Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball (1818-1898)
Image from Church Historian's Press
Conversion: Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball and her family learned of the Book of Mormon in New York soon after its publication. After her father received an incredible vision about the Book of Mormon’s veracity, their family joined the Church and remained fully grounded in the gospel for the rest of their lives.
Marriage: Sarah’s husband, Hiram Kimball, was a successful merchant in Nauvoo who joined the Church several years after their marriage. He was traveling to the Sandwich Islands to answer a mission call when he died unexpectedly, leaving Sarah behind to work as a teacher to support their family.
Church Service: Though Sarah never served as general president of the Relief Society, the idea for such an organization stemmed from her. The earliest beginnings of Relief Society started when Sarah began a sewing group with other women to begin sewing shirts for the men working on the Nauvoo Temple. She also spoke to the Prophet Joseph Smith about the need for the women of the Church to be organized. Her actions were a precursor to the revelation received in 1842 to establish the Relief Society, which is now the largest women’s organization in the world. She served as president of her ward’s Relief Society in Utah for over 40 years.
Influence on Women’s Rights: A personal friend of Susan B. Anthony, Sarah was active in the fight for women’s rights. She spoke in New York City, Washington D.C., and Europe and was known to be a woman with “courage to say what she thought” (Woman’s Exponent 20 [1 May 1892]: 159). She believed that women should not only be equal to men in the way of politics but also in esteem and education. She played a vital role in the inclusion of women’s suffrage in the Utah State Constitution and also served as president of the Utah Women’s Suffrage Association.