Sarah Granger Kimball

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Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball
Sarah Granger Kimball (cropped).jpg
Born(1818-12-29)December 29, 1818
DiedDecember 1, 1898(1898-12-01) (aged 78)
Resting placeSalt Lake City Cemetery
Known forWomen's Rights Advocate
Relief Society Leader
Spouse(s)Hiram Kimball
Parent(s)Oliver Granger and Lydia Dibble

Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball (December 29, 1818 – December 1, 1898)[1] was a 19th-century Mormon advocate for women's rights and early leader in the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Kimball's involvement in the Church led to the establishment of the women's Relief Society as well as participation in the national suffrage movement.

Conversion and Church Involvement[edit]

Sarah Granger was a daughter of Oliver Granger and his wife Lydia Dibble. She was born in Phelps, New York to a prominent Puritan family.[2][3]:3 In 1830, Sarah's father acquired a Book of Mormon, and received a vision of the ancient prophet Moroni testifying of the book's truth.[4] Her family soon joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Three years after their conversion, the family moved to Kirtland, Ohio with other members of the church. There, a teenage Sarah attended Joseph Smith's School of the Prophets, which focused on religious and secular education.[1] Sarah and her family then moved to Commerce, Illinois, which would become Nauvoo.

In Nauvoo, Sarah met Hiram S. Kimball, a non-Mormon merchant. The couple married in 1840 and welcomed their first child in 1841. Together, the couple would have six children, including three adopted children.[4] At the time of their first son's birth, members of the church were working on construction of the Nauvoo Temple. Sarah desired to contribute to the construction efforts, but felt uncomfortable donating as Hiram was not a member of the church. After discussing a contribution, Hiram donated a plot of land north of the temple property. Hiram was later baptized in 1843.[2]

The initial meeting in preparation for the organization of the Relief Society was held in the Kimball home. A dozen Mormon sisters gathered in hopes of "forming a 'Ladies Society' for future service projects".[2] Eliza R. Snow assisted in creating formal guidelines for the organizations and preparing them for Joseph Smith's approval. On March 17, 1842, the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo was organized under Joseph Smith and the priesthood.[5] By 1844, the Nauvoo Relief Society had 1,341 members.[2]

The Kimball family moved west with the Mormon pioneers, settling in Salt Lake City in 1851.[1] However, Sarah made the initial journey alone with the children, as Hiram's business required him to stay in New York for some time. When Hiram did join the family out west, he had very little money and was in poor health. To support her family, Sarah taught schoolchildren.[1]

Relief Society Leadership[edit]

In 1857, Sarah was called to be Relief Society president of Salt Lake City's 15th Ward.[2] However, certain events, including the Utah War, forced the organization's activities to subside until 1867. During those ten years, both Sarah's mother and husband Hiram died. Hiram drowned in a steamship accident while traveling to Hawaii to serve a full-time mission.[1] In 1867, the Relief Society was reestablished and Sarah resumed her duties as Relief Society president. She served in that position for 42 years until her death.[5]

On November 13, 1868, Sarah laid the cornerstone of the first ever Relief Society building in the church.[6] The sisters used this building as a shop to sell hand-made items. The profits were used to "furnish the hall; purchase shares for the ward organ; build a granary and stock it with grain; contribute to funds for Perpetual Emigration, the Salt Lake and Logan temples, and the Deseret Hospital; provide carpet for the ward meetinghouse; and purchase a knitting machine and set up a tailoring establishment within the ward."[3]:11 The construction of the 15th Ward Relief Society Hall was intended to inspire similar endeavors by sisters throughout the church. By the end of the 1800s, Relief Societies owned property valued at $95,000 and Relief Society halls had been built in other locations including Idaho, Arizona, Canada, and Mexico.[3]:10

In addition to her ward calling, Sarah served as the general secretary of the Relief Society starting in 1880, after it was reorganized under the leadership of Eliza R. Snow.[2] She served as secretary for 12 years before becoming a counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency.[5] Until her death, Sarah served concurrently in her ward and general Relief Society callings.

Kimball was a member of the 1882 Utah State Constitutional Convention.[7] By 1890, Kimball was the first president of the Utah Women's Suffrage Association and a leader in the national suffrage movement.[2] She was good friends with women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony and worked closely with her.[2][8]

Kimball died in Salt Lake City on December 1, 1898.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Richards, Mary Stovall (1992). "Kimball, Sarah Granger". In Daniel H. Ludlow (ed.). Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Macmillan. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Thatcher, Blythe Darlyn (1997). "Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball". In Smith, Barbara B.; Thatcher, Blythe Darlyn (eds.). Heroines of the Restoration. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft.
  3. ^ a b c Derr, Jill Mulvay (1976). Sarah M. Kimball. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books.
  4. ^ a b c Pearce, Virginia H. (2011). "In Blessing Others We Are Blessed: Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball". In Turley Jr., Richard E.; Chapman, Brittany A. (eds.). Women of Faith in the Latter Days. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book.
  5. ^ a b c Utah Division of State History, "Markers and Monuments Database: Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball Marker." Utah Department of Heritage and Arts.
  6. ^ Crocheron, Augusta Joyce (1884). "Sarah M. Kimball". Representative Women of Deseret: A Book of Biographical Sketches. Salt Lake City, UT: J. C. Graham & Co.
  7. ^ Carol Cornwall Madsen, An Advocate for Women: The Public Life of Emmeline B. Wells, 1870-1920 (Provo: BYU Press, 2006), p. 192
  8. ^ Jan Tolman, "Sarah Kimball: One of the early Relief Society sisters." Deseret News, 15 Mar 2011.


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