotten to attend, almost having left for a Stake Conference outside of Salt Lake. He gave some history of the troubles with Emma and the Relief Society, and talked about ordination not being an ordination to priesthood. Nuttal read from the Book of the Law of the Lord. Some fascinating stories about Emma.]
…Pres. Taylor then set apart the Relief Society officers as follows:
Eliza Roxie Snow Smith, I lay my hand upon thy head in the name of Jesus and by authority of the holy priesthood I set thee apart to preside over the Relief Societies in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. And I confer on thee this power and authority and ordain thee to this office that thou mayest have power to expound the scriptures and to bless elevate and strengthen thy sisters, the Lord is well pleased with thee, with thy diligence fidelity and zeal in the interest of thy sisters. He has blessed thee exceed<ingly> and will continue to bless the forever and ever and I bless thee with all thine heart can desire in righteousness and I seal upon thee all former blessings conferred upon thee by the holy priesthood, In the name of Jesus Amen
Zina Diantha Young Smith I lay my hands upon thee in the name of Jesus and by authority of the holy priesthood. And ordain thee to be first counselor to Eliza R. Snow. Honor thy calling which is an honorable one. Sustain and assist thy President and thou shalt have joy in thy labors thou shalt be a wise counselor the Lord is well pleased with thee and will sustain thee. And no man shall deprive thee of thy blessings thou shalt have the gift to heal the sick, and thou shalt be blessed in time and in Eternity in the name of Jesus, Amen
Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney, In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of my office and calling, in the holy priesthood, I bless thee and set thee apart to be second counselor to Eliza R. Snow smith. Thou hast been tried and found faithful and God has helped thee and thou shalt be blessed in thine old age; and thy name shall be honored though all generations, thy heart shall be filled with peace and joy and thou shalt be a wise counselor in thine old age. Thou shalt continue to be blessed as thou hast been and when thou hast finished thy labors thou shalt have a place in the Celestial Kingdom of God, with thine husband thou shalt be blessed with all the blessings and priveleges pertaining to this office and calling, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
[after blessing SMG Kimball as treasurer, Taylor left and Whitney sang in tongues, referencing JS’s blessing upon her for the gift and Zina interpreted]