Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » (Beehive) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – 1916

(Beehive) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – 1916

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 22, 2009

In 1916, the Beehive Girls were Latter-day Saint young women ages 14 and 15 (the 12- and 13-year-olds were still in Primary). Older teens, and even the mothers of Beehive Girls, could learn the same skills and earn the same badges of honor, if they chose to.

In those days, the Beehive program mirrored many of the activities and trappings of the Boy Scouts: as the girls completed requirements for various skills, called “filling cells” (as if with honey) in their lingo, they won hexagonal-shaped badges to sew onto a sash. Those activities included spiritual goals, homemaking skills, camping, competency with tools, development of physical strength and health, animal care, etc. Their range of activities was easily equivalent to the Boy Scout program — with art needlework and childcare added, and with their hikes made in bloomers or skirts.

Beehive Girls from Thatcher, Arizona

These pictures from 1916 show the girls engaged in projects to fill cells, proclaiming their pride in the program with parade floats they built themselves, cooking breakfast in the canyons, playing baseball, and sometimes just clowning around for the camera.

Ladies and gentlemen, our grandmothers!



Malad Stake, Idaho



Binghampton Branch, California



Blackfoot, Idaho



Chester, Idaho



Sandy, Utah



Malad Stake, Idaho, at Lava Hot Springs



Pocatello, Idaho



Bingham 2nd Ward, Utah



Logan 7th Ward, Utah



Wayne Stake, Utah



Teton Stake, Idaho



Hyrum Stake, Utah



North Sanpete Stake, Utah



Blackfoot, Idaho



Providence 1st Ward, Utah



Hyrum Stake, Utah



Chester, Idaho



Pella, Idaho



Granite Stake, Utah



Weber County, Utah
(three stakes combined to sponsor float)



Mt. Pleasant, Utah



Ephraim, Utah



Preston, Idaho
(joint “Day of the Troop” Scout and “Day of the Swarm” Beehive Parade, 15 September 1916)



Spring City, Utah



  1. JEALOUS!! But maybe this stuff was not as exciting to them (animal care, etc) because it was not enrichment but actual life skills. Still, they look like they’re having a good time.

    Is it just me or do many look way too old to be beehives?

    Comment by Cynthia L. — March 22, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  2. Lovely pictures. What fun adventures!

    I posted a picture not long ago that shows the first group of Beehive girls (and leaders) in St. Johns, Arizona, probably about three or four years before the pictures in this post, and the girls seem to be about 16-18. They don’t seem to be doing anything particularly “fun”, but it’s an interesting picture anyway.

    My great grandma is on the left, and her future daughter’s husband’s grandma is an adult leader in the dark clothing on the far right.

    Comment by Researcher — March 22, 2009 @ 8:49 am

  3. The hairstyles and clothing probably help to make some look older than they were, or these photos might include the older girls who could participate in the Beehive program in the very beginning (before the Junior classes and eventually the Gleaner program were developed). In any case, when we’re so used to thinking of Beehive Girls as 12-year-olds, yeah, these girls are all going to look too old to our eyes.

    Researcher, one of the photos I picked up this week for about this time is from St. Johns — I’ve got them sorted by year so will have to hunt a little, but will send it to you in case you can spot anybody you know.

    I love the expressions on the faces in these pictures that aren’t formally posed — it’s so easy to mentally slap a modern hairstyle and t-shirt onto the picture and see the same behavior and laughter in girls today.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 22, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  4. These images are deeply moving to me Ardis, thanks again.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 22, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  5. By the way, next Sunday morning I’ll do a similar feature with boys’ pictures.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 22, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  6. This is great. Thanks for posting this Ardis.

    Comment by danithew — March 22, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  7. I can’t wait to show my 13 year old daughter these photos. And I am predicting she will say something like “Why don’t the beehives do funstuff like that anymore?”

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 22, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  8. Ardis, what a fun post. So great to see these pictures. My grandmothers would both have been teenagers at about this time. It is so hard to imagine them being young.

    BTW, the thought of swimming so clothed hits two sides of me. The first remembers certifying as a lifeguard by doing saves with full street clothes. Ugh! The second thinks how nice it would be to swim without having to expose my less-than-savory parts to the world. I think I’d swim an awful lot more!

    Comment by Alison Moore Smith — March 22, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  9. My daughter’s actual comment was “Why does the Church think we’re all girly girls?”

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 22, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  10. Great pictures – and I love your daughter’s comment, Bruce.

    Comment by Ray — March 22, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  11. I loved the pictures, especially seeing how much fun the girls were all having. I notice two groups from Hyrum Utah Stake. I wish I knew who the young women were. Keep the pictures coming.

    Comment by Maurine — March 22, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  12. I thought of you when I saw the Paradise and Hyrum girls, Maurine!

    Like Alison’s grandmothers, one of my would have been just about the age of these girls, but she lived in the South where there was no Beehive program — there weren’t even Sacrament meetings in their corner of the mission, except on the odd weeks when missionaries were passing through. But still, it fun to think of her as a young girl whose interests would have been the same as these girls. My own grandmother was an outdoors-woman, working with her father in the fields, but even “girly girls” like to get out once in a while.

    Glad you’re enjoying these, and thanks for taking time to say so.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 22, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

  13. These are wonderful! Swimming seems to be a favorite activity. I remember my grandmother who was born in 1893 had a swimsuit similar to many of these uniforms. It was a sailor suit with bloomers to the knee. How could they swim with all that fabric on? I have no clue. I gather they sort of waded and dipped more than actually swimming.

    Comment by Tatiana — March 22, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  14. Ray, I told my daughter that it wasn’t the Church’s fault. If she wanted to do something else she should politely let her YW leaders know what she would rather do. Maybe these photos gave her some ideas.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 22, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

  15. Sometimes I think we think our activities have to be Biggest and Best to be worthwhile — our girls don’t get any outdoor activity other than girls’ camp because everything has to be an expensive, week-long, distant adventure.

    I think these girls just went out in the hills near their homes to cook breakfast over a campfire — Bruce’s daughter’s class could do that with no big expense or long-term planning. That group in Chester, Idaho seems to be doing nothing more than toasting chunks of bread over a fire; otherwise it’s a simple picnic, but it would be fun because it’s out of the ordinary to do it early in the morning. Those girls in Pella, Idaho are carrying lunch pails. It’s no big hike, just a picnic in a wild place where they have to walk rather than being delivered door-to-door by SUV. The parades seem a little more elaborate, but the individual floats were built by the girls themselves with hammer and nails and crepe paper, and our girls could do something like that today if they could be talked into being excited by the act of creation rather than by a perfectly constructed professional float.

    Maybe you could help your daughter identify a suitable nearby place for an early morning breakfast cookout, at least, Bruce. Something a little wilder and more intriguing than the chapel grounds or a well-manicured city park with a covered pavillion.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 22, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

  16. All good ideas. It is more of a challenge for the leaders when the girls all have different taste. Though some of her disatisfaction is because she is 13, she really wants to do stuff like the YM are already doing: Roller blading, swimming, paintball, rockclimbing (mmm, I see a theme here).

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 22, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  17. Bruce, have her talk with her Beehive Class President (assuming she has a good relationship with her). The youth are supposed to run their own classes and quorums, and the adult leaders aren’t supposed to be deciding the activities. That’s supposed to be worked out by the young women and cleared in BYC.

    One of our greatest failings in the Church, imo, is not letting the youth run their programs like they are supposed to do.

    Comment by Ray — March 22, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  18. Bruce, this is a little off the subject, but . . . One of my sons took up rock climbing about six years ago in Arkansas. When he returned to Utah a year later, he converted my older son to climbing. Pretty soon, my grandson and granddaughter started going with them. This year for Christmas, both kids got climbing gear (grandson is now 17 and granddaughter is 19). If your daughter can’t get the outdoor experience she wants in Young Women (I’m sure, however,there would not be rock climbing on the docket), see if there are trained people who can teacher her to climb.

    Comment by Maurine — March 22, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  19. I think you could produce a 2009 version of some of these photos, but it would probably show every girl in a different-colored soccer jersey (non-Church-sponsored) or carrying Advanced Mathematics and Science textbooks.

    Comment by queuno — March 22, 2009 @ 10:45 pm

  20. Bruce, some of the talk in this post (and similar ones) motivated me to invite the Laurels in our Ward to come along with the Priests Quorum when we go play tennis in a couple of weeks. They agreed to scrap their plans and come along! No, it’s not camping, or picniquing, or hiking, etc. But at least it’s not just having a “recipe swap” (which is what was originally planned for the girls).

    Comment by Hunter — March 23, 2009 @ 12:39 am

  21. I want to be in the Logan 7th ward. I like the ethereal style!

    Comment by meems — March 23, 2009 @ 2:03 am

  22. Whatever y’all do — take pictures!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 23, 2009 @ 3:00 am

  23. Ray, I’ll have her do exactly that. I don’t want to interfere too much since I want her to learn by having that conversation with the leader herself, instead of having her “daddy” solve all her problems for her.

    Maurine, I have the knowledge, experience and gear to go rock climbing and have taken my daughter (and sons) a couple of times. She loves it but I can’t go often enough for her. I’ve offered to take the whole Beehive class one Saturday, (Wednesday night is not long enough and I don’t have enough gear for the whole YM/YW) but the offer hasn’t been accepted. Instead they make sugar cookies.

    Hunter, That’s great! It is just a matter of thinking outside our preset gender sterotypes. In my last ward the YM went to a golf driving range for an hour one Wednesday night but no one thought to invite the YW. Instead they made greeting cards.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 23, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  24. forget Beehives- why can’t we do this stuff in RS, or better still, single adult activities instead of those occasional interminable dances!

    I once suggested a car mechanics session for Homemaking, but got shouted down by the ‘table decorations made from vegetables’ brigade…

    My daughter stopped attending Mutual night activities after they were all supposed to pick an activity each over several weeks. After suffering various ‘silly’ (in her opinion) activities, her turn for the activity came- she had requested ice skating. None of the other girls wanted to go, so didn’t turn up, and the leaders decided there was ‘no point’ going with one YW. So she never went back.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — March 23, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  25. Anne, isn’t it odd that we have so many women on the internet who crave the activities that have been suggested on this thread, and yet run into so few of them in real life? I have yet to hear from any commenter on any blog who says she will ONLY do table decorations and recipe swaps and will NEVER consider a hike or ice skating or car mechanics. But where are all the hikers in real life??

    Someone (on BCC? somewhere else?) wrote a post months ago about a son who was, I think, autistic and the only boy his age in the ward, yet he had a fantastic leader who came prepared every week to put on a full program for that one boy, even such things as building a rope bridge in the parking lot, if I recall correctly. It wouldn’t have been nearly that much work for your daughter’s YW leaders to take her ice skating … I’m sorry about that one.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 23, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  26. Ardis-
    I always look forward to your photo posts.

    Comment by Brandon — March 23, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  27. “But where are all the hikers in real life?”

    I think they are the less active members.Ironically, less actives and non members seem far more physically active in real life, probably because they aren’t forever preparing lessons or attending meetings :-) Or maybe the “internet activity craving sisters” are more adventurous? or are online because they can’t find any adventurous friends to do things with, so seek the company of like-minded women in the virtual world instead? Not sure. Interesting point!

    As for my daughter, possibly it was the final straw in a ward in which she didn’t feel included. I spent weeks previous convincing her that if she participated and attended all the other activities, her friends would support hers. The experience was a valuable lesson on the importance of The One, anyhow.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — March 23, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

  28. Ardis — these are really fun. With my roots in Mt. Pleasant and Ephraim, I wonder whether any ancestors are pictured there. Was there an indication of who was in the pictures?

    Comment by john f. — March 24, 2009 @ 7:13 am

  29. Sorry, john f., no. Once in a great while a caption will identify a leader pictured with the girls, but never the girls themselves.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 24, 2009 @ 7:27 am

  30. Thank you so much for this pics… I’m doing a research from the women in our church back in the day, and these pictures & info were very helpful.. I’m presenting this tomorrow for our Relief society meeting anniversary !! Thanks !!!

    Comment by Monica Gonzalez — March 16, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  31. I’m glad you found it enjoyable, Monica — this is one of my favorite picture collections at Keepa.

    (Do me a favor, and let your sisters have Keepa’s web address, will you? There are a LOT of articles here about women and women’s activities in our past.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

  32. I grew up in the Mormon Church. I was a beehive girl for years and enjoyed it very much. I learned alot. The animal care was important to me, since I was living on a cattle ranch in Wyoming.

    Comment by Linda Snow — November 4, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  33. This is so fun. Thank you for your wonderful articles.

    Comment by Diana Morris — February 3, 2012 @ 10:05 am

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