I’m not a big history person, because names and dates just don’t stick with me, try as I might. Nevertheless, I love stories about people who have done their part to influence change for good in the world. I think this is one reason why I love church and family history so much—because I can directly see the results of what they’ve done in my everyday life, because if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. You could say that about any area of history, but it’s these focuses where the Spirit aids me in my study most of all.
Not long ago I was thinking about the women in the history of the church, and specifically the young women. We don’t hear a lot about them, so I decided to go digging and research the history of the Young Women’s organization. I was actually surprised by the amount of information I was able to find, and how much of it is unfamiliar to most young women and leaders. I saw this as an opportunity to share the small insights I found about the history of the Young Women’s organization.
I think that reading through all this information could be fun in a mutual activity, a fireside, or could possibly be used as the basis of Girl’s Camp! If anyone else is as intrigued as I was, I would encourage you to click through the sources at the end, because there are some really unique gems buried in there!
1843 – The Young Gentlemen’s and Young Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo was developed by youth in Nauvoo under Heber C. Kimball’s guidance and Joseph Smith’s support. It began as casual social meetings, and eventually grew, having the Prophet speak to them on at least one occasion.
1869 – Brigham Young holds a meeting with his daughters, asking them to “retrench from extravagance in dress, in eating, and even in speech.”
1870 – The Young Ladies’ Department of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association is formally organized.
1877 – The Name of the organization is officially changed to the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association.
1880 – Elmina S. Taylor is called by John Taylor as the general president of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association
1893 – Tuesday evening is designated as Mutual night.
1904 – Martha Horne Tingey is called as general president.
1912 – Liberty Stake held the first summer camp for Young Ladies.
1913 – Church introduces Beehive Girls program for young women 14 and up. It covered seven fields: Religion, Home, Health, Domestic Arts, Out of Doors, Business, and Public Service.
The Program included 3 ranks: Builders of the Hive, Gatherers of the Honey, and Keeper of the Bees. To achieve each rank, Girls had to complete at least 50 selected requirements from over 300 options.
Beehive Girls watchword was Womanho. “Wo” stood for work, “man” for mankind, and “ho” for home.
1922 – Gold and green become official MIA colors.
1929 – Ruth May Fox is called as general president.
Church publishes the Improvement Era.
1936 – First Churchwide dance festival.
1937 – Lucy Grant Cannon is called as general president.
1940 – Golden Gleaner award introduced for young women over eighteen.
1943 – Busy Bee Girl character illustrations introduced to Beehive Girls program.
Class symbols of beehive, rose, laurel, and sheaf of wheat introduced.
1948 – Bertha Stone Reeder is called as general president.
1950 – Class names and age-groups updated
Mia Maids: 14-15
Junior Gleaners: 16-17
Felt seals would mark progress on a blue sash, called a bandlo.
1959 – Junior Gleaners replaced by Laurels
1961 – Florence Smith Jacobsen is called as general president.
1965 – For the Strength of Youth is published
1971 – The New Era is published for Youth.
(One event I forgot to add was the release of an updated version of For the Strength of Youth in 1972. And while I couldn’t obtain an image of the original New Era cover, it was very similar in style to the cover of For the Strength of Youth shown.)
1972 – Ruth Hardy Funk is called as general president.
YWMIA becomes a priesthood auxiliary.
1977 – My Personal Progress program introduced with six areas of focus:
1. Spiritual Awareness
2. Homemaking Arts
3. Service and Compassion
4. Recreation and the World of Nature
5. Cultural Arts and Education
6. Personal and Social Refinement
1978 – Elaine Anderson Cannon is called as general president
First general women’s meeting.
1980 – Sunday lessons begin with meeting schedule consolidation.
1984 – Ardeth Greene Kapp is called as general president.
1985 – First Young Women broadcast.
Motto “Stand for Truth and Righteousness” added.
1987 – Young Women Theme and 7 values and colors introduced:
Choice and Accountability
New medallion for Young Womanhood recognition.
1990 – New For the Strength of Youth pamphlet released.
1992 – Janette Callister Hales Beckham is called as general president.
1993 – New Camp Manual published, focusing of Young Women values.
1994 – 125th anniversary of Young Women program celebrated.
1997 – Margaret Dyreng Nadauld is called as general president.
2002 – Personal Progress is updated
New For the Strength of Youth pamphlet released
“strengthen home and family added to the Theme.
Susan Winder Tanner is called as general president.
2004 – LDS.ORG Young Women site launched.
2006 – Church Camp properties are purchased and developed.
2008 – Elaine S. Dalton is called as general president.
2009 – Virtue added as eith Young Women value.
Young Women Medallion redesigned.
Honor Bee charm added to Personal Progress
(another thing I left off due to forgetfulness—Personal Progress online (in 2010 I believe…))
2012 – 100th anniversary of Young Women Camp
New For the Strength of Youth pamphlet released.
2013 – Bonnie Lee Green Oscarson is called as general president.
Come, Follow Me curriculum for Youth introduced
General Women’s Meeting for women and girls 8+ replaces Young Women and Relief Society Broadcast.
The entire infographic is below, but because of the size it’s uploading in very poor quality. I’m attempting to fix that, but in the mean time if you click on it you can see it in high quality.