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David O. McKay Diaries – “Auxiliaries”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Auxiliaries.” You can view other subjects here.

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Wed., 9 Nov., 1949:

“I met the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association Presidency–Mrs. Reeder, Mrs. Bennett, and Mrs. Longden.  They submitted their plan for the taking over of the L.D.S. girls into the Young Women’s organization.  I think their plan excellent and suggested that they present it to the Presiding Bishopric and later to the First Presidency.”

Tues., 6 Dec., 1949:

“[Note by Clare] A Miss Nearah Sharp, School teacher here in the city, formerly of West Virginia, called at the office.  She has some plan where by girls 30 and over may meet unmarried men–through the Priesthood of the Church they may be organized into a group, etc.  Referred her to Sister Bertha Reeder, Pres. of the Y.W.M.I.A. and Ezra T. Benson, adviser to the M.I.A.”

Fri., 13 Jan., 1950:

“[Telephone call]  Adele Howells of the Primary.  She said that after the meeting with the Young Men’s Superintendency regarding the 11-year-old Boy Scout work in the Primary, the Primary Presidency decided to go home and discuss it among themselves, after which they decided to have a meeting, and that after fasting and praying, they met with their Trail and Home Builder committee, and still they were not able to come to a unity in their decision, that 6 out of the girls favored one plan, and two favored another plan; that they are very much divided.  Said that Brother Curtis is waiting for their decision.  Sister Howells then said that they do not like to make a decision on such an important matter before getting an opinion from the First Presidency on the matter.  I said that they should come to a unity, and then make their recommendation to the First Presidency; that I thought I should not be an arbitrator in the matter.  I also said that if they are divided and have two recommendations, then they may submit to the First Presidency both recommendations.”

Fri., 3 Feb., 1950:

“At 8:30 a.m. met at his request Superintendent Elbert Curtis. . . .

The second question discussed was the Scouting and the M.I.A. and Primary.  He said that the Y.M.M.I.A. Superintendency and the Primary Superintendency have not been able to see eye to eye. However Supt. Curtis and his assistants submit the following recommendation:

That the Y.M.M.I.A. be permitted to offer the Scouting program to the eleven year old boy of the Church, at such time as the local mutual people and the Bishop may agree upon: Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, after Primary on a week day afternoon, or, if necessary, early in an evening of Mutual night.

The Primary sisters indicated to us that they would have no objection if the eleven year old boys came to Mutual.  Our present feeling is that this should be discouraged as much as possible. There may, however, be situations where a Bishop will think it wise to permit the eleven year old boys to come and associate with other boys for the Scouting program.

This is our recommendation to you, and, as the Young Men’s organization, we are united in it–not as the best plan, but as the best arrangement we can get approved by the Primary organization. Signed Elbert R. Curtis, A. Walter Stevenson, David S. King.”

Mon., 31 Mar., 1952:

“Bertha Reeder, Jr., President of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association called to inquire whether it would be proper for her to conduct one of the sessions of the coming M.I.A. conference in June.  Said that she desires to be in accord with whatever the Presidency would like her to do.  A number of the members of the Young Women’s Organization have asked her why she does not conduct some of the meetings of conference.  Said she had made it a policy not to conduct when the Priesthood was present at meetings.

I answered that it is a question of having the Young Women’s organization recognized.

I advised Sister Reeder, when the matter comes up at their next meeting, to state that the question of whether or not she and her counselors are to conduct any of the meetings of the June Conference, will be referred to the First Presidency for consideration and answer.

Note:  This matter, presented by Sister Reeder, was taken to the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve on April 17, 1952, and the following minute was made:

‘Sister Bertha Reeder called at the office of Pres. McKay and inquired about her duties as President of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association with regard to taking her turn at presiding at general conference sessions of the M.I.A.  She has been asked to do this by Supt. Elbert R. Curtis–Council agreed that this might properly be done.'”

Mon., 14 Apr., 1952:

“At 10:30 a.m., Sister Bertha H. Reeder came in and inquired about her duties as President of the Y.W.M.I.A. with regard to taking her turn at presiding at General Conference Sessions of the Y.M. and Y.W.M.I.A.  She has been asked to alternate with the General Superintendent in this matter.  She awaits instructions regarding this.

I reported this matter at Council meeting, April 17, 1952, and the Council agreed that Sister Reeder might properly take her turn at presiding at General Conference sessions of the M.I.A.  This decision was reported to Sister Reeder.

Note:  General Boards of the Y.M. and Y.W.M.I.A. have instructed stake and local officers to alternate in conducting.  This policy is also followed at conventions and institutes held by the General Boards.”

Fri., 9 May, 1952:

“First Presidency’s meeting.

Summary of concluding observations of President McKay on ‘Cubbing’ program of the Primary Association.

We shall have to set up another organizatin to take charge of these people ourselves.  I told the sisters to go on as they are doing, preparing the boys for the Priesthood and preparing the boys and girls for baptism–that is fundamental; we cannot substitute that for anything else.  But coordinated with it, we must set up another organization to which we can invite the 8 and 9-year old girls, as auxiliary to the Primary.  We should start at once to make an organization to which we will invite all our own boys.

We are going to carry out our Gospel training from the four-year old up to the 20-year old, and we will be culpable if we do not do it.  We favor incorporating all the good in scouting that will attract our boys.  Set up an organization incorporating all the good of ‘Cubbing’ and keep it under your control, and do the same thing with the 11-year-olds.  I asked the sisters to work out a plan, and let the parents go and take the necessary training, but hold it under your direction.  I asked that they submit their plans.

In answer to the suggestion by one of the sisters that it was like going up against a wall, I said: The wall may seem insurmountable, but we cannot stand back and say there is no use trying.  We can walk the distance to the wall.  We are not discharging our duty until we go up to it, and when we do that there may be a hidden ladder which we have not seen, or over here there may be a door through which we can pass.  I told the sisters to try it and if they come up against a wall, to let the First Presidency know.  Let us hold to our ideals and the teachings of the Gospel.  We must not compromise in that.”

Fri., 9 May, 1952:

“First Presidency’s meeting.

Summary of concluding observations of President McKay on ‘Cubbing’ program of the Primary Association.

We shall have to set up another organizatin to take charge of these people ourselves.  I told the sisters to go on as they are doing, preparing the boys for the Priesthood and preparing the boys and girls for baptism–that is fundamental; we cannot substitute that for anything else.  But coordinated with it, we must set up another organization to which we can invite the 8 and 9-year old girls, as auxiliary to the Primary.  We should start at once to make an organization to which we will invite all our own boys.

We are going to carry out our Gospel training from the four-year old up to the 20-year old, and we will be culpable if we do not do it.  We favor incorporating all the good in scouting that will attract our boys.  Set up an organization incorporating all the good of ‘Cubbing’ and keep it under your control, and do the same thing with the 11-year-olds.  I asked the sisters to work out a plan, and let the parents go and take the necessary training, but hold it under your direction.  I asked that they submit their plans.

In answer to the suggestion by one of the sisters that it was like going up against a wall, I said: The wall may seem insurmountable, but we cannot stand back and say there is no use trying.  We can walk the distance to the wall.  We are not discharging our duty until we go up to it, and when we do that there may be a hidden ladder which we have not seen, or over here there may be a door through which we can pass.  I told the sisters to try it and if they come up against a wall, to let the First Presidency know.  Let us hold to our ideals and the teachings of the Gospel.  We must not compromise in that.”

Wed., 1 Oct., 1952:

“While in First Presidency’s meeting this morning, I called Sister Spafford and told her the Presidency had decided that she might announce, if she cared to do so, in the Relief Society Conference that the site for the Relief Society Building will be the NOrthwest corner of the block, just in front of the Joseph F. Smith Memorial Building.  I also told her that she and one other of the Board might go to the National meeting of women in the East, about which she had inquired.”

Thur., 16 Oct., 1952:

“The regular First Presidency’s meeting continued until 9:45, at which time I left for the meeting of the Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.  Returned to the office at 3 p.m., where I signed scores of letters and documents for the next two hours. While engaged thusly, my son Robert called at the office.  He is interested in using some of my old Sunday School outlines.  Had Clare get these in the files in the basement.  As soon as I find the time I shall go over these outlines which I prepared many years ago when we were inaugurating in the Sunday Schools a teacher training program.”

Thur., 15 Jan., 1953:

“At 8:45 a.m. the Executives of the M.I.A. called and met with the First Presidency.  Sister Longden presented the matter of the dance, music, and drama festivals of M.I.A. in connection with the June Conference, and inquired if, in view of instructions sent our by the First Presidency, they should discontinue the custom of bringing in dancers from various parts of the Church, also participants in the drama festival.  These groups are trained in their local communities and look forward to coming to Salt Lake City to participate in the festival in June.  Explanation was given regarding our feeling about bringing groups of people away from their homes long distances, remaining away from home for several nights,  and mentioned the hazards involved, physically, and morally.  After some discussion, the Executives were told to go ahead with their plans for the June festival, drama and dance groups, emphasizing the need of every safeguard.  The thought was suggested that these festivals are taking on such proportions that we should probably have to have regional festivals in the near future.

Sunday night firesides, and the indication from Bishop Wirthlin to the M.I.A. Executives that they may be turned into cottage meetings with the Priests taking charge, was brought up by Sister Bertha Reeder.  I said that I am 100% in favor of these cottage meetings under the direction of the Aaronic Priesthood but that I have not understood they were to be held Sunday nights.”

Wed., 23 Sept., 1953:

First Presidency’s Meeting

The Presidency of the Relief Society (Sisters Spafford, Sharp, and Simonson) called on the First Presidency and discussed certain matters pertaining to their work —

a.  The matter of temple burial clothes.  They stated our people are largely served through morticians, that 45 of the morticians buy from the General Board, 21 of them hire Latter-day Saints to make temple clothing for them.  Some of the morticians buy from other morticians, three buy from Stake Relief Societies, and in practically every stake they buy from individuals.  Some of the Stake Relief Societies buy from the General Board.  The number of stakes now operating temple clothing departments is 33.

b.  They feel they need more room.  They feel they should add to their stock dresses for work in the temple and perhaps shoes.  They wondered if they should set up a distributing center, first in Southern California (making the clothes here), that sometimes they have difficulty in finding suitable dresses for burying the dead in Los Angeles.  If the distributing center works out satisfactorily in Los Angeles they could later move into other temple areas.  They stated that some sisters who make temple clothes for sale are soliciting this business in the temple, passing their cards around.  The question was discussed of confining the making of temple clothes to the Relief Society, except of course individuals could make their own.  In answer to President McKay’s question as to how many employees they would need, they stated they would need to increase their force only one or two in order to take care of the situation in Los Angeles, that they now have seven employees.  Of course if they were to take over the work for the entire church they could do this by perhaps doubling their force.  The brethren decided to take this matter under consideration and let them know later.

c.  Sister Spafford mentioned that the Relief Society is identified with the National Council of Women and that she had received an invitation from the President of the International Association to be a delegate to a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, next June.  The sisters stated that Sister Spafford is chairman of the committee of the National Women’s organization to revise the constitution, and has been devoting considerable time to this work.  She felt that they need the benefit of Church experience in government to help them.

President McKay said the Brethren would take this matter under consideration and let her know later.

(Sister Spafford was later advised that the brethren approved of her going to Finland)”

17 Mar., 1954:

“Telephone Call from President Stephen L. Richards to President McKay who is at Laguna Beach.

While at Laguna Beach, President Stephen L. Richards called me from Salt Lake City.  He called attention to two matters:

(2)  Disturbing report that came to the First Presidency at their meeting with the Presiding Bishopric as to the Girls’ Home at the Beehive House.  The Police have apparently made some observations and discovered girls out late at night entertaining boys out on the balcony, and in cars parked in front of the home.

Sister Florence Smith, the matron, says that these girls, in a measure, were beyond her control, and would not conform to the regulations she had made.  She seems to wonder if the home can be kept as it should be under existing conditions.

I stated that the girls who are giving trouble should be dismissed and turned over to Brother Clayton who is working for the Church with wayward young people.

President Richards stated that the Bishopric who reported these conditions were in full accord in thinking the Beehive House should be discontinued as a place for a girls’ home, and make it a point of historic interest.

I answered:  ‘What are we going to do with these girls who are coming to Salt Lake City?’  

President Richards answered:  ‘We shall have to try to get them placed in suitable boarding houses without the Church taking the responsibility of their conduct.’

I then stated:  ‘We are facing a grave question there.  Please hold this matter up until I get back.’

The brethren felt that we should not let the Church get into bad repute through the action of these girls.  I mentioned the trouble up in the hospital with a girl from Randolph — she is now turning to the Catholics.  I then stated again that this matter should be held up until my return.

I said that I was quite surprised at the easy regulations under which the girls live at the Beehive House — that they are not required to be in until 12 o’clock on week nights, and on Friday and Saturday nights they may be out until 1:30 a.m.  I stated that I think those hours are ridiculous.  These matters will all have to be investigated.

In answer to President Richards’ question as to Sister McKay and my health, I reported that Sister McKay is better, and that we are getting a little rest.  Reported that we had a delightful drive down to Laguna Beach.  Also had a good night’s rest last night.”

Sun., 8 Aug., 1954:

“Sunday, August 8, 1954.  M.I.A. meeting under the direction of the First Presidency.

Delivered two major addresses today — the first was at the Hollywood Bowl where at 9 a.m. I presided and conducted the M.I.A. Conference meeting held under the direction of the First Presidency of the Church.

Sixteen thousand members of the Church were gathered in the Bowl for this meeting.  It was a thrilling experience to face this vast audience.

The music was furnished by the Mormon Choir of Southern California under the direction of H. Frederick Davis.

The speakers were as follows:  George W. McCune who was the first President of the Los Angeles Stake; Leo J. Muir, who was the second President of the Los Angeles Stake, both of whom spoke on the subject: ‘How the Mutual Helps in Stake and Ward Work’; Brother Elbert R. Curtis, General Superintendent Y. M.M.I.A., and Sister Bertha H. Reeder, General President Y.W.M.I.A.  After the singing by the Choir, I gave my address on ‘The Abundant Life.’

Following the meeting people by the hundreds came up to the pulpit to shake hands with me.  While engaged thusly, I learned that a young man was in one of the rooms waiting for me to come and administer to him.  He had been taken from an iron lung and given some smaller equipment with which to breathe.  I was advised that the battery would not hold out much longer and that I should come immediately.  They made a pathway through the crowds, and I made my way back to the young man whose name is Alonzo D. Welchman.  He has been in an iron lung for two years.  His wife, Catherine, and their two children were there by his side crying.  I administered to him, and was greatly moved by the faith and courage of this young couple.  Brother Welchman is confined to the Veteran’s Administration Center, Annex 115 Ward D, Los Angeles.

I then returned to the crowd and shook hands with those who had waited for me to return.

1:30 p.m. – M.I.A. Speech Conference

The final meeting of the M.I.A. Speech Conference was held in the East Los Angeles College Auditorium.  Elder Elbert R. Curtis, General Superintendent of the Y.M.M.I.A., conducted the services.  Three thousand four hundred people filled the Junior College Auditorium, and the nearby East Los Angeles Stake House to overflowing.

I gave the principal address on that occasion and talked on ‘The Sacredness of the Marriage Covenant.’

Following this meeting, I again spent an hour or two shaking hands with the people.  Also administered to one or two who were brought to me, one was a young boy who had been in a wheel chair for several years due to an accident at school.  He possessed great faith, and had asked to have me give him a blessing.  I also gave a blessing to Mrs.____, formerly Miss Woodruff, who is a daughter of Josie Booth who was in Scotland when I was there on my first mission.  This lady, whose name I do not have now is suffering with her nerves.  (Miss Woodruff’s stage name Edwina Booth)”

Thurs., 19 Aug., 1954:

M.I.A. Conference

I reported at this meeting that on August 6,7, and 8 attended sessions pertaining to the great M.I.A. Convention in Los Angeles.  I consider that it merits that adjective with all that it connotes.  The General Superintendency and the General Presidency of the M.I.A. brought added credit to their devotion and ability.  Brother Howard W. Hunter as Chairman of the Committee did very good work.

I was thrilled with the concert Friday night.  They had brought together 1400 young people from those scattered stakes, and the concert they gave in the Hollywood Bowl was uplifting to the soul.  I reported that the services Sunday morning in the Hollywood Bowl, at which it was reported about 16,000 people were present, were conducted by Brother Mark E. Petersen, and he did a most masterful job.  I said that the reporters had no idea really what was going on, and did not wake up to the situation until Saturday night.  They expressed the sentiment that were we to repeat the program, we should have to use the Coliseum.  I congratulated Brother Richard L. Evans on his having been accorded the Master M Men recognition, and Sister Petersen, who was accorded the Golden Gleaner award.  I said that all in all I thought the Convention had done us more good than any one thing in Los Angeles, excepting the building of the Temple, that it afforded an opportunity for our young people to come together.  I think that perhaps 25,000 young people participated directly and indirectly in the Conference.  I had heard excellent reports of the work done by the Brethren of the Authorities in their inspiring remarks at the various meetings.

Fri., 22 June, 1956:

“Friday, June 22, 1956

General Relief Society Information

Presidents McKay and Clark met with the General Presidency of the Relief Society (Sisters Belle S. Spafford, Marianne C. Sharp and Velma N. Simonsen) in the First Presidency’s Office and the following matters were presented by the Relief Society Presidency and actions taken as indicated:

1.  Sister Spafford presented plans for the dedication of the new Relief Society Building, stating that it is understood that the Building will be finished and that the furnishing thereof will be completed by September 1.  They recommend that the dedicatory services be held in connection with the Relief Society Conference October 3 and 4, 1956.  Sister Spafford presented to the Brethren a proposed program for these dedicatory services, which the Presidency decided to give consideration and report thereon at a later date.

2.  Sister Spafford and her counselors presented for the approval of the Presidency a souvenir plate to be sold in connection with the dedication, which is a bone china plate made in New York and has on it a picture of the Relief Society Building, pictures of the presidents of the Relief Society, and a record on the back of the dates when these presidents presided.  Each plate is a little different because it is all hand work and will sell for $3.50.

3.  Sister Spafford mentioned that Nicholas G. Morgan has caused to be made a heroic-sized statue of Sister Eliza R. Snow at a cost of $45,000.  It is the work of a nephew of Avard Fairbanks.  Brother Morgan had it prepared originally for Pioneer Square; later he felt it was not suitable to be placed there and he was contemplating presenting it to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.  It then occurred to him that the proper place would be in front of the Relief Society Building.  It is now being cast in bronze and he would be happy to present it as a gift to the Relief Society for erection on the grounds.

The Brethren, in looking at the picture, felt that it was a very fine work but President McKay, stated that, while it was gracious of Brother Morgan to make this offer, Sister Eliza R. Snow was not really the first president of the Relief Society and he thought it would arouse some questions if it were placed on the Relief Society grounds.  President McKay said he honored her and had very pleasant memories about her, but questioned the appropriateness of placing it there.

4.  Sister Spafford presented the question as to what should be the policy of the General Board with regard to allowing groups other than our Church organizations to use the building.  She said it is the feeling of the Relief Society Presidency that it should be reserved for the use of the General Board of the Relief Society and for our stake Relief Societies; that, if the stakes want to hold functions there, it should be open to them, and that would also include ward groups; that it could not be open to individual wards as they have their own meeting houses.  It would also be open to the General Authorities for such use as they would care to make of it and to the General Boards of the auxiliaries if they wanted to hold meetings in the auditorium, but it was not thought that it should be open to civic groups.

The Brethren of the Presidency concurred in the feelings of Sister Spafford and her associates regarding this matter.

5.  The Relief Society Presidency presented to the Brethren three copies of a picture of the First Presidency which they would like to have the Brethren autograph, one copy to go to each of the Presidency of the Relief Society.

6.  The sisters called attention to orders they are receiving for garments to be sent to our missions in Europe, which garments it would be necessary to send with the missionaries who are going to foreign missions.  President McKay said they should not send any garments for people in Europe with the missionaries, that we do not wish to be a party in any such subterfuge.

In answer to Sister Spafford’s question as to what they should do with the orders they now have on hand, President McKay said that the Presidency are trying to work out a plan; that if individuals want to pay the duty on garments shipped to them by parcel post or otherwise, they might do so.  He explained further that we are hoping arrangements can be made for some manufacturer or manufacturers in Europe to make garments that will be suitable.

Sister Spafford mentioned that she had written to the presidents of two of the missions in Europe advising them that the Relief Society has patterns and, if they wish to make their own garments, these patterns are available.  She said also that she had given them advice in regard to the type of material that should be used.

7.  Regarding the matter of the making of temple clothing, Sister Spafford said the Relief Society had not been authorized to send to the European Mission Relief Society presidents instructions for making temple clothing; that the First Presidency, however, had written the presidents of missions advising them to make their own temple clothing.  It was thought that Sister Spafford and her associates might send the same instructions to the Mission Relief Society presidents in the United States in regard to making temple clothing.  The Brethren gave their approval to this.

8.  Sister Spafford reported regarding the Los Angeles Temple clothing department, that the sales from January 1 to June 15 have averaged about a thousand dollars per week for Los Angeles alone.  The Temple opened March 11, 1956, and the average sales from March 1 to June 15, were $1,136.00 per week.

She said they had had many problems in Los Angeles relative to non-member morticians making temple clothing; that, however, they are now without exception buying the clothing from the Relief Society.

9.  Sister Spafford raised the question as to whether or not it would be well to consider opening a store near the Temple in Los Angeles where people from Northern California and other places who go to the Temple might buy their temple clothing.  President McKay suggested that they correspond with the Los Angeles Temple Advisory Committee, of which President John M. Russon is chairman, asking if there is property available near the Temple which might be used for this purpose.

10.  The Relief Society Presidency also mentioned problems that they are having in connection with the supplying of temple clothing in the Idaho Falls Temple area; that many individuals in that area are asking for the privilege of making temple clothing and there are some irregularities in connection therewith.  They wondered whether or not it would be advisable to consider opening a store near the Idaho Falls Temple for providing temple clothing to the people.  No answer was given to this question.

11.  Sister Spafford said they did not know how extensive the making of temple clothing by non-member morticians is, but she understood that there is some of this being done; that they had made a survey a while ago — the survey is in their files  — and they have the names of morticians who are engaging people to make temple clothing for them.  She mentioned that the Deseret Mortuary here in this city has a sewing room in their own establishment where temple clothing is made and sold to those who wish to make purchase thereof.  She thought the same was true of Lindquist’s in Ogden, and also in other places.

Sister Spafford explained that temple clothing can be sent from here by air express to Idaho Falls and the Northwest, as well as elsewhere throughout the States.

At a later meeting of the First Presidency, the following was discussed.  (June 26, 1956)

Dedication of Relief Society Building

The proposed plan for the dedication of the Relief Society Building was considered.  It was agreed that the time for the ribbon-cutting ceremony should follow the dedicatory services, and that the serving of the dinner proposed should not be undertaken; otherwise the program was approved.  The Presidency approved the suggestion that the wives of the mission presidents be invited to attend.”

Fri., 27 July, 1956:

Friday, July 27, 1956:

Telephone Conversation with Sister Belle S. Spafford, President of the Relief Society of the Church, Friday, July 27, 1956.

Sister Spafford called to ask me for advice upon a few developments which have arisen in the program of the National Council of Women, of which she is 2nd vice president, for the nation.

She said that in the Council’s Constitution it states that an individual holding an executive postion in the Council has limitations on the time which she must hold such office.  Because of this, Sister Spafford would not be eligible to again run for the office she now holds.  She can still work in the Council as a voting delegate for the Relief Society, if the Relief Society desires to send her to represent them.  She has held the office of 2nd vice president for so many years that she cannot hold it again.

The Council has asked Sister Spafford to nominate someone to be an officer at large, and she would like to suggest that it be Sister Marianne C. Sharp.  Each organization is allowed two delegates, one of which is a voting delegate.  The Relief Society’s delegates would be Sister Spafford and Sister Sharp, if President McKay and the Relief Society would approve.

Another matter she brought up was that there is an influential officer who is proposing revisions in the Consitution, which revisions will come up in the October Biennial meeting.  Sister Spafford has worked well with this woman, though the lady is often dogmatic.  At the present time the woman has made proposals for Constitutional amendments, some points of which Sister Spafford cannot agree to.  Sister Spafford has phrased a letter in which she explains why she cannot concur, mainly because the proposals are undemocratic.  The people who are working this out seem not to have taken a long-range view and consequently will no doubt have trouble in the future, and of course Sister Spafford cannot agree to this.

Sister Spafford contacted the Y.W.M.I.A. which is also a member of the National Council of Women, and was informed that the officers of the Y.W.M.I.A. had already written to the National Council, approving the proposals and amendments.  Now since the M.I.A. have approved it, Sister Spafford’s position in opposing the proposals is weakened.

I told Sister Spafford that she must not go aginst the principles for which we stand and to which she is true.  I also said that she must follow her good judgment, since she knows so much about the organization.  Furthermore, I told her that this influential woman would not live forever, and if the amendments are wrong, they must be fought.

Then I suggested that Sister Spafford meet with the officers of the Y.W.M.I.A. and work out a united decision.  They must go back to the conventions united and with one purpose.

In conclusion I told her that we should like her to try to keep as many privileges as possible in the Council, because she has done and can do so much good for the Council and the Church.  She said she would do what she could in the meetings.”

Friday, September 27, 1957

Telephone conversation with President Belle S. Spafford, Relief Society, Friday, September 27, 1957.

Re:  Cancellation of 128th Semi-Annual Conference

Sister Spafford to represent the National Council of Women of the United States as a delegate at the Sixth National Conference under the UNESCO in San Francisco, to be held November 6-9, 1957.

Sister Spafford:  President McKay, do you have a second?  I have an invitation from the National Council of Women of the United States to serve as a delegate in San Francisco to represent them.  They will study the social and educational problems for the Far East.  There will be two delegates from the United States Council, and they want me to be one of them.  There is a meeting to be held in San Francisco under the UNESCO program.  (United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Program).  It will be the 6th national conference in San Francisco to be held November 6-9, 1957.  The conference will concern itself with educational, social, welfare and cultural matters of the Far East.  They will have some of the most distinguished speakers available throughout the world.  They would appreciate it if I would represent the Council as a delegate of the National Council of Women.

President McKay:  All right, Sister.  You accept the invitation.  Congratulations!  We have confidence in you, and the Lord bless you.

Sister Spafford:  We shall take care of this other matter.  Thank you, good-bye.

Sat., 8 Mar., 1958:

“At 9:15 a.m.  Met by appointment at my request Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve and adviser to the M.I.A.

We considered the reorganization of the Y.M. and Y.W.M.I.A.

We considered it advisable to release the Superintendency and Presidency of these organizations at April conference with the understanding that they continue until after June Conference.

In the meantime I shall consult the present officers.”

Tues., 25 Mar., 1958:

“9:30 a.m. – Had Sister Bertha S. Reeder, President of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association call and consulted her with regards to conditions existing in the Young Women’s General Presidency.  It seems that perfect harmony exists among the Presidency and that they are doing an excellent work.

I concluded that it will be best not to make any change during the coming General Conference, but I shall report to my counselors, and we shall consider the question of reorganization of the Y.M.M.I.A. Superintendency.

Mon., 19 Jan., 1959:


Meeting with the General Superintendency and Presidency of the Y.M.M.I.A. and Y.W.M.I.A.

Division M.I.A. Organization – Replacing Stake Boards

Superintendent Joseph T. Bentley and his Assistants, G. Carlos Smith, Jr., and Marvin J. Ashton, Sister Bertha S. Reeder and her Counselors, Sisters Emily H. Bennett and LaRue C. Longden, met the First Presidency at 10:30 a.m. and presented a plan of organization for supervision of the M.I.A. Ward and Stake activities by a divisional board composed of members selected from two or more stakes, each stake to be represented by a coordinator who would also have a secretary.  The plan includes provision for leadership meetings for each of two stakes in the division to be held every other month under the direction of the division board.  It contemplates also releasing stake boards as now provided and permitting workers who have heretofore served on stake boards to return to ward organizations.  He explained that in specialized situations, the organization for a single stake in isolated areas would not necessarily follow this plan.

Chart of Proposed M.I.A. Division Organization

Brother Bentley exhibited a chart upon which the plan is set forth in diagramatic form.  He stated that the purposes to be accomplished by the plans are to coordinate M.I.A. activities under improved ward leadership with good supervision under a simplified arrangement which will reduce the need for meetings and more efficiently reach the youth of the Church in furtherance of the basic objectives to build their testimonies and increase their faith.

Relation of Division to Stake Presidency

The unusual nature of the organization, especially in its relationship to the established Priesthood direction in the stakes, and the new aspects of the divisional organization were pointed out by the First Presidency.  The present great and growing difficulty experienced in keeping stake boards and ward M.I.A. organizations staffed, and the very short tenure of officers in M.I.A. positions were given as reasons for developing this plan to simplify and to reduce the organizational demands.

Modification Suggested

After consideration, it was suggested that the stake superintendency and secretary of each stake be preserved and perform the functions suggested for the coordinator and secretary.

Permission to Experiment Requested

Permission to experiment with the plan as amended on a limited basis was requested, and granted with the understanding that the findings resulting from the experiment will be reported to the First Presidency.

Twelve-Year-Old M.I.A. Members

President McKay described the conditions which have developed in releasing twelve-year-old children from Primary to enter the M.I.A., and the concern of parents over having children of that age out at night.

M.I.A. 9 o’clock Closing

Brother Bentley stated that plans are being released to the M.I.A. workers in June to have the Mutuals close at 9 p.m.

Saturday M.I.A. Activities

Some consideration was given to having activities for boys and girls of the earlier ages of the M.I.A. carried forward for them on Saturday during the day time.

Fast Sunday Evening Home Night

Mention was made of a plan to leave Sunday evening on Fast Day free of meetings to provide a family night at home each month.


Minutes by A. Hamer Resier”

Fri., 23 Jan., 1959:

“Visit of Sister Spafford to England on Welfare Work

12 o’clock noon – Sister Belle S. Spafford came in to report that she had been in communication with Lady Reading of England regarding her forthcoming trip to England, and explained the welfare activities of Lady Reading and what she thinks might be accomplished by Sister Spafford’s visit to London.  (see following report by Sister Spafford)

Sister Spafford also called attention to a letter which she received from Lady Reading, dated January 12, 1959, (copy of which follows) in which Lady Reading remarked:  ‘Isn’t it funny that all the things we talked of should begin to fall into place, and wasn’t I right when I had that feeling about coming to Salt Lake City.  I honestly do think it was much more than a feeling, it was something which was put there on purpose.  It was so strong in me that I couldn’t resist it, and here we are now planning the second venture well under a year from the first one.  I am thrilled and I hope you are also.

I believe that this visit of Sister Spafford’s to England is going to result in much good — not only for England and their welfare plan, but for our Relief Society.  I feel that we shall mutually be benefitted, and that it might result eventually in a world-wide plan of welfare work.  I am delighted with the prospects.

Friday, January 23, 1959



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

January 26, 1959


TO:        Sister Clare Middlemiss

FROM:  President Belle S. Spafford

RE:         Interview of President David O. McKay with Sister Belle S. Spafford, Friday,

              January 23, 1959, regarding arrangements for the forthcoming trip of Sister

              Spafford to England at the invitation of the Dowager Marchioness of Reading.

President Spafford stated that she had been in communication with Lady Reading regarding her forthcoming trip to England.  It was the considered opinion of both Lady Reading and Sister Spafford that the months of March and April would be the most suitable time for the trip and that Sister Spafford should arrange to be in London by March 1.

Sister Spafford explained as follows the welfare activities of Lady Reading and what Lady Reading felt might be accomplished by Sister Spafford’s visit to London according to Sister Spafford’s understanding:

Just prior to the outbreak of World War II, Lady Reading had been called by the British Home Office to head up the Civil Defense Program for Great Britain using as much volunteer service as possible.  This she had done wtih a high degree of success.  She personally directed the evacuation from London of women and children during the blitz.  Following the war, Lady Reading had been instructed to hold the organization (Women’s Volunteer Services) intact insofar as possible and to convert it into a peacetime welfare organization.

For the past twenty years Lady Reading has been developing welfare programs through this organization that are unique in many respects.  Her great interest has been in programs for children, the handicapped, and the aged.  Her approach to the care of the aged has been through providing services in their own homes, i.e., Meals on Wheels (hot meals prepared by volunteer workers in a small central kitchen and delivered to the aged in their homes); Homemaker Services; Visiting Nurse Services; and Home Visitor Services.  These services are all functioning successfully.

Lady Reading is now recognizing that an aged person’s condition, in some instances, may be such as to require care in a supervised home or a so-called ‘Nursing Home’.  She is now giving attention to this area of hospitals for the aged who are bedridden.

Short-term training programs for the volunteer workers, which Lady Reading refers to as ‘schoolings’, are conducted in connection with the programs now in operation under her direction.  According to Sister Spafford’s understanding, it is Lady Reading’s desire that Sister Spafford shall attend the schoolings, study the organization setup and the recruitment programs and travel about the country with Lady Reading to see the programs in actual operation.

Lady Reading wishes Sister Spafford to interview some of the key workers and also to acquaint them with Relief Society services and procedures, and explain to them the use of volunteer workers by Relief Society.  She wishes Sister Spafford to spend time with her in appraising her welfare programs, particularly those for the aged.  It is Lady Reading’s hope and belief that out of it all will come something highly beneficial to her country, to our Church, to our Nation, and perhaps even beyond this, to the world.

President Spafford read to President McKay excerpts from the attached letter received from Lady Reading.

President Spafford explained to President McKay that Lady Reading advocated having her occupy a little ‘flatlet’ during her two-month stay in England where she would be comfortable, private, free to invite women to come and discuss the work, and within convenient reach of Lady Reading.  

President Spafford asked President McKay’s counsel regarding these matters.  President McKay expressed the opinion that such housing arrangements would be satisfactory and authorized Sister Spafford to go forward with them at Church expense for the two-month period, March through April.

A brief discussion of how services to the aged in their homes might be developed by Relief Society followed.  It was the opnion of President McKay that something of great value to Relief Society might be gained through President Spafford’s visit to London.

Sister Spafford then reported to President McKay that the National Association for Practical Nurse Education had placed her name in nomination as Second Vice President to be voted upon at the annual convention to be held in Cincinnati the last week in April.  She stated that she had also agreed several months ago to speak at this convention on April 29 and to conduct the general session on April 28.  She felt she should keep these commitments.  Therefore, she would plan to stop over in Cincinnati enroute home from England.

President Spafford further advised President McKay that Mrs. Rose Parsons, President of the National Council of Women of United States and Vice President of the International Council of Women, had learned of Sister Spafford’s forthcoming visit to England.  During Sister Spafford’s recent visit to New York, Mrs. Parsons asked her if she would be willing to remain in Europe through May 3 – 5 and, as a delegate from the National Council of Women of the United States, attend the planning meeting at Vienna, Austria for the next triennial conference of the International Council of Women.  Sister Spafford stated that she had explained to Mrs. Parsons that commitments to the national nurses association, which she felt she should not cancel, would interfere with her accepting such an appointment.  Mrs. Parsons, however, had urged Sister Spafford to give further consideration to the matter.  Sister Spafford said she felt she should acquaint President McKay with Mrs. Parson’s request.

President McKay indicated that President Spafford should keep her commitments with the nurses organization and suggested that Sister Spafford might advise Mrs. Parsons that she might arrange to return to Vienna as a delegate of the National Council of Women if the Council felt it could meet travel expenses.

Belle S. Spafford


Friday, January 23, 1959


      41 Tothill Street



SR/MFT 12th January, 1959

Dear Sister Spafford:

I am writing this letter to suggest to you, as I did in my cable, that you should come for March and April.  The reason I say this is that May and June are the months in which a great many celebrations of our 21st Anniversary will be taking place and, therefore, I am afraid that there might be not the same constant and all over schoolings and the sort of things you might like to attend.

If you can fall in with this I will try and get the little residential flat that I talked of and I would like to know from you if you would like a two roomed flatlet or a one room.

There are two or three blocks of these flatlets where we have very good contacts and where, with service, you get a bathroom and a bedroom with a little sittingroom, a kitchenette and full service, but you can prepare the odd meal yourself, which, of course, is always a great saving and each place has, downstairs, a restaurant where you can either have meals or invite people to have meals with you.  Of course, I think, in the long run, this is the better way to live.  To begin with, you can have the undisturbed life of having a little place of your own where you could work or think, or do anything you want and, in addition, you don’t want to have to be everlastingly packing a grip and going away and coming back and all the rest of it, and, if expenditure would allow it, I believe this is the right way to have the background in which little by little you could ask a person in to sit and talk with you without having the difficulty of having to do so in a ‘common room’, by which I mean a hotel room and I would advocate it very strongly if you feel it is possible.

I was very thrilled with your letter because to me the whole strength of these Social Welfare Programmes is the idea of effective mobilisation, the use of volunteer service and, especially, keeping the interest of the volunteers so that, in fact, in turn, they generate the interest in others and this is the thing that, naturally, I am anxious for you to study and to discuss with us because I am absolutely convinced it is one of the things which, on the long term, is of particular need to the world.  I feel that if many of us can think of this thing seriously enough and practically enough, we could supply a very useful antidote to many of the troubles of the Cold War and that is basically why I am so anxious for you to come.

Of all the people I have talked with I have found that you are more interested in the real reason for the work, the real people and, with humble approach, the importance of translating to many individuals the concept of what the living of the tenets one holds really is.

Isn’t it funny that all the things we talked of should begin to fall into place, and wasn’t I right when I had that feeling about coming to Salt Lake City.  I honestly do think it was much more than a feeling, it was something which was put there on purpose.  It was so strong in me that I couldn’t resist it, and here we are now planning the second venture well under a year from the first one.  I am thrilled and I hope you are also.

I am immediately looking into prices and so on of flatlets and, I am awaiting with anxiety your cable back and hoping that it is going to be in the affirmative.

It is thrilling to think, Sister Spafford, that soon you will be here and we will be able to talk of so many things together at leisure, by which I don’t mean not working but with the time to be able to go deep into the reasons, the hows, the whys, and the wherefores rather than having to do them with watching a clock and, therefore, cutting out some of the important things.

With my very, very best wishes and please tell Mr. Spafford how much I realize he is being unselfish and generous in lending you to us in this way.

Every yours,

/s/ Stella Reading

Mrs. Spafford,

Relief Society of The Church of Jesus

Christ of Latter-day Saints,

76 Main Street

Salt Lake City, Utah”

Wed., 5 Oct. 1960:

“9:45 a.m.

Went over to the offices of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, 40 North Main Street, and had a talk with Sister Bertha H. Reeder, Sister Emily H. Bennett, and Sister LaRue C. Longden, General Presidency.  I talked to them about the suggestion that has been made to the First Presidency that the Young Men’s and Young Women’s organization be united.

I have given much thought and prayer to this suggestion, and I feel that it would be to no advantage to the Church to make this consolidation.  This feeling was intensified after talking to the sisters who are not in favor of it.”

Fri., 22 Sept. 1961:

YWMIA Presidency Reorganization

I mentioned the need of reorganizing the presidency of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, and said that I shall call in Sister Reeder and her counselors and discuss the matter with them.  I said that I had thought of talking with the advisors to the MIA but that they have recommended this change on two or three occasions.  It was decided to select Sister Florence Smith Jacobsen for president of the Young Women’s organization.  I said that I would suggest this to the advisors.

Fri., 23 Feb., 1962:

11:00 a. m. – 12:20 p. m.

The First Presidency met with President Joseph Fielding Smith, Elder Mark E. Petersen and Elder Spencer W. Kimball, and the General Presidency of the Relief Society – Sisters Belle S. Spafford and Louise W. Madsen. (Sister Marianne C. Sharp was absent, being out of town.)

We discussed the social work being done by the Relief Society in the Indian Program, their work in delinquency, etc. The need for increasing the salaries of the social workers in order to maintain those of high caliber and capabilities who can best handle these cases was presented. The First Presidency was informed of the amount of help that has been given to unwed mothers and the placing of babies in LDS homes.

I said that we would give Sister Spafford and her workers whatever help they needed, and if more money was necessary to get more case workers, she would have to have it. It was suggested that Sister Spafford submit a proposed salary scale, and then work out a plan to be submitted likewise of establishing agencies in other states, beginning perhaps with Arizona. I also said to Sister Spafford: “All we can say today is we will help you all we can and give you our confidence and blessing. The Lord bless you all because it is a field where the ninety-and-nine are left, and we go out for the lost sheep.”

Tues., 20 Mar., 1962:

Drove down from Huntsville this morning. Arrived at the office at 8:00 a. m., and went immediately into a meeting with the Primary Presidency.

Sister LaVern W. Parmley reported that her First Counselor, Sister Arta M. Hale, has been appointed to be on the Co-ordinating Committee, and wanted to know if Sister Hale should be released at the Primary Conference or by the First Presidency in the General Conference when the General Officers are sustained. I said that she will be released and the new officer sustained after the Primary Conference. Sister Parmley said that Sister Hale does not want to be released until the Primary Conference is over, to which I replied, “Let her go right through the conference.”

Sister Parmley said that when the organizing of the General Presidency of the Primary is completed, she would like Sister Leone W. Doxey as first counselor, but that she is not prepared yet to recommend one to be second counselor. I said, “Let us be united on that. You send the name to us.”

Sister Leone W. Doxey, who accompanied Sister Parmley explained that the Children’s Friend is serving well in interesting children and parents who are investigating the Gospel, and asked if there would be any objection to adopting the slogan, ”Take two for ’62, one for a missionary, and one for you,” as a means of enabling subscribers to add a subscription which can be sent to the missions in bulk for distribution to the missionaries, who will make them available in the homes of investigators where there are children. I asked them if they did not want to present this plan to their advisors, and they agreed that they would do this.

I presented a list of names of men in Nigeria and said that a considerable group of people who have obtained information about the Church have adopted the name of the Church and want to become members. I said that they will not receive the priesthood, but that they will benefit by having the auxiliaries of the Church.  I asked if the Primary Association would be interested in sending the Children’s Friend to these men who are leaders in the communities and who can make the magazine available to the children. Sister Parmley said that they should be pleased to send the magazine, and asked if lesson materials should also be sent. I said that they will come later, that we will start with this magazine, and told Sister Parmley to send them with their compliments. Sister Parmley said, “We will send them with you compliments if you like.” I said, “No,” that we have some preliminary work to do with them yet.

Sister Parmley then reviewed the main divisions of the work done by

members of the Primary General Board. She said that at the present

time several are serving on more than one committee, and the work is heavy for them. She described briefly the program that the Board has planned to acquaint parents in the home with the Primary program as a basis for closer cooperation of the Primary Association and the parents in the home. I pronounced this program as excellent.

Sister Parmley said the General Board needs a strong committee to work out these programs. She commented upon the present policy to limit members of the General Board to women who do not have responsibilities at home for children. She reported having called in Primary workers and mothers with children with a view to testing whether the Primary General Board is on the right track in its plans for the children. The women responded most favorably. From these meetings the General Presidency discovered that mothers are most keenly alert to the needs of children and are well aware of what can be done to serve the children. For this reason she asked if the General Board might have ten new members all of whom have children but who by one circumstance or another in their homes can as well be serving the Primary General Board as serving in the stake and ward capacity in the Primary or in the other auxiliaries, especially since the plan of the General Presidency is to use such women in work for which they are qualified by experience and training and that they would attend no conventions which would require them to be away from home over night. She reviewed the list of names of the sisters the presidency has in mind, and gave information about each one.

I said, “I think we can let them go on this kind of work,” and President Brown responded: “On the understanding that it is not going to interfere with their families.”

Sister Parmley said that they will submit the names of these ten and we can then make the usual investigation to see if they are worthy.

Children’s Center, Mental Hospital

I inquired about the interest of the Primary General Presidency in the Children’s Center or Mental Hospital. Sister Parmley explained that the General Board of the Primary receives many inquiries from parents as to whether or not the Primary Hospital can take cases of children who are mentally disturbed. She is obliged to reply that the hospital is not equipped or staffed to take such children. She explained that such a hospital would need special staff including social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, and rooms and facilities for handling such special cases. She said that such a hospital would have a considerable advantage if it is built near the present Primary Hospital where x-ray and other equipment and laboratories are already available and can supplement the special equipment such a hospital would need. She reviewed information she had received to the effect that the entire intermountain area is without such a hospital for children, and that the State Welfare Department at great expense is obliged to send children needing this care out of the State. She said the calls made on the Primary Association for such help are constant.

I inquired as to the investment needed for such a hospital. Sister Parmley said that the Hill-Burton fund is available. From it one-half of the cost of the building could likely be obtained; the Primary would give a quarter of the cost, and Sister Parmley asked if the Church would give the other one-fourth.

She explained that the number of mentally disturbed children needing help seems to be increasing, and estimated that a hospital to take care of 30 to 40 such cases regularly would be kept busy, and that others would be served on an out-patient basis. She said that the Primary Hospital has plenty of room for such a building on the property at the rear of the present hospital.

In response to my question as to whether this hospital would need a new staff, Sister Parmley said that Mr. Jeffries would be the administrator of both, but that the hospital would need extra help and specially trained people such as social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.

I asked if the people whose children received this help would pay for the care of the child. Sister Parmley said many would, but some would not be able to do so.

I inquired as to how many children from the surrounding states might need this care. Sister Parmley said the present Primary Hospital in its special field serves 30 states. One little girl was sent from Tahiti, and one patient is coming from Tonga.

I asked Sister Parmley if the advisors of the Primary Association had been consulted, and she said the subject has been considered with the Presiding Bishopric with whom all hospital matters are considered.

I then asked what is being done to raise endowment funds for the Primary Hospital, and Sister Parmley said that the hospital has $100,000.00 now,

and they had talked with the Presiding Bishopric about setting up an endowment fund and approaching other people to make contributions to it. I said: “We think that would be an excellent idea. This endowment fund could be used to help with this mental hospital. We approve of an endowment fund.”

Sister Parmley thanked us, and she and Sister Doxey withdrew from the


Fri., 28 Sep., 1962:

“Following the departure of Brother and Sister Allen, we held the regular meeting of they First Presidency.

Among the matters taken up were:

(2) Reorganization of the General Superintendency of the Y. M. M. I. A 

I presented to my counselors the question as to whether or not we should reorganize the Y. M. M. I. A. I said that Superintendent Bentley’s main duties and interests are under the Brigham Young University and that he has a little difficulty in carrying on his duties as a Brigham Young University official. It was decided that it would be appropriate to ask the Advisors of the Mutual Improvement Association to give us suggestions as to a successor to Superintendent Bentley.

Thur., 4 Oct., 1962:

Y. M. M. I. A, Reorganization of General Superintendency

I told the Brethren that for some time past we had given consideration to the advisability of reorganizing the General Superintendency of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association. I said that Superintendent Joseph T. Bentley has done a very good work, but that he finds it difficult to carry on his work at the Brigham Young University and also to discharge his duties here with the Y. M. M. I. A.; that of necessity he must bring his work from Provo up here, and sometimes it interferes with his duties as General Superintendent. I told the Brethren that I have spoken to Superintendent Bentley about the matter, and he recognizes the difficulty and feels all right about a change being made; that he manifests a very good spirit in regard to the matter.

I said that I had also consulted the Advisors to the Y. M M. I A, and they were unanimous in recommending for consideration Brother G. Carlos Smith, Jr., who was formerly Brother Bentley’s first assistant, and who is now presiding over the Central States Mission. I said that it is the feeling of my counselors and me that if Brother G. Carlos Smith, Jr., would choose the present assistants–Marvin J . Ashton and Carl W. Buehner–we would have a team that would be very acceptable; that, however, we would feel to leave to Brother Smith the matter of choosing his counselors.”

Tues., 2 June 1964:

“Relief Society – Assistance for Sister Spafford with the Social Welfare Work

Sister Spafford explained her need for an assistant in the social welfare work.  She explained that the department is growing as the Church grows.  There are more people in need of this service.  She reviewed the progress made in Arizona under the direction of Sister Miltenberger and the need for help with the preparation of the handbook, with annual reports, and with other special reports which the department is obliged to submit to the states where the Relief Society is licensed as a social service organization.  She explained that Sister Miltenberger from Arizona had worked successfully with Sister Peterson in Los Angeles to rescue a family which had moved from Texas after the mother died to California when the father had been in prison and the family of children scattered.  Sister Spafford recommended that Sister Miltenberger who now received $575 a month be paid $50 more a month for the additional duties she will perform.

Inquiry was made as to whether or not she is to become a member of the General Board.  Sister Spafford said how would it be to try her out without making her a member of the General Board until we get this worked out and report back to you.

President Tanner expressed opinion that it is not good practice to appoint a woman to membership on the General Board whose husband is not a member of the Church.

I said ‘Why not put her on, and convert her husband?’  Sister Spafford said if anyone can convert her husband Sister Sharp can.

President Tanner said ‘President McKay says make her a member of the General Board.’  Sister Spafford said ‘Thank you’.  Sister Sharp said, ‘We shall let you know when her husband comes into the Church.’

Wed., 10 June 1964:

“Minutes of the Meeting of the First Presidency

Held Wednesday, June 10, 1964, at 9:30 A.M.

June Conference

President Brown mentioned that the executives of the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Associations were anxious for the First Presidency to attend as many sessions of the June conference as possible.  President Brown asked President McKay if he had made any decision regarding the program for the First Presidency’s meeting Sunday morning, June 14th.   The President said that he would submit to his counselors a list of the speakers for this session.

Wednesday, May 5, 1965

Meeting with President David O. McKay

Wednesday, May 5, 1965, 8:00 a.m.

Held in President McKay’s apartment in the Hotel Utah

Those present:  President McKay, Supt. G. Carlos Smith, Jr., Asst. Supt. Marvin J. Ashton, Asst. Supt. Carl W. Buehner, Pres. Florence S. Jacobsen, Couns. Margaret R. Jackson, Couns. Dorothy P. Holt.

Pres. McKay: ‘How are things going?’

MIA: ‘We think very well.  We hope you approve of what we are doing.’

Pres. McKay: ‘I don’t know what that is.’

MIA: ‘We are having a busy season.’

Pres. McKay: ‘Is everything going nicely?  You have the love and support of the First Presidency regarding the MIA as far as I know.’

MIA: ‘We are very busy with our June Conference program.  We sent you a copy and understand you have approved it.’

Pres. McKay: ‘That’s right.  I hope to attend some of the sessions.  I can’t say very much.  My tongue gets twisted.  When one’s own muscles defy him there is something wrong.’

MIA: ‘Pres. McKay, we are going to have our big Dance Festival with 6,000 young people participating.  It will be held for two nights.’

Pres. McKay: ‘That’s wonderful.’

MIA: ‘We are going to do something we have never done before — a Speech Festival in the Tabernacle Friday and Saturday nights.  We hope this will help our young people to speak better.  There will be 1000 in the Speech Festival.  There will be a choral speaking group of 1000 young people as well as special participants.’

Pres. McKay: ‘This can’t be touched anywhere in the world.’

MIA: ‘We will have the Explorado here also at the University campus.  This is an outstanding event which shows some of the activities of the young men.’

Pres. McKay: ‘What do you mean by Explorado?  Where did you coin that word?’

MIA: ‘We have to put a fancy name on everything.  At the Explorado, Explorers demonstrate first aid, life-saving, making canoes, and skills, etc.  People from the field bring these exhibits to the University.’

YM: ‘At the BYU next August we will have a great Explorer conference.’

YW: ‘We hope they will invite some of the girls.’

YM: ‘We don’t let the girls come on the campus, but we may invite you executives.’

‘We just finished a volley ball tournament.  Brother Ashton is in charge of athletic tournaments and Brother Buehner is in charge of the Explorer program and the event at the BYU.’

‘Pres. McKay, the Deseret Gym is being used so much.’

Pres. McKay: ‘I’m glad you have it.’

MIA: ‘We are catering to families – fathers and mothers bring their children and have a swim.’

Pres. McKay: ‘I am happy about your success.  I congratulate you and I thank you for what you are doing.  There is nothing in the world like you have for forming ideals of character.  That is what you are for.  There are some who say you shouldn’t teach religion in MIA because it is an activity program, but remember you should teach religion and have spirituality in everything you do.’

MIA: ‘We feel everything we do should be on a spiritual basis.’

Pres. McKay: ‘You have more opportunities in Mutual to see practical religion than in any other group we have.  That is what we have meetings for on Sunday to show us how to act on Monday.

‘Try to teach the boys to be gentlemen and the girls to be ladies.’

‘The Lord bless you.’

‘I have just one more thing to say to you.  Don’t ever grow old.  Don’t let my stuttering worry you in any way.'”

Tues., 14 Dec. 1965:

“8:15 a.m.

Met with Presidents Tanner, Smith, and Isaacson.  President Brown was excused on account of illness.

Relief Society – Meeting with General Presidency

Met with Sister Belle S. Spafford and her Counselors, Sisters Sharp and Doxey.  They had a long discussion with us on certain problems pertaining to the adoption of children born to Latter-day Saint girls out of wedlock.  The problem that they were particularly concerned about pertained to the situation in Australia.  We asked Sister Spafford to communicate with Sister Mavis Cutts, President of the Melbourne Stake Relief Society, and ascertain through her from the Presidency of the Stake and the President of the Mission what it would cost to obtain a license to set up an office according to requirements by the Government, and carry on the work in connection with adopting children of unwed parents, and to give any additional information that might be helpful in making a decision in this matter.

Sister Spafford and Counselors mentioned a letter that had been received from Stake Presidents in Idaho asking that they set up an agency for the adoption of illegitimate children born of Latter-day Saint girls in Idaho.  Sister Spafford was asked to furnish a statement with recommendations as to what steps should be taken to employ and retain social workers.

I asked Sister Spafford how many such cases they have on an average in Australia, and she said that the number of adoptions per year in Australia averages about twelve, and that it is a costly service to supervise them over such a long distance.  We asked if the family who gets the baby pays any part of the expense, and Sister Spafford said no, that if one wanted to adopt a baby, it is not necessary to pay a fee, but that when the adopting party goes to get the baby, he or she is told what the costs have been for medical and hospital care, and if the adopting parents wish to make a contribution, the contribution is gratefully accepted.  The question was then asked what about the girl and her parents.  Sister Spafford said that last year about twelve percent of the girls paid a portion of all of the costs; that the girl or the parents are told that they should do what they can toward paying the costs.  She said that recently arrangements have been made with the LDS Hospital and the Dee Hospital, whereby the girls are taken care of by doctors in residency, and in such cases we do not have to pay any doctor bills.  She said that last year their medical and doctor bills amounted to about $69,000 and that more than $33,000 of the costs were returned to the Relief Society.  She said that there is a great deal of agitation for fee charging, and that most of this agitation comes from the doctors.  Sister Spafford was asked if they insist that the children be from Latter-day Saint homes, and she said that if a girl expressed a desire to have her child in a Latter-day Saint home, whether she is a member or non-member, we grant that request; that they have only a small percentage of non-Mormons and it is understood that the babies placed by the Society go into Latter-day Saint homes.

In answer to an inquiry as to whether the list is growing or decreasing, Sister Spafford said that this year in the Salt Lake department we had an average of about one girl a day for every working day of the year; that a number have been referred to the society here from Presidents of Stakes and Presidents of Missions outside of the Stakes where there is no Church Agency.  She said these girls are usually girls in whom the Stake President or Mission President has a great interest, and whom he wants to help.  She said that the girl is usually repentant, that they attempt to do everything they can to rehabilitate her, and seldom if ever do they have repeaters.

Sister Spafford said that generally speaking our mothers seem to have a false sense of values.  They think if the girls can be popular on the campus and dress beautifully, that that is the important thing.

I asked Sister Spafford and her Counselors to explore the situation in Australia and other places, and report back to the First Presidency.   


WEDNESDAY, October 18, 1967

The Counselors in The First Presidency met with the Relief Society Presidency at 9:00 A.M. in The First Presidency’s Board Room. I attended.

Sister Spafford reported on a number of items pertaining to changes in personnel, receiving approval for same.

She next brought up the matter of the continuance of her participation and membership in the National Womens’ Council. The question was raised for the following reasons:

1. She is usually in opposition to programs and projects. (Note: This is a supposed non-action Council, who give monetary and moral support to various women and womens’ movements.)

2. Organizational deficits are usually met by personal contributions by the so called ‘family’ or officers of the organization, (Belle is one of these) most of whom are wealthy women. She wondered how she could handle such a matter when requested. (Approval was later given to give $1000 of Relief Society Funds in order for her to maintain her place.)

3. This organization apparently is trending towards the support of various minority groups, particularly the Negro. (For example: An award was given to a colored woman who was called upon to address the Council — she responded with a talk on racism.) If the organization yielded to the support of pressure groups, what would her position be?

4. A Negro woman is slated to become the next President.

The Counselors felt that she should continue her place with this organization, for national and international reasons. I raised the question as to whether this matter of her continuance should not be submitted to President McKay for decision. President Brown stated that this same question had been raised before in President McKay’s presence, and he encouraged Sister Spafford to hold her place with this Council.

(This was later this day confirmed by President McKay at Huntsville)

As I see it President Spafford should continue for the following three solid reasons:

1. It provides an overview of what womens’ organizations in America are doing.

2. It allows her, while in good standing and respected therein, to voice opposition to any movement contrary to the Church’s concepts.

3. Through the National Council, international contacts are made possible thus to increase our Church stature and influence.

Wed., 15 May, 1968:

“9:00 a. m. 

Held meeting with First Presidency this morning. President Brown was present after having been absent for several days because of illness, as also were: President Tanner, President Smith and President Dyer. I am feeling better than I have for the past several days.

Relief Society – Re: Sister Belle S. Spafford’s Acceptance of the Presidency of the National Council of Women of the United States.

Sister Spafford, by appointment, met with the First Presidency at this point and made a report of her recent conference in New York with the Executives of the National Council of Women of the United States relative to their invitation to her to take the presidency of this organization.

After a long discussion, it was the decision that Sister Spafford should accept this position.

(See Minutes of First Presidency which follow.)”

“(Excerpts from minutes of First Presidency)

Sister Spafford reported that she had three meetings while in New York, one with the Negro woman who is the first Vice President and the Chairman of the nominating committee, and two with the present president. This office she said is an elective office and the elections take place in October; however, the executives explore the nominees thoroughly before they make up the slate, and they have only one name for each office on the slate. She said they invite nominations from the floor but they have never yet had one. The proposed slate is always elected and the president says it is a mere formality in support of a decision of the officers. Sister Spafford said that the reasons they gave for considering her for the president were as follows:

(l) They felt the times are precarious and they want an experienced spiritual leader who knows how to organize and how to deputize and do it with diplomacy.

(2) They want the structure of the Council revamped to conform more nearly to its original purposes.

(3) They want a woman who has proved herself in dealing with international women and the International Council. Sister Spafford said that in 1969 there will be an International Congress of Women held in Thailand, and the United States Council will play a dominant role. In accepting the presidency it would mean that she would attend the Thailand conference.

Sister Spafford mentioned that President McKay had authorized her and Sister Jacobsen to attend the International Conference of the voting delegates of the United States Council in Iran and that she was assigned to the section on social and moral problems, that she did not want to go into that section because she thought it was a difficult and sordid one and therefore asked to be transferred to the section on home and family life. They replied that they would like to accommodate her but that they were not going to do so because they knew the position of the Mormon Church on moral questions and they knew she would stand by the position of the Church, and in that was the United States’ safety.

(4) One reason they want her is because they feel the Council is becoming too much dominated by organizations with headquarters in the east, that is, in eastern United States, and they want a woman with organization headquarters in the west to give a national image and to preserve the thinking of women across the nation.

Sister Spafford said she told them that sometimes she had assignments to foreign countries for Relief Society and that these assignments would have to take precedence. They said they knew this but they felt it would be a great asset to the Council for her to travel abroad because she could make very effective contacts with Councils in foreign countries that would strengthen them. Sister Spafford said that these were the basic reasons that they gave for wanting her to be the president.

In answer to the question as to how she could operate as president there and have her headquarters here, they said that instead of having monthly executive officers meetings they would hold them bi-monthly. Sister Spafford said that she had been going back to these Council meetings twice a year, once in the spring for the American Mothers, and once in the fall for the National Council, and this would mean four additional trips to New York. They will authorize a change in the date of the annual meeting from October to any season that Sister Spafford might wish. They will also grant her the privilege of completely reorganizing the Standing Committees, bringing in women whose viewpoints are more in harmony with her own. Sister Spafford said they had all pledged their support to do what they can to help her get the thing moving, that they will maintain a capable effective secretary and will give Sister Spafford the privilege of interviewing this woman and making the decision as to whether or not she is the woman she would want. The present president will serve as an advisor in any way that Sister Spafford wishes her to do so.

Sister Spafford then said that as to the problems, she could see that there are many.

First, the Relief Society is the greatest women’s organization in the world and there is nothing in the world to compare with it. She would not want to do one thing that would weaken the Relief Society or make a problem for Relief Society, that Relief Society must be first. She said that she would have to have additional help here and this would mean more responsibility for her two counselors, both of whom are capable.

Another question is the negro matter. She said that in the Council are three large negro organizations and they are divided as to the way they wish to go forward with the negro question. They are not united but it is an issue, Sister Spafford said, and would place her in a delicate position. She said that more than once she had been questioned regarding the position of the Mormon Church and the negro. She said she has the friendship of the women, but it is an issue.

Second, they have no sound financial program. They are maintained by big contributions from wealthy women. One woman, Mrs. Stetton, whose husband is the chief surgeon at the Presbyterian Medical School, contributes $10,000 a year. Another woman, Mrs. Jacobs, who is the right arm of Whitney Young in an organization which is a benefactor of the negroes, gives $1,000 a month. They need a financial program, Sister Spafford says, which will not place power and privilege rights in the hands of wealthy women; that is one of their weaknesses. Sister Spafford said she told them that she was not a good fund raiser but that she believed that she could manage money, and they would find some painful dealings if she were to be the president, in the way the money structure is built.

There is also involved the United Nations, and she said that would pose a problem for her. She said that she sees the Council not as an action group but as an open forum for the opinions of women and as an information center for organized women. She said that they are more and more carrying it forward as an action group and they get into political and social controversial matters. Sister Spafford has been chairman of their Constitution and Bylaws Committee and has written into the bylaws a regulation designed to control this. She said that they had adopted this but have not followed it.

Sister Spafford further said that if she took this office she would have to give up other national work which she has been doing, such as the American Mothers, a marvelous organization designed to build the home; that she is chairman of the Scholarship Committee for the National Practical Nurses, which takes considerable time and considerable judgment. This, too, she would have to give up. President Tanner inquired if they could not get other women to do that and she said she thought they could.

President Brown asked if any question would arise with regard to this negro woman who is the first vice president and who would normally become the president. Sister Spafford said that she had questioned her and asked her to tell her the real reason for not going forward in the regular pattern as the new president, and she said that this is not the time in this nation for a negro woman to preside over the National Council. It is her own feeling. She said she knew what was needed and she would not hesitate to make way for Sister Spafford, and she pledged her support.

President Brown asked Sister Stafford if there were any members in the Council who would have a different opinion as to the advisability of Sister Spafford becoming the president instead of the negro woman. She said she thought the negro organizations would favor the colored woman.

Sister Spafford said the Council hasn’t money but has set up a small salary for the president which no president has ever accepted. She thought her expenses would be $10,000 for two years. The brethren said that there would be no question about taking care of this.

President Dyer said that perhaps the executive group would be agreed in their minds about this colored woman stepping aside but the publicists would perhaps ignore that and say it was pressure.

Sister Spafford said she was sure that would come but she had no way of sounding that out. President Dyer said that he felt sure that these women were a little reluctant about seeing a negro woman taking the presidency and this is the thing that would carry itself to all the negro organizations and it could intensify our negro problem. Sister Spafford said she was sure of that. She said she was afraid of the controversial things, that in the past she has felt free to stand up in the meetings and tell them that what they were suggesting was not the position of the United States and as the United States Council they have the responsibility to uphold our government, that if we want to alter it we must do it through the proper channels. President Dyer said that he honestly believed that Sister Spafford’s influence in this organization would wane as time went on because of the stand she would take.

Sister Spafford said that she is not the most popular woman at-the International because she does block action that she cannot accept, but that her own Council supports her in it.

President Brown asked the question if this negro woman would be her first vice president, and she said she didn’t know how they would have the slate, that they had said that she could have those whom she wanted. She did not know whether she would have a voice in regard to the negro woman.

Sister Spafford said it is a great recognition, that the problems are great and that she did not feel that turning this offer down would remove her influence in the organization.

President Brown asked if this were a unanimous move or one where there was some opposition. Sister Spafford said she asked them if they thought the group would support this and they said they felt confident they would. She herself had no way of polling them. She said she asked as many questions as she could without appearing to lack confidence in the support of the women or those making up the slate. President Tanner said it is certainly an opportunity for one of our women, the most capable woman in the Church that he knows of, to contribute materially to the next largest women’s organization in America. Sister Spafford said they estimate that their organization represents 5 1/2 million women, the membership of which organization consists of 26 organizations. President Tanner said if it weren’t for the heavy load Sister Spafford is carrying, he personally felt that she could serve even with the negro problem and could contribute even a great deal more than opposition would affect, that her contribution even with the negro question could be wore influential than the opposition to her taking this position by one or two negro groups.

Sister Spafford said that she had one personal weakness and that is that she is overly forthright at times and it doesn’t always create a happy situation. She said that sometimes she has walked out of those meetings with very low spirits, which is a situation that she doesn’t encounter with the Relief Society.

President Brown asked her how she would finance this thing and she said she would appoint a committee of competent, straight thinking women and send them to foundations to see if they could get some financial grants, that this thing cannot go on the way it is, they cannot be subjected to the controls of a few rich women.

President Tanner asked her if she could arrange the Relief Society so that it could function for two or three years under these conditions. She mentioned that they are having many innovations in correlation, which is needed, and certain groups that are helping with Advance Planning, etc., that these are wonderful innovations and are strengthening the work, but the president must understand them and she must interpret to these groups “our program, our position and our responsibility,” and that she must in turn teach her people what the decisions are and she did not see how anyone at the present could do it. She said that she would have to do more delegating. She also said that she would certainly bow to the judgment of the prophet and the counsel of the brethren, that whatever time or talents she had they belonged to the Church at the direction of the prophet.

President Brown said it was a very great recognition, a wonderful compliment to Sister Spafford and to the Church, and if it weren’t for her connection with the Church she wouldn’t have been given this recognition. Sister Spafford said she recognized that fully. In answer to a question as to how much time she had in which to make her decision, Sister Spafford said these women were going to call her this afternoon, that they must explore someone else if she isn’t going to accept it. This would be 90 days in advance of the election. She felt sure that if she did not accept the position they would still name her to the Constitution Council. President Tanner said he thought the President would have to make the decision and to do that on his inspiration.

Brother Dyer asked Sister Spafford what her decision would be if it was left to her individually, and she said she would stay with Relief Society because she loved it. President Brown asked if she could handle both and she said she would do the best she could but she couldn’t devote the personal attention to all aspects of Relief Society that she is now devoting. President Dyer commented that she might be exposed to something that could be unwarranted in this assignments that the committee has to choose someone who is recognized in the Council to bypass this colored woman, and it would have to be some woman who was highly recognized in the Council. He said that he thought though it would be a great distinction and a great honor to the Church, it could be a boomerang. Sister Spafford said she feared this.

President McKay commented that he knew of no woman with such ability as Sister Spafford. He said that it is too bad to throw on her shoulders such a heavy responsibility, but he knew of no one as capable to carry it. President Tanner commented that he thought that Sister Spafford would almost have to keep the colored woman as a vice president if this could be done. Sister Spafford said she agreed with this. President McKay asked how many of the brethren would hold up their hands and they all said that they would support the President in whatever he should say. President Tanner then asked the President if he wanted Sister Spafford to accept this position and he said yes. Elder Dyer said that he had to be honest, if he were left alone he would say she shouldn’t take it but if the President said she should that he would sustain that decision up to the hilt.

President Tanner mentioned that it would require at least $5,000 a year for expenses for this position for Sister Spafford and he inquired if the Church would make it available to her. President McKay said yes. Sister Spafford said that they could use money from the Relief Society budget to cover this expense.

Minutes by Joseph Anderson.”

Thur., 28 Aug, 1969:

“I held no First Presidency Meeting this morning.

Upon reading the Temple minutes for this day I instructed my secretary Clare to include the following matters that were presented in my Diary:

Y. M. M. I. A. – Reorganization of – Assignment for G. Carlos Smith

President Brown said that it has also been decided to reorganize the superintendency of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association. The question had arisen in connection with G. Carlos Smith’s release what we should do for him in the way of an assignrnent, and several propositions have been discussed. The Presidency now present the recommendation that he be made the president of the new mission to be organized from a division of the Southern Far East Mission, for which position Brother Lavoi Davis had been recommended, but this recommendation has now been withdrawn. It was decided to leave the matter with the First Presidency for review relative to various possibilities of assignment, and to take the action that may be decided upon.

Note: On September :8, the First Presidency issued a call to Elder G. Carlos Smith to preside over the newly created mission formed from a division of the Southern Far East Mission.

Y. M. M. I. A. — New Superintendent For

President Tanner said that in releasing Brother G. Carlos Smith as superintendent of the Young Men’s Mutual, it becomes necessary to select a new superintendent; that the First Presidency had discussed this matter and had presented two names to the advisors for their consideration, suggesting that they present any other names they had in mind. He said that the advisors had reported back that they had considered others but the two the Presidency mentioned for consideration they considered as good as we could possibly have, namely, Jay Eldredge and Robert Backman. He said the First Presidency now recommend Brother Eldredge to be the new superintendent of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, and it is hoped that Brother Backman might be made one of his counselors. President Tanner said that he and Brother Lee had discussed this because Brother Eldredge is a regional representative, and the question of taking regional representatives for other positions is one that must be watched closely, but it is felt that if Brother Eldredge were called to this position it would be justifiable.

Elder Lee echoed what President Tanner had said, that we must not demean the position of regional representatives, that they are outstanding rnen, and in the work they are doing they must be good enough to take the place of the brethren of the Twelve. He felt that Brother Eldredge is that kind of man, that he had worked closely with him and his wife and he felt his wife complements him in everything that he does, but he felt that there is no more critical position that we have in the Church than is the MIA at present. The hope was expressed that Brother Eldredge would select for his counselors Elders Robert Backman and George Richard Hill.

Elder Monson moved approval of the recommendation, which was seconded by Brother Benson and unanimously approved.

Thur., 11 Sep., 1969:

“Note by CM:

Items read by President McKay from the Minutes of the Temple Council Meeting held today.

Y.M.M.I.A. – Reorganization of

President Tanner referred to the appointment of G. Carlos Smith to preside over the new mission in the Far East, and the selection of his successor as general superintendent of the YMMIA, that Jay Eldredge has been selected to succeed Brother Smith, and he has chosen George Richard Hill as his first assistant and George I. Cannon as his second assistant.