150 Years of Church History


150 Years of Church History

1805

December 23. Joseph Smith, Jr. was born in Sharon, Vermont, the fourth child of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith.

1820

In Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Father and Son answered his question about which church to join.

The Sacred Grove today

The Sacred Grove today, 160 years after the Father and the Son appeared to the boy prophet and where the latter-day dispensation of the new gospel began. The grove still conveys a feeling of deep reverence to Church members who visit there. Photo by Eldon K. Linschoten.

1823

September 21–22. In five visits with Joseph Smith, the resurrected Moroni revealed the existence of ancient metal plates and instructed him on his role in restoring the gospel and translating the Book of Mormon.

Hill Cumorah

Hill Cumorah. This early daguerreotype by George Anderson (1860–1928) indicates the predominance of this hill to the surrounding landscape as Joseph Smith described it in Joseph Smith 2:51. [JS—H 1:51]

1827

January 18. Joseph Smith married Emma Hale in South Bainbridge, New York.

September 22. Joseph Smith received the plates of the Book of Mormon from Moroni at the Hill Cumorah. He also received the Urim and Thummim, which was used to assist in translation.

1829

May 15. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist. The two baptized one another as instructed.

May or June. Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery near the Susquehanna River between Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Colesville, New York.

June. The Book of Mormon translation was completed and three witnesses—Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris—viewed the plates in vision. The testimony of eight other witnesses—Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith—soon followed.

1830

March 26. The Book of Mormon was published.

April 6. Joseph Smith organized the “Church of Christ” at the Peter Whitmer, Sr. home in Fayette, New York, with six incorporators in order to satisfy the legal requirements: Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., David Whitmer, and Samuel H. Smith.

April 11. Oliver Cowdery preached the first public discourse of the new Church at a meeting in the Whitmer home.

June. The “Visions of Moses,” later incorporated in the Pearl of Great Price, were revealed to Joseph Smith. The “Writings of Moses” were added in December.

June 9. The first conference of the Church, which now numbered 27 members, convened in Fayette.

June 30. Samuel H. Smith went to nearby New York communities on the first formal missionary journey in the Church.

ca. October 17. Four missionaries began a mission to the Catteraugus Indians in New York, the Wyandots of Ohio, and the Shawnees and Delawares on the Missouri frontier, stopping enroute to teach and baptize Sidney Rigdon and a congregation of his followers in Ohio.

1831

February 4. Edward Partridge was named “bishop unto the church.” (D&C 41:9.)

August 2. In a ceremony in Kaw Township, Jackson County, Missouri, Sidney Rigdon dedicated the Land of Zion. Joseph Smith dedicated a temple site the following day.

1832

January 25. Joseph Smith was sustained president of the high priesthood at a conference at Amherst, Ohio. Sidney Rigdon and Jesse Gause were later named counselors and this initial organization of the First Presidency was confirmed in a revelation March 8. Gause was replaced by Frederick G. Williams early in 1833.

February 16. While working on the inspired revision of the Bible, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon witnessed visions of the glories (D&C 76).

June 1. The Evening and Morning Star, the first LDS publication, was issued at Independence, Missouri, with William W. Phelps as editor.

1833

Fall. Missionary work had extended into Canada.

November. The Saints left Jackson County, Missouri because of mob threats and attacks.

December 18. Joseph Smith, Sr. was ordained the first Patriarch to the Church.

The Book of Commandments

The Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ, which was the forerunner on the Doctrine and Covenants was first published by the Church in 1833.

1834

February 17. A presidency and high council were chosen for the stake in Kirtland, Ohio. A similar organization was created in Missouri on July 3, 1834.

May 1–7. Zion’s Camp commenced its march from Kirtland, Ohio to Clay County, Missouri, to assist the exiled Missouri Saints. The camp dispersed June 30.

1835

The Church published a collection of hymns and sacred songs selected by Emma Smith.

February 14. The three witnesses to the Book of Mormon selected Twelve Apostles at a meeting of the members of Zion’s Camp and other brethren in Kirtland, Ohio, and the Quorum of the Twelve was organized.

February 28. The First Quorum of the Seventy and its seven presidents were named.

July 3. Michael H. Chandler exhibited Egyptian mummies and papyrus scrolls in Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith’s work with the scrolls resulted in the Book of Abraham, later included in the Pearl of Great Price.

August 17. A general assembly of the Church in Kirtland accepted the revelations selected for publication as the Doctrine and Covenants.

1836

March 27. The dedication of the Kirtland Temple.

April 3. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received visions of the Savior, Moses, Elias, and Elijah in the Kirtland Temple.

June 29. A mass meeting of citizens of Clay County, Missouri, asked the Saints to leave. By December many had relocated in Caldwell County, Missouri.

1837

Parley P. Pratt issued his pamphlet, Voice of Warning, the first tract published for missionary use in the Church.

June 4. Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde were called to open the missionary work in the British Isles. Elders Joseph Fielding and Willard Richards and others left for this mission June 12–13.

1838

July 4. Church officials laid the cornerstones for the proposed temple at Far West, Missouri.

July 6. The exodus of the “Kirtland Camp” from Kirtland, Ohio, began under the direction of the First Council of the Seventy, one of the last groups to vacate Kirtland.

September 21. A mob challenged the Saints of DeWitt, Carroll County, Missouri, and continued its threats until October 11 while Governor Lilburn W. Boggs rejected Mormon pleas for military aid.

October 26. Governor Boggs issued an order to exterminate or expel the Saints from Missouri.

October 30. Seventeen Latter-day Saints died in the Haun’s Mill Massacre at a small settlement. The attack was a literal reaction to the extermination order of Governor Boggs.

November 1. A court-martial ordered Joseph Smith and others shot, but Brigadier General A. W. Doniphan refused to obey the order. The prisoners were then lodged in the Richmond, Missouri, jail.

November 10. An arraignment and two-week trial commenced, after which Joseph Smith and others were lodged in the Liberty Jail.

1839

January 26. Brigham Young and the Twelve organized a committee to move the Saints from Missouri.

April 26. The Twelve and others met at Far West in conference after which, in response to revelation (D&C 118), the Twelve departed for their mission to Great Britain.

May 10. Joseph Smith took up residence near Commerce, Illinois, where lands for a new gathering place had been purchased. The location was named Nauvoo.

October 6. Wards, presided over by bishops, became geographic subdivisions of the Church when Commerce (Nauvoo) was divided into three wards each with its own bishop.

November 29. President Martin Van Buren told Joseph Smith during an interview at the White House that the federal government could do nothing to relieve the oppressions in Missouri. Petitions were also presented to Congress and a second interview held later with Van Buren, all to no avail.

1841

January 19. A revelation (D&C 124) given at Nauvoo outlined instructions for building a temple and a boarding house in Nauvoo. Baptism for the dead was introduced as a temple ordinance.

January 24. Hyrum Smith was ordained Patriarch to the Church, replacing his father, who had died September 14, 1840; and Assistant President, replacing Oliver Cowdery, who had been excommunicated.

October 24. From a site on the Mount of Olives, Orson Hyde dedicated Palestine for the gathering of the Jews.

1842

March 17. Joseph Smith organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, with Emma Smith, Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney as a presidency, to look after the poor and sick.

1843

July 12. A revelation on the “Eternity of the Marriage Covenant and Plural Marriage” (D&C 132) was recorded, giving fuller meaning to the “new and everlasting covenant” which had been mentioned as early as 1831. The Prophet had explained the doctrine to a few, and plural marriages had been performed in 1841.

1844

January 29. A political convention in Nauvoo nominated Joseph Smith a candidate for the United States presidency.

June 12. The prophet was arrested on the charge of riot. He gave himself up for the trial and was told of a plot ot have him killed.

June 22. Joseph and Hyrum Smith crossed the Mississippi River to flee to the Great Basin. Governor Ford had promised the Prophet safety, and so, at the pleadings of others, the pair returned to Nauvoo and surrendered to government agents.

June 25. Joseph and Hyrum Smith with others were jailed at Carthage, Illinois.

June 27. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed by a mob which rushed the Carthage Jail. John Taylor was injured in the attack; Willard Richards escaped injury.

August 4. Sidney Rigdon advocated appointment of a guardian for the Church at a meeting in Nauvoo.

August 8. At a meeting designated for the appointment of a guardian, Sidney Rigdon again stated his views after which Brigham Young announced an afternoon meeting. During the latter session, Young claimed the right of leadership for the Twelve and was sustained by vote of the Church.

1845

May–June. The nine defendants accused of the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith were acquitted in court.

September 9. Church leaders stated their intent to move to the Great Salt Lake Valley to establish a refuge for the Saints.

1846

May 1. The Nauvoo Temple was dedicated.

July 13. The first of the volunteer companies of the Mormon Battalion enlisted in answer to a request delivered to Brigham Young two weeks earlier by the United States Army.

September 17. The remaining Nauvoo Saints were driven from the city in violation of a treaty of surrender.

1847

January 14. Brigham Young presented instructions for the westward trek including patterns for organizing the wagon companies (D&C 136).

July 22–24. Brigham Young’s Pioneer company reached the Great Salt Lake Valley to select a settlement site for the Saints, completing a journey which began at Winter Quarters April 5.

July 28. Brigham Young selected a site for the Salt Lake Temple.

December 5. The First Presidency was reorganized with President Brigham Young and counselors Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards. They were sustained December 27, 1847.

1848

May–June. Crickets caused severe damage to Mormon crops. Gulls attacked the crickets, averting a total disaster.

1849

Richard Ballantyne’s Sunday School in Salt Lake City began Sunday School work in the Church.

March 5. A provisional State of Deseret was established and appeals made for self-government.

October. A Perpetual Emigrating Fund was established at the general conference to assist with the gathering of the poor. The system continued until 1887.

1850–54

Missions of the Church were started in Scandinavia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Hawaii, in the South Pacific, India, Malta, Gibraltar, Germany, and South Africa, although most were discontinued after a few years. Lorenzo Snow opened Italy, Erastus Snow opened Denmark, and John Taylor opened France.

1851

September. Three federally appointed officials left Utah in protest against plural marriage, as well as what they considered unjustified influence of the Church on political affairs in the territory.

1852

August 28 and 29. At a special conference in Salt Lake City the doctrine of plural marriage was first publicly announced.

1853

April 6. The cornerstones were laid for the Salt Lake Temple.

1856

June 9. The first handcart company left Iowa City, Iowa. Later that year two such companies suffered severe tragedy due to an early winter. The handcart method of emigration continued until 1860.

1857

March 30. Territorial Judge W. W. Drummond, who had earlier left the territory of Utah, wrote a letter to the Attorney General of the United States charging Mormon leaders with various crimes.

May 13. Elder Parley P. Pratt of the Council of the Twelve was assassinated while on a mission in Arkansas.

May 28. Under the authority of instructions from President James Buchanan, an army assembled at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to march to Utah. It was assumed that the people of Utah were in rebellion against the United States. This was the beginning of the so-called “Utah War.”

July 24. Brigham Young received word that an American army under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston was approaching Utah. Church leaders took the position that they had violated no laws, and they soon decided to allow no military “invasion” to drive them from their homes.

September 15. Brigham Young declared Utah to be under martial law and forbade the approaching troops to enter the Salt Lake Valley. Armed militia were ordered to various points to harass the soldiers and prevent their entry. He also called the elders home from foreign missions and advised the Saints in certain outlying settlements to return to places nearer the headquarters of the Church.

1858

June 26. After having been stopped for the winter by the delaying tactics of the Mormons, General Johnston’s army entered the Salt Lake Valley peacefully.

1860

September 24. The last group of Saints to cross the plains by handcart entered Salt Lake City.

1862

July 8. The first in a series of federal laws was passed defining plural marriage as bigamy and declaring it a crime.

1863

March 10. President Brigham Young was arrested on the charge of bigamy and placed under $2,000 bond by Judge John F. Kinney. He was never actually brought to trial, however.

1867

The Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City was completed, and the first conference to be conducted in it began on October 6.

December 8. Brigham Young requested that bishops reorganize Relief Societies within their wards. The Societies had been disbanded during the Utah War.

The Salt Lake Tabernacle

The Salt Lake Tabernacle under construction in 1865. C. R. Savage photograph.

1869

May 10. The transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory Summit, Utah.

November 28. The Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association, later renamed the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, was organized by Brigham Young.

1870

January 13. A large mass meeting was held by the women of Salt Lake City in protest against certain anti-Mormon legislation pending in Congress. This and other such meetings demonstrated that, contrary to anti-Mormon claims, Mormon women were not antagonistic to the ecclesiastical power structure in Utah.

February 12. Utah became one of the first American states or territories to grant women the right to vote.

1871

October 2. President Brigham Young was arrested on a charge of Polygamy. Various legal proceedings lasted until April 25, 1872, during which time President Young was sometimes kept in custody in his own home. The case was dismissed however, due to a Supreme Court decision that overturned various judicial proceedings in Utah for the previous 18 months.

1872

Court proceedings against various leading men in the Church continued.

1874

May 7. At the general conference of the Church which commenced on this date, the principal subject discussed was the “United Order.” This resulted in the establishment of widespread cooperative economic ventures.

1875

June 10. The first Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association was organized in the Thirteenth Ward in Salt Lake City.

October 16. Brigham Young Academy, later to become the Brigham Young University, was founded in Provo, Utah.

1877

April 6. The St. George Temple was dedicated in connection with the 47th Annual Conference of the Church which was held in St. George. This was the first temple to be completed in Utah. For the first time in this dispensation sealings of the dead now could be performed.

April–August. President Young directed the Twelve to thoroughly reorganize stakes, wards, and quorums and clarified a wide range of priesthood practices and standards for church members.

August 29. President Brigham Young died at his home in Salt Lake City.

September 4. The Council of the Twelve, with John Taylor as President, publicly assumed its position as the head of the Church.

1878

August 25. The first Primary Association meeting was held at Farmington, Utah. The movement spread rapidly and on June 19, 1880, a churchwide organization was established.

1879–1896

Missions outside the United States extended to Mexico, Turkey, Society Islands, and Samoa.

1879

January 6. The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the previous conviction of George Reynolds under the 1862 anti-bigamy law. In thus finally upholding the constitutionality of this law, the court paved the way for more intense and more effective prosecution of the Mormons in the 1880’s.

1880

April 6. This was the fifty year anniversary of the Church, and at the general conference which began on this date a special jubilee year celebration was inaugurated.

October 10. The First Presidency was reorganized, and John Taylor was sustained as the third President of the Church, with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as counselors.

1882

March 14. The Edmunds anti-polygamy bill passed the House of Representatives and a few days later it was signed by the President of the United States. The law defined polygamous living as “unlawful cohabitation” and took away the legal rights of those who continued to live that way. Serious prosecution under this law began in 1884.

August 18. The Utah Commission, authorized in the Edmunds law, arrived in the territory. The five members of the commission, appointed by the President, had the responsibility of supervising election procedures in Utah. The Commission enforced the anti-polygamy bill and would not permit those who practiced polygamy to vote.

1884

May 17. The Logan Temple was dedicated.

1885

Extensive prosecution under the Edmunds law continued in both Utah and Idaho. Many polygamists were imprisoned, while others fled into exile, some to Mexico and Canada.

February 1. President John Taylor delivered his last public sermon in Salt Lake City, then went into hiding.

1887

February 17, 18. The Edmunds-Tucker Act passed Congress, and it became law without the signature of the President. Among other stringent provisions, the law disincorporated the Church, dissolved the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company and escheated its property to the government, abolished the right of women to vote, and provided for the confiscation of practically all the property of the Church. The government allowed the Church to rent and occupy certain offices and the temple block.

July 25. President John Taylor died while in “exile” at Kaysville, Utah. The Twelve Apostles assumed the leadership of the Church until 1889.

July 30. Under the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, suits were filed against the Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company and their property was confiscated.

1888

May 21. The Manti Temple was dedicated.

1889

April 6. The first general conference of Relief Society was held in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City with President Zina D. H. Young presiding.

April 7. The First Presidency was reorganized, and Wilford Woodruff was sustained as the fourth President of the Church, with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as counselors.

1890

September 24. President Wilford Woodruff issued a “Manifesto” (official declaration found at the end of the D&C) which declared that no new plural marriages had been entered into with Church approval in the past year, denied that plural marriage had been taught during that time, declared the intent of the President of the Church to submit to the constitutional law of the land, and advised members of the Church to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by law.

October 6. The “Manifesto” was unanimously accepted by a vote in the general conference of the Church.

1893

January 4. The President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, issued a proclamation of amnesty to all polygamists who had entered into that relationship before November 1, 1890. The Utah Commission soon ruled that voting restrictions in the territory should be removed.

April 6. The Salt Lake Temple was dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff.

October 25. U.S. President Grover Cleveland signed a resolution, passed by Congress, for the return of the personal property of the Church. Three years later, on March 28, 1896, a memorial passed by Congress and approved by the President, provided for the restoration of the real estate of the Church.

1894

August 27. President Grover Cleveland issued a proclamation granting pardon and restoring civil rights to those who had been disfranchised under the anti-polygamy laws.

1896

January 4. President Grover Cleveland signed the proclamation which admitted Utah into the union as a state.

1898

September 2. President Wilford Woodruff died in San Francisco, California at the age of 91.

September 13. Lorenzo Snow became fifth President of the Church. He chose George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as counselors.

1899

May 8. President Lorenzo Snow declared to a St. George, Utah, conference, “The time has now come for every Latter-day Saint … to do the will of the Lord and pay his tithing in full.”

1901

August 12. Elder Heber J. Grant dedicated Japan and opened a mission there. Over the next two years Elder Francis M. Lyman, also of the Twelve, dedicated the lands of Africa, Palestine, Greece, Italy, France, Russia, Finland, and Poland.

October 10. President Lorenzo Snow died at his home in the Beehive House in Salt Lake City.

October 17. Joseph F. Smith was ordained sixth President of the Church, with John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund as counselors.

1904–1907

Much world publicity surrounded the thirty months’ investigation by the U.S. Senate to determine whether or not to seat Apostle Reed Smoot as Utah’s senator. Many General Authorities, including President Joseph F. Smith, testified before the senate committee.

1912

A seminary at Granite High School in Salt Lake City opened, beginning an important weekday education program for young Latter-day Saints.

November 8. The First Presidency created a Correlation Committee headed by Elder David O. McKay and asked it to coordinate scheduling and prevent unnecessary duplication in the programs of Church auxiliaries.

1914

January. The Relief Society introduced its first uniform courses of study organized around four general themes.

1916

June 30. The First Presidency and Twelve issued a doctrinal exposition from the Church Administration Building at 47 East South Temple as it is applied to Jesus.

1917

October 2. The Church Administration Building at 47 East South Temple was completed.

1918

October 3. While contemplating the meaning of Christ’s atonement, President Joseph F. Smith received a manifestation on the salvation of the dead and the visit of the Savior to the world of spirits after His crucifixion.

November 19. President Joseph F. Smith died six days after his 80th birthday. Because of an epidemic of influenza no public funeral was held for him.

November 23. Heber J. Grant was sustained and set apart as President of the Church during a meeting of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple. He selected as counselors: Anthon H. Lund and Charles W. Penrose.

1919

November 27. President Heber J. Grant dedicated the temple at Laie, Hawaii, the first Latter-day Saint temple outside the continental United States. Construction had begun soon after the site was dedicated in June 1915.

1920–21

Elder David O. McKay of the Twelve and President Hugh J. Cannon of Liberty Stake traveled 55,896 miles in a world survey of Church missions for the First Presidency. The pair visited the Saints in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, and Asia, and then made stops in India, Egypt, and Palestine before visiting the missions of Europe.

1923

January 21. Los Angeles Stake is created as the first stake on the west coast.

August 26. President Heber J. Grant dedicated the Alberta Temple.

1925

December 6. Elder Melvin J. Ballard established a mission in South America with headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, opening the Church’s formal missionary work in South America.

1926

The first Institute of Religion opened in Moscow, Idaho.

1927

October 23. President Heber J. Grant dedicated the Arizona Temple at Mesa, Arizona.

1930

The Church published B. H. Roberts’ monumental six volume Comprehensive History of the Church.

April 6. The centennial of the Church’s organization was observed at general conference in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

1934

December 9. The New York stake was created, being the first stake east of the Mississippi River since the exodus from Nauvoo and the first stake in the state that gave birth to Mormonism.

1936

April. The Church introduced a formal welfare program to meet the needs of poor Church members and those unemployed in emergency situations.

April. Supervision of stake missions was given to the First Council of the Seventy and stake missions were organized soon thereafter in all stakes.

1939

November 6. The evacuation of missionaries from Europe was completed following the outbreak of war. Missionaries left South Africa and the Pacific in 1940.

1941

April 6. In general conference the First Presidency announced the new position of Assistant to the Twelve, and the first Assistants were called and sustained.

1943

March 7. The Navajo-Zuni Mission was formed, the first mission in the Twentieth Century designated only for Indians.

1944

May. The Church announced purchase of the territory in Missouri known in Church history as Adam-ondi-Ahman.

November. To date about 80,000 Church members had entered the armed services of their respective countries.

1945

May 14. President Heber J. Grant died.

May 21. George Albert Smith was sustained as the new President of the Church with J. Reuben Clark Jr. and David O. McKay as counselors.

September. The First Presidency began calling mission presidents for areas vacated during the war. This process continued through 1946. The sending of missionaries soon followed the appointment of mission presidents.

September 23. The Idaho Falls Temple was dedicated.

1946

January. The Church began sending food and clothing supplies to the Saints in Europe. This continued for the next several years.

February. Elder Ezra Taft Benson administered to the physical and spiritual needs of the members in Europe—visiting Saints who had been isolated by the war, helping distribute Church welfare supplies, and setting the branches of the Church in order.

1947

January. The First Presidency appointed Elder Matthew Cowley president of the Pacific Mission, an administrative unit encompassing seven missions.

July 24. Church members celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Brigham Young’s arrival in Salt Lake Valley.

December. Fast Day was set apart for the relief of those in need in Europe. About $210,000 was collected and then distributed to Europeans of all faiths by an agency not connected with the Church. The Church also continued sending welfare supplies of its own to European members of the Church. By the end of 1947 the Church had sent more than 90 railroad carloads of food to Europe.

1949

April 5. The Welfare Program was declared a permanent program of the Church.

July 10. The Chinese Mission was organized with headquarters in Hong Kong.

1951

April 4. President George Albert Smith died.

April 9. David O. McKay was sustained as ninth president of the Church, with Stephen L. Richards and J. Reuben Clark Jr. as counselors.

July 20. Because the Korean War reduced the number of young elders being called as missionaries, the First Presidency issued a call for the seventies to help fill the need. Many married men subsequently served full-term missions.

1952

A Systematic Program for Teaching the Gospel was published for the use of the missionaries of the Church. This inaugurated the use of a standard plan of missionary work throughout the Church.

June. President David O. McKay took an important six-week tour of European missions and branches in Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Wales, Scotland, France, etc. On this trip he announced the selection of Bern, Switzerland, as the site of the first European temple.

November 25. Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve was chosen U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by Dwight D. Eisenhower, newly elected President of the United States. Elder Benson served in that capacity for eight years.

1954

January 2. President David O. McKay left Salt Lake City on a trip to London, South Africa, and South and Central America. He returned in mid-February, and at that point had officially visited every existing mission of the Church.

1955

January–February. President David O. McKay took an historic trip to the missions of the South Pacific, where he traveled over 72,420 kilometers, selected the site for the New Zealand Temple, and discussed plans for the building of a Church college in Hawaii.

August–September. The Tabernacle Choir made a major concert tour of Europe.

September 11. The Swiss Temple, near Bern, was dedicated.

1956

March 11. President David O. McKay dedicated the Los Angeles Temple in California.

October 3. The Relief Society Building in Salt Lake City was dedicated.

December. A program for training priesthood leaders was inaugurated. It included quarterly stake priesthood meetings, quarterly leadership meetings, and various special leadership sessions in connection with stake conferences.

1958

April 20. The New Zealand Temple was dedicated by President David O. McKay.

September 7. The London Temple was dedicated by President David O. McKay.

1960

January. The Church began setting up the administrative framework for a large building program in Europe. By early 1961 administrative building areas outside North America had been established for all parts of the world where the Church existed and the labor missionary program was utilized in each area.

March 27. The first stakes in Europe (England) and Australia were established.

March. The age at which young men became eligible for missions was lowered from 20 to 19.

1961

March 12. The first non–English-speaking stake in the Church was established in the Netherlands.

June–July. A new teaching plan of six lessons to be used in every mission of the Church was officially presented in the first seminar for all mission presidents, as was the “every member a missionary” program. The missions of the world were divided into nine areas and a General Authority was placed over each area.

September 30. The first public announcement of the correlation work was made by Elder Harold B. Lee in the priesthood session of general conference.

November. A Language Training Institution was established at Brigham Young University for missionaries called to foreign countries. In 1963 it became the Language Training Mission.

1962

December 3. The first Spanish-speaking stake was organized in Mexico City.

1963

December. The Church storage vaults for records in Little Cottonwood Canyon were completed. They were dedicated on June 22, 1966.

1964

January. The new program of home teaching was officially inaugurated throughout the Church after having been presented in stake conference during the last half of 1963.

November 17. The Oakland Temple was dedicated by President David O. McKay.

1965

January. The Home Evening program was inaugurated and the Church published a formal home evening manual. In October 1970, Monday evening was designated for home evening throughout the Church.

February. The Italian government gave permission for LDS missionaries to proselyte in that country. No missionary work had been done there since 1862.

March. The three-generation genealogical family group-sheet program was initiated.

1966

May 1. The first stake in South America was organized in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

October. A branch of the Church was organized in Debnica-Kaszub, Poland.

1967

March. A unified Church magazine was begun in nine different languages. Now called the International Magazines, it serves 17 languages.

September 29. The new administrative position of Regional Representative of the Twelve was announced and 69 Regional Representatives were called and given their initial training.

November. Part of the Egyptian papyri owned by Joseph Smith while he was translating the Pearl of Great Price was given to the Church by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1968

December. The Church began microfilming Polish and Korean genealogical records.

1969

June. The first missionaries went to Spain; just over a year later on July 1, 1970, Spain was made into a separate mission.

August 3–8. A world conference on records was held in Salt Lake City.

November. The Southeast Asia Mission formally opened on November 1, 1969, with headquarters in Singapore. In January of 1970 the first missionaries were sent to Indonesia, which was part of the mission.

1970

January 18. President David O. McKay died.

January 23. Joseph Fielding Smith became the new President of the Church and he chose Elders Harold B. Lee and N. Eldon Tanner as his counselors.

March 15. The first stake in Asia was organized in Tokyo, Japan.

March 22. The first stake in Africa was organized in the Transvaal in South Africa.

1971

January. The new correlated teacher development program began operation.

July. The medical missionary program (later called the health missionary program) commenced as the first two missionaries were sent out.

August 27–29. The first area conference of the Church was held in Manchester, England, for British Saints.

1972

January. The Prospective Elders’ program was introduced as a replacement for the Senior Aaronic Priesthood program.

January 18. The Ogden Temple was dedicated by President Joseph Fielding Smith.

February 9. The Provo Temple was dedicated by President Joseph Fielding Smith.

July 2. President Joseph Fielding Smith died.

July 7. Harold B. Lee became the new President of the Church with N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney as counselors.

November. The new 28-story Church Office Building was completed.

The Temple

The Temple, the Assembly Hall and the Church Office Building, in Salt Lake City.

1973

A new set of missionary lessons was completed for use in all missions. This was the first change in missionary lessons since 1961.

February. The first Church agricultural missionaries to leave the United States were sent to the Guatemala-El Salvador Mission.

March 8. The first stake on the mainland of Asia, and the third in the Orient, was organized in Seoul, Korea.

December 26. President Harold B. Lee died.

December 30. Spencer W. Kimball was set apart as the new President of the Church with N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney as counselors.

1974

August 28. The first LDS meetinghouse in Thailand was dedicated by Elder David B. Haight at Bangkok.

November 19. The Washington, D.C., Temple was dedicated.

1975

May 3. The First Presidency announced the creation of an area supervisory program and the assignment of six Assistants to the Twelve to oversee Church activities and to reside outside the United States and Canada. The number of areas was increased to eight later in the year.

June 27. The end of auxiliary general conferences was announced. These conferences were replaced with annual regional meetings for all priesthood and auxiliary leaders in the stakes of each region.

October 3. President Spencer W. Kimball announced the organization of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and the general conference sustained the appointment of three members to the quorum.

1976

April 3. Members attending general conference accepted Joseph Smith’s vision of the celestial kingdom and Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the redemption of the dead for addition to the Pearl of Great Price.

May 1. The Seoul Korea Stake established the first stake welfare farm in Asia at a site 9 1/2 kilometers outside Seoul.

October 1. All Assistants to the Twelve were called to the expanding First Quorum of the Seventy and the presidency of that quorum was reorganized, with Franklin D. Richards replacing S. Dilworth Young as presiding president.

1977

January 1. The First Presidency announced a new format for general conferences, with general sessions on the first Sunday of each April and October and on the preceding Saturday, and Regional Representatives’ seminars on the preceding Friday.

January 14. The first Presiding Bishopric area supervisor, called to direct temporal affairs of the Church in Mexico, was introduced in Mexico City. Presiding Bishopric area supervisors for eight other areas outside the United States and Canada were announced June 4.

February 5. The First Presidency announced organizational steps giving the Council of the Twelve responsibility for overseeing ecclesiastical matters, including curriculum, activity programs and Scouting, and the Presiding Bishopric responsibility for temporal programs.

February 21–March 11. President Spencer W. Kimball met with heads of state in Mexico, Guatemala, Chile and Bolivia during a month-long tour of Latin America for area conferences, and then visited at the White House with U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

May 14. The Young Men program was restructured and a new Young Men general presidency was called, to serve under the direction of the youth division of the Priesthood Executive Committee.

May 22. Formation of a new Church Activities Committee, with responsibility for coordinating cultural arts and physical activities, was announced. Similar groups were organized at the local level.

July 1. In response to continued growth in membership worldwide, the geographic subdivisions of the Church previously known as areas were renamed zones, and the eleven zones were subdivided into areas. Members of the First Quorum of the Seventy were assigned as zone advisers and area supervisors.

1977

October 15. Plans to build a temple in Samoa were announced by the First Presidency.

October 26. Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve announced that a 2 hectare tract of land on the slopes of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem will be developed as the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens.

1978

February 3. The First Presidency announced plans to build a new temple in South Jordan in southwest Salt Lake County.

March 31. The First Presidency announced that beginning in 1979 only two stake conferences will be held in each stake each year instead of four. The change was made to ease the burdens of time, travel, and money upon members of the Church.

May 27. Ground was broken for the Seattle, Washington, Temple.

June 9. The First Presidency released a statement indicating that President Spencer W. Kimball had received a revelation to the effect that worthy men of all races would be eligible to hold the priesthood.

June 13. The Hawaii Temple was rededicated by President Spencer W. Kimball.

June 18. The Montreal Quebec Stake, (in Canada) the first French-speaking stake to be formed on the North American continent, was organized by Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve.

June 18. The first area conference in the United States was held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

July 1. President Kimball dedicated the Relief Society Monument to Women at Nauvoo, Illinois.

August 11. The 100th anniversary of the organization of the first Primary was observed.

September 16. President Kimball and other Church leaders spoke to LDS women gathered in the Tabernacle and 1,400 other locations at a special women’s conference.

October 26. Missionary Training Center assumed training of all missionaries.

October 30–November 2. President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the Sao Paulo Temple.

December 15. Helvecio Martins was the first black man called to serve in a stake presidency, in Rio de Janeiro Brazil Niteroi Stake.

1979

February 18. The one thousandth stake was created in Nauvoo, Illinois. The original Nauvoo Stake was formed 5 October 1839 and was disbanded in 1846.

March 30. The First Presidency introduced a system of councils for the purpose of managing the ecclesiastical and temporal affairs of the Church. The Church Coordinating Council on the general level and the area, multi-region, region, stake, and ward councils are comprehensive to represent all Church programs.

June 9. Ground was broken for the Jordan River Temple.

July 15. The Tabernacle Choir commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of their network broadcast which began July 15, 1929.

October 24. The Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens were dedicated in a newly developed park on the west slope of the Mount of Olives. There, October 24, 1841, Orson Hyde dedicated the land of Israel for the gathering of Judah’s scattered remnants.

[photo] Joseph Smith Memorial. On 23 December 1905, one hundred years after the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith in Sharon, Vermont, this 38 and 1/2 foot marble shaft was installed at the site of his birth. The monument was dedicated by President Joseph F. Smith.

[photo] E. B. Grandin’s printing press. The first edition (5,000 copies) of the Book of Mormon was printed on this press in Palmyra, New York, in 1830. This press was acquired by the Church in 1906 and has been restored to working order.

[photo] Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Co. three-dollar bank note, the monetary system used by the Latter-day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio in about 1837. The word Bank was changed to Anti-Banking Co. when officials were unable to obtain a state charter.

[illustration] Visits of the Angel Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith were repeated on several occasions between 1823 and 1827 as part of Joseph’s preparation for his ministry and the restoration of the gospel. This painting by John Hafen (1856–1910) illustrates one of those incidents on the Hill Cumorah as Joseph prepared to receive the golden plates from Moroni.

[photo] Joseph received the plates from Moroni, September 22, 1827. This wooden inlay portraying that event was constructed by the Brazilian artist Max Rezler from various kinds of Brazilian woods in about 1970.

[illustration] The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery took place on 15 May 1829 on the banks of the Susquehanna River. (See JS—H 1:72–73.) Painting by Tom Lovell.

[illustration] Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Peter, James, and John, the presiding apostles of old, visited Joseph Smith, Jun. and Oliver Cowdery in 1829 and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained them to the Holy Apostleship. Painting by Minerva Teichert about 1934, retouched 1948.

[photo] Thimble used by Brigham Young on the Zion’s Camp march in February 1835. This is the only known artifact remaining from one of the most important events in the early history of the Church.

[photo] Joseph Smith’s pistol used as he commanded the Nauvoo Legion (1840–1844).

[photo] Earthenware pot made by Heber C. Kimball (between 1831–39).

[photo] Candlestick from the Mansion House in Nauvoo, Illinois. It was used by Joseph and Emma between 1840 and 1844.

[photo] Bust of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Wood carving by an unknown Ecuadorian artist about 1970.

[illustration] Icarian painting of Nauvoo taken from across the Mississippi River in about 1859 by Johanne Schroder. The Icarians settled in Nauvoo after the Saints went West.

[illustration] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized 150 years ago in Fayette, New York, April 6, 1830 in the log home of Peter Whitmer, Sr. The six men officially listed as the organizers are Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., David Whitmer, and Samuel H. Smith. Painting by William Whittaker, 1971.

[photo] Nauvoo from across the Mississippi River. This photograph was taken in 1907 by George Anderson (1860–1928).

[photo] Kirtland Temple. The first temple in this dispensation was constructed by the struggling Saints with great sacrifice from 23 July 1833 when the cornerstone was laid until 27 March 1836 when Joseph Smith dedicated it amidst great rejoicings and spiritual manifestations. Photographed in 1905.

[photo] Independence Temple Site. This is the earliest known photograph of the Independence, Missouri, temple lot, taken in 1885 by B. H. Roberts. The Prophet Joseph announced plans for the city of Zion and the temple 25 June 1833. Both are yet to be constructed.

[photo] Carthage Jail, Illinois, where the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum the Patriarch were martyred on 27 June 1844 by an angry mob. The Prophet Joseph fell from the side window of the upper room to the ground below when he was shot. (D&C 135 gives John Taylor’s account of the martyrdom.)

[photo] The Beehive House, the home of Brigham Young between 1854 and 1877.

[photo] Watch owned by Hyrum Smith.

[illustration] Winter Quarters was a temporary Mormon encampment established in 1846 on the west bank of the Missouri River. The first year there were 700 log homes that were occupied by about 3,500 people. Painting by C. C. A. Christensen.

[photo] Death masks of Joseph and Hyrum were made by George Cannon of Nauvoo shortly after their deaths. This was a common practice in the pre-photography days in order to preserve the likeness of prominent people. These are castings made from those molds.

[illustration] Somerset Lane at Bratton near Minehead, England. Part of the gathering to Zion included the thousands of Saints that came from Europe and other parts of the world as a result of missionary efforts abroad. Painting by Ken Baxter, 1978.

[photo] Transit used to survey the Salt Lake Valley (1847–55).

[photo] Hats, boots, and spectacles used and owned by President Brigham Young (1854–77).

[photos] Rebecca Winters Grave. This engraved iron wagon tire marks the grave of Rebecca Winters, a pioneer woman who died on the trail. Photography by Bruce Elm, 1979.

[photos] Chimney Rock, Nebraska, a major landmark and point of reference for the many thousands who passed on their way to settle the American West. It is mentioned in many pioneer diaries. Photography by Bruce Elm, 1979.

[photos] Wagon ruts today. The passage of countless pioneer wagon wheels over the same trail left deep ruts that can still be seen in some places such as those near Guernsey, Wyoming. Photography by Bruce Elm, 1979.

[photos] Emigration Canyon. This distant view of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake was the first the pioneer companies glimpsed. From this point, travel was more or less downhill until they reached the Valley. Their route, however, was probably more direct than that taken by this modern highway. Photography by Bruce Elm, 1978.

[photos] Willie’s Cove. Members of the Willie Handcart company were trapped in this desolate spot by an October snowstorm. Many died of hunger and exposure before a rescue party from Salt Lake could reach them. Photography by Bruce Elm, 1979.

[photos] Brigham Young’s bedroom in the Beehive House. All items in the room were the personal belongings of Brigham Young.

[photos] Japanese Laquer box and journal brought by Elder Heber J. Grant from his mission to Japan in 1901.

[photos] Telescope belonging to Heber C. Kimball (1846–55).

[photos] Temple Bench. This bench was used in the Nauvoo Temple. It wes probably one of a set of 3 made for the Quorum of the 12 to sit on. After the Saints left Nauvoo the temple was plundered by the non-Mormons in the area. This bench was returned to the Church in later years by a family that had possessed it for many years.

[photos] Brigham Young’s tool box.

[illustration] Elder Heber J. Grant, of the Council of the Twelve opened a mission in Japan in 1901. Painting by Dale Kilbourn.

[photo] A Salt Lake City street in about 1860.

[illustration] The Ship Brooklyn. The same day the first Saints left Nauvoo for the journey west, 4 February 1846, 235 members of the Church from New England and the Atlantic states sailed with Samuel Brannon from New York to California. They arrived at what is now San Francisco 29 July 1846. Painting by Arnold Friberg, 1951.

[photo] The interior of the Salt Lake Tabernacle shortly after its construction. The flags in the photo were part of a celebration.

[photo] The Assembly Hall, still one of the finest buildings on Temple Square, was begun in 1877, finished in 1880, and dedicated in 1882. The stones in the foreground became part of the temple; they were numbered at the quarry to indicate their location in the building.

[photo] Dutch Potatoes.

[photo] The Administration Building of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.