100 Years Ago: General Conference Statistical Report

An excerpt from President Joseph F. Smith’s April 1911 General Conference opening address:

I have had prepared just a few little statements which will indicate to you, I think, better perhaps than I could tell you from memory, although they are familiar to me, the condition of the Church and of the labors and accomplishments thereof during the year that has only recently closed. I have an item here that there have been two new stakes organized in 1910, namely the Duchesne and the Carbon stakes of Zion. There have been organized fifteen new wards during the same period. There are now 62 organized stakes of Zion, and 696 wards, and 21 missions.

Joseph F. Smith

President Joseph F. Smith

All of these require the constant supervision and attention not only of the bishops and the presidents of stakes, and the high councils of these various organizations, but of the presidency of the Church, by whom communications are constantly received from all these presidents, or the most of them, and frequently many of them, and frequently from almost all these wards.


The number of persons that have been baptized in the stakes of Zion and in the missions, during the year 1910, was 15,902.

Birth and Death Rates

The birth-rate of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the year 1910, was 38 per thousand, the highest birthrate in the world, as far as available statistics show.

The death-rate of the Church, for the year 1910, was 9 per thousand, the lowest death-rate in the world, as far as we have been able to ascertain from published statistics.

Marriage and Divorce

There were 1,360 couples married in the temples in 1910, and there were 1,100 couples married, of Church members, by civil ceremony during the same year.

There was one divorce to each 5,000 Church members. The average divorce rate in the United States is one to each 1,100 souls. This shows that our divorce rate is only about one-fifth of the average rate in our nation.


There were 2,028 missionaries laboring in the various missions on December 31st, 1910.

There was expended by the Church, in maintaining missions and for fares of returning missionaries, during the year 1910, the sum of $215,000. This amount does not include the very large sum, in the aggregate, furnished by the people to assist their sons and daughters, or husbands and fathers, while in the mission field.

Upwards of $300,000 was paid by the Church during 1910 for maintaining our Church schools; and over $200,000 was paid out in the Church to assist the poor, during the year 1910.

All expenses incurred on account of the general authorities of the Church, of operating expenses of the president’s office, the historian’s office, and the presiding bishop’s office, were paid out of revenues derived from investments made by the trustee-in-trust, within past few years. This leaves the tithes of the Church to be used for the building of ward meeting houses and stake tabernacles, for maintenance of Church schools and temples, for missions abroad, and for the support of the poor.

Comparisons With 2011

As reported by President Smith, two stakes and 15 wards were organized in 1910 for a total of 62 stakes and 696 wards. Reported in Conference today, in 2010 there were 31 stakes and 236 wards formed, for a total of 2,896 stakes and 28,660 wards.

At the end of 1910, there were 2,028 missionaries in 21 missions. At the end of 2010, there were 52,225 missionaries in 340 missions. In addition there were 20,813 Church Service Missionaries.

In 1910 there were 15,902 baptisms and in 2010 there were 272,814 convert baptisms and 120,528 new children of record.

In 1910 there were 398,478 members and in 2010 there were 14,131,467 members.

In April 1911 there were 4 temples in operation. In April 2011 there were 134 temples in operation, 4 temples announced at Conference and a further 22 temples previously announced or under construction.

The $715,000 for maintaining Church schools and missions, and support of the poor, in constant 1913 dollars, would amount to $15,983,428 in 2011.


  • The Eighty-First Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convened in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 6, 1911, President Joseph F. Smith presiding.
  • Live KSL TV LDS General Conference broadcast, April 2, 2011.
  • 2011 Deseret News Church Almanac.

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100 Years Ago: Wireless, Parliament, Cities of the Sun


Experiments in wireless telegraphy at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, circa 1902

The following was adapted from the Improvement Era magazine of March 1911.

Wireless Telegraphy

Wireless telegraphy has achieved a new triumph. The telegrams announced, a few days ago, that a physician on an ocean inner prescribed for and cured a case of ptomain-poisoning on a ship, eight hundred miles from the physician; and likewise the announcement has been made, through the telegrams, that a ship on the coast of Japan communicated with San Francisco, over five thousand four hundred miles away.


In the palace of King Noah, Zara is wooed by Amulon but loves Alma

[An early theory on the causes of food poisoning involved ptomaines, alkaloids found in decaying animal and vegetable matter. While some alkaloids do cause poisoning, the discovery of bacteria left the ptomaine theory obsolete.]

The Cities of the Sun

“The Cities of the Sun” is the title of a story-book issued by Elizabeth Rachel Cannon, and illustrated from paintings by George M. Ottinger, and photographs by the author. It contains five excellent stories of ancient America, founded on historical incidents in the Book of Mormon, and is made attractive by nineteen illustrations.

The stories are intended to interest the reader in the Book of Mormon itself, and are attractive both in matter and presentation.

[Read The Cities of the Sun on Google Books.]


The British Parliament, which was dissolved on the 28th of November last, met January 31, 1911. The dissolved parliament was the shortest in duration, in a century, having been elected January, a year ago, assembled February 15, 1910, and dissolved, as stated, November 28.

The parliament had 275 liberals, 40 labor members, 71 nationalists, 11 independent nationalists, and 273 unionists. The chief issue involved was the veto power of the House of Lords. The new parliament opened Feb. 6, when King George used the new form for the Declaration of Faith which is not offensive to Catholics.

[In 2011, the parliament had 57 Liberal Democrats, 258 Labour, 6 Scottish National Party, 1 Independent, 8 Democratic Unionists, 307 Conservative, 5 Sinn Féin, 3 Plaid Cymru, 3 Social and Democratic Labour, 1 Green, and 1 Alliance.]

Adapted from: “Passing Events”, Improvement Era, Vol. XIV. March, 1911. No. 5.
Lead photograph: Library of Congress, Experiments in wireless telegraphy
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100 Years Ago: Insurrection, Death, North Pole

Robert Peary and Bob Bartlett

Robert Peary and Captain Bob Bartlett standing on a ship, Battle Harbor, Labrador, circa 1909

The following was adapted from the Improvement Era magazine of March 1911.

Insurrection In Mexico (Again)

The insurrection in Mexico, in the interest of Francisco de Madero, the defeated candidate for the presidency, which broke out on November 17 last, is still in progress in northern Mexico. Considerable trouble has been experienced by roving bands of robbers in Chihuahua, where they have attacked settlements which they considered were unable to defend themselves.

Several conflicts with government troops have taken place, and things are in an uncertain condition in that state. So far the settlements of the Latter-day Saints have not been disturbed, though much anxiety has been felt, and the situation is serious.

[Not much has changed in 100 years. Today’s Mexican Drug War, an armed conflict among rival drug cartels and between the drug cartels and the Mexican government, killed 12 mayors and a candidate for governor in 2010. Among the states that suffer most is Chihuahua, mentioned in the 1911 story.]

Falling Mule Death (Amended)

[This is a continuation of last month’s story]
Elder John Edward Kirkman, who came to his death in Hawaii, on January 10, it appears did not fall from a precipitous cliff into the sea. He came to his death in trying to cross a mountain stream which was unusually swollen. He got into the center of the stream, when his mule lost its footing, and he was washed with the animal over a high waterfall, some twenty feet below the crossing, which neither he nor his companion, who wisely did not venture to cross the stream, knew existed.

After strenous effort, the body was found in a cave below the fall; it was veiled by the falling waters and washed continually with the rainbow spray, so that his body was preserved as though in sleep. It is expected the body will be brought to Utah for burial.

North Pole (Almost)

Peary reached the north pole within a mile and three-fifths, according to the government report made by an expert who examined his observations. It thus appears that the exact spot was not reached, but it is evident that it was near enough for all practical purposes, and no one else is likely to attempt the feat in the near future.

Adapted from: “Passing Events”, Improvement Era, Vol. XIV. March, 1911. No. 5.
Photograph: Library of Congress, Peary & Bartlett, Battle Harbor
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100 Years Ago: War, Death, and Western Pacific

The following was adapted from the Improvement Era magazine of February 1911.

No More War?

For the abolition of international war, Mr. Andrew Carnegie has transferred to a board of trustees, twenty-seven in number, Senator Root of New York as president, ten million dollars, in five per cent first mortgage bonds.

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie in 1913

The proceeds, five hundred thousand dollars annually, is to be freely used by the board to establish a lasting, world-wide peace.

When war is abolished, the fund is still to be used for the banishment of the next most degrading evil.

[100 years later, we have wars or conflicts in Afghanistan, Balochistan, Cambodia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ingushetia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, North Caucasus, North West Pakistan, Sahara, Somalia, South Thailand, South Yemen, Sudan, and Yemeni.

Founded in 1910, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is still in operation.]

Falling Mule Death

Elder John Edward Kirkman, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Kirkman, of Salt Lake City, and who was laboring as a missionary in the Hawaiian Islands, came to his death by drowning in the sea, on January 10.

He was riding a mule along the edge of a precipitous cliff on the island of Maui, when the mule missed its footing and fell with its rider into the sea, and both were carried away with the tide.

Elder Kirkman’s body was found on January 15, and was buried in Kipehulu.

[This is not the end of the Falling Mule story]

Passenger Interchange

The Western Pacific Railway has arranged with the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad and the Santa Fe for the interchange of passengers. This now gives Salt Lake City three trans-continental lines.

The Western Pacific promises to become a strong factor in the material development of the territory traversed by it in Utah, Nevada and California.

[Western Pacific was acquired in 1983 by Union Pacific. In 1988, Rio Grande Industries purchased the Southern Pacific Railroad, the combined company taking the Southern Pacific name. In 1995, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. In 1996 Southern Pacific was purchased by Union Pacific.]

Adapted from: “Passing Events”, Improvement Era, Vol. XIV. February, 1911. No. 4.
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100 Years Ago: Wards, Liquor, and Lynchings

The following was adapted from the Improvement Era magazine of February 1911.

Number of Wards

The number of wards in the various stakes of Zion increased from 689, in 1909, to 696 in 1910. There are now 62 stakes, not including the California mission, where five wards were organized in 1910.

Duchesne stake, with four wards, and Carbon, with seven wards were organized in 1910. Bear Lake stake has 23 wards, the largest number in any of the stakes; Oneida and St. George each has 20; Cassia and Granite each 19; then Blackfoot and Sevier 18 each; and Summit 17.

[100 years later, on January 1, 2010, the Church reported 20,518 wards and 2,863 stakes.]

Liquor Regulation

Utah State Capitol

In 1911 the Capitol building did not yet exist but efforts were underway to choose a site.

The Utah Legislature, ninth session, met on January 9, 1911.

Governor William Spry read his message to the joint session on the 10th. It is a lengthy document touching on the needs of every department of the state, and recommending the passage of a local option bill “with provision for the proper regulation and control of the liquor traffic, as pledged in the platform” of the Republican party.

Senator George Sutherland was elected to succeed himself as U. S. Senator at the conjoint session, Jan. 18.

[In 1913, the ratification of the 17th Amendment provided for election of senators by popular vote rather than appointment by the state legislatures.]

Death to Americans

Rioting in Mexico, against Americans, took place in the city of Mexico, November 9, when the mob paraded the streets crying death to Americans, and threatening the American consulate. At Guadalajara there was anti-American rioting. The cause of the trouble was the lynching of a man, who was supposed to be a Mexican, at Rock Springs, Texas, November 3, which awakened bitter resentment in Mexico.

The disturbance, however, was promptly suppressed, more than two hundred rioters being arrested. The matter has been fixed up between the two governments, and the governor of Texas has promised to use every effort to punish the leaders of the lynchers.

Later, a revolution was planned to overthrow the government on November 20, but it failed, not without considerable bloodshed, however, and much alarm, especially in the state of Chihuahua, where matters are still in uproar at this writing.

[At least 597 Mexicans were lynched between 1848 and 1928. Between 1848 to 1879, Mexicans were lynched at the rate of 473 per 100,000 of population.]

Adapted from: “Passing Events”, Improvement Era, Vol. XIV. February, 1911. No. 4.
Photograph: Scott Catron
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100 Years Ago: Women, Corn, and Census

Genevieve Clark

Suffragist Genevieve Clark, circa 1914

The following was adapted from the Improvement Era magazine of 100 years ago.

Women’s Right To Vote

Women gained the right to vote, in the November 8 election of 1910 in the state of Washington. Woman suffrage amendments to the state constitutions were submitted in that state, in Oregon, South Dakota and Oklahoma, and all except Washington rejected the amendments. There are five states in the United States in which women are now permitted to vote on the same terms as men, namely: Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, and Washington.

[In 1920 the nineteenth amendment was ratified, prohibiting states and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote on account of sex.]

Corn Crop

The corn crop for 1910 was the greatest ever grown in the United States. For the first time in our history as a nation, we have succeeded in producing three billion bushels. This amount of corn translated into the terms of money and buying power must necessarily give a faster beat to the business pulse of the whole country, and naturally it will have a bearing in producing better financial conditions and cheaper food.

[Today the U.S. produces almost 12 billion bushels of corn a year, 40% of the world’s harvest.]


Census returns of the thirteenth census show that Utah has a population of 373,351, which is 96,602 more than at the census of 1900, when the population was 276,749, an increase of 31.3 per cent in ten years, making the state 42nd in rank. Its population now entitles the state to another Congressman, under the present congressional apportionment of 194,182, but the new apportionment may raise the number.

The population of continental United States is 91,972,266; an increase in ten years of 15,977,691, or 21 per cent.

[Census returns of the twenty third census show that Utah has a population of 2,783,885, which is 560,696 more than at the census of 2000, when the population was 2,223,189, an increase of 23.8 per cent in ten years, making the state 34th in rank. Its population now entitles the state to another Congressman, under the present congressional apportionment of 647,000, but the new apportionment may raise the number.

The population of the United States is 308,745,538; an increase in ten years of 27,323,632, or 9.7 per cent.]

Adapted from: “Passing Events”, Improvement Era, Vol. XIV. January, 1911. No. 3.
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100 Years Ago: Leading You Around The Gallery

The following was adapted from the Improvement Era magazine of 100 years ago.

In the spring of 1894, Elder Squires was serving as a missionary in Leipsic, Germany. He welcomed a new companion, fresh to the mission field, and showed him around the city. After touring the great market-hall and the library, they went to the art gallery.

On the inside the pictures had been placed in a series of rooms each connected with the other in such a way that you may pass from the first room into the next, and so on through all of the others and back again to the first. The new elder—I will call him Elder Green—did not know that they could thus move from room to room, and at last return to their starting place.

Improvement EraThe walls of the different rooms were crowded with the master-pieces of German and Italian artists. In one room was a life-sized portrait of Napoleon which Elder Green admired very much.

They passed on around through the different rooms, chatting and admiring the paintings, as they went, and had returned to the portrait of Napoleon.

“My goodness!” exclaimed Elder Green, “there is another portrait of Napoleon!”

Elder Green was not aware that they were on their second trip around. Elder Squires quickly led him from the portrait—he was curious to see how far he could lead Elder Green—before he discovered that he was looking at pictures for the second time. He kept up his interest until they returned again to Napoleon. “Well, well, another picture of Napoleon!” he exclaimed, as he viewed the great warrior for the third time.

They left the gallery. Elder Green had not discovered that he had seen all of the pictures twice, and some of them three times. As they walked away Elder Green wondered that the Leipsic gallery contained such a vast number of fine paintings, so many more than he had seen in the art gallery in London.

Elder Squires told him he had not yet seen the London gallery, and did not know how it compared with the gallery in Leipsic, but he ventured the assertion to Elder Green that London could not produce so many fine portraits of Napoleon.

Elder Squires never told his companion how he had led him around. The new elder had such confidence in him that he hated to let him know how he had played upon his confidence.

Leading You Around The Gallery

Do you have an acquaintance showing you how much greater and better and grander your opportunities for advancement, work and progress will be if you leave your good home and people to go there or yonder?—beware lest he is leading you around the gallery!

Have you a friend who tells you that the people of the world are so much freer than you are, and that your religion tends to make you narrow and one-sided, and then invites you to come out into the open and see the big world?—take heed that he does not lead you around the gallery!

Have you a so-called friend who tells you of the pleasure and freedom and manliness you may gain in the club room, at the gaming-table, in the saloon, in the pool-room, with up-to-date companions, as compared to the hum-drum of home and school, and the Church ward organizations?—set it down, he is leading you around the gallery! Every time, too, that you express surprise at a new Napoleon, he laughs in his sleeve at your ignorance and credulity.

Adapted from: Edward H. Anderson, “For the Development of Character”, Improvement Era, Vol. XIV. January, 1911. No. 3.
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