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October 2016 Vol. 54 No. 2

The Church Historian's Press

The following review appeared in the October 2016 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email


2015-32416 CIP
The First fifty years of relief society: key documents in Latter-day Saint women's history, ed. by Jill Mulvay Derr et al. The Church Historian's Press, 2016. 767p bibl index afp ISBN 9781629721507, $49.95.

The First Fifty Years of Relief Society is a fascinating and unique collection of 78 primary source documents related to the early history (1842–92) of the women's organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This volume includes annual reports, political petitions and speeches, sermons, poetry, diary entries, newspaper articles, letters, and the minutes of the Relief Society proceedings from 1842 to 1844, which are published in their entirety for the first time. Each document includes an introduction to the historical context and significant annotated footnotes. A thorough introduction, detailed index, biographical directory, list of Relief Society officers, and a substantial bibliography all constitute useful features of the work. Several photographs are provided of important texts, people, and places. The collection provides a compelling glimpse of not only the spiritual lives of early Latter-day Saint women, but also their political and social interests, their family lives, and their daily activities. Readers will be intrigued by reading appeals for women's suffrage, as well as accounts of healing blessings and internal conflict around the issue of plural marriage. This volume will be especially valuable to those interested in early American history, religion, and women's studies.

--M. Y. Spomer, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers.