This daily feature is an introduction to a full book review by Karen Lynn Davidson. To read the full text of this review, follow the link below.
The First Fifty Years of Relief Society has the distinction of being the first published volume other than the Joseph Smith Papers to appear under the imprint of the Church Historian's Press. The stated purpose of the Church Historian's Press is to publish "accurate, transparent, and authoritative works of history about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," works that "meet the highest standards of scholarship." Without question, The First Fifty Years rises to those standards in every way, with its broad research, meticulous transcriptions, inviting and thorough introductions, and accessible reference materials. Half a century unfolds in this book as we trace the Relief Society from its modest beginnings in Nauvoo to its much-expanded and influential role in the West.
The volume's editors are seasoned professionals whose names are well known in the world of LDS historical studies. Jill Mulvay Derr is a retired senior research historian for the Church History Department, and Carol Cornwall Madsen is a professor emerita of history at Brigham Young University. Kate Holbrook and Matthew J. Grow both work in the Church History Department, she as a specialist in women's history and he as director of publications. The research and editing skills of dozens of others, as listed in the front matter and the acknowledgments, add depth to the annotations and readability to the prose.