- LDS Young Women
LDS Young Women
Young Women’s auxiliary of the LDS Church first began in Nauvoo, in March 1843 with a youth association called the Young Gentlemen and Young Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo. This was a benevolent society (like the R.S.) for all young women and men under age 30. The YG/YLRS assisted the R.S. with its work and the “necessity committee” of visiting and teaching members in need. Joseph Smith and Heber C. Kimball instructed and organized the YG/YLRS, with young men elected as its leaders.
In Utah, during the 1850s-60s, the Young Ladies assisted and were managed by the Relief Society in visiting and teaching members in need. Eliza R. Snow, R.S. Pres. and Sarah M. Kimball, 15th Ward R.S. Pres., organized and supervised young ladies in R.S. “quorums” of “deacons” and “teachers” to aid work and create female offices as stipulated in the R.S. minutes : “If any Officers are wanted to carry out the designs of the Institution, let them be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers &c. are among us.”
Ward R.S. Presidents and Church R.S. President Eliza R. Snow continued to supervise and manage the Young Ladies in Relief Society until 1880-87, during Eliza’s final years of Presidency. In 1880, a separate female general presidency was called to oversee the Young Ladies MIA — a new organization with a new focus, parallel to the young men’s organization.
This new organization for young ladies was first proposed in 1869 by Brigham Young to urge girls to “retrench from extravagance . . . get a living testimony”. Called the Young Ladies’ Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association began an organization with a different focus on young women’s social and cultural development, rather than assisting the R.S. with its ecclesiastical work. In 1871, it was renamed the Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association. In 1877, the YLRA became a companion organization to the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, (founded in 1875), thus was reformulated as the Young Ladies’ National Mutual Improvement Association (YLNMIA).
In 1880, a female general presidency of YLNMIA with church-wide authority was created, which began to overlap with then replace the supervisory role of R.S. President Eliza R. Snow over Young Ladies. The new Young Ladies’ organization had Elmina Shepard Taylor as its first general president in 1880 — the same year Eliza R. Snow was “ordained” to lead the Relief Society and all women and girls of the Church. This created a dual focus for young ladies — in both the R.S. and YLNMIA — which paralleled the dual focus for young men in both priesthood quorums and YMMIA. In 1904, the term “national” was dropped and it became the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (YLMIA).
In 1913, the name beehive was first used as a label for young ladies, when a “Beehive Girls” program was organized, which encouraged girls to learn skills of beekeeping, honey cultivation, domestic arts, and agriculture. As in the 1850s-60s with titles of “deacons” and “teachers” — the term “beehive” was a title given to girls, signifying their work. In 1920, the YLMIA operated the Beehive House (former residence of Brigham Young), as a dormitory for young girls.
In 1934, the “young ladies” terminology in use for 90 years since 1843 was changed to “young women” and the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association (YWMIA) was the new name. In 1943, the beehive was adopted as a symbol, then in 1950, the youngest class was given the title of Beehives, while the two older classes of Beehives were given new titles, of “MIA Maids” and “Junior Gleaners” which became “Laurels” in 1959. These titles have remained ever since.
In 1972, the YWMIA and YMMIA were combined into one inclusive auxiliary for the first time since 1843, and was called the Aaronic Priesthood MIA. This lasted only two years, likely due to applying the term “aaronic priesthood” to young women, for the first time in LDS history. Leadership of the APMIA was shared jointly by the Presiding Bishopric and General Presidency of the Young Women.
In 1974 the YWMIA and YMMIA split back into two separate auxiliaries, and the Young Women‘s organization has remained separate ever since, led by its own female general presidency. The LDS organization for girls was called “Young Ladies” for 90 years, while for the past 85 years the girls have been called “Young Women.”