The Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“the Mormons”) is one of the largest and oldest women’s organizations in the world. The Relief Society was officially organized on March 17, 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Mormon women (who had gotten together to serve and help while the Nauvoo temple was being built) had talked about creating a “Ladies’ Society” and had even created bylaws and a constitution for the society. The prophet Joseph was impressed, but added that the Lord had “something better for them than a written constitution.” He gathered them as a prophet of God to “organize the sisters under the priesthood. (“Story of the Organization of the Relief Society,” The Relief Society Magazine, 1919, p. 129.)
Throughout the history of the Relief Society, from the early beginnings to the present day, the Lord has guided women of the Church to build faith, relieve suffering, build and strengthen families, seek for education and self-reliance (spiritual and temporal), and build a community and sisterhood for women who share common goals.
Sister Julie B. Beck says this about the Relief Society:
“The purpose of Relief Society is to prepare daughters of God for the blessings of eternal life as they increase in faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need.” (“Daughters in My Kingdom: The Purpose and Work of Relief Society“)
For more about the history and purpose of Relief Society in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please see the following resources:
Official Relief Society website
“Fulfilling the Purpose of Relief Society”
“Something Extraordinary” by Sister Sheri L. Dew.
LDS Women of God — Unofficial website with a lot of information about the history of the Relief Society and the role of women in the LDS Church