History of the Young Women Organization

100 years og young women camp
Brigham Young Daughters 1865

Brigham Young Daughters 1865

Founded in 1869, the Young Women organization was originally known as the Young Ladies’ Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association. Brigham Young, the second President and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called together daughters and their mothers for a special meeting in the parlor.Following family prayer, President Young addressed his family. Among other things he said: “I desire to organize my family into a society for the promotion of habits of order, thrift, industry, and charity; and, above all things, I desire them to retrench from extravagance in dress, in eating and even in speech. The time has come when the sisters must agree … to set an example before the people of the world worthy of imitation. I want you to set your own fashions … and set the style for the rest of the world who desire sensible and comely fashions to follow. I want my daughters to learn to work, and to do it.

“I have long had it in my mind to organize the young ladies of Zion into an association so that they might assist the older members of the Church, their fathers and mothers, in … teaching and practicing the principles I have been so long teaching. There is a need for the young daughters … to get a living testimony of the truth. I wish our girls to obtain a knowledge of the Gospel for themselves… . We are about to organize a Retrenchment Association, which I want you all to join, and I want you to vote to retrench in … everything that is bad or worthless, and improve in everything that is good and beautiful. Not to make yourselves unhappy, but to live so that you may be truly happy in this life and the life to come.”

Retrench – means to cut down or reduce. (Dictionary.com definition)

The Young Women Organization

The Young Women organization has been referred to by several different names throughout its existence:

  • 1869 – Young Ladies’ Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association
  • 1875 – Young Ladies’ National Mutual Improvement Association
  • 1904 – Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association
  • 1934 – Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association
  • 1972 – Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women
  • 1974 – Young Women

This international organization is the oldest and largest organization of its kind for teenage girls. (Source: LDS.org –> Serving in the Church –> Young Women –> Introduction to Young Women –> Young Women History)

LDS Young Women Uniform 1920sYoung Women in the Teens and Twenties

In the 1920’s all young women who belonged to the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association were called Beehive girls, regardless of their age. They were arranged in groups called “swarms,” and their leaders were called Bee Keepers.

Upon entering the Beehive program, each girl was required to memorize the Spirit of the Hive, 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.”

The Beehive program included three ranks: Builders in the Hive, Gatherers of Honey, and Keepers of the Bees. To achieve each rank, girls were required to fulfill 14-16 foundation requirements and 36 additional requirements of their own choosing. At one time there were 373 requirements to choose from!

Source: LDS.org History of Young Women Achievement


In 1916 every female over fourteen was a Beehive girl until she entered Relief Society; there were no Mia Maids, Gleaners, or Laurels. The following are twenty out of the three hundred seventy-three requirements possible for a Beehive girl to earn her awards:

  1. First Personal Progress Booklet

    First Personal Progress Booklet

    Care successfully for a hive of bees for one season and know their habits.

  2. Give the distinguishing characteristics of 6 varieties of hen and cattle and tell the good and weak points of each.
  3. Exterminate the mosquitoes over an area of 1/2 mile square by pouring a little kerosene on the surface of all standing pools of water twice each month during April, May, or June.
  4. Make two articles of underwear by hand.
  5. Cover 25 miles of snowshoes in any six days.
  6. Learn to float in Great Salt Lake and propel yourself 50 feet.
  7. During three consecutive months abstain from candy, ice cream, commercially manufactured beverages and chewing gum.
  8. For one month masticate [chew] your food so thoroughly that it slips down without any visible effort at swallowing it.
  9. Successfully put a new washer on a faucet.
  10. Care for a least two kerosene lamps daily.
  11. For three months take care of milk and cream from at least one cow and see that the pails, pans, strainer, and separator are thoroughly cleansed.
  12. During two weeks keep the house free from flies or destroy at least 25 flies daily.
  13. Have your toilet moved to an isolated place in the garden.
  14. Whitewash your toilet inside and out.
  15. Know and describe three cries of a baby.
  16. Without help or advice care for and harness a team at least five times; drive fifty miles during one season.
  17. During 2 summer months clean ice chest thoroughly twice a week.
  18. Discover ten reasons why the Columbine should be made the national flower.
  19. Clear sage-brush, etc. off of one-half acre of land.
  20. Know 6 blazes used by Indians.


Source: Becky’s World of “Son” Shine – she says she got these from the YW Resource Room in Salt Lake City

YW Bandalo or Bandlo

YW Bandalo or Bandlo

Young Women in the 1960s

yw1950sIn the 1960’s, some of the requirements to earn emblems for the Beehive bandalo or bandlo 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. Conscientiously try to improve.
  • Make the dinner hour joyous by improving table manners of the entire family.
  • Look for something beautiful every day for two months.

At left is a young woman modeling a 1960s era bandlo.

Source: LDS.org History of Young Women Achievement

Young Women in the 1980s

Under the direction of Ardeth G. Kapp, the Young Women’s program underwent some significant changes.  Before Kapp served as general Young Women president and revised the organization, Personal Progress consisted of these areas of focus: spiritual awareness, service and compassion, homemaking arts, recreation and the world of nature, cultural arts and education, and personal and social refinement. Young women received a certificate of progress indicating their accomplishments in the program each year. They were expected to set goals, record regular church attendance, and live standards of personal worthiness. When she was a ward MIA president, Kapp felt that “the individual awards seemed to be based mostly on attendance and other measurable things” and that the Mutual program focused on self-improvement rather than the gospel. Also, she noted that “activities were the things that had first priority” during her service at the ward level. She hoped her administration would be remembered for “changing the mindset from saying ‘What shall we do?’ to the question ‘What do we want to have happen?’” so that the focus for Young Women would shift from activities to outcomes.

Kapp’s presidency revised the Personal Progress program in 1989. The new program consisted of age-group responsibilities called value experiences that promoted gospel standards and directed young women to use the scriptures often. The book presented an official Young Women theme outlining seven values: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity. Young women were to select at least two experiences for each of the seven values every year in the program. A motto, “Stand for Truth and Righteousness,” and logo, featuring the silhouette of a young women’s face in the flame of a torch, were also introduced. This logo was used on a medallion that young women were given upon earning the Young Womanhood Recognition award.

Source: Ardeth G Kapp’s Influence on the Young Women Organization

Historical Events by YW President

This is taken from the June 2008 Ensign, Braille edition, with noted additions by me. The differing names Young Women has gone by are noted below as well.

Organization Name: Young Ladies’ National Mutual Improvement Association


“The aim of the leaders of this movement has been to cultivate every gift and grace of true womanhood, recognizing the fact that it is not the outward appearance but the forces which gather within the soul that go to develop the individual.” (Young Woman’s Journal, May 1891, 383)

  • 1889 – First issue of the monthly Young Woman’s Journal is published.
  • 1893 – Tuesday night is designated as Mutual night.
  • 1898 – Traveling MIA libraries are begun.
  • 1902 – Joint opening exercises are held for young men and young women.


“My heart is with the Mutual Improvement work. I love the youth of Zion, and I am anxious that . . . they may become a mighty army for righ-teousness in the kingdom of God.” (Quoted in Thomas C. Romney, “Martha Horne Tingey,” Instructor, July 1950, 199)

  • 1912 – Liberty Stake holds first summer camp for girls.
  • 1913 – First Churchwide speech and other contests are held during June conference.
  • 1913 – Beehive girls program is organized.
  • 1920 – YLMIA operates Beehive House as a home for girls.
  • 1920 – Road shows sponsored by the MIA are written and performed.
  • 1922 – Summer home for young women is built at Brighton in a canyon east of Salt Lake City.
  • 1922 – Gold and green become the official colors of the MIA.
  • 1922 – First gold and green ball is held.
  • 1925 – Golden jubilee is held with YMMIA.

Organization Name: Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association


“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.” (Quoted in Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt, Keepers of the Flame [1993], 49)

  • 1930 – The song “Carry On,” written by Ruth May Fox for the Church’s centennial, is sung by youth at June conference.
  • 1931 – The Lion House becomes a social center for girls.
  • 1935 – Scriptural themes replace slogans.
  • 1936 – First MIA dance festival is held.


“Happiness comes from within; it is a state of mind.” (“Experience,” Young Woman’s Journal, June 1929, 410)

  • 1940 – Golden Gleaner awards and Sunday evening firesides 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.


“Nature does indeed renew those who keep close to her. . . . If I were in my teens, I would take time to come close to nature. . . . I would realize again more fully the infinite variety in God’s creation. I would learn to feel the difference in the seasons and to love each for what it gives to me. I would know that rain and sunshine are both important in God’s plan.” (“If I Were in My Teens,” Improvement Era, June 1954, 470)

  • 1950 – Age groups are realigned: Beehives 12-13, Mia Maids 14-15, Junior Gleaners 16-17, Gleaners 18-24.
  • 1950 – Speech and quartet festivals are held in local units and at June conference.
  • 1950 – Individual Awards are introduced.
  • 1950s – A series of posters is produced: “Be Honest with Yourself.”
  • 1959 – The name Gleaners is changed to Laurels.
  • 1960 – Era of Youth section is inaugurated in the Improvement Era.


“It is my prayer that we can be so dedicated that not one single girl in this great Church will be forgotten.” (“Women, This Is Our Time,” Ensign, Mar. 1972, 39)

  • 1960s – Large Churchwide festivals are held annually.
  • 1962 – Worldwide youth conferences are held.
  • 1965 – For the Strength of Youth is published.
  • 1967 – MIA begins annual presentation of Promised Valley.
  • 1968 – The restored Beehive House and Lion House are opened to the public.
  • 1969 – YWMIA celebrates its centennial.
  • 1971 – The New Era is published for youth.

Organization Name: Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women


“I marvel as I look back at the divine orchestration of my life. I really do believe that the Lord customizes our experiences according to our needs. . . . I feel the Lord expects us to go as far as we can with what he has given us. But I know that I cannot do what I need to do or must do until I finally come to him in total dependence.” (Quoted in Keepers of the Flame, 117)

  • 1972 – YWMIA becomes an auxiliary to the priesthood.
  • 1973 – Youth leadership and the bishop’s youth committee are emphasized.
  • 1974 – “Behold Thy Handmaiden”: Six areas of focus and My Personal Progress are introduced.
  • 1975 – Final June conference is held.
  • 1978 – Songs of the Heart, a Young Women songbook, is published.

Organization Name: Young Women


“You can soar if you find out who you are and why you are here. There are two important days in a woman’s life: The day she is born and the day she finds out why.” (” ‘Let Me Soar,’ Women Counseled,” Church News, Oct. 17, 1981, 3) Events

  • 1978 – First general women’s meeting is held in the Tabernacle.
  • 1980 – Sesquicentennial of the organization of the Church is celebrated. Young women are encouraged to make banners representing commitment or heritage.
  • 1980 – Sunday instruction for young women is implemented with the consolidated meeting schedule.


1984-92 “I see the crest of a great wave forming . . . that will move across
the earth, reaching every continent and every shore. I call upon you to stand with me to prepare to take your place in a great forward movement among the young women of the Church –a movement in which you are destined to shape history and participate in the fulfillment of prophecy.” (“Stand Up, Lead Out,” New Era, Young Women Special Issue, Nov. 1985, 23)

  • 1984 – Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary offices are all housed in the Relief Society Building.
  • 1985 – First Young Women satellite broadcast is held, introducing the Young Women values and theme.
  • 1985 – A new Personal Progress book is published, and age-group mission statements, motto, and logo are introduced.
  • 1986 – First Young Women worldwide celebration, “Rising Generation,” is observed.
  • 1989 – Second Young Women worldwide celebration, “Stand for Truth and Righteousness,” is observed.


“I have tremendous reverence for each one of you. My hope for you during these important years between the ages of twelve and eighteen is that you are going from being a dependent child to becoming a righteous, problem-solving woman of faith. It is a mighty work you do during these years, and when you do your work well, you will build a foundation for a responsible and righteous life.” (“Growing Up Spiritually,” Ensign, May 1994, 96)

  • 1992 – Third Young Women worldwide celebration, “Walk in the Light,” is observed.
  • 1993 – New camp manual is introduced, focusing on service, spirituality, and the Young Women values.
  • 1994 – 125th anniversary of the Young Women is observed.
  • 1994 – First general Young Women meeting is held, separate from Relief Society.
  • 1995 – Fourth Young Women worldwide celebration, “Experiment upon the Word,” is observed.


“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.” (“The Joy of Womanhood,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 15)

  • 1998 – Fifth Young Women worldwide celebration, “Turning Hearts to the Family,” is observed.
  • 2000 – Final Young Women worldwide celebration, “Stand as a Witness,” is held.
  • 2002 – Young Women Personal Progress program is revised.
  • 2002 – For the Strength of Youth is revised.
  • 2002 – Annual Mutual theme is reinstated.
  • 2002 – The words “strengthen home and family” are 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.” (http://www.lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,6821-1,00.html, adapted from “How Will They Know Unless We Teach Them So?” open house address, Sept. 2003)

  • 2004 – Young Women section of the Church’s Web site LDS.org is launched.
  • 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.
100 years og young women camp

100 years of young women camp celebration image


“Remember who you are. There is power and strength and freedom and joy in living a virtuous life. You are a daughter of God, and you have a unique mission to perform on this earth. Gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and allow Him to guide you through your life. You are a generation of destiny. You are the youth of the noble birthright. You have a great work to do.” (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/ news-releases-stories/new-young-women-leaders-see-bright-future, adapted from press conference, Apr. 6, 2008)

  • 2008 – Virtue added as eighth Young Women Personal Progress Value [~Jenny]
  • 2009-2010 – YW Medallion (added class emblems and ruby) and logo pendant (changed to gold and white) redesigned. [~Jenny]
  • 2009-2010 – New Personal Progress recognition items added, including ribbons, bookmarks, and honor bee charm. [~Jenny]
  • 2012 – 100 years of Young Women Camp Celebration [~Jenny]


““I can’t overemphasize enough the power of our examples as mothers and grandmothers and youth leaders in influencing the testimonies and belief of our young women. We cannot expect them to dress modestly and attend their Church meetings, to pray daily, study the scriptures, and make wise choices if we are not doing those things ourselves. They need to see us modeling virtuous and righteous lives if we want them to develop the good habits that will increase their faith and belief. They need to see us making the temple a priority in our lives.” (https://www.lds.org/church/news/leaders-say-young-women-need-good-examples?lang=eng, Young Women Leaders Ask Women to Set Good Examples, Marianne Holman, Church News, May 9, 2013)

  • 2014- Reflecting the Church’s international growth, for the first time women who live outside of Utah and outside the United States have been called to serve on the newly formed Young Women general board. As part of the board, four women from the Wasatch Front will serve side by side, by the use of technology, with women from Africa, Peru, Japan, Brazil, and New York City. [~Jenny]
  • 2014 – Auxiliary training—previously held in conjunction with April’s general conference at Church headquarters for those who could attend—will now be delivered to sisters worldwide through an integrated, global, web-based training effort that will be provided in key languages. [~Jenny]
  • 2014 – Girls ages eight and older, young women, and women in the Church now gather for a new “semiannual general women’s meeting” which replaces the general Relief Society and Young Women meetings that have been held annually for decades. [~Jenny]

YW Class Symbols

There are symbols for each of the three young women classes. You can learn about the Young Women Class Names and Symbols here, download clipart of the symbols, and learn their respective age-group purpose statements.

More Resources

Phone Number and Mailing Address

Young Women General Office
76 North Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-6030
E-mail: [email protected]
(801) 240-2141 (direct line)
Toll Free (takes you to an operator): (800) 453-3860

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