Young Women (organization) - History

History

The first official youth association of the church—the Young Gentlemen’s and Young Ladies’ Relief Society—was formally organized by Nauvoo youth on the advice of church founder Joseph Smith in March 1843 after having several informal meetings since late January of that year under the supervision of Apostle Heber C. Kimball. The Young Women Organization of the church was founded by LDS Church President Brigham Young in 1869 as the Young Ladies' Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association. At the organization's founding, Young set out his vision for the young women of the Church:

"I desire them to retrench from extravagance in dress, in eating and even in speech. The time has come when the sisters must agree ... to set an example worthy of imitation before the people of the world.... There is need for the young daughters of Israel to get a living testimony of the truth... We are about to organize a retrenchment Association, which I want you all to join, and I want you to vote to retrench in ... everything that is not good and beautiful, not to make yourselves unhappy, but to live so you may be truly happy in this life and in the life to come."

From 1869 to 1880, the new Young Women organization functioned at the local ward level, without a general presidency. In 1871, the organization was renamed the Young Ladies' Retrenchment Association, or YL for short. In 1877, the organization's name was again changed to the Young Ladies' National Mutual Improvement Association (abbreviated YLNMIA) as a companion organization to the church's Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association, which had been founded in 1875.

On June 19, 1880, the first general presidency of the YLNMIA with church-wide authority was organized under the direction of Church President John Taylor, with Elmina Shepard Taylor as the first general president. In 1904, the name of the YLNMIA was shorted to the Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Association (abbreviated YLMIA) and in 1934 it was changed to the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association, or YWMIA.

In 1972, the YWMIA and the YMMIA were combined into a new organization called Aaronic Priesthood MIA Young Women. This organization was short-lived, however, and the Young Women organization was separated from the Young Men organization and given its current name in 1974.

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