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How Youth Programs Started

The arrival of the Transcontinental Railroad created some worries that persecutions against the Saints might resume, but it brought even greater worries about the threat of materialism. “Far more to be dreaded than persecution,” wrote Susa Young Gates, “was the spirit of folly and fashion, excitement and extravagance, which seems a necessary but sad accompaniment to all forms of high civilization.” The Church’s first youth programs, she suggested, were established to help young people find the best and reject the worst in culture at a time when “books multiplied, but so also did saloons.”

Susa Young Gates, History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from November 1869 to June 1910 (1911), 3