Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » What Latter-day Saint Men Should Know, 1914 (I)

What Latter-day Saint Men Should Know, 1914 (I)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 24, 2009

Bits and pieces from LDS manuals and magazines of 1914, aimed at the boys and men of the church:

Loud Laughter

On the street corner, or other hoodlum rendezvous, and in the saloon, human voices are coarsened by ribaldry, even as they are first loosened by grog. Naturally all decent men and women condemn the excessive laughter of such places; but what of the noise and almost reckless abandon of our dances and other social gatherings?

“Perfectly innocent,” you say. Perhaps so; but even at that, not very cultured, to judge only by human standards of conduct; and when measured by the scriptural criterion of what a Latter-day Saint gathering should be, they all come under the condemnation, quoted at the head of this article [“therefore, cease from all your light speeches; from all laughter; from all your lustful desires; from all your pride and light mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.” – Doc. and Cov., 88:121] Pleasure – garish, flaunting, unrestrained – is both solo and chorus: you shall listen in vain for the subdued, spiritual pulsations of joy.

Doing Things Properly

I frequently hear the remark, “Oh, life is too short to do things that way.” That is, properly, carefully and right. The other day a man told me that from three grain-threshing places he gathered four wagon boxfuls of dirt, chaff and grain. From these he cleaned 40 bushels of good wheat. At 80 cents per bushel this would be $32 which is good pay for a day’s work. He even then left about as much again on the ground. Where grain is stacked in the field, without any preparation of the ground, a great waste of grain results. The man who owns the stacks may think it a little thing, but it is one of the big leaks and one which can be easily remedied by a little care and work, and that, too, by no means in proportion to the financial gain resulting from the work. The stack yard should be well cleaned and dragged.

How to Be Useful

The boy who has quick eyes will see when papa wants a book from the library, and will offer to go and get it without waiting to be asked. he will see when mamma wants something from the store, and will offer to run such an errand before he goes off to play ball.


Cultivate early in life the habit of strict obedience to your parents, teachers, employer, and to any others whose business is to direct you or give you advice and instructions. Learn to respect and obey the law and the established customs of society. Honor the leaders of your church and the officials of your state and nation. Respect every man or boy in his position, whatever that position may be, and try to make your daily actions and your entire life conform to the laws of God and to the eternal fitness of things. And in the truest spirit of obedience, strive to put yourself in harmony with those over you and “in tune with the Infinite.”


The three most important events in a man’s life are conceded to be his birth, his marriage, and his death. Over two of these things he has no control, except that he may postpone the day of his death by living a sound and sober life. Over the other event he has approximately one-half control, though the final word must be spoken by another person. The necessity of this most important step of marriage is recognized by every right-thinking man. Success cannot be complete without it. A man’s foremost mission in life is to get married and rear an honorable family. It is the highest calling of man and the means by which he can render the greatest service to the world. To disregard marriage means not to recognize the most important and basic of all institutions – the homes, the source of man’s greatest happiness and profit. The choosing and following of your life’s work, though of inestimable importance and consequence, must always be placed second in magnitude to your getting married and rearing a family.


As far back as history gives account of the worship of the true God, song has been an accompaniment of the outward expression of man’s devotion to his maker. In our day the Lord has said (Doc. and Cov. 25:12), “My soul delighteth in the song of the heart, yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.” Here a great principle is announced: for what is characteristic of God is fundamental in man, his offspring.

The Church United

I believe that the councils of the priesthood are united, and that they are laboring together more effectively for their advancement and unity, and for the increase of their knowledge of the principles of the gospel, than ever before. I can say the same, I think, of all the auxiliary organizations of the Church. I believe that our Relief Society is doing a magnificent work among the people. I believe that the General Board of the Relief Society are more united than they have been, and they are doing better work than they have done before; that is, so far as I can remember, and I can remember a long way back in relation to some of the work that has been done by our Relief societies. They are an essential organization for the good of Israel, for the welfare of the sisters, and mothers, and the daughters in Zion. – Joseph F. Smith


Priesthood Quorum Meetings

In a number of stakes throughout Zion the Priesthood are meeting on Sunday morning at nine o’clock and continue their sessions until ten or ten thirty, at which time the Sunday schools are called to order. Many of those in the Melchizedek Priesthood classes who are present at this Priesthood meeting attend the parents’ class in the Sabbath school, thus receiving added blessing to themselves, and rendering a service to the school. In other stakes this same method is adopted except that the Lesser Priesthood meet separately in quorums at ten o’clock in the morning for one-half hour, then adjourn at 10:30 for Sabbath school, and receive their lessons in the Priesthood manuals as Sabbath school students.

In other stakes they meet at two o’clock int eh afternoon for the Priesthood quorums. This is where the sacrament meetings are held in the evening. In all these stakes it is generally conceded that the Priesthood quorums are faring better, as far as attention and advancement are concerned, both int heir duties and studies, than in the stakes where the Priesthood quorums met on a week night. No general rule has been adopted in this matter, but the time of meetings is left with the authorities of each stake.

Bird Houses

Now is the time to put up bird-houses and nesting boxes. Let no one fail to do this because of the expense. Any boy can make them and the material needed costs little, if anything.


Loyalty is even bigger than obedience, for it covers more ground. Loyalty contemplates obedience, and in addition it requires a man to do whatever else he can to further the interests of those whom he serves. Loyalty makes service easy. In business there is no one thing more helpful to the employer than the loyalty of faithful employees. Loyalty contemplates many other virtues, and soon brings recognition from managers. Some employees are loyal only on special occasions and on pay day; others stand back of their institution every day in the week, and think of pay day only when reminded of it by the large salary checks they receive.

Gospel Themes

Questions for teachers and students, by Elder David O. McKay:

1.What is the meaning of the “Dispensation of the Fulness of Times”?
2. Quote passages proving that Adam holds the keys to all dispensations.
3. What are the characteristic features of the Adamic dispensation?
4. Explain the significance of each.
5. By reference to Moses 5:14, 6:51-66, point out various principles of the gospel that are taught today as they were then.
6. Name the one office in the Church that is handed down from father to son.
7. Who is the “Ancient of Days”?
8. Who is “Michael”?
9. Explain Cain’s and Abel’s attitude toward the law of sacrifice.
10. Why was Cain’s offering rejected? Can you suggest any other probable reason?

Word of Wisdom

Arise! oh let us not be weary;
Overcome that fainting step,
Be wise and live the “word of wisdom.”
Have we on our laurels slept?

We resolve before Thee, Father,
With Thy help Thy laws to live.
We’ll sustain our worthy prophet
Every word that he may give.

O, then we’ll earn the promise given,
The destroyer shall pass by;
Hidden treasures of greatest knowledge
Shall be granted from on high.

– E.F. Soderborg



  1. Having read the section “Obedience,” I found myself imagining what a wonderful society we would be living in if individuals, on the whole, followed that counsel.

    Comment by Alison — November 24, 2009 @ 8:49 am

  2. The loud laughter bit, that is one of my most frequent sins.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 24, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  3. It was interesting to see it referred to outright as “the Lesser Priesthood.” I think I’m going to pull that one out next Sunday (“What? You don’t like how the Young Men set up the chairs? Sloppy, you say? Well, they ARE the Lesser Priesthood, after all.”).

    P.S. Who are the authors of these articles? I think Sister Hurst does a little bit better job.

    Comment by Hunter — November 24, 2009 @ 9:18 am

  4. There are multiple authors, and most of the articles are unsigned. When I’ve taken a clip from an editorial or talk by a general authority, I’ve identified that writer (none in this particular dollop, but true for material collected for future installments).

    I agree about Sister Hurst — nobody else has quite the personality or commonsense way of stating things that she has. But none of the manuals or magazines addressed to men had any columnist remotely like her to represent what men were discussing *as men* (I believe there is or soon will be such a formal thing as “Men’s Studies” as well as “Women’s Studies,” distinct from generic “Mormon Studies”), so I’m trying to collect bits targeting men as men. I do indeed wish there were a Brother Hurst.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 24, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  5. Bird houses? That would be an interesting topic to bring up to the AP Sunday morning. I do love the thought of my son running to the library to get me a book. Great write-up.

    Comment by Mex Davis — November 24, 2009 @ 9:59 am

  6. This is wonderful material. Certainly dated, but still endearing for the kind of world it portrays. The Loyalty section… does any company have pension plans or expect employees to spend their careers at a single firm anymore? The Obedience section read like something from the 1910 Boy Scout Handbook.

    I think the Church today still rightly promotes the same standards: More unity, better involvement in quorums, more quiet dignity and less coarseness in our actions.

    [also the reference in music must refer to 25:12?]

    Comment by Clark — November 24, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  7. :) (What? doesn’t your D&C have a 12th verse in section 17? Or is that only in the super deluxe secret editions?) Thanks, Clark; I’ll fix that.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 24, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  8. Not to portray my ignorance, but what the heck. So what office in the church really is handed down from father to son?

    I am so guilty of loud laughter violations.

    Comment by kevinf — November 24, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  9. #8: Patriarch — presiding patriarch, or patriarch to the church, or whatever the formal title was in 1914; the office now held by Eldred G. Smith. You didn’t think of it because he isn’t sustained as a general authority in conference anymore.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 24, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  10. I just like the use of the word grog.

    Comment by floridagirl — November 24, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

  11. Wow, I had no idea Eldred G. Smith was still alive! According to Wikipedia, he’s approaching his 103rd birthday.

    Comment by Alison — November 25, 2009 @ 7:22 am

  12. Yup. Another six weeks or so, and he’s 103. I’ve heard (via grapevine, nothing official) that although he is feeble physically, his mind is still there, and that he still gives blessings very occasionally.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 25, 2009 @ 7:38 am

  13. Word.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — November 25, 2009 @ 9:11 am

  14. Birdhouses? Does anyone understand why that was considered important?

    Comment by E — November 25, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

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