Aurelia Spencer Rogers

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Aurelia Read Spencer Rogers was the founder of the first Primary Association in her Farmington, Utah, congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Relief Society general president Eliza R. Snow helped her organize and then spread it to other church congregations. In 1880, Primary was adopted churchwide as the official organization for children in LDS Church. From 1893 until her death on August 19, 1922, Rogers served on the general board of the Primary organization.

The need for such an organization came to her attention when she noticed that the younger boys in the community were becoming unruly and mischievous and that all the children had too much unsupervised time. She prayed for guidance and said that she heard a voice say that “there was an auxiliary organization [in the church] for all ages except the children.”[1] She met with Eliza R. Snow, who shared her concern. She then met with Church president John Taylor and received his permission to create and operate an organization for children. On August 11, 1878, she was set apart as president of the Farmington Ward Primary, the first Primary in the Church. The first meeting was held on August 25, 1878, with 224 children in attendance. In 1897, in recognition of her role in founding the Primary, the children of the Church raised the funds to publish her book, Life Sketches in 1898.

She was born on October 4, 1834, in Deep River, Connecticut. When Aurelia was six years old, her parents joined the Church and traveled to Nauvoo, Illinois, to be with the Saints. At the age of twelve, she and her older sister, Ellen, cared for four younger siblings when their mother died at Sugar Creek, Iowa, and Church leaders called their father to head the missionary work in Great Britain. The children lived on their own in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, with limited provisions and then made the difficult trek to the Great Salt Lake basin in 1848. Their father completed his mission to Europe in September 1849 and joined them in Salt Lake City.

At the age of seventeen, Aurelia married Thomas Rogers. Through the next twenty-two years, she gave birth to twelve children, of whom only seven survived infancy. They lived their entire married life in Farmington, Utah.

Her work for children was evident also in her involvement with the suffragist movement. In the winter of 1894–1895, she served as one of three Utah delegates to the Woman's Suffrage Convention in Atlanta and attended the Second Triennial Congress of the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C.

  1. Church Educational System, Church History in the Fulness of Times, rev. ed., Salt Lake City: LDS Church, 1993, p. 410