A Review of the Administration of President Joseph Fielding Smith


January 23, 1970–July 2, 1972

The following list outlines some of the active and far-reaching nature of President Smith’s tenure of office as President of the Church. However, by its very nature such a list is fragmentary. Countless decisions, redirections, and different emphases of President Smith’s administration have never received public attention, yet have given and will continue to give imprint to aspects of the work of the Lord for generations to come.

The First Presidency(click to view larger)

Photograph taken the day President Smith’s administration began, January 23, 1970: President Lee, President Smith, President Tanner.

1970

January

18 Death of President David O. McKay

23 Joseph Fielding Smith named President of the Church, with Harold B. Lee and N. Eldon Tanner as counselors

February

11 Howard W. Hunter named Church Historian and Recorder, to succeed Joseph Fielding Smith

14 Announcement of organizing of sixteen new regions in Church

20 Myrthus W. Evans named president of Los Angeles Temple

March

15 First stake in Asia—Tokyo Stake

22 First stake in Africa—Transvaal Stake

April

2 Changes in the Primary program for children outlined at Primary Conference

6 Joseph Fielding Smith sustained as President of Church at solemn assembly in Tabernacle; Boyd Kenneth Packer named to Council of the Twelve, with Joseph Anderson, David B. Haight, and William H. Bennett named as Assistants to the Twelve

19 First pre-service orientation program conducted for Latter-day Saints entering military service

May

30 President Smith visits Church members in Mexico City

June

5 6,000 pounds of relief supplies sent to Church members caught in Peru earthquake

6 Announcement that Improvement Era, Children’s Friend, Relief Society Magazine, and Instructor, as well as the seminary system’s Impact, will be discontinued at end of 1970; three new magazines to be published: one for adults, one for youth, one for children

10 Church leaders attend banquet climaxing efforts to raise funds for the Deliverance Temple, to be built for a black denomination in Salt Lake City; Latter-day Saint youth assist in raising money for structure

20 Neal A. Maxwell appointed Church Commissioner of Education, reactivating that position after nearly quarter of century

25 New family camping program announced at MIA June Conference

July

11 The Presiding Bishopric named as General Boy Scout Committee, with general YMMIA and Primary leaders serving on board

18 James O. Mason named as Church Commissioner of Health Services

26 Peter Whitmer home dedicated as tourist center

August

8 Announcement of Aaronic Priesthood personal achievement program, to go into effect September 1

15 Announcement of young women’s personal achievement program, paralleling that for young men, to go into effect January 1, 1971

22 Laurel leadership conference opened at BYU with 2,500 girls participating

31 C. Bryant Whiting set apart as president of Arizona Temple

September

7 Cornerstone of Ogden Temple laid

19 President Smith visits members in Hawaii

26 Announcement made that R- and X-rated movies are not to be advertised in the Church’s daily newspaper, the Deseret News, after October 15, 1970

October

3 Members of Presiding Bishopric named as chairmen of board of trustees of Health Services Corporation. Names for new Church magazines announced: Ensign, New Era, Friend, with publication to begin in January, 1971

6 Thirty-seven buildings dedicated at BYU

10 Mondays set aside for family home evenings with temples and genealogical libraries, as well as local Church facilities, to be closed. Publication of President Smith’s new book, Seek Ye Earnestly. Cecil E. Hart named to preside over Idaho Falls Temple

11 President Smith honored by 3,000 students at Ogden Institute

31 Announcement of new training program for bishops

December

5 Formation of Taiwan Mission announced

19 Announcement of expansion of Church assistance to Indian agricultural and home management program. Name changes in Church Scouting program announced: Scouts, Venturer Explorers, Explorers

1971

January

5 Announcement of purchase of building site adjacent to New York City’s Lincoln Center

16 Consolidation of counseling and admissions services for Church universities and colleges announced

23 Meetinghouse Library Committee formed

February

2 Henry B. Eyring inaugurated as president of Ricks College

12 Relief sent to victims of San Fernando Valley, California, earthquake

27 Church Social Services Department reorganized. First Regional Representative from South America called

March

9 Announcement of plans for law school at BYU

13 Fred W. Schwendiman appointed president of New Zealand Temple

April

5 Charles Lloyd Walch named as president of Hawaii Temple

21 Stephen L. Brower named as president of Church College of Hawaii

May

4 Dallin H. Oaks named as president of BYU

21 Cornerstone laid for Provo Temple

31 Visitors center at Independence, Missouri, dedicated

June

12 Italy North Mission created

22 Alabama-Florida, Florida South, and Georgia-South Carolina missions created

28 New Sunday School Superintendency named: Russell M. Nelson, general superintendent [now called president]

July

12 Last all-Church athletic tournament (tennis) held; tournaments henceforth are to be on area and regional basis throughout the Church

16 Relief sent to victims of Chile earthquake

24 Fiji Mission created. First medical missionaries called

31 Nauvoo Visitors Center opens

August

3 Death of Sister Jessie Evans Smith at age 68

10 Announcement that Church will build new elementary and secondary schools in areas such as Latin America, but will probably not build any more colleges in U.S.

28 Announcement of change of name of Deseret Sunday School Union to Sunday School of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

27 First area general conference in Manchester, England, opens

September

First deaf ward in Church organized in Salt Lake City

October

Genesis Group organized in Park Stake to provide auxiliary activity for black members in Salt Lake City

November

1 Death of Richard L. Evans of the Council of the Twelve

December

3 Marvin J. Ashton named to the Council of the Twelve

16 Church sells Forest Dale Golf Course back to Salt Lake City, having purchased it in 1959 for the construction of a junior college

1972

January

3 Department of Internal Communications announced, with J. Thomas Fyans as managing director

15 Church Historian’s Office reorganized: Leonard J. Arrington named as Church Historian, Earl E. Olson as Church Archivist

18–20 Dedicatory services for Ogden Temple

29 Announcement of prospective elders program, to replace Aaronic Priesthood—adult program

February

9 Dedicatory services for Provo Temple

March

18 Quebec Mission created

Donald T. Schmidt called as Church librarian; title of the Church Historian’s Office changed to the Historical Department of the Church; James B. Allen and R. Davis Bitton named as assistant Church historians

April

6 John H. Vandenberg and Robert L. Simpson named as Assistants to Council of the Twelve; Victor L. Brown named as Presiding Bishop, with H. Burke Peterson and Vaughn J. Featherstone as counselors. Church Department of Physical Facilities announced

8 Changes made in organization of Church welfare program

18 President Smith receives 1972 Exemplary Manhood Award at BYU

Announcement that Book of Mormon has been translated into Afrikaans

May

13 Sherman M. Crump named general secretary of Aaronic Priesthood

26 Elder Theodore M. Burton named president of Genealogical Society. Lyric Theater in Salt Lake City being restored, to be known as Promised Valley Theater

June

3 First French-speaking stake, Tahiti Stake, organized

25 Titles of Sunday School and YMMIA leaders changed from superintendent and assistant to president and counselor. President Smith addresses closing session of MIA conference

28 Seventy new regions created; 35 new Regional Representatives called; mission districts as well as stakes now included in regions; 29 Mission Representatives called to direct missionary work under the Council of the Twelve and First Council of the Seventy

29 John K. Edmunds appointed president of Salt Lake Temple

July

2 President Joseph Fielding Smith dies in Salt Lake City

6 Funeral services for President Smith in the Tabernacle; burial in the Salt Lake City Cemetery