Sunday Church History Question #3

August 21, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 10:49 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Continuing my series:

Question #3- How did we get to where The Aaronic Priesthood is the Young Men’s program of the church? When did 12 become the starting age for the priesthood? (For example, why not make it 11 since scouts starts at 11?) I see in the 1950’s the ages to be ordained teacher’s and priests moved from 15 and 17 to 14 and 16. Why the change?


  1. I would take my answer with some scepticism, but I would guess that BY’s 1877 priesthood reformation became part of that conflation and then the priesthood changes under Heber J. Grant in the 1920’s.

    Comment by Aaron R. — August 22, 2010 @ 7:10 am

  2. William Hartley had a series of articles in JMH on this question. The most cogent is “From Men to Boys,” but the ones on Young’s 1877 priesthood reformation and the early 20th century preisthood reformation are also cogent.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 22, 2010 @ 9:05 am

  3. Are JMH archives available online? I’d be interested to read these articles, but not interested enough to wreck my tight student budget to buy them.

    Comment by ariel — August 22, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  4. Some of Hartley’s articles are in BYU Studies, which are free.

    I always have trouble trying to get JMH articles though I am pretty sure you can read them online.

    Comment by Aaron R. — August 22, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  5. The online JMH archive is here (though it isn’t particularly easy to use).

    Aaron, you were right. I had misremembered the sources:

    “The Priesthood Reform Movement, 1908-1922,” BYU Studies 13 (Winter 1973):137-56.

    “The Priesthood Reorganization of 1877: Brigham Young’s Last Achievement,” BYU Studies 20 (Fall 1979): 3-36.

    “From Men to Boys: LDS Aaronic Priesthood Offices, 1829-1996,” Journal of Mormon History 22 (Spring 1996): 80-136.

    He has a couple of other cogent articles as well.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 22, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  6. Weird that you ask this. Just yesterday I bought the book,”My Fellow Servant: Essays on the History of the Priesthood” by William Hartley (which contain many of the articles others have sighted).

    Comment by Riley — August 22, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

  7. I found the link to the Here’s the link to “From Men to Boys: LDS Aaronic Priesthood Offices”:

    I hope this isn’t too far off topic, but I found this article a couple of weeks ago after doing a little bit of research on the history of home teaching. Kevin Barney’s comment from the Sunday Church History Question #1 Post actually sparked my interest.

    Although I had known for awhile that the age groupings around being ordained to priesthood offices had changed over time, I didn’t know that the assigned priesthood duties for the Aaronic Priesthood offices had changed the way have. For instance, Deacons haven’t always passed the sacrament. In fact, it seems that there had been some question as to whether a Deacon could technically pass the sacrament as administering the sacrament is one of the duties of a priest and not teachers or deacons (D&C 20:58).

    Comment by CJ — August 22, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

  8. Thanks everyone for the info. I will definitely be studying these!

    Comment by Matt W. — August 23, 2010 @ 6:51 am