In the pre-block-meeting days, the Church year began in September in the northern hemisphere, and in February in the southern hemisphere. Relief Society was held on a weekday morning, sometimes with an evening “second session” for sisters who worked outside the home.
The General Board provided, in addition to the visiting teacher messages, five courses of study for the sisters: Spiritual Living; Homemaking; Mother Education; Social Relations; and Cultural Refinement. Sisters could choose between Mother Education and Social Relations depending on which lesson they thought was most relevant to their needs; otherwise, all sisters attended all classes.
Classes were held only eight months of the year: In the summer months, the sisters met one day a month in a “work meeting” – sewing, quilting, canning, or the preparation of crafts for the annual fund-raising bazaar; a short homemaking message was presented during those summer work meetings, but otherwise no lessons were conducted.
The complete course for women of the Church for the year 1976-77 was as follows:
Visiting Teacher Messages – A Sister’s Community
“The messages should emphasize to each sister that each woman in the Church does have the potential for community service … The extent to which we serve must be a matter of personal judgment, based upon individual needs, home and Church responsibilities, and the nature and need of our local communities.”
1. There Is a Time and a Season
Objective: To assist you in assigning priorities and in achieving a balance in the use of your time.
2. Be Concerned – Not Indifferent
Objective: to stimulate you to improve your home, church, and community through active concern and involvement.
3. Practice Neighborhood Courtesy
Objective:To help you to improve your neighborhood atmosphere by the courtesy and concern you demonstrate.
4. Beautify Personal Property
Objective: to encourage you to beautify your own surroundings and thereby stimulate others to do the same.
5. Have concern for Public Property
Objective: To increase your active concern for your stewardship for public property.
6. Be Grateful to Those Who Serve
Objective: To encourage you to show appreciation and gratitude to those who serve.
7. Put Integrity Before Expediency
Objective: To encourage you to maintain the quality of integrity in life.
8. Let Your Light Shine
Objective: To help you to realize the influence you have on others.
Spiritual Living – Doctrines of the Kingdom
“This year begins a new and exciting lesson plan for the Spiritual Living lessons. Relief Society sisters will study selected lesson subjects also taught to the Melchizedek Priesthood bearers. Each lesson has been carefully and prayerfully adapted to meet the special needs of latter-day Saint women. Since the subjects are studied in both priesthood and Relief Society meetings, it would be desirable for husbands and wives to discuss these lessons together.”
1. Search the Scriptures
Objective: To motivate you to plan and carry out a regular time for meaningful and prayerful study of the scriptures.
2. Take Upon Yourself the Name of Christ
Objective: To help you to be strengthened spiritually by recommitting yourself to keep your baptismal covenants.
3. The Prophets Testified of Joseph Smith
Objective: To help you to become familiar with the testimonies of the prophets and the scriptures concerning the important calling and mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
4. Becoming Pure in Heart
Objective: To assist you to purify your motives, thoughts, and actions.
5. Unity in Your Family
Objective: To encourage you to establish and maintain goals for increasing family unity.
6. The Righteous Need Not Fear
Objective: To help you obtain the testimony that God will sustain the righteous by his power during the days of judgment.
7. Resisting Temptations in the Last Days
Objective: To assist you to identify and resist the deceitful influences of Satan.
8. Enduring to the End
Objective: To assist you to know how yo may endure trials and tribulations and respond to challenges to the end of your life.
Homemaking – Family Health, First Aid
1. An Introduction to First Aid
Objective: To help you understand first aid and to recognize both its usefulness and its limitations.
2. First-Aid Supplies
Objective: To help you assemble and maintain an adequate first-aid kit.
3. Illnesses Requiring Immediate Attention
Objective: To help you learn how to recognize and to care for various types of unconsciousness, acute pain, and fever.
4. Respiratory Emergencies
Objective: To help you learn how to handle respiratory emergencies.
Objective: To help you learn to recognize the symptoms of shock and to learn the first-aid treatment for it.
6. Care of Wounds and Bleeding
Objective: To help you learn to recognize and to treat various types of wounds.
Objective: To help you learn about possible sources of accidental poisonings and the appropriate first-aid measures.
Objective: To help you learn about burns and how to care for them.
9. Bone and Joint Injuries
Objective: To help you learn first-aid principles for the emergency treatment of bone and joint injuries.
10. Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Mouth
Objective: To help you learn how to care for common emergencies involving the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
11. Emergency Rescue and Transportation
Objective: To help you learn several ways of moving injured persons from hazardous situations.
12. Exposure to Excess Heat or Cold
Objective: To help you learn to recognize the symptoms of excessive heat or cold exposure and to learn the necessary first-aid treatment for each.
Mother Education – Practical Knowledge in Child and Youth Guidance
“The Mother Education lessons in Relief Society are … designed to assist you with your great calling as a mother. The lessons this year cover a variety of subjects, but the emphasis is again one of creating an atmosphere of love and concern in your home so that your children can receive encouragem4nt and feel secure.”
1. Teaching Respect
Objective: To help you to define respect in your own life so you will be able to make a plan and then teach respect to your children.
2. Understanding and Correcting Quarreling
Objective: to help you to understand the reasons for children’s quarreling and to learn the necessary steps to take in helping your children live in peace and harmony.
3. Relating to the Child’s Schooling
Objective: To help you to understand that the relationships that exist between the home and the school influence the educational development of your children.
4. Understanding Death as a Part of Eternal Progression
Objective: To help you to understand death in its role as part of eternal progression and to help you to teach your children this principle.
5. Preparing Youth for Missionary Service
Objective: To help you to strengthen your knowledge of ways in which you may more fully prepare your children for missionary service.
6. Using the Vital Link – Communication
Objective: To help you to communicate more effectively with your children, thereby increasing understanding, love, and mutual support in your home.
7. Helping Youth Repent
Objective: To help you to teach your children by precept and example the doctrine of repentance that they may obtain the gift of forgiveness.
8. Influencing Older Children
Objective: To help you to influence your older children to make right decisions.
Social Relations – General Leadership Principles for Women
“Besides the need for a better understanding of leadership and its responsibilities, we share a need for an increased sense of Church heritage and of identity as latter-day Saint women. Drawing on the rich experiences of Latter-day Saint women of the past century, these lessons contain many examples of effective leadership. the use of examples from Church history of needs similar to those we meet today and the stressing of leadership principles, it is hoped, will strengthen each sister throughout the Church.”
1. Everyone Is a Leader
Objective: To help you realize that leadership opportunities surround you all the time and that you can grow in your leadership abilities.
2. Christlike Leadership
Objective: To help you become more Christlike in your leadership.
3. A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven
Objective: To help you determine how to better manage your time to accomplish those things that are of greatest eternal value.
4. Leadership Strengths
Objective: To help you discover your personal leadership strengths, understand your own potential for good, and magnify your individual gifts through service to others.
5. Having Ears to Hear
Objective: To help you learn specific ways in which you can improve the effectiveness of your communication with others.
6. Decision Making
Objective: To assist you in improving your decision-making skills.
Objective: To help you better understand the principles and purposes of delegation and their application in your life.
8. Becoming an Effective Leader
Objective: To help you see how using principles of righteous leadership can help you help others to grow.
Cultural Refinement – Worldwide Sisterhood
“Even though her children range widely in their interests and talents … a devoted mother discovers this eternal truth: genuine love encompasses everyone. And as such a mother prays that her children will feel for one another the understanding and love she feels for each, she can clearly comprehend the objective of these cultural refinement lessons. To strengthen the bonds of sisterhood throughout the world.”
The objective for each lesson was: To strengthen the bonds that unite us with our Relief Society sisters in [country] by studying some aspects of the land and its culture.
1. Colombia – Land of Eternal Spring
2. England – “Precious Stone Set in the Silver Sea”
3. Korea – Land of the Morning Calm
4. New Zealand – Land of the Long White Cloud
5. Sweden – Land of the Midnight Sun
6. Panama – Land Bridge of the World
7. French Polynesia: Tahiti – Land of Paradise
8. A Review
Chart used in Spiritual Living lesson to identify characteristics of “one who has been born again”
Illustration of Heimlich Maneuver taught in Homemaking lesson
Lullaby used in Cultural Refinement lesson on Colombia
Cuna Indian Mola, illustrating Cultural Refinement lesson on Panama