Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Teaching Girls about the Priesthood, 1955: Part One

Teaching Girls about the Priesthood, 1955: Part One

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 14, 2012

In October 1955, Seagull Girls (the oldest girls’ class in Primary, age 11 turning 12) participated in four lessons relating to the priesthood. The first (and yes, this is classed with the priesthood lessons):

Home Builder Lessons
Lesson 5: October, 1st Week


To the Teacher

For Your Inspiration

There is not a war in the world, no, nor an injustice, but you women are answerable for it; not in that you have provoked it, but in that you have not hindered. – Ruskin

For Your Instruction

Sometimes it is difficult for a girl nearing twelve years of age to understand why her brothers can be ordained to the priesthood and she cannot. Without in any way minimizing the importance of the priesthood, it is the purpose of this lesson to make the girls feel that they also have a very important assignment from their Father in heaven, that of giving bodies to His spirit children.

Materials Required

From Seagull Lesson Enrichments

Home Builder code chart
Picture of mother and baby

From Other Sources

New Testament, red pencil, and book mark for each girl


To make the girls feel that they have a very important assignment from their Father in heaven.


Have girls repeat Articles of Faith, nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4. Use pictures.


Have you ever thought what you would like to be when you are grown? (Discuss.)


When Emma Lucy Gates Bowen was a little girl, she dreamed about being a great singer. When she was sixteen, she went to Europe to study music. She worked long and hard for she knew that she could make this dream come true, and she did. She became famous, and her lovely, brilliant voice was heard in many of the countries of Europe and widely through our own land. She was happy and thrilled and thought “nothing could be better than this.”

But when she was older, she said, “I have traveled far and sung much and enjoyed every minute of it, but if I had a chance to live my life over, and the Lord were to come to me and say that I might have my choice – either I would be able to go to Europe and study music and become a great singer, or else I would be privileged to be a wife and a mother – but that I could not have both, I would say, ‘Give me the chance to be a wife and a mother, for there is more satisfaction in singing a simple lullaby to a sleeping child in your arms than there is in singing a great opera to the whole world.’”


Why do you think a person like Emma Lucy Gates Bowen, who as so successful in her chosen career, would say that she would rather be a wife and a mother than a great opera singer? (Discuss and put picture of mother and baby on easel.)


Elinor sat holding a new born baby in her arms. It was her first child. “It is a wonderful experience to give a new life to the world,” she said to herself.

“A new life?” This question that suddenly popped into her head puzzled her.

“Yes, a new life!” she said aloud. But still the question persisted. For a long time she pondered it. “Was it really a new life that she had given the world? Or had this little child, whom she had brought into the world, lived before?” Suddenly, she seemed to remember something that her Primary teacher had taught her when she was a Home Builder. Quickly her mind traveled back through he years and again she sat listening to her teacher say:

“Long before you were born upon this earth, you lived. You lived with your Father and Mother in heaven. You and your countless numbers of brothers and sisters were their spirit children. Jesus Christ was the eldest. Our Father and Mother in heaven did everything they could to help their spirit children grow and develop there but they knew that the time would come when their capacity to grow would be limited because they did not have bodies of flesh and bones. and so it happened that one day our Father in heaven called all His spirit children together and told them about His plan to create an earth and to send them down on this earth to get bodies. You were there, and I was there, but when we were born into this world, our memories of it were taken away. The prophets tell us that we were so happy at the prospects of getting a body that we ‘shouted for joy!’”

This helped Elinor to understand that this little child that she held in her arms, whom she had called her child, was also the child of her Father in heaven. She had been permitted to work with her Father in heaven to give this spirit a body of flesh and bones.

“Why, I am a partner with God in His eternal plan for the salvation of men,” she said with a feeling of awe and wonder in her heart. And then with a feeling of gratitude, she said, “I am so grateful for the privilege of being a mother.”


For two thousand years the world has honored Mary because she was the mother of the greatest of our Heavenly Father’s children, Jesus Christ. let us turn to Luke, Chapter 1, verses 46-48. We will read and underline them. (Put text on blackboard)

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

– Luke 1:46-48

No other career in the world has ever offered a woman such a promise as “henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Just how far reaching Mary’s influence was in helping Jesus meet the difficult situations that he met so triumphantly throughout His life, no one will ever know in this life. But one thing is certain, and that is that He could never have become the Savior of the world without a mortal body, and it was through Mary that He received that body.


Does the work of a mother end when she has given a spirit a body of flesh and bones? (Discuss)

Let us take Elinor’s child for example. He is so helpless he cannot do anything for himself. Someone must feed and clothe and bathe him every day. Someone must care for him when he is sick; someone must teach him to walk and talk, and someone must teach him to pray and keep the commandments of our Father in Heaven.

Who does these things for him?

His mother. She who, in partnership with God, brought the child into the world, is still a partner with God in training that child, and in doing it well, she brings honor upon herself.

Can you name some women who are known to the world as great mothers?


Cornelia was a mother who in her own lifetime had a statue raised to her on which was written, “Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi.” She was a very beautiful and gracious lady who lived in Rome. She might have married a king, but she preferred to be the wife of a Roman citizen. Her husband’s name was Gracchus, and her two sons were called the Gracchi. She loved them devotedly and educated them in virtue and manliness and trained them to be noble citizens of Rome.

One day there came to her a fashionable lady. This fashionable friend did nothing but brag of her fine robes and jewels and Cornelia listened with patience. Presently the grand lady said, “You must have jewels, too; pray show me your most precious things, for I love to look upon jewels.”

Then Cornelia rose and went out of the chamber and returned leading her two manly sons. “There,” she said, “are the only jewels of which I can boast.”

These sons grew to be heroic men, and all Rome knew that their mother had taught them to be valiant and upright. For hundreds of years she has been remembered as the mother of the Gracchi. (Adapted.)


When Abraham Lincoln was eight years old, his mother sent him to school. He and his sister, Sally, walked eighteen miles a day – nine miles there and nine miles home. His father said, “It is a waste of time to send the children so far to sit in a bla-ab school, where they do nothing but read aloud to themselves.” But Lincoln’s mother said, “Abe, you go to school and learn all you can.”

Abraham Lincoln’s mother died a year later, and yet when he became the president of the United States he said, “All that I am I owe to my angel mother.”


(The Sixth President of the Church)

Joseph F. Smith, who became the sixth president of the Church said:

“When I was fifteen years of age and called to go to a foreign country to preach the gospel, the strongest anchor that was fixed in my life was that love which I knew she had for me who bore me into the world.

“Only a little boy, not matured at all in judgment, thrown in the midst of the greatest allurements and temptations that were possible for any boy or any man to be subjected to – and yet, whenever these temptations became most tempting to me, the first thought that arose in my soul was this: Remember the love of your mother. Remember how she strove for your welfare. Remember how willing she was to sacrifice her life for your good. This feeling toward my mother became a defense, a barrier between me and temptation, so that I could turn aside from temptation and sin by the help of the Lord and the love begotten in my soul toward her whom I knew loved me more than anybody else in all the world and more than any other living being could love me.” (Gospel Doctrine, page 394.)


There are many women who h ave never had children of their own, but who are also wonderful mothers. Mrs. Fay Melville was one of these. She was the stepmother to nine sons and daughters. These children loved her as if she were their own mother. Sometime ago the Deseret News carried a picture of two of her boys who had traveled hundreds of miles to be with her on her birthday. One of them, Fred, wrote an essay about her when he was in school.

he said, “I am luckier than most boys because I had two mothers – the one who died when I was small and the one who has taken her place and given me all the care and affection a mother could while I was growing up.”


How long do you think the work these women accomplished will last?

For eternity. The life of a child does not end with this life, and what one does for that child will last throughout eternity.

If we work upon marble it will perish;
If we work upon brass, time will efface it;
If we rear temples, they will crumble into dust.
But if we work upon immortal souls,
If we imbue them with immortal principles
With the just fear of God and love for fellow men,
We engrave on those tablets something
Which will brighten all eternity.

– Daniel Webster


Even before you were able to walk steadily, most of you toted a doll around. You mothered it, bathed it, and dressed it. Later when you played house, you disciplined it. You told your “children” what they were and were not to do. You rewarded them when they did right and punished them when they did wrong. You may not have known it, but even then you were expressing a desire in your heart to be a mother.


Do all girls who want to be mothers turn out to be good mothers?

What must a girl do in order to make sure that she will be a good mother?

Whether or not you will be a good mother depends upon the thought and effort you put into your job. Every career requires training and effort. For example, to become a good nurse, a good teacher, a good pianist, a good anything, requires years of patient effort.

When should a girl start to train to become a good mother?

To be a good mother requires training in many fields. One can start training while very young to be a good housekeeper, a good cook, a good seamstress, a good decorator, even a good teacher of children.

Apart from these things, girls who want to be good mothers must develop certain qualities in their personalities. Can you name some qualities that a good mother should have? (Patience, love, unselfishness, a sense of humor, a desire to serve.)

Is it too early for you to start developing these qualities?

Which one of these qualities, besides love, do you think it is most important for a good mother to have?’

To serve gladly is one of the most important. Your mother serves you in many ways. She keeps the house clean and beautiful, prepares your meals, washes and irons your clothes, comforts you when you are sad, teaches you, and helps you with your problems. When you were tiny she fed you, bathed you, dressed you, taught you to walk and talk, and finally to care for yourself. Hers has been a life of service. A life of willing happy service.

She gives it gladly in return for the greatest of all blessings, the blessing of being your mother. To be like her, you must learn to live up to your Seagull code. Let us repeat it together. (Display the Home Builder code and have the girls repeat it.) As you repeat it, think about how it will help prepare you for the greatest career in the world – the career of being a mother and a Home Builder.

Sing “My Seagull Code Song.”


In preparation for next week’s lesson make the following posting chart strips:

1. Aaronic Priesthood
2. Lesser priesthood
3. Melchizedek Priesthood
4. Higher Priesthood

Birthday candles and two balloons will also be necessary.



  1. While not the first point that strikes me about this lesson, one of its peculiarities is that all of the mothers used for examples to inspire the Seagull girls are mothers of *men*.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 14, 2012 @ 7:08 am

  2. So, there were Trail Blazers and Home Builders? The Trail Blazers were “happy at home or where’er [they] may be.” I can’t speak for the Home Builders.

    Comment by Grant — June 14, 2012 @ 8:11 am

  3. Maybe they focused on the mothers of men because (according to the lesson’s rubric) male children are the only ones who grow up to have “worldly” accomplishments that reflect well on their mothers? Though that seems awfully antithetical to the point of the lesson.

    I thought it was interesting that they refer to motherhood as a career. I don’t think that’s a bad way to look at it, though I don’t think we hear that language much anymore. I also think it’s interesting that they used the Gracchi – the original socialists! – as an example… maybe it’s a more progressive manual than I thought :)

    Comment by E. Wallace — June 14, 2012 @ 8:39 am

  4. Very progressive, in that they gave equal time to Mother in heaven. However, in this life you are expected to give your whole self to your children (I guess Mother in heaven did too). I was amazed that there was no mention of a marriage.

    Thinking contextually, I imagine there may have been a number of girls whose mothers were widowed by WWII. Or, at least these mothers had been employed during the war. While it’s clear that mothers are to give everything to their children, there is no proscription against employment.

    Comment by charlene — June 14, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  5. Some of this is really good advice for girls anticipating motherhood and some of it is just drivel. It brings to mind an image of something good, like an ice cream cone with something yukky mixed in with it — like a cockroach, perhaps?

    All of the good advice, however, would apply 100% equally to boys anticipating fatherhood, so they really haven’t addressed the big questions, only clouded the issue. A lot.

    And this: “Why do you think a person…who is so successful in her chosen career, would say that she would rather be a wife and a mother than a great (specify ambition here)?” should be taken out and shot. That notion in our culture is dangerous and damaging when it is invoked and applied without almost any balance.

    And the Ruskin quote. Oh my. I’ll leave that for someone else.

    But it is a good thing to think about and prepare for the possibility of motherhood. I’ll give them credit for that. Fatherhood too!

    Comment by Mommie Dearest — June 14, 2012 @ 11:49 am

  6. Sigh.

    Comment by HokieKate — June 14, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  7. I was also glad to see a mention of Mother in Heaven.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — June 15, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

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