Since the early 1900s, the Latter-day Saint Young Women organization has had some kind of achievement and recognition program in place. But the requirements of old are drastically different from the requirements today. The evolution of Young Women Recognition is a fascinating snapshot of history. My, how times have changed.
The Beehive Handbook, published in 1915, established the Church’s first recognition program for young girls. It included seven “fields” of personal improvement: Religion, Home, Health, Domestic Arts, Out of Doors, Business and Public Service.
Young women were required to complete projects from a list of 300 options. They could clear sagebrush off a half-acre of land, kill at least 25 flies daily, care for and harness a team of horses at least five times and drive 50 miles during one season, successfully care for a hive of bees or mend stockings, knitted undergarments and dish towels.
Early Beehives wore blue, gold and brown uniforms with emblems of achievement sewn on them.
In the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, young women earned emblems for new requirements, including making a habit of getting nine hours of “beauty sleep” every night, practicing good posture, helping their families improve their table manners and practicing politeness, “the mark of a lady.”
Personal Progress was launched 1985, and with that, fields became values, emblems became medallions and the requirements changed again. With the new program, young women were required to read missionary pamphlets and teach others what they learned, write thank-you letters to their parents, make and keep plans for regular physical fitness activities and write codes of personal honesty. The value of “virtue” was added in 2009 and with it young women were required to do things like prepare for temple ordinances and read the Book of Mormon cover to cover.
Youth leaders would be hard pressed to get a modern teenage girl to clear a half-acre of sagebrush, and thankfully, they don’t have to. The program has evolved, but the heart of it has stood the test of time.
“In 1916, the challenges of life involved an entirely different focus,” said the late apostle James E. Faust in 2000. “Today such physical needs are met much more easily. … Modern conveniences grant us more free time to focus on spiritual needs and devote more time to personal service. But the basic element which should never change in the lives of righteous young women is giving service to others.”