In honor of Emma Smith’s 217th birthday, read these 4 articles about her

Emma Hale Smith was born on July 10, 1804, in her family’s log home near the banks of the Susquehanna River in a community then known as Harmony, Pennsylvania.  

The Lord called her an “elect lady” in Doctrine and Covenants 25, she compiled the Church’s first hymnbook, helped with the translation of the Book of Mormon, was the first president of the Relief Society organization and supported her husband Joseph Smith Jr. in his call as the prophet of the Church.  

Here are several articles from the Church News archives about Emma, including more about where she grew up, notable events and photos from the places she lived, a history of the Church’s first hymnbooks and what historians want people to know about her.

‘Come, Follow Me’: Learn more and see photos of the Priesthood Restoration Site

Flowers bloom around the rebuilt home of Joseph and Emma Smith in 2018 at the Priesthood Restoration Site in Oakland Township, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.
Flowers bloom around the rebuilt home of Joseph and Emma Smith in 2018 at the Priesthood Restoration Site in Oakland Township, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. Credit: Kenneth Mays

In a town then known as Harmony, Pennsylvania, some 150 miles southeast of Palmrya, New York, Emma Hale Smith spent her childhood and later met Joseph Smith. Harmony was where the young couple lived for several years, where Emma had their first baby and also where the bulk of the Book of Mormon was translated. The maple grove where on May 15, 1829, Joseph and Oliver Cowdery prayed for guidance about baptism is also located in Harmony. John the Baptist appeared to them and restored the Aaronic Priesthood. The Church has rebuilt the homes of Emma’s parents and where Emma and Joseph lived.

See photos of the Priesthood Restoration Site

Remembering Emma Hale Smith, the first president of the Relief Society

The Mansion House in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 2013. It's one of the places were Joseph and Emma Smith lived.
The Mansion House in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 2013. It’s one of the places were Joseph and Emma Smith lived. Credit: Kenneth Mays

From Pennsylvania, where she was born and met Joseph Smith, to New York and later Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois, she moved many times in her life as she worked to support her husband, raise a family and serve in the Church.

Find events from her life and photos from places connected to her

A hymn submission sent to Emma Smith is part of Joseph Smith Papers’ ‘Documents Vol. 12’

Emma Hale Smith’s 1835 collection of sacred hymns included 90 hymns.
Emma Hale Smith’s 1835 collection of sacred hymns included 90 hymns. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Emma’s assignment to compile a hymnbook was unique at the time, and two of the hymnbooks she worked on were published by the Church. There’s not much of a paper trail for hymn submissions, historians say, and a submission sent to Emma in response to Emma’s call for hymns is in the recent Joseph Smith Papers volume.

Learn more about hymns in the history of the Church, including Emma’s role

Emma Smith was born over 200 years ago today — here’s what Church historians think you should know about her

Portrait of Emma Smith, September 1842.
Portrait of Emma Smith, September 1842. Credit: Courtesy Community of Christ Library-Archives, Licensed to Joseph Smith Papers Project

More than two centuries after her birth, Church members can still learn from Emma’s life. The Church News asked Church historians to answer the question, “What should Church members know about Emma Hale Smith?”

Here are their answers