On March 17, 1842, Joseph Smith met with twenty women assembled on the upper floor of the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo and organized the Relief Society. Original documents related to the early days of the Relief Society are gathered at Joseph Smith Papers: Joseph Smith and the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Here are a few BYU associated links related to the history of the Relief Society.
“Why We are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies,” Julie B. Beck, BYU Devotional, January 17, 2012
When Joseph Smith organized the sisters, he told them that “there should be a select society, separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous, land holy.” President Joseph F. Smith taught that Relief Society has its own unique identity and that it was “divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and men.”
The purposes of Relief Society are to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and provide relief fot hose who are in need. The quorum is to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, instruct quorum members in the doctrines and principles of the gospel, and watch over the Church.
BYU Women’s Conference Videos and Transcripts.
Find 129 presentations from 2010 and 2018 here, from speakers including Sheri Dew, Sharon Eubank, Elaine Dalton, Gay Strathearn, Neill Marriott, and many more. Transcripts of selected speeches from 1997 to 2018 are available here. The 2019 Women’s Conference at BYU is May 2 and 3.
"'Provoking the Brethren to Good Works': Susa Young Gates, the Relief Society and Genealogy," James B. Allen and Jessie L. Embry, BYU Studies, Vol. 31, no. 2
Around the year 1918 Susa Young Gates, one of the Latter-day Saint Church's most influential women and one sometimes jokingly referred to as the "thirteenth apostle," was preparing a history of Latter-day Saint women. One chapter indicated that despite male leadership in the Genealogical Society of Utah, it was the women who were most responsible for making genealogy catch on within the Church, for women were doing more of both genealogical research and temple work than were the men.
"Memoirs of the Relief Society in Japan, 1951–1991," Yanagida Toshiko, BYU Studies, Vol. 44, no. 2
On June 21, 1964, Mission President Dwane N. Andersen (1962–65) called me to be the Relief Society president of the Northern Far East Mission. During this era, Relief Society had a separate budget from the mission budget. Expenses for Relief Society—such as transportation fees, correspondence, and so forth—had to be borne by the organization itself.
Book Review of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, book edited by Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow, reviewed by Karen Lynn Davidson
This book offers broad research, meticulous transcriptions, inviting and thorough introductions and accessible reference materials related to the Relief Society.
Book Review of The Salt Lake City 14th Ward Album Quilt, 1857: Stories of the Relief Society and Their Quilt,book by Carol H. Neilson, reviewed by Jill T. Rudy
This book is both intriguing and straightforward: to recover the history of a nineteenth-century Relief Society quilt and the life stories of the women who stitched it together.