Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Master M Men and Golden Gleaners

Master M Men and Golden Gleaners

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 20, 2009

Kevin Barney posted recently about reading his father’s 1953 journal, a record his father kept to fulfill requirements for becoming a “Master M Man.” Since this program disappeared a generation ago, probably many bloggernaclers are unfamiliar with it.

The Mutual (Mutual Improvement Association, or MIA) used to be the social and recreational arm of the church, for adults as well as for the teens currently served by the Young Men/Young Women program. You became an M Man (or a Gleaner, for girls) when you turned 18, or graduated from high school, or (in the event you weren’t able to graduate) your age peers reached that milestone, and you remained an M Man/Gleaner until you were 30 – unless you married, at which point you and your spouse joined the Young Marrieds (which followed much of the M Man/Gleaner program, but with additional family, relationship, and child care features).

The M Men/Gleaners was more than just a class for young adults who had aged out of the youth program — more than today’s Young Single Adult “amuse ’em till you marry ’em off” program. It was an educational and experiential preparation for lifelong achievement and assuming adult roles in the Church.  One manual says of the M Men:

Man does not stand alone. He needs to experience achievements in human relationships, social graces, self-control, propriety, and in the cultural arts; to have wholesome fun; to understand the meaning of true brotherhood and friendship; to love and be loved; to feel his own worth and be creative in his own right; and to know the joy of real service to his fellow men.

The pinnacle of the program was to become a Master M Man/Golden Gleaner, a program which took those goals – which are chiefly focused inward, enhancing an individual’s life – and turned them outward: Those pursuing the voluntary Master M Man and Golden Gleaner recognition were in active training to run the auxiliaries and the wards – to become the future leaders of the church.

The purposes of the program were stated as:

1. To build testimonies
2. To build people through service
3. To develop leadership

The materials stressed that Master M Men and Golden Gleaners were not separate, elite groups. They did not meet together, but were ordinary members of their respective groups, serving as role models and learning to direct ward activities. “The Master M Man-Golden Gleaner program is not intended to create a new organization. M Men and Gleaners who earn these honors are expected to continue as regular members of the M Man-Gleaner class as long as they are within the age limit. It is hoped they will utilize the qualities of leadership that are developed through holding positions in the Church and community.”

Ward and stake leaders – not class leaders – signed off as the requirements were completed. The applicant had to write a detailed letter to the MIA general board explaining what he or she had done to meet each requirement and presenting the certifications of the local leaders. And it all had to be in the office with all t’s crossed by the applicant’s 30th birthday – one day late, and no Master M Man pin for you.

I was unable to find the specific requirements to become a Master M Man in 1953, the year Kevin’s father kept his journal. Those requirements would have been similar, though, to these from the early 1960s:

(Meet all of these requirements)

I. Be a member in good standing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Compliance with this requirement is to be determined by a personal interview with the bishop of the ward or president of the branch at the time application is submitted. He will not certify the candidate until he is satisfied the following conditions are being met:

A. The candidate is living an honest and virtuous life.
B. The candidate is active in church meetings and activities and is willing and dependable in accepting responsibilities in the ward, branch, stake, or mission.
C. The candidate is attending sacrament meetings.
D. The candidate is complying with the law of tithing.
E. The candidate is observing the Word of Wisdom.

II. A. Work must be done after the candidate becomes a fully qualified member of the class and before his or her 30th birthday.

B. Complete any one of the following:

1. Three years of active membership and regular attendance at an M Man-Gleaner, Young Marrieds, or Mutual Study class.

2. One year of regular class attendance and activity and three years of MIA service as an officer or teacher.

3. Five years of MIA service as an officer or teacher. Completion of a full-time mission can substitute for either one year of class attendance or one year of MIA service as an officer or teacher.

(Meet any two of these requirements)

1. Fill an honorable mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints away from home.

2. Fill an honorable stake mission for not less than one year.

3. Teach a class in any Church organization for a year.

4. Participate in temple endowment work at not fewer than six sessions.

5. Read and make a satisfactory written report of not less than 250 words each on any two of the following books:

The Standard Works of the church (Bible accepted as 2 books)
Books by the presidents of the Church
Books by other General Authorities
Comparable works by other Latter-day Saint writers

6. Discover through original research and obtain clearance through the Church genealogical office for at least five names of the candidate’s kindred dead.

7. Devote at least 20 hours of service outside the candidate’s immediate family, and during a period of one year, to the service of others. This may include visits or service to the shut-ins, the sick, the lonely, or the needy. It may include a ward or stake welfare project, home teaching, or work as a Relief Society visiting teacher.

8. Graduate from a Latter-day Saint college, or institute, or complete at least 18 quarter credit hours or 12 semester hours of religious training at an LDS college.

9. Read at least three different M Man-Gleaner or Young Marrieds manuals and prepare a comprehensive written report of each to be approved by the department leader.

10. (Girls only) Earn the 7th Individual Award or already have earned seven Individual Awards.

(Meet any three of these requirements)

1. Be an active class officer in a ward M Man-Gleaner or Young Marrieds organization for a year. (College students may receive credit for the academic year.)

2. Be an active council member in any stake or inter-stake M Man-Gleaner or Young Marrieds organization for a year.

3. Be an active stake executive officer or stake board member in any priesthood or church auxiliary organization for a year.

4. Be an active executive officer in any ward priesthood or church auxiliary organization or a group leader in military service for a year.

5. Be general chairman of a stake or inter-stake MIA event, such as a banquet, project, or party. Firesides are not included.

6. Be general chairman of any ward or stake recreational event, such as a Gold and Green Ball, a ward party or reunion, or an athletic tournament involving an extended series of play.

7. Be a chairman of at least four firesides for ward, stake, inter-stake, or combinations of these.

8. Be a director in MIA of dancing, drama, music, or speech for a year, or of YW camp for a season.

9. Be an Improvement Era director for one year.

10. Serve as regular coach of an organized ward athletic team or be the ward YWMIA sports director for one year. This means being actively in charge of practices and games, directing the teams and supervising the activity.

(Meet any five of these requirements)

1. Give two or more well-organized talks of not less than ten minutes each from a pulpit at an LDS meeting.

2. Represent the class in formal debate or be a moderator of at least two class panels.

3. Present before the class or other Latter-day Saint group a book review of at least 30 minutes duration.

4. Read 12 consecutive issues of The Improvement Era, writing a brief statement on each of the three or four chief articles in each issue.

5. Take part in a ward or stake three-act play, or play a major role in a one-act play or operetta, or play two minor roles in such productions, or be in two roadshows, or participate in a stake or inter-stake drama or speech festival. NOTE: Participation in skits may not be counted.

6. Act as director, stage director, costume director, property manager, lighting technician, or make-up director for a three-act or one-act MIA play, or operetta, or a roadshow.

7. Be an active member of a ward or stake MIA chorus or ward choir for one full season; or sing a solo or participate as a member of a duet, trio, or quartet in at least three ward or stake meetings during one year; or participate in a stake, inter-stake, or all-church music festival.

8. Act as organist, pianist, or chorister of any church organization for a year; or play a solo or participate as a member of an instrumental duet, trio, or quartet in at least three MIA or other ward meetings.

9. Dance a floor show number at a Gold and Green Ball, stake or inter-stake MIA dance; stake, inter-stake, or all-church dance festival; or perform a solo or be in a group exhibition dance created originally for a roadshow, operetta or similar ward or stake MIA production.

(Meet any four of these requirements)

1. Write a poem, story, article, skit, roadshow or play, or create a dance or musical composition, any of which is used in one of our church organizations or is published.

2. Edit and supervise production of a ward or stake monthly paper or news bulletin for not fewer than three consecutive issues.

3. Make a Treasures of Truth book and have it up to date for a minimum of one year; or write regularly for one full year a personal journal. NOTE: This is not intended to be a diary-type list of daily activities but rather a record of significant events, thoughts, and personalities.

4. Create an original piece of art work (painting, sculpture, blueprint of a house plan or landscaping) and exhibit it to the class.

5. Redecorate a room by doing at least two of the following:

a. Make draperies or curtains
b. Make slip covers.
c. Paper walls or paint cupboards and woodwork
d. Refinish furniture.

6. Make by hand at least six different types of articles. Fabric, wood, metal, plastic or other material may be used. Other useful articles, such as farm tools and equipment or trade objects may be counted. Articles made in school do not qualify.

7. Make three articles of clothing, one of which will be a dress, suit, or coat.

8. Can or freeze the equivalent of 30 quarts, some in each of the following groups:

a. Fresh fruits or vegetables
b. Jams and jellies
c. Pickles and relishes

9. Plan menus, prepare and serve meals for the family for one week. Menus must be planned one week in advance and submitted for approval of ward leader. NOTE: Women must fill requirement and obtain signature while still single. May be filled by men married or single.

10. Develop an original recipe and serve its product to your class or at a ward function.

11. Create and carry out a plan for the decorating of or advertising for any ward or stake event.

Athletic and Special Recognition

M Men and Gleaners may substitute any one of the following requirements for one requirement in Group C – Cultural and/or any three for three requirements in Group D – Creative.

1. Basketball – Represent your ward or branch in a stake, regional, or all-church basketball tournament.

NOTE: This means being a regular member of the squad and playing not less than fifty minutes in such games. Not more than ten men or twelve women from a ward may be given this credit in one year. A maximum of two credits may be earned – one for each year of participation.

2. Softball – Represent your ward or branch in a stake, regional, or all-church softball tournament.

NOTE: This means playing as a regular member of the squad in not less than half of the team’s scheduled games. Not more than twelve players from a ward may be given this credit in one year. Maximum of two credits.

3. Volleyball – Represent your ward or branch in a stake, regional or all-church volleyball tournament.

NOTE: This means playing as a regular member of the squad in not less than half of the team’s scheduled games. Not more than eight players can be given credit from one ward in a year. Maximum of two credits.

4. Other sports – Represent your ward or branch in any other MIA-sponsored athletic competition on a stake, regional, or all-church basis. Maximum of two credits will be allowed for each sport.

NOTE: Credit in the athletics group will be allowed for other major sports, such as soccer or cricket, in other countries in cases where regular LDS church leagues are established. The general board committee will consider such applications individually in regard to extent of participation, etc. Also, in communities where regular LDS Church league play is not possible, in the U.S. or abroad, credit may be allowed for participation with an organized LDS team playing as a church team in any organized league.

August 23, 2009:  Keepa’ninny Maurine has sent in photos of her Golden Gleaner pin, and her husband’s Master M Man pin and certificate.  Thanks, Maurine.

28 January 2013: PLEASE READ!   Neither I nor any regular reader has any M-Man or Gleaner pins to sell or give away. We do not know where you can purchase one.  Please, read the existing comments for suggestions on locating one, and please don’t ask — this question has been asked and answered multiple times now.



  1. Wonderful! I liked that a house blueprint was considered a work of art. I would have loved to have this program when I was single, and even now as a “young married”.

    Comment by kew — August 20, 2009 @ 8:23 am

  2. I don’t recall much about Master M-Men and Golden Gleaners, but you sure hit the nail on the head about MIA being the social and recreational arm of the church. Our Tuesday night MIA was often the best night of the week and attendance seemed to increase, not decrease, as we got older. I know times have changed, but I would have given a lot for my kids to have had the same wonderful MIA experience that I had.

    Comment by sam — August 20, 2009 @ 8:33 am

  3. Fascinating. I had heard of these programs but had no idea they were so involved.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 20, 2009 @ 8:51 am

  4. Thanks, Ardis. This is great, and I very much appreciate it. My dad talked about participating in a road show that was indeed going on the road; I think that was another thing he was doing for his Master M Man requirements.

    I did some googling and noticed that they used to have special dinners for Master M Men and Golden Gleaners at General Conference time at the Hotel Utah.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — August 20, 2009 @ 8:56 am

  5. Wait, this is entirely non-gender-specific??

    Comment by jeans — August 20, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  6. Ardis, you are a treasure. This would be an awesome post any time, but it’s just amazing that you were able to put this together to provide context for Barney’s post.

    Comment by sister blah 2 — August 20, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  7. Hmm…maybe I need to start an Ardis Parshall fan club on Facebook…

    Comment by sister blah 2 — August 20, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  8. jeans, the men and women had some gender-specific classes but usually met together for activities. As far as I can tell, the only differences in earning the recognition of Master/Golden is that menu-planning credit was not offered to married women, only single women and married or single men. But as far as say, executive leadership, there was no distinction between whether you were in the bishopric or in a women’s/girl’s auxiliary presidency, and neither gender had to do more or was excused from any requirement that the other filled.

    Thanks, all. Your reaction is making the research worthwhile!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2009 @ 9:08 am

  9. I remember hearing announcements about M Men and Gleaners when I was little. I knew they couldn’t really be saying M&M cleaners, but that was the only combination of words I had that made any sense at all.

    Comment by Last Lemming — August 20, 2009 @ 9:38 am

  10. Wow! I’d always Assumed Gleaner Girls and M Men were the equivilant of Priests and Laurels. Thanks for teaching me. Did the YSA meet for Mutual with the 12-18 year olds? When did this end?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 20, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  11. The church was indeed mysterious for a young child in the late-1950s, early 1960s. M Men and Gleaners were part of that mystery.

    I liked the part about planning menus and preparing meals for a week–no credit for you wives though, since obviously you’ll prepare the meals (menus or not!), whether you want to or not.

    You don’t get credit if you’re required to do it. (That’s one more reason Lucifer’s plan was rejected!)

    But, only one year’s credit for two or more years on a full-time mission? That seems odd–I’d expect the ratio to run the other direction. (Foreign language missions would have been two and one-half years in many cases back then, and Japanese missions may have still been three years in 1960.)

    Comment by Mark B. — August 20, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  12. Thanks! I never knew what it took to become a Master M Man, despite my 5 months of being an M Man myself. And no, I didn’t get married at 18; I just happened to enter the program just before it was replaced (I use that term loosely) with YSA. Had I continued attending the priests quorum after my birthday as my classmates did, I never would have had an M Man experience — which consisted, for me, of weekly Sunday evening firesides.

    Comment by JrL — August 20, 2009 @ 10:29 am

  13. Do you remember when that was, JrL? I’d like to answer Matt W.’s question, but the closest I can come is “about 1974,” just as I was coming into MIA myself. I don’t think I ever saw a non-teaching adult at MIA, so perhaps it was at that point that YSA was moved out of MIA (but I’m not sure I would have recognized the difference between a Laurel and a Gleaner when I was a new Beehive).

    Mark, along the same lines, it seems a little odd that MIA leadership seemed to earn less credit in the General Requirements than active attendance as a regular class member. Also, I didn’t type in all of the fine points about exceptions and distinctions — if you served as a branch president or ran a mission MIA while you were a missionary, you could choose credit *either* for serving a mission *or* for executive leadership, but not both. There was no double-dipping. Clearly the program promoted active and ongoing participation, not checking off boxes for the sake of checking them off.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  14. I’m with jeans, in that I very much appreciate the non-gender specificity of the requirements. In some ways we’ve backslid since those days.

    I’ve seen indications that Harold B. Lee was the force behind this program. If true, that would make sense, because my dad was a Lee Man and really admired him (we share a common ancestor at Nauvoo, Samuel Lee).

    Comment by Kevin Barney — August 20, 2009 @ 11:18 am

  15. 1973.

    Comment by JrL — August 20, 2009 @ 11:26 am

  16. This is intriguing. I had never heard of the Master M Men program before. Sounds like a great program, actually. I like the idea of having a program in place for those post-mission/twenty-something years.

    By the way, the name at first reminded me of something that comic book writer Stan Lee might have come up with. Please tell me the program had accompanying caricatures, Ardis! :-)

    Comment by Hunter — August 20, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  17. Thanks, JrL.

    Sorry, Hunter, but the only images I’ve seen have been of the pins given when the M Man designation was earned, and there’s no superhero on ’em. (I would have scanned and posted the images of the pins, but until I buy a portable scanner to bring to the library with me, the only illustrations will be ones I already have in my stockpile.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  18. I didn’t know much about this program as a young kid in the 50’s and early 60’s, other than the huge amount of attention spent on the “Gold & Green Ball”, the equivalent of senior prom for this group. It was always a big deal, and in my memory, the whole ward was involved in putting it together.

    Comment by kevinf — August 20, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

  19. kevinf, when I was young, my ward always threw a big gold and green ball. It was for everyone. In recent years my stake has done them out of a sense of nostalgia, but it’s just not the same, as only a fraction of the membership attends. In the old days everyone came.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — August 20, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  20. Like many of the others who have commented, I learned a lot about the program.

    I wish that the Church still had some sort of program for the young adults (other than the YSA which I feel is sorely lacking in vision and personal development). It seems like you spend your youth preparing for missions (primarily males) and marriage. Once you’re home from your mission you’re on your own. I went to BYU and took the religion classes. I feel I got something out of them. On the other hand, I felt like by being in a large student ward I had very little opportunity to grow in other areas. This is where I feel that some sort of similar program might be beneficial to the 18-30 age group.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 20, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

  21. You’ve put your finger on what I like about this program, by making me remember what my church life was like after my mission — many years with no more responsibility than a few months of passing out chalk and erasers to Primary teachers, no organized social program beyond dances and single parent discussion groups, treated like an immature non-person because I was single. Oh, what a program like this would have done for me, in giving a focus to ambitions and a chance to serve and recognition for achievement!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  22. The YWMIA and YMMIA were replaced in January 1973 with the Aaronic Priesthood MIA and Melchizedek Priesthood MIA. The MP-MIA included the Young Adults (18-25) and the Special Interests (>25). The Young Adults included the M-Men and Gleaners. The Master M-Man and Golden Gleaner awards were replaced with the Pursuit of Excellence program in June 1974. The Melchizedek Priesthood MIA name was discontinued in August 1977.

    Comment by Left Field — August 20, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

  23. Left Field, you’re hired!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

  24. I was just getting ready to answer the question, but Left Field beat me to it. So, I will add something else. There was also a Silver Gleaner Award for the Junior Gleaners. It was introduced in 1950, with the first awards given in 1951. I am assuming that the Jr M Men had an award also. The youth became Jr Gleaners and Jr M Men at age 16 and went into the Gleaners and M Men at age 19. The Jr Gleaners were replaced by the Laurels in YW.

    Comment by Maurine — August 20, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

  25. Left Field’s comments (#22) also brings up memories of standing jokes within local Church units during the 60s and 70s along the lines of “What’s the name of the YM/YW program this year?”

    Having joined the Church in 1967 at age 14, I remember hearing the terms M-Men and Gleaners bandied about, but (again as Left Field notes) the programs themselves vanished while I was on my mission (72-74). I’ll also note that our current ward (Parker, CO) uses the term “Gold and Green Dinner” for the annual Cub Scout fund-raising dinner, something that always startles me a bit.

    Great stuff, as usual. I still think you (Ardis) should write a book on the evolution and transition of local unit practices and organizations in the 20th century. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — August 21, 2009 @ 1:08 am

  26. bfwebster,

    Your Cub Scouts are not following the program. It’s supposed to be a Blue and Gold banquet (and they never did any fundraising at them when my kids were participating).

    Comment by Last Lemming — August 21, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  27. bfwebster, are you sure your Cubs aren’t calling their dinner “Blue and Gold”? Those are the Cub colors, and the traditional name for the annual event.

    Comment by JrL — August 21, 2009 @ 8:33 am

  28. About Bruce’s suggestion in 25: if I get to vote, I’ll vote for Ardis to write a Brigham Young book before she does a 20th century church administration book. :-)

    A sister in the ward was just asking my why the wards don’t do Gold and Green Balls anymore. I didn’t know the answer when she asked the question last Monday, but I do now! Thanks, Ardis, and commenters.

    Comment by Researcher — August 21, 2009 @ 9:58 am

  29. i have loved this website. I found it just a couple of days ago. I wondered if anyone knows about Pearls of Wisdom; Pearls of Love; and Pearls of Beauty on a Laurel Crest card? There are 12 requirements for each ‘Pearl.’ This was my mom’s single fold card with her maiden name on it and she married in 1961 so was this part of the Gleaners?

    Comment by Rachelle — October 10, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  30. Rachelle, I’ve never heard of those “pearls” but I’ll see if I can find any trace of them at the church history library. Are the requirements things that are associated with the church (anything to do with scripture or prayer or church attendance), or are they more general suggestions for living a good life?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 10, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

  31. They seem to cover both religious things and real life things. A motto or promise is on the front of the card:
    I, a Laurel, standing at the threshold of life, see before me rich treasures which may be mine for the seeking. As I pursue my quest, I must choose wisely, that the treasures I seek will be of lasting worth.
    I will seek that which is beautiful in thought, in word, in deed, that my life may be as a shining light, guiding others to goodness and virtue.
    I will seek wisdom and an understanding heart that I may walk humbly, live valiantly, and progress eternally.
    I will seek the rich blessings of love which are found in service to my fellow men and obedience to the commandments of the Father in heaven.
    Thus will I seek to enrich my life with all things virtuous and lovely that I may find ‘joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter.’
    Then there are things in the three ‘Pearls’ like: Speak to at least 10 admirable people whom you do not ordinarily associate with and engage in short conversation with each.
    Have at least three serious religious discussions with your family.
    Observe good posture habits: sitting, standing, walking. etc.
    Thanks for a great site!

    Comment by Rachelle — October 10, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

  32. Okay, that helps. I’ll start with the Laurel manuals (for the group of girls just younger than Gleaners) and see what turns up. Thanks for a tip to a new puzzle of the kind I like to work on!

    And I’m glad you like Keepa. We have a lot of fun around here.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 10, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  33. Does any one know where I can get a Golden Gleaner pin? My wife has lost her’s and I would like to surprise her with a replacement.


    Comment by Jack Jenkins — December 7, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  34. I’d haunt eBay, Jack — occasionally I find vintage Relief Society pins and Duty to God awards there, and other Mormon bric-a-brac. I’ve never seen a Gleaner pin come up, though, or I’d have bought it. Certainly they’re not available new anymore, and I suspect the sentimental value would cause them to be snapped up instantly should one ever land at Deseret Industries …

    Good luck.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 7, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  35. Good day,
    I was sitting here browsing internet and my husband suggested I search for “Golden Gleaner” which I did and found this blog.
    Ever since my husband discovered that I had such an achievement in the Church, he has compose a melody about it, because it must sound interesting to his German ears.
    Although I fulfilled in 1967 the Golden Gleaner requirement in Montreal, Quebec, I was the first and last to be awarded a “Golden Gleaner” in Germany back in 1968. The Germans hadn’t even heard of such a program and I am sorry that something similar doesn’t exist any more. We youth were guided and challenged more in our days than they appear to be now.
    The problem in accomplishing and fulfilling the requirements were not difficult if one were active in the Church, but procurring the signatures was problematic. I still have my pin as pictured and it even means more to me now that it did then.
    Thank you for isting the rquirements since I had lost them.
    Thank you for keeping this blog so I could read it two years later!

    Comment by Donna Jones Hessling — January 21, 2012 @ 10:25 am

  36. So glad you found this post, Donna, and took the time to comment!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 21, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  37. I to have my fathers Master M Men pin but there is a difference than the one you show. Instead of 5 small seed pearls my father’s has 6. Do you have any idea as to why the variation?

    Comment by David R. Cunningham — April 11, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  38. David, the M-Man manual (the one for 1967-68 is on the shelf and easiest for me to access) explains the symbolism for the pins this way:

    Master M Man Pin:

    MMM: Master M Man
    Olive Wreath: Truth and protection
    Shield: Victory in achievement
    Pearls: Five specific fields of achievement: Spiritual, Executive, Cultural, Creative, Athletic and Special Recognition
    Pulpit: Continuous spiritual development
    Lamp of Knowledge: Increasing intellectual development
    Winged Foot: constant physical development

    Golden Gleaner Pin:

    GG Golden Gleaner
    Book: The search for wisdom and knowledge int he realization that the Glorhy of God is intelligence
    Sheaves: Symbolic of Ruth, the Gleaner, our inspiration
    Pearls: The four parts of the Gleaner Sheaf: Clean Body, Pure Heart, Humble Obedient Spirit, Honest Mind
    Sapphire: Attaining of God’s love and approbation through frequent prayer
    Golden Bow: The tie binding all symbols together into a pattern of living to extend throughout life

    So, although it doesn’t say so explicitly, I would guess that your father’s pin represents something in “Special Recognition” — whatever that was in his case — in addition to the five specific fields (Spiritual, Executive, Cultural, Creative, and Athletic). There is nothing in the table of contents or index under “Special Recognition” that would tell us what that meant or how it was earned. I don’t know how else I could research this, but it will be one of those questions hanging around in the back of my mind — if I ever run across an explanation, I will make note.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 11, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  39. Thank you for explaining the symbolic of the MMM and GG pins. It brings more significance to them. I might even wear my GG pin now and then!

    Comment by Donna Hessling — April 11, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  40. I received this award in 1970 when I was 29. Due to my teacher’s encouragement I was able to till the requirements.
    I made 2 changes for being able to use it all the time: instead of bein a pin, I trnsformed into a ring, and the pearls were replaced by little silver balls.
    Now, in my 70’s wear this ring that helps me to talk about the church with non members.
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true and I know it!

    Comment by NESTOR S. CORONEL — May 28, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  41. My dad played M-Men basketball in the 1930s. He said that his team, the (old) 18th Salt Lake Ward, won the pan-M-Men semi-finals one year, and then got plastered celebrating. (Hey, that’s what he told me.) But somebody squealed to the church authorities, and they were kicked out of the tournament (old Deseret Gym, SLC). Hyperbole? Sour grapes? Could be. But what source can I approach to find out? Is there a repository of M-Men basketball records and lore somewhere? I’m not LDS, so I need help.

    Comment by Larry Platt — July 22, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

  42. Larry, there’s no such archive, so far as I know, but the tournaments were often mentioned in both the Salt Lake newspapers and in the Improvement Era (sometimes with pictures). It’s usually only the tournament champions who got that publicity, though. Such records might confirm that a team was disqualified, but I doubt they would include the details you suggest, or any play-by-play report of the games beyond the finals.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 23, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  43. My mom lost her Golden Gleaner Award and I have been looking for a replacement. Any chance of getting one somewhere. Dad still wears his Master M Men pin and I think mom would like to wear a Gleaner Pin.

    Comment by Ed Clawson — September 11, 2012 @ 1:05 am

  44. Attention all “Golden Gleaners”!

    During the ages we are becoming more unique!
    Since the former “Golden Gleaner” program of the “Young Women – Mutual Improvement Association” was discontinued in 1974, we “Golden Gleaners” are becoming extinct.
    How many of us “Golden Gleaners” are still living?

    We announce a “Golden Gleaner” meeting:
    Friday, April 5, 2013, 6:30 – 9:00 pm

    “Starlite Dance Academy”
    4782 So. Plum Street (400 West)
    Murray, 84123

    Contact: Donna Jones Hessling
    “Sandy Dringmann” <

    Comment by Donna Hessling — September 11, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

  45. Thanks for this information. My grandmother died this year and I received her golden gleaner pin. I didn’t know much about it, but I knew it was something she had earned. I am so glad to know.

    Comment by Meri — September 16, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

  46. I too wish a program like this still existed.

    I married young, my first marriage was a week before my 19th birthday. I started receiving leadership callings almost immediately, and had served in several stake leadership positions by the time I turned 25. (I had my first child that year.) I served as chairman of the stake humanitarian services, while also serving as the regional chairman for two years. (I asked to be released when I was put on hospital bedrest when I was pregnant with my twins.)

    By the time I was 27, I had spent more than 6 years in stake or regional callings. On the other hand, a good friend went to BYU, finished grad school, and started working in a government position of great responsibility. She was fully active in church, to the extent that her callings allowed. When she moved back to our stake after grad school, I was excited to be able to spend time serving with her again. (We had been in a Beehive presidency together, way back when.) While in college she had been a RS president, and I was very impressed with all of the creative ideas she came up with.

    On three different occasions I asked to have her called to a stake or regional calling. Each time I was told that they did not doubt my inspiration in asking for the call, but because they wanted my friend to be active in YSA, they did not feel they should extend the call to her. The last time I asked I was told bluntly that she wasn’t married, and since she was attending a family ward and not the YSA branch, that the stake president did not want to reward her choice.

    My heart has ached for this friend many times. She has never been attracted to men, and does not plan to marry. In the last 6 years, after she turned 30, she has started to receive callings to teach classes or have a responsibility. From 24 until 30 she was the ward chorister, a YSA representative and the ward bulletin coordinator.

    There is nothing wrong with those callings, and she did a great job. She also was tremendously helpful to many of the stake leaders in simply showing up early, and staying late, without any official call or request. When we had a huge regional service project, she came to all of the planning meetings, as my son’s “nanny,” and used the contacts from her work to arrange free transportation from two of the stake centers to the venue, saving members thousands of dollars in parking fees.

    If a program like Gleeners were available, I think she would have had more opportunities to serve, without the stigma of being an unmarried woman.

    Comment by Julia — September 17, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

  47. The reunion of Golden Gleaners is very exciting. I’ll be there. I became a Golden Gleaner when I was about 22. I’ll be almost 88 at the time of the reunion. What fun, what beautiful memories.

    Comment by Margaret Turner — December 26, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

  48. We are getting more and more excited about the reunion for the Golden Gleaners. Our numbers aren’t all that high yet, but we shall continue to make the reunion public. Please, spread the word! Let’s keep our memory alive!
    Some have asked about bringing husbands or other escorters. As long as we have room and food, ok! The more the merrier!

    Comment by Donna Hessling — December 26, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  49. Can you share the information about the gathering, and then maybe we can help advertise it in a variety of ways?

    Comment by Julia — December 27, 2012 @ 4:03 am

  50. Dear Julia,
    Thank you for your interest in our Golden Gleaner reunion. Please look at this Blog’s Comment 44 of Sept. 11, 2012 for further information.
    My e-mail address is “”.
    Please pass the word on.

    Comment by Donna Hessling — December 27, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  51. Does anyone know where I can get/buy a Master M Man pin?

    Comment by Jenny — January 25, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  52. Jenny, this question comes up surprisingly frequently. The pins haven’t been made for decades and are no longer available through the Church. Your best bet, so far as I know, is to check with antiques shops if you live in traditional Mormon areas, and to search regularly on eBay. I have to say, though, that I have haunted eBay for Mormon memorabilia for years now and have never seen a Gleaner or M-Man pin come up for auction.

    (Before anyone else suggests this, as has been done in the past in comments that have not been posted: It would be inappropriate to ask another commenter to sell his own pin to you, and equally inappropriate to post bids or contact information here on the off chance that some future commenter wants to sell one.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 28, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

  53. Could Maurine give a discription of the pin as detailed as possible? I would like to have a copy of it made so my daughter in law could give it to who father who earned it but never recieved it because the discontinued the program a few days before he got his paper work in. That you very much and God Bless you. Diane

    Comment by Diane Wright — January 29, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  54. Did they ever have the reunion? That was an interesting thing to see come up. It seems to me the programs of the church changed the year or so after I had been in the program to the end, the Laurals and the other changes came as I went out of Beehives and so on. I was living in Salt Lake when I was going through ages 21-30 and we had a Ward there called the Thirteenth Ward of the University West Stake I think. We had a lot of that age group in that Ward but there were elderly people who were there also and we were very active. When I came back to be in the Idaho Falls 7th Ward there were very few of us and I was grouped with the 17-18 year olds because there were only a small group of people over the age of 30. Does any one remember the 13th Ward inSalt Lake?

    Comment by Carolyn Gardner — May 18, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

  55. I didn’t see the notify me of a fallowup comments via e-mail but I would like that very much so.

    Comment by Carolyn Gardner — May 18, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

  56. No, but I live across the street of the Idaho Falls 7th ward.

    Comment by Carol — May 18, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  57. Who are you Carol? And where do you live across the street from the Idaho Falls Seventh Ward?

    Comment by Carolyn Gardner — May 19, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

  58. I received the Golden Gleaner Award in 1970. I was 23 years old This was a very special time for me. I have a lot of fond memories of it.

    Comment by Virginia Broadbent — May 24, 2013 @ 7:02 am

  59. What does M man stand for. Where did the name come from?

    Comment by Kirk — October 20, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  60. I’ve never been able to find a definitive answer, Kirk. Best guess? “Mormon,” or “Mutual.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 20, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  61. Does anyone know what the silver gleener award looks like? My mom passed away 8years ago and I was going through some of her things and I found a talk she gave at an awards night where she received her silver gleener award. I also found in her jewlery box a silver necklace pennant that is silver, oval with wheat sheeves in it. If that makes sense. I was wondering if this is her award.

    Comment by Kari — January 16, 2014 @ 8:56 am

  62. I too was Golden Gleaner back in Arlington, Virginia. We attended meetings in the Silver Springs, Maryland Stake Center in the late 60s. I have lost my pin, but would love to attend that reunion in April……we live in Idaho now, so won’t be able to go. I send my best wishes to all of you who may be able to attend!! It sounds wonderful!!

    Comment by Patricia Hansen Whiteley — February 27, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

  63. To answer Kari, I would v say yes that is her Necklace. My mom had one also

    Comment by Ronda Keilbart — April 3, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

  64. Could anyone post a picture of the Silver Gleaner award? Does anyone know what years that award was available?
    Thanks in advance!

    Comment by Jared Johnson — April 21, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

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