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Centennial Lessons: Church History for Women – Introduction

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 16, 2009

Under the leadership of Mission President and Apostle John A. Widtsoe, a set of lessons was prepared for use by the Relief Societies of the British Mission in 1930 – hence their title, “Centennial Lessons.”

The women studied three courses during the ten months of the curriculum year (only work meetings were held during two summer months):

First Week: “Theology: Evidences of Divine Origin of the Book of Mormon,” written by Weston N. Nordgren

1. The Earth’s Inhabitants
2. The New Witness of God’s Fatherhood
3. The Land of Joseph
4. The Book Given to the World
5. Theories of Men Concerning Origin of the Book
6. The Tests of a Century
7. Some Objections Explained
8. Indian Traditions
9. Some Beautiful and Striking Passages
10. Book of Mormon Prophecies

Second Week: Work Meeting

Third Week: “Social Study: Home and Health,” written by Leah D. Widtsoe

1. Home-making as a Profession (Health Hint: Honey as Food)
2. The Latter-day Saint Home (Health Hint: Healthful Drinks)
3. The Story of Little Helen (Health Hint: Nature’s Foods)
4. The Mother’s Diet – Prenatal Food (Health Hint: Suggestions for Breakfast)
5. Food for the Growing Child (Health Hint: Waste Not, Want Not)
6. White Bread or Wholemeal (Health Hint: Prevention of Adenoids)
7. Elimination (Health Hint: The Rights of the School Child)
8. Other Health Factors (Health Hint: Some Word of Wisdom Salads)
9. Formation of Children’s Character (Health Hint: The Importance of Sleep)
10. Happy Christmas (Health Hint: Some Word of Wisdom Sweets and Desserts)

Fourth Week: “Literary: Women – Founders of the Church,” written by Alvin G. Pack

1. The First Women of Modern Israel
2. Kirtland Pioneers
3. The Move to Missouri
4. Expulsion from Missouri
5. Settlement of Nauvoo
6. Expulsion from Nauvoo
7. Journey to Winter Quarters: The Mormon Battalion
8. Winter Quarters to Great Salt Lake Valley
9. The First Year in Great Salt Lake Valley
10. Our Fore-Mothers

Fifth Week: Social Program

The fourth week literary lessons were written by Alvin Grant Pack (1907-1994), who served a mission to Great Britain from 1927 to 1929. During those years he gave more than 200 lectures, many of them on the history of the Church and on life in Utah. The “Centennial Lessons” are an early product of a life spent in writing to present the message of his church and country. Pack went on to a distinguished career in radio and television work: With his wife, Lena Marie Hansen, he wrote, produced, performed in, and/or directed programs running to 30,000 hours of air time. He received one of only five medals awarded during World War II for distinguished radio contributions to the war effort. He wrote and produced the very first television program broadcast in Utah, designed the sound system for the University of Utah Special Events Center, served as a guide on Temple Square, and wrote scripts for programs produced on Temple Square, at the San Diego Visitors’ Center, and in Nauvoo.

These Centennial Lessons are a straightforward, rather simple telling of the history of the Church. This is neither revisionist nor feminist history; it does not reinterpret history in the light of women’s concerns, nor emphasize the roles of women at the expense of the familiar male history. But women are everywhere visible in these lessons, their roles in the founding and rise of the Church explicitly recognized (more so after the first, which centers on Joseph Smith) – and I think that some readers will find that exciting after years of shared Priesthood/Relief Society manuals where women make only occasional shadowy appearances behind the men who are front and center in all of those books.

The ten posts to follow in this Centennial Lessons series are simple transcriptions, with no commentary from me. I’ll put them up as an extra afternoon post for each of the next ten days. Any added value will come from comments. Ladies (and the gentlemen who love us), warm up your keyboards.



8 Comments »

  1. This is great…can’t wait for things to come!

    Comment by IntheDoghouse — February 16, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  2. I realize this has nothing to do with the Church History lessons, but I was intrigued by this title among the health lessons:

    7. Elimination (Health Hint: The Rights of the School Child)

    Reminds me of a boy who dropped by our house one day. My dad asked what school he went to, etc. “Do you like your teacher?”

    “No, she won’t let me go to the bathroom.”

    Too bad she was too young, and in the wrong country, to hear Sis. Widtsoe’s lessons.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 18, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  3. Mark, I’m trying to think of the right framework for a post on elimination, and another on the necessity of airing bedding after a night of “emanations” (I think that one was referring to stinky feet and passed gas). Those topics merited more than one article in the early magazines. The gospel encompasses ALL truth, fer sher! Funny you would notice that one. I’m glad of it.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 18, 2009 @ 3:35 pm

  4. […] Parshall compiled these, but did not write them. (We missed the introduction, which can be found here.) Thanks to Ardis for her work, and apologies for the […]

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  5. […] we share Lesson #2 of the Church history lessons that were created in 1930 for the women of the Relief Society by A.G. Pack, who was a missionary in […]

    Pingback by Portraits of Mormon Women: Church History for Women (Lesson #2) | Mormon Women: Who We Are — March 10, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

  6. […] share Lesson #3: The Move to Missouri — from the series of Church history lessons that were created in 1930 for the women of the Relief Society by A.G. Pack, who was a missionary in […]

    Pingback by Portraits of Mormon Women: Church History for Women (Lesson #3) | Mormon Women: Who We Are — March 18, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

  7. […] #5: Settlement of Nauvoo. This is another lesson in the series of Church history lessons that were created in 1930 for the women of the Relief Society by A.G. Pack, who was a missionary in England. We chose to […]

    Pingback by Portraits of Mormon Women: Centennial Lessons — Church History for Women, Lesson #5 | Mormon Women: Who We Are — April 4, 2009 @ 1:23 am

  8. […] are at the last of the series of Church history lessons that were created in 1930 for the women of the Relief Society by A.G. Pack, a missionary in England. We chose to share these […]

    Pingback by Portraits of Mormon Women: Centennial Lessons — Church History for Women, Lesson #10 | Mormon Women: Who We Are — May 12, 2009 @ 11:47 pm

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