Relief Society Magazine
Author: Sharp, Marianne Clark
The Relief Society Magazine was the official monthly publication of the women's Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1915 to 1970. It preserved the history of the Relief Society for those years, with reports of each annual general Relief Society conference held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and with the talks of General Authorities and the Relief Society presidencies given at those conferences. It also contains articles of particular interest to the women of the Church, such as gospel topics, prose and poetry, housekeeping aids, recipes, pictures, and descriptions of Relief Society activities from near and far. Some space each month was devoted to the progress of women worldwide. It also published the Relief Society lessons, which were written by authorities in various fields such as the scriptures, art, architecture, social sciences, economics, the Constitution of the United States, world governments, and literature.
In its first issue, President Joseph F. Smith expressed his hope that the magazine would be "entrenched about by the bulwarks of worthy and capable endeavor and enduring truth." The magazine was owned and operated by the General Board of the Relief Society for all of its fifty-six years. Originally a forty-four-page, black and white publication, it evolved into an eighty-page journal with liberal use of color. Its readers liked its small size, which let it fit neatly into a woman's purse. In 1966 the Magazine added a Spanish edition for its 6,000 Spanish-speaking subscribers.
Editors of the Relief Society Magazine looked upon their assignments as mission calls to further the work of Relief Society and strengthen the testimonies of its members. Its first editor, Susa Young Gates (1914-1922), was followed by Alice Louise Reynolds (1923-1930), Mary Connelly Kimball (1930-1937), Belle S. Spafford (1937-1945), and Marianne Clark Sharp (1945-1970). Vesta P. Crawford was associate editor (1947-1970).
From 1872 to 1914 Relief Society matters were disseminated in the Woman's Exponent, a privately owned and edited women's journal, which ceased publication in 1914 with the announcement of the official Church magazine for women.
The Relief Society Magazine had 301,000 subscribers in 1970, when it was incorporated into the Ensign, the Church magazine for adults. Relief Society lessons are now published in a manual each year. [See also Ensign; Relief Society; Woman's Exponent.]