Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Latter-day Saint Children, 1940

Latter-day Saint Children, 1940

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 17, 2009

Here’s another look at our grandparents as children, engaged in the Primary activities of 1940. (I wish the reproduction quality were better, but this was the best I could do.)

Pima, Arizona
Trail Builders performing a stunt for May Day party

Cottonwood, Utah
Seagull Girls weeding chapel lawn

Lehi 2nd Ward
Graduating Trail Builders

Springdale, Utah

Unidentified Ward

20th Ward, Salt Lake City, Utah
Girls learning to sew in summer Primary
(This is my building — none of the wards meeting here have children of this age anymore)

Wilshire Ward, Los Angeles, California

Tremonton 2nd Ward, Utah
Boys displaying quilt they made for the Children’s Hospital

Fallon, Nevada
Trail Builders hiking to caves

Twin Falls 1st Ward, Idaho
Spring Festival

Peramine, Argentina Primary

Yakima, Washington
Spring Festival

San Fernando Stake, California
Kite building and flying contest

Yakima, Washington

San Bernardino, California

Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Melody Maids” girls’ chorus

Taber Ward, Lethbridge Stake, Alberta
with Primary birthday penny bank

South Omaha Branch, Nebraska
Canning apricots at Winter Quarters

Hawaiian Primary
Visiting Temple

St. Johns, Arizona

Garden Park, Salt Lake City, Utah
Howard Sharp shows fellow Trail Builders the model plane he built

Bennion Ward, Utah
Visiting the zoo



  1. Taber is about an hour and a half east of Lethbridge. At that time it was likely part of a Lethbridge stake, the Mormon corridor in Alberta is more concentrated towards the South-Western corner of the province.

    Comment by brett — March 17, 2009 @ 7:00 am

  2. Lovely photos. I’ll should forward a link to the Taber one to my sister-in-law.

    I like all those cowboy outfits. What a handsome child in the photo from St. Johns, but no relation!

    If this was 1940, most of these children were probably too young to be in the war.

    Comment by Researcher — March 17, 2009 @ 7:07 am

  3. These pictures are great! I like the Hawaiian primary in front of the temple.

    I really love the old ward photos. I wish we continued that tradition today (I’m trying to in my branch). A couple of years ago I got a copy of my father’s primary from ca. 1942. What a treasure! It’s interesting to think that at one time the people in the photos were small children. Now they are old. Time/life cycles are interesting. (Sorry for the philosophising–my birthday is next week and being middle aged and older makes me dwell on this a bit more.)

    Comment by Steve C. — March 17, 2009 @ 7:09 am

  4. Thanks, Brett. I’ll edit the caption to add “Stake” and be more accurate.

    Researcher, I have the same impulse, always, to look at people in old photos and think, “They’ll soon be involved in …” or “They would be too young to remember …” I’m thinking that although they’d have been too young to have fought, all but the youngest pictured here would have been old enough to understand what was happening yet too young to do anything but help in scrap drives.

    Steve, my birthday was last week — let us middle-aged philosophisers unite! Did you ever notice that after virtually any natural disaster, while the newsmen are sticking microphones in people’s faces and asking “How do you feel?” someone nearly always says something like “We all got out, and that’s most important of course … but we’ve lost everything. The baby pictures, the wedding pictures, everything.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 17, 2009 @ 7:32 am

  5. Catering to the kids again, I see, Ardis.

    Grandparents in Primary in 1940–hah!

    Comment by Mark B. — March 17, 2009 @ 7:37 am

  6. Yeah, I know, Mark … my grandparents were grandparents (and in one case, dead of old age) by 1940.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 17, 2009 @ 7:43 am

  7. There is in the Holy Land a Mount Tabor, but if the Canucks were trying to name that town after the mountain they got it wrong.

    A search of “taber” in the Old Testament brings up one mysterious entry:

    Nahum 2:7:

    And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts.

    I have no idea what that means, but I’d recommend you not try it at home.

    This interesting note appears in the Wikipedia entry for Taber:

    After the town’s post office was built in 1907, the CPR [Canadian Pacific Railway] decided to call the town “Tabor,” probably after Mount Tabor in Palestine. However, various letters and station heads came out printed “Taber,” so the CPR changed the name to make it match the records.

    An alternate version of the towns [sic] name origin is that the first part of the word tabernacle was used by Mormon settlers in the vicinity, and the next Canadian Pacific Railway station was named Elcan (nacle spelled backwards).

    Comment by Mark B. — March 17, 2009 @ 7:48 am

  8. Happy late birthday, Ardis!

    All these lovely pictures, and almost all your readers can do is try to oh so tactfully point out that it’s Taber, not Tabor. (Like it really matters to anyone not from that lovely little burgh.)

    I do find it interesting how many pictures are from outside the early Mormon settlement areas by this time. Omaha? Argentina?

    Comment by Researcher — March 17, 2009 @ 8:25 am

  9. Re. “[the] station was named Elcan (nacle spelled backwards).”

    There’s got to be a joke in there somewhere (something to do with backward-thinking Bloggernaclers?) . . .

    Anyhow, the photos are fantastic. I remember a kite building and flying activity as a young man, but nothing so festive and grand as that photo taken in San Fernando. Thanks!

    Comment by Hunter — March 17, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  10. Ow, ahl rite, I’v fikst itt.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 17, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  11. Happy belated birthday, Ardis.

    Comment by Steve C. — March 17, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  12. These are wonderful, Ardis.

    Boys displaying quilt they made

    We’ve lost a lot in our current society. It’s unfortunate.

    Comment by Ray — March 17, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  13. 7. A taber is a drum. So tabering on your breast would mean drumming or beating on your breast.

    These are lovely, Ardis! I love seeing these shiny bright hopeful faces.

    Am I the only one who noticed that the girls’ activities when displayed are more often some sort of drudge work like weeding the lawn, sewing (okay, somewhat creative), canning apricots, while the boys more often got to do fun stuff like kite flying and building human pyramids? Or is it just my activity preferences showing?

    Comment by Tatiana — March 17, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

  14. Tatiana, I noticed that too. But just wait until I post a collection of Young Women’s pictures from the same period that I’ve been assembling — you’ll see hikes and swims and horseback riding and marshmallow roasts and all kinds of active games. And lots of grins, too. I can’t account for the difference, but I begin to understand why the 12- and 13-year-old girls begged so hard to be let out of Primary and into MIA.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 17, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  15. Howard Sharp was the name of the obstetrician who welcomed me into mortality a couple of decades after these photographs were taken. Could it possibly be the same guy?

    Comment by Left Field — March 17, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  16. It’s a small world, LF — if you want to contact me privately (keepapitchinin at aol dot com) with the year and city of your birth, I may be able to work backwards and forwards without much trouble to see if the two Howard Sharps turn out to be one.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 17, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

  17. Ardis, I love these pictures of Primary children and of the other church groups you post. Keep them coming.

    Why didn’t you tell me last week when we had lunch that it was your birthday week? Not that I would have sang for you or anything, though. Anyway, belated birthday wishes.

    Comment by Maurine — March 17, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

  18. Ardis, happy late birthday!

    As for the canning, weeding, and sewing, I suppose those jobs can be fun, too, if approached the right way. I’m going to try to change my view of things to see more in a positive light.

    Comment by Tatiana — March 18, 2009 @ 6:01 am

  19. Thanks, Maurine! Mentioning my birthday must have slipped my mind — an age-related condition, no doubt …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 18, 2009 @ 6:01 am

  20. Tatiana, maybe there’s a difference if you’re 10, and don’t have to do those chores all the time, and are learning how to do them as a social activity with your friends.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 18, 2009 @ 6:02 am

  21. I was born at LDS Hospital in SLC in 1959. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure my mother said that Dr. Sharp also delivered my brother in 1953. A Trail Builder 1n 1940 would be what, 10 or 11? That would make him something like 23-24 in 1953, which might be a little young to be a practicing obstetrician, what with having to get through medical school and all. Not impossible though, I guess.

    I think I remember my mother sending me a clipping from the Church News saying Dr. Sharp had been called as a mission president or something. That would have been probably sometime in the late ’80s or ’90s. I might even still have the clipping somewhere, but it would probably take some extensive searching to locate it.

    Comment by Left Field — March 18, 2009 @ 6:09 am

  22. Left Field, it will be easy for me to find that clipping with the help of the finding aids at the library. May take me a few days to find the time, but I think it would be interesting to establish this connection, or at least not leave you wondering forever.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 18, 2009 @ 6:18 am