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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Documents and content from "The First Fifty Years of Relief Society," released by the LDS Church on the Church Historian's Press last February, are now accessible online.

The LDS Church Historian's Press is in the process of posting all content from its recently published book titled "The First Fifty Years of the Relief Society" online to make it more accessible to a larger audience.

"We hope that the book and the website will be resources for personal study, classroom use and academic research," said Matt Grow, a volume editor and director of publications for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' History Department. "We hope this will be a tremendous family history resource."

Portions of the book are already online at churchhistorianspress.org. Church Historian's Press will continue to post content this fall and have everything uploaded by March 2017, the 175th anniversary of the Relief Society, Grow said.

There is also more content online than in the print version of the book. For example, a biographical register in the book has information on 400 women and men found in the documents. An additional 1,600 names appearing in the documents were not included due to space constraints. But information on all 2,000 people will be found online at the Church Historian's Press website, Grow said.

"The meticulous genealogical research that went into the massive effort to identify these individuals means that historians and descendants can now see how these individuals interacted with the Relief Society during the 1800s," Grow said.

Documents in Part 2 illustrate the re-establishment of ward Relief Societies in Utah after operations halted before the westward trek, Grow said.

One of his favorite sections in Part 2 is an autobiography by Lucy Meserve Smith, a Relief Society president in Provo and wife of apostle Elder George A. Smith. The pioneer woman gives a vivid description of the Relief Society’s response to the handcart disaster in 1856, the Utah War and other events, Grow said.

When the Latter-day Saints learned of the handcart disaster in October general conference, Smith wrote: "The sisters stripped off their Peticoats stockings and every thing they could spare, right there in the Tabernacle and piled into the wagons to send to the saints in the mountains."

Of her work in the Relief Society, Smith wrote: "I never took more satisfaction and I might say pleasure in any labour I ever performed in my life, such a unimmity (unanimity) of feeling prevailed."

When working on Relief Society projects, she wrote: "I only had to go into a store and make my wants known, if it was cloth it was measured off without charge."

For more information, visit www.churchhistorianspress.org.

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