Honoring Our Womanhood: Young Women Recognition through the Years
With the publication of the 1915 Beehive handbook, the Church established its first recognition program for young women. The achievement programs of the Young Women organization, past and present, have helped young women “choose goals that help [them] cultivate feminine attributes, strengthen testimony, and reach [their] divine potential of womanhood.” (See Personal Progress, 1.)
Similar to the eight values in the current Young Women program, young women of the past completed requirements in seven “fields” of personal improvement: Religion, Home, Health, Domestic Arts, Out of Doors, Business, and Public Service, choosing projects from over 300 options. In 1915, those options included:
- Care successfully for a hive of bees for one season and know their habits.
- During two weeks, keep the house free from flies, or destroy at least 25 flies daily.
- Each day for one month, commit to memory a quotation from either Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants.
- During three consecutive months abstain, between meals, from candy, ice cream, sundaes, sodas, commercially manufactured beverages, and chewing gum.
- Mend six pairs of stockings, two knitted undergarments, and hem six dish-towels.
- During three months, assist the Relief Society in their work of caring for the poor and sick.
- Without help or advice, care for and harness a team at least five times [and] drive 50 miles during one season.
- Clear sagebrush off of one-half acre of land.
Additionally, each girl was required to memorize “The Spirit of the Hive,” which was the Beehive motto: “On my honor each day I will have faith, seek knowledge, safeguard health, honor womanhood, understand beauty, know work, love truth, taste the sweetness of service, feel joy.”
Early Beehives could wear uniforms in the Beehive colors of blue, gold and brown. The emblems of achievement were sewn on the sleeve of the uniform.
From the 1940s to the 1960s, Beehives earned emblems to sew onto a Beehive bandlo. Some of those requirements included:
- Strive to get your full nine hours’ beauty sleep each night this month. Make it a habit.
- Increase your self-confidence by acquiring a good posture (sitting, standing, and walking).
- Politeness in all things is the mark of a lady. Practice at home being considerate and polite. Learn to accept directions graciously.
- Make the dinner hour joyous by improving table manners of the entire family.
- Look for something beautiful every day for two months.
In 1985, a new Personal Progress was introduced. Some requirements to earn a young womanhood medallion were:
- Choose a friend to be your partner, and read two missionary pamphlets. Teach another friend or relative what you have learned.
- Write a thank-you letter to your parents.
- Write a personal code of honesty, including five ways you will live an honest life.
- Participate in a physical fitness activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week for three weeks.
In 2009, the virtue value was added to Personal Progress. The requirements include:
- Study the importance of chastity and virtue. Write the blessings of being sexually clean and pure.
- Prepare to be worthy to enter the temple and to participate in temple ordinances. Determine what you can do daily to remain pure and worthy, and write your plan in your journal.
- Read the entire Book of Mormon. Write your thoughts in your journal.
Womanhood: The Highest Place of Honor
“In 1916 the challenges of life involved an entirely different focus, such as killing flies, clearing sagebrush, and learning to harness horses. Today such physical needs are met much more easily. … Modern conveniences grant us more free time to focus on spiritual needs and devote more time to personal service. But the basic element which should never change in the lives of righteous young women is giving service to others. Their divine role as caregivers helps noble womanhood gain 'the highest place of honor in human life.' Serving others can begin at almost any age. Often the greatest service to others is one-on-one. It need not be on a grand scale, and it is noblest within the family.”
(James E. Faust, “Womanhood: The Highest Place of Honor,” general Young Women meeting, April 2000).