Emmeline B. Wells and Her Presidency
The beginning of this chapter mentions that it was Emmeline B. Wells, fifth general RS President, and her presidency that decided on the motto, “Charity Never Faileth.” Show a picture of the RS seal and ask, “What symbols do you see in this image? Why do you think they chose these particular symbols?”
When someone comments on the wheat, mention this background info: the most long-lived of the society’s economic enterprises was the wheat storage program directed initially by Emmeline B.Wells in 1876, after Brigham Young suggested the Relief Society store wheat against a time of famine. In 1906 the Relief Society donated several railroad cars of wheat and flour to the victims of the San Francisco earthquake. The Relief Society continued to gather and store wheat until the close of World War I (1918), when the Relief Society sold 205,518 bushels of their storage wheat to the U.S. government at its request.
Use this story as a jumping off point to share with your class some info about Emmeline B.Wells, who was an amazing person. (See Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society for more details.)
- As a teen she was abandoned by her husband and lost her son
- She knew Joseph Smith in Nauvoo and then made the trek west
- She was a plural wife to first Newll K. Whitney, and then after he died, to Daniel Wells. She had five daughters from those two marriages.
- She was the editor of the Women’s Exponent for 39 years
- She represented the Relief Society in national gatherings of women
- She was friends with Susan B. Anthony and other national suffrage workers
- She herself was a tireless suffrage worker, writing many editorials about women’s rights
- She was general RS President from 1910 to 1921