Sunday Church History Question #4

August 28, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 11:03 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Continuing my series of church history questions

Question #4- So I read somewhere that during the Korean War(1951), there was a shortage of Young Men to go on missions, so the seventies were asked to fill the gap, and married men were then called to serve full-time missions. How did that work out? For How long did this go on? How long were these missions? How does this correlate with around the same time the first missionary lessons/discussions were published for standard use throughout the church (1952)?


  1. Never heard this one.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 29, 2010 @ 5:46 am

  2. Older and (usually but not always) married men had been the norm as missionaries from the beginning, and the practice of calling married men had not completely died away before the Korean War era — my married grandfather was on a mission in 1921 when my mother was born. Younger, ummarried men were becoming the norm, though.

    Because younger men were subject to military service and the number of available missionaries was drastically reduced with the outbreak of World War II, the number of sisters and married men called is more noticeable than it had been when they were only part of a larger force; this remained through until after the Korean War. I ran across a Church News story from 1949 this week about a quorum putting a new roof on a house for a woman whose husband was away on a mission, for instance. Their missions were standard length for the era — 2-1/2 years for stateside missions and 3 years for overseas missions, generally. (The missions of local women called as missionaries in Great Britain during WWII were sometimes full length but far more often were for only a few months.)

    I can’t give you a date when calling married men ceased, and don’t know whether the practice just died out or whether it was abruptly ended by some announcement. Nor do I know of any connection to or effect of standardized lessons on the matter.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2010 @ 7:31 am

  3. I had a stake president who told me he had a married missionary companion. For mission timing, youngest child of my stake president was born in 1963, so his mission was likely in the 1950s.

    Comment by jose — August 29, 2010 @ 9:36 am

  4. Ardis, FTW.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 29, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  5. Ardis is right about the Korean War years. My married brother-in-law was on a mission in 1951 when his oldest son was born.

    Comment by R. Gary — August 29, 2010 @ 10:47 am

  6. On the standardization of missionary lessons, see:

    Richard O. Cowan, “Richard Lloyd Anderson and Worldwide Church Growth,” in Ricks, Parry, and Hedges, The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson (Provo: FARMS, 2000), 105 et seq.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — August 29, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  7. Jose – did you say your Stake President married one of his mission companions? That’s interesting…

    Comment by CJ — August 29, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

  8. There were several young missionaries in the Canadian Mission when my father served there from 1947-49 who were married. In some cases the elder had been married just a few weeks when he left his wife and went to the mission field.

    And, my grandfather served in the early 1950s as a missionary in Great Britain. I don’t know the details–how long he served, etc. My uncle would have been in his late teens during that time, and presumably was still living at home while his father was on his mission.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 30, 2010 @ 3:00 am

  9. This is all very interesting. Now the real question is when the official change took place to single Young Men.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 30, 2010 @ 6:55 am

  10. My brother-in-law’s father, Larson Caldwell, was called to Tahiti in 1952, shortly after he married. He found himself doing office work and told the president that he had a wife at home who could be doing it, so she was soon called too. They served three years and their first two daughters were born in Tahiti. Their second mission president was released after only a year due to illness, and Brother Caldwell was acting president for the last year of his mission.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 31, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  11. My grandfather was one of them. After he came back from WW2, he married my grandma. My dad was the oldest, born in ’47 so my grandpa left behind kids as well. If I remember correctly he served for 3 years in the Eastern States Mission and was there at the same time as Truman G. Madsen. Sorry I don’t have exact dates, but it had to have been the early 50’s.

    Comment by Steve G. — August 31, 2010 @ 7:38 pm