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 articles and book reviews that BYU Studies has published related to the history of the Relief Society.
"'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.