Relief Society documents and artifacts displayed

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Visitors to Salt Lake’s Church History Library can explore a variety of documents and artifacts from Relief Society history as part of a bi-annual open house corresponding with General Conference and beginning Friday.

Each year, the open house features a different topic and this year the General Relief Society Presidency requested it focus on the Relief Society and its sisters from the past. This topic was requested in correlation with the publication of the new book, “Daughters in thy Kingdom,” said April Williamson, who is in charge of public programming for the library.

“We tried to pull things that focus on Relief Society sisters through various eras and generations,” Williamson said. “It is more about the Relief Society sister and the influence of the Relief Society in their lives.”

“Treasures of the Collection” features different artifacts and documents from different eras in Relief Society history, a news release stated.

Many of the artifacts are the belongings of early members of the Church, such as Lucy Mack Smith. Her copy of the Book of Mormon will be on display, as well as a letter she wrote to her brother, Solomon Mack, in 1830 where she describes the story of the Book of Mormon and the importance of it, Williamson said.

A letter from the Osaka Japan’s women’s club in 1950 will be on display. In the letter, women wrote a letter thanking the Relief Society sisters for their aid after World War II, Williamson said.

“The letter is written in Japanese and is very beautiful,” Williamson said. “It’s amazing to see the change in attitude and gratitude, since the countries had been in a bitter war only five years earlier.”

Several minute books from early Relief Society meetings will also be on display, including the original minute book from the 1842 meeting when the Relief Society was organized. One of the most unique minute books on display is from Cedar City in 1856, Williamson said.

“Women were asked to donate a sheet of paper, which was a very prized commodity at the time,” Williamson said. “They stitched those together to create a record book and bound it with buckskin hide.”

There will be three open houses, one of which has already concluded. Williamson said it was a great success and was very well attended.

“One of the ladies said she was in the middle of writing her mother’s history and saw the display and remembered her mother had been in the singing mother’s chorus,” Williamson said. “That was something she had left out of the history, so she went home right away and wrote it down.”

A small committee has been working on the open house since April, doing research and designing the layout, Williamson said. However, there has been a lot of effort from many departments of the Church involved in the entire process. There hava been efforts from the Church preservation team, the floral shop and the entire library staff.

The open house will be held Friday and Saturday from noon until 9 p.m. at the Church History Library, 15 E. North Temple, Salt Lake City. More information can be found at history.lds.org.

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