Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Whole Year Through: Relief Society, 1976-77

The Whole Year Through: Relief Society, 1976-77

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 27, 2009

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.

5. Shock

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.

7. Poisoning

Objective: To help you learn about possible sources of accidental poisonings and the appropriate first-aid measures.

8. Burns

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.

7. Delegation

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



  1. I remember these cultural refinement lessons and my mom really liking them and sharing them with us kids. In the pre-cable TV and Internet days, they were a real window on the world for us.

    Comment by Rob — October 27, 2009 @ 8:23 am

  2. That seems like an impressively broad range of topics. Does today’s Relief Society cover anything besides spirituality?

    Comment by Clark — October 27, 2009 @ 9:51 am

  3. We used to have a Sunday morning RS too, for the YA’s who were working on the weekday morning and at Institute the night of the evening meeting. Still got my manuals- used to really enjoy cultural refinement, although the title seemed a bit odd, at first….they used to print great coloured photos in the back of the (much bigger) manual, one illustration for each lesson. The pronunciation guide was in Americanese too, which cracked us up one lesson when the sister was teaching us about Ancient Greece, and started talking about ‘Aris-TAHT-l’, I think the guide read. Cue much giggling in south London.
    I miss those lessons.

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — October 27, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  4. Rob, something about your comment somehow reminded me that they used to have luncheons on work meeting days, and in our ward at least they tried to base the luncheon on food from whatever country was the subject of that month’s cultural refinement lesson. I remember one time during those years my mother scoured the town looking for grape leaves — this was in the pre-foodie days in a small town where tacos and pizza were considered exotic foreign food. I think they ended up using cabbage or lettuce leaves instead.

    Clark, like Primary, Relief Society became Sunday School when we went to the block meeting schedule, and only doctrinal lessons are taught these days. Any of those other topics might conceivably be taught in the-meeting-formerly-known-as-Enrichment, but not systematically and not for very many sisters.

    Anne, I haven’t tried to trace the use of the “cultural refinement” title back through time, but I’m guessing it goes back to the days when they taught literature and music and art appreciation, which quite possibly was the most culturally refining hour of the month for a lot of Utah and Idaho farm women … (Um, pardon my American ignorance, but how else would one pronounce “Aris-TAHT-l”?)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 27, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  5. oh, no, nothing like ‘American ignorance’, the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. It just sounded odd to hear this very South London lady give the lesson in south London-ese, then faithfully follow the guide as printed and launch into ‘Aris-TAHT-l’

    I’d probably go for ‘ARIS-tottle’;however, a Scot would pronounce it differently again.

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — October 27, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  6. Was it really called “Work Meeting” at that late date? I thought it had become Homemaking Meeting several years earlier.

    But, speaking of work meeting, I remember well those eight or nine days a year that my mother went had work meeting at Relief Society, with a luncheon afterwards, because those are the days that we ate lunch at school. Every other day we walked home for lunch–three long blocks down Sixth East in Provo, and those were long blocks back then. Not quite sure how they’ve shrunk in these last 50 years.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 27, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  7. In Scotland: “Aris-TOTTLE” 😉

    Comment by Alison — October 27, 2009 @ 11:20 am

  8. Mark, my mother still called it “work meeting,” but perhaps that was like “Mutual” — how long has it been since “Mutual” was part of the young people’s auxiliary title, and yet how often do we still say THAT? And I bet we’ll call in Enrichment for another generation, too.

    Anne and Alison, I’m relieved that it’s just what seems to be a minor difference in stress. I was afraid it was as different as the American pronunciation of Van Gogh as “Van Go” versus the French pronunciation of “Van Gok.” (How do you say that one, as long as I’ve brought him up?)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 27, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  9. Van Gogh: ‘Gogh’ rhymes with ‘Cough’, so is pronounced ‘Goff’.

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — October 27, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  10. Oh, that’s even stranger to my ears! Thanks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 27, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  11. Actually, the church has revived “Mutual” for the activity night for youth, despite the word’s disappearance from the organizations’ names. I can’t remember when that revival happened. But it definitely wasn’t spring 1820.

    As to pronunciation, don’t even ask the resident Brits to get started on “Don Quixote”.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 27, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  12. I once attended church in Belfast, and was surprised to hear them singing of the azure [rhymes with measure] sky.

    Comment by Left Field — October 27, 2009 @ 4:18 pm

  13. I loved how the Samoans would sing ‘threaten’ (rhymes with sweeten) in “We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet”.

    Comment by Mark — October 28, 2009 @ 7:27 am

  14. I have fond memories of work meetings and learning new skills or tasting new recipes. It was fun to have a luncheon as part of the work meeting. Now we are not supposed to use the kitchen to do any cooking. What a waste!

    Comment by Maurine — November 1, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  15. I have been looking for this manual. I was a young mother of 24 when I taught some of these lessons when i lived in Nashville, Tennessee. I made the suggested recipes for my class and I’d love to have the Swedish Fruit Stew recipe again. The ones that I have tried online are not the same.

    I remember trying to locate pine nuts for the Korean recipe. Today that would not be difficult but despite my daily trips to supermarkets, I never was able to locate them. My husband would say ‘are you ever going to make those ‘pine nut balls?’ I don’t know what the real recipe was called. I just remember my hubby asking about the Pine Nut Balls. Lol

    Thank you to anyone who may be able to help!

    Comment by Deborah — July 17, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  16. Hi, Deborah. While I can’t provide you with the manual itself, I did look up the Korean and Swedish lessons. The recipe for the Korean “yu-ran” (date candy) is:

    6-2/3 ounces dates (dried)
    2 tablespoons honey
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 cup pine nuts.

    Wash the dates and soak them in water for thirty minutes, then steam them for one hour. Pit and mince dates until they become sticky. Mix with honey and cinnamon and roll in thumb-size shapes. Put one pine nut into each date and roll in minced pine nuts.

    The Swedish lesson, I’m sorry to say, gives recipes only for Limpa bread and Swedish pancakes — no fruit stew. Somebody must have given you that recipe at the time you prepared the lesson, because it does not appear in the manual. So sorry.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 17, 2013 @ 10:43 am

  17. Thank you so very much! I greatly appreciate your efforts. I remember a Scandinavian lady who was attending Vanderbilt – I bet she gave me the fruit stew recipe. I am going to make the Korean candy and surprise my husband with the ‘pine nut balls’ I promised to make nearly 40 years ago!

    Thank you for taking time to share! ❤

    Comment by Deborah — July 19, 2013 @ 10:36 am

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