“Every one of us should be an angel of charity, every kind act we do will come home to us in blessings, not only in after life but in this life; it will have a sanctified influence upon our character.”
(“Our Girls: YLNMIA Conference,” Young Woman’s Journal 8, no. 8 [May 1897]: 388)
Elmina S. Taylor became a schoolteacher at age 16. In her work as a teacher, she met a Church member who gave her Latter-day Saint literature to read. She bore this testimony:
“Before opening the books I bowed before the Lord and fervently implored Him to give me His spirit that I might understand if they were true or false. My interest was awakened, and the more I investigated and compared the doctrines with the Scriptures, the more I was convinced of their truth. I fought against my convictions, for I well knew how it would grieve my dear parents to have me unite myself with that despised people; and I also thought I should lose my situation [job] which was a very lucrative one. However, I could not silence my convictions, and as the promise was given, 'If you obey the doctrine, you shall know whether it is of God or man'; I went forth and was baptized July 5th 1856. When I was confirmed by the laying on of hands I received the testimony of its truth which I have never lost from that day to this.”
(Augusta Joyce Crocheron, “Elmina S. Taylor,” in Representative Women of Deseret: A Book of Biographical Sketches to Accompany the Picture Bearing the Same Title [Salt Lake City, UT: J. C. Graham & Co., 1884], 49.)
- 1880 – Elmina S. Taylor called as first Young Women general president (then called the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association).
- 1889 – First issue of the monthly Young Woman’s Journal is published.
- 1890 – First general Young Women conference held.
- 1893 – Tuesday night is designated as Mutual night.
- 1899 – Young Women traveling libraries begin.
“Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your daily lives, not merely believe it. Be true to your God, true to yourself, and you will command the respect of all people.”
(“Helpful Thoughts from Member [sic] of the General Board,” 21, no. 2 [February 1910]: 107.)
“One day [Martha] came home from school with a repentant look and manner, and confessed to her mother that she had been disobedient, and had borrowed a ring from one of the girls, and had lost it; but she had felt so conscience stricken about the matter, that she went by herself at the back of the school house to pray, and asked the Lord in her prayer to show her where the ring was, 'and the Lord showed me where it was and I went and got it and gave it to the little girl.'”
(Emmeline B. Wells, “Our Picture Gallery: Martha Jane Horne Tingey,” Young Woman’s Journal 2, no. 4 [January 1891]: 147-48)
- 1912 – First Young Women Camp is held.
- 1915 – Beehive Girls program is organized for young women ages 14 and above.
- 1920 – Road shows sponsored by the MIA are written and performed.
- 1922 – Gold and green become the official colors of the MIA.
- 1925 – Golden jubilee is held with YMMIA.
- 1928 – Golden Gleaner group is organized for young women ages 18-23.
“Ever since I could understand, the gospel has meant everything to me. It has been my very breath, my mantle of protection against temptation, my consolation in sorrow, my joy and glory throughout all my days, and my hope of eternal life. ‘The Kingdom of God or nothing’ has been my motto.” (90th Birthday Party Placard, 1943)
After she migrated to the United States from England, 12-year-old Ruth May Fox worked in a cotton mill to help earn money for her family to cross the plains to Utah. She reflected on her experience working at the factory:
“I must say the girls, with one exception, were a bad lot. One of their number had recently 'got religion,' and I was the only girl in the room who sympathized with her. She would frequently say to me, 'I shall have to break.' It was hard for her to stand the pressure as all the other girls and men were making fun of her. So she came to me to renew her strength.
“These girls had the habit of rubbing their teeth with snuff. Several times a day they would take a layoff to indulge in this habit and every day I was threatened with some punishment if I did not join them. Needless to say, I did not.”
(Ruth May Fox, “My Story,” [unpublished manuscript, 1953], 19.)
- 1929 – The Young Woman’s Journal is replaced by the Improvement Era (later named the New Era).
- 1930 – The song “Carry On” is written by Ruth May Fox for the centennial of the Church.
- 1934 – Twelve and thirteen year olds join Young Women.
- 1935 – Scriptural themes replace annual slogans.
- 1936 – First Churchwide dance festival is held.
“Happiness comes from within; it is a state of mind. . . . Each day brings varied and new experiences. Let us use them as a means to character development. It is not what we are at the beginning of life, it is how we carry on and finish that counts.”
(“Experience,” Young Woman’s Journal 40, no. 6 [June 1929]: 410)
When [Lucy] was about 12 years of age, her mother died. When her father [Heber J. Grant] told Lucy that her mother was dying, Lucy could not believe him. She hurried from the room and returned with a bottle of consecrated oil with which she implored him to bless her mother. He blessed his wife, dedicating her to the Lord. As the children left the room, he fell on his knees and prayed that his wife’s death might not affect the faith of their children in the ordinances of the Gospel. “Lutie” herself ran from the house feeling very bad as she expresses in the following words: “I was stunned and shocked and felt my father had not sufficient faith to heal her. I went behind the house and knelt down and prayed for the restoration of my mother. Instantly a voice, not an audible one, but one that seemed to speak to my whole being said, ‘In the death of your mother the will of the Lord will be done.’ Immediately I was a changed child. I felt reconciled and almost happy.”
(Marba C. Josephson, “Careers of Service to Young Womanhood,” The Improvement Era 40, no. 12 (December 1937): 790.)
- 1940 – Golden Gleaner awards for young women and Sunday evening firesides are introduced.
- 1943 – Class symbols of the beehive, rose, laurel, and sheaf of wheat are introduced.
- 1944 – Big Sister program is initiated for stakes in large cities to provide support for young women living away from home.
- 1947 – YWMIA members celebrate the centennial of the pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley through festivals, music, parades, and square dancing.
“It is wonderful to be a Latter-day Saint woman, with all the possibilities of marriage for time and eternity. It is wonderful, being worthy to enter the temple. What joy and peace of mind we have when we know that our families will be reunited after death, that we will live again as husband and wife.”
(Bertha Julia Stone Richards, “It is Good to Live Now,” BYU address, 18 November 1959, no. 18, Speeches of the Year, 1959-1960 [Provo, UT: Extension Publications, 1959], 7.)
“My father had two cows and one had a calf and he gave it to the three of us children. And he took care of it and raised it until it was a year old. So we called it Annie Rooney, and that calf followed us around all over and it seemed like such a pet, we just loved it. It would come and nuzzle his nose against us. . . . We went [to my grandmother’s] home for my grandmother’s birthday and my father sold the calf to the butcher. When we came home we were heartbroken because of the loss of this calf. So then my father put us around the table and gave each one of us a third of the money for the calf. After he had given it to us then he said, ‘Now the Lord gave you Annie Rooney, and you have to give back the Lord the tenth that he asked for.’ So he took the tenth out for each one of us and then he sent it to the bishop in Corinne [Utah]. That was the first tithing I ever paid and I’ve paid tithing ever since.”
(Bertha Reeder Richards, interviewed by Jill C. Mulvay, 29 April 1974, Ogden, Utah, typescript, p. 2, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.)
- 1950: Class name and age-groups are realigned: Beehives, ages 12–13; Mia Maids, ages 14–15; Junior Gleaners, ages 16–17; Gleaners, ages 18–24.
- 1950: Speech and quartet festivals held in local units and at June conference in Salt Lake City.
- 1950: Annual individual award certificate program begins.
- 1950-1961: Series of posters issued entitled, “Be Honest with Yourself.”
- 1959: Junior Gleaners (ages 16-17) replaced by Laurels (ages 16-18).
- 1960: “Era of Youth” section inaugurated in the Improvement Era.
“No woman—and no man either—can fulfill herself by focusing first on her own needs. Serving others fulfills you by making a bond between you and them that you can’t duplicate any other way.”
(Lavina Fielding, “Florence Smith Jacobsen: In Love with Excellence,” Ensign, June 1977, 29.)
“I had a Junior Gleaner in my MIA class who simply wasn’t attending. . . . She lived with an aunt who told me she might feel self-conscious about her clothes, so my marvelous husband decided that our Christmas presents for each other that year would be a wardrobe for this girl. . . . We left them wrapped on her doorstep on Christmas Eve, and I kept phoning her as I had every week to say, 'We missed you at MIA. Your seat was empty.'”
“She did come back to Church occasionally, but she married young and moved away. I never knew what happened to her until one June conference when a MIA Maid teacher in California wrote and asked if she could bring her class to meet me after June Conference. It was my girl! And every single member of her class was there. She said, 'I got them the way you got me—by missing them and letting them know it.'
“But what really touched me was that I’d always felt close to her, even through all those years when I didn’t know where she was. The kind of doing, sharing, and concern that I’d felt for her had made a bond that had lasted that long. . . .
“And you see, it was the Church that gave me the opportunity to learn that lesson. The Church has taught me many lessons in excellence. When I think of how the Church has brought me the friends that are most precious, the experiences that are most dear, I can only feel how empty my life would have been without it and how full and wonderful my life has been because of it.”
(Lavina Fielding, “Florence Smith Jacobsen: In Love with Excellence,” Ensign, June 1977, 29.)
- 1962 — Worldwide youth conferences are held.
- 1969 — YWMIA celebrates its centennial.
- 1960s — Large Churchwide festivals are held annually.
- 1971 — New Era magazine is published for youth.
- 1971— Personal Achievement program emphasizing journaling and goal-setting begins.
“Each one of us has a specific destiny, which God intends we shall receive according to our faithfulness. He has a place for each of us and prepares us each day to receive it if we are worthy. Everything in our lives is there for a purpose, and that purpose is to prepare us. . . . Be ye ready to receive, and the Lord will pour down his blessings upon you, making it possible for you to realize your divine destiny.”
(Ruth H. Funk, “Ready to Receive,” 28 May 1974, Brigham Young University Speeches)
“I have never been able to stay away from the piano. . . . During my teen age years I had a few lessons with Leopold Godowsky, a famous pianist, who had a friendship with my teacher and visited Salt Lake City on a few occasions. He encouraged me to pursue a concert career and to study at a conservatory in the east. We thought long and hard about this possibility. My father said he would give me a blessing so I would know what I should do. With my parents we fasted before the blessing. Mother came in the room, and my father blessed me: 'Your Father in Heaven wants you to continue with your work on the piano, but as for a concert career, He has other things in mind for you.' The way my life has unfolded, everything was based on that blessing. . . .
“My passion for music when I was young was so great that it consumed every other thought. I realized more and more how I simply could never have handled a top concert career and a family. . . . I’ve lived my life trying constantly to consult the Lord and learn what He wants for me, balanced against my own natural inclinations.”
(Ruth Hardy Funk, interview by Neylen McBain, 3 January 2010, The Mormon Women Project)
- 1972—YWMIA becomes an auxiliary to the priesthood.
- 1973—Youth leadership and the bishop’s youth committee are emphasized.
- 1974—“Behold Thy Handmaiden” curriculum introduced with six areas of focus.
- 1977—My Personal Progress program is introduced with first Young Womanhood medallion.
- 1975—Last June conference is held.
“Thoughts of the morrow must include adhering to our covenants to carry out the Lord’s work valiantly as lively members of his team. No amount of knowledge or skill can compensate for the absence of the powers of heaven in our lives. . . . A thinking woman will be interested in remembering that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled nor enjoyed unless righteousness and compassion prevail in her life. . . . A thinking woman is one ready to be known as a disciple of Christ . . . considers her life sacred . . . [and] wants to function, in every instance, according to God’s will and way.”
(Elaine Cannon, “As a Woman Thinketh,” in As a Woman Thinketh, ed. Elaine Cannon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], 3-4.)
“Our family home was on the foothill of a solitary, beehive-shaped mountain that was a moving force all of my young life. I could see it from my bedroom window and felt a certain security in its closeness. . . . One day—driven by desire to go to the mount, like Moses, to commune with God, to consider who I was and what I was going to do about it—I set out alone to climb that peak. I was 16, and this day my aloneness on that mountain was exhilarating. . . . .
“With fascination I sat looking down at the houses I knew so well and at their people beginning to stir with the sun. . . . Everywhere I looked was someone who had touched my life. At 16 I was the sum of them—parents, school chums, storekeeper, Church leader. My heart flooded with a new awareness. Suddenly I realized I had some debts to pay. In 1847 Brigham Young had led a band of pioneers to the top of the mountain and raised an ensign to the Lord. . . . . Well, I raised my own standard that day. I vowed that I would try to be useful. I knew I needed the help of God, and when I turned to him, my soul filled with an awareness that he lives, that he cares even about a little person sitting on a mountain thinking she can make a difference in the world. When I came down off the mountain the world seemed beautiful, and I was glad to be alive.”
(“A Wonderful Adventure: Elaine Cannon,” New Era, April 1983, 9.)
- 1978—First general women's meeting held in the Tabernacle.
- 1980—Sesquicentennial of the Church. Young women are encouraged to make banners representing commitment to heritage.
- 1980—Sunday instruction for young women begins due to consolidated meeting schedule. Young Women was previously held on a weekday.
- 1980 — Practice of repeating the annual Mutual theme reinstated.
“Never before in the history of the Church has there been such a need for young women who are willing to sacrifice popularity if necessary, suffer loneliness if required, even be rejected if needed, to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . Let us all be filled—filled with the light, the strength, the faith that comes from prayer, scripture study, and obedience to God’s commandments each day of our lives. . . . We’ll hold our torches high that Christ’s true light through us will shine, His name to glorify.”
(Ardeth G. Kapp, “Stand for Truth and Righteousness,” Ensign, November 1988, 93.)
Ardeth Kapp grew up in the small town of Glenwood in Alberta, Canada, and left friends and loved ones to attend Brigham Young Academy High School in Provo, Utah. She recalled:
As a child I didn’t have great aspirations. . . . I just knew it was important to get an education, and to try to help people. I read books about young girls who were good, and I wanted to be good, too. . . . I had never excelled in school, but . . . I had a strong impression I should get an education, though many people told me that was foolish. . . . People sometimes have a lot of counsel for you. But finally you have to follow your own promptings, even though it may not make sense to others until later. You have to dare to walk it alone, sometimes. . . . It was kind of like climbing a ladder. I had to let go with one hand before I could take the next step. . . . [It] was a blessing in disguise. . . . I remember at BY High [School] feeling that I looked different from the other kids, that I wasn’t dressed like the other kids in the latest fashions. I learned what it is not to be in the inner circle. I know the hurt of not excelling in school when the other kids are smart, and what it’s like not to have money and resources that sometimes seem so important for you to be like all the other kids. The world is different now, but those basic needs for acceptance and approval are timeless. I also learned not to let myself dwell on the negative, and that even though I can’t always control a situation, I can control my feelings about it.
(Kathleen Lubeck, “Ardeth G. Kapp: Refined,” This People, April 1985, 22-23, 26.)
Sister Kapp later earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and excelled in her chosen profession.
- 1985—First Young Women satellite broadcast held.
- 1986—First Young Women worldwide celebration, “Rising Generation,” with launching of balloons.
- 1987—Young Women values, theme, motto, and logo are introduced.
- 1989—New Personal Progress program launched, emphasizing spiritual growth and family relationships.
- 1990—Leadership guidebook published and video released.
“It is so important in this day that we build an inner core of spirituality. As you exercise your faith and feel that spirituality grow, you will begin to feel more secure. You will feel more confident. Gradually we will come to more fully understand what it means to completely trust in our Heavenly Father and stand as a witness of God. As we become righteous, problem-solving women of faith, we will learn to represent Him and do His work.”
(Janette C. Hales, “Growing Up Spiritually,” Ensign, May 1994, 98.)
“The community seemed to rejoice with our family when my mother gave birth to her only son after four daughters. My dad was an only son and now he had someone to carry on his name. Within months it was obvious that Tommy was severely handicapped. A force that was just the opposite of my outside world started to be felt inside. There seemed to develop a new dimension of love, tenderness, compassion. I watched my mother and dad make adjustments in lifestyle to lovingly care for a child who in his five-and-one-half years never learned to sit or speak but who warmed an entire room with his smile. The whole town seemed more gentle, interested, concerned. My outside fears were diminished. I felt securely attached because my mother and brother were there. My parents were home at night. Our home seemed more warm, full. There was a different power. It seemed to grow from the inside. It felt more permanent, unlike the temporary power I felt with my friends. It was calm and peaceful—the power of goodness, the power of love.”
(Janette Hales Beckham, “The Power of Goodness,” Ensign, November 1995, 11-12.)
- 1992 — Third Young Women worldwide celebration, “Walk in the Light.”
- 1993 — New camp manual is introduced, focusing on service, spirituality, and the Young Women values.
- 1994 — 125th anniversary of Young Women observed.
- 1994 — First general Young Women meeting, separate from Relief Society, is held.
- 1995 — Fourth Young Women worldwide celebration, “Experiment upon the Word.”
“Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”
(Margaret D. Nadauld, “The Joy of Womanhood,” Ensign, November 2000, 15.)
“When I was just a young girl, I became seriously ill. Each day the illness became increasingly severe. Nothing the doctor recommended helped. At that time the dreaded disease of polio was raging in almost epidemic proportions in the land. It was taking the lives of many, and those who didn’t die were often left crippled. Polio was everyone’s worst fear in those days.
“One night my illness became critical, and my father and grandfather administered to me using consecrated oil, and through the power of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood, which they held worthily, they called upon God for healing, help, guidance, and comfort. And then my parents took me to a doctor in another town who immediately sent us to Salt Lake City. . . .
“When we finally arrived at the hospital in Salt Lake, there were medical personnel waiting for us. They grabbed me from my parents’ arms and whisked me away. Without a word of good-bye or explanation, we were separated. I was all alone, and I thought I was going to die.
“Following the painful diagnostic procedures, including a spinal tap, they took me to a hospital isolation room, where I would stay all by myself with the hope that I would not infect anyone else, for indeed I did have polio.
“I remember how very frightened I was. It was dark and I was so sick and so alone. But my parents had taught me to pray. I got on my knees, and I knelt beside the railing in the criblike bed and asked Heavenly Father to bless me. I was crying, I remember. Heavenly Father heard my prayer even though I was only a child. He did. Heavenly Father sent His comforting power, which enveloped me in quiet love. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost, and I was not alone.”
(Margaret D. Nadauld, “A Comforter, a Guide, a Testifier,” Ensign, May 2001, 90-91.)
- 1998—Young Women worldwide celebration, “Turning Hearts to the Family.”
- 2000—Final Young Women worldwide celebration, “Stand as a Witness.”
- 2002—Young Women Personal Progress program revised and new Young Womanhood recognition medallion introduced.
- 2002—For the Strength of Youth revised.
- 2002—Annual Mutual theme reinstated.
- 2002—Words “strengthen home and family” added to the Young Women theme.
“If young women know of God’s love for them, it will influence and shape all of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They will understand they have a mission to perform in this life. They will have confidence in their ability to make responsible, righteous decisions. They will be able to resist temptation, to flee from worldly things, to dress modestly as is becoming of a divine daughter of God.”
(Susan W. Tanner, unpublished quotation, Resource Room, Relief Society Building, Salt Lake City, Utah.)
“I remember well the insecurities I felt as a teenager with a bad case of acne. I tried to care for my skin properly. My parents helped me get medical attention. For years I even went without eating chocolate and all the greasy fast foods around which teens often socialize, but with no obvious healing consequences. It was difficult for me at that time to fully appreciate this body, which was giving me so much grief. But my good mother taught me a higher law. Over and over she said to me, 'You must do everything you can to make your appearance pleasing, but the minute you walk out the door, forget yourself and start concentrating on others.' There it was. She was teaching me the Christlike principle of selflessness.”
(“The Sanctity of the Body,” Ensign, November 2005)
- 2004 — Young Women section of the Church’s website LDS.org is launched.
- 2004 — The first auxiliary leadership training is done via satellite.
- 2004-6 — First Youth Devotionals and Youth Discussions held in the Tabernacle and broadcast.
- 2006 – Large youth cultural events, especially temple celebrations and celebrations of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birthday, are re-established.
- 2007 – Young Women Camp: A Guide for Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders is published.
- 2004-7 – Many large Church camping properties are developed.
“Our desire is to help young women be worthy and pure and to prepare every young woman to receive the blessings and ordinances of the temple. We will work tirelessly with your daughters, with you, and with priesthood and Young Women leaders to protect and strengthen and prepare our precious young women to be virtuous and pure and live the standards that will help them be free and happy and allow them to reach their divine potential. We know that we are all elect daughters of God. We also know that each one of us has a great work to perform.”
—Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president
- Mary Nielsen Cook (April 5, 2008–present)
- Ann Monson Dibb (April 5, 2008–present)
Sister Oscarson has served as both a ward Young Women president and as an early morning seminary instructor multiple times. From 1976 to 1979 she served with her husband, who was the president of the Sweden Göteborg Mission. From 2009 to 2012, she served as the matron of the Stockholm Sweden Temple. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University with an emphasis in British and American Literature, and is married to Paul Kent Oscarson. They are the parents of seven children.
- Carol Louise Foley McConkie (April 6, 2013–present)
- Evelyn Neill Foote Marriott (April 6, 2013–present)
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