“An Old Friend! From 1902 to 2002,” Friend, Jan. 2002, 14
Today about 240,000 families receive the Friend every month. When it arrives in your mailbox, you can read messages from latter-day prophets written especially for you. In its pages, you are introduced to people living the gospel around the world. Would it surprise you to learn that the Children’s Friend, first published one hundred years ago, was for leaders and teachers? Have you ever wondered how the Friend became the magazine it is today?
When the Children’s Friend was created in January 1902, several magazines in the area were struggling to stay in business. The Primary Association wanted to print a magazine, but the First Presidency feared that not enough people would subscribe to it. They gave permission for the magazine to be printed, but they did not provide Church funds.
Two women, Primary General President Louie B. Felt and Secretary May Anderson, dove into the project with enthusiasm. They visited a little printing office in Salt Lake City and announced that they wished to print a year’s worth of magazines. The printing office manager told them, “We must have something tangible to hold in case you do not pay your bills.”* Sister Felt offered to give up her house as payment if the magazine failed.
After the magazines were printed, Sister Felt and Sister Anderson ironed used wrapping paper, collected string, wrapped the magazines individually, and addressed them by hand. They carried bundles of magazines to the post office four blocks away to be mailed. Their hard work paid off! The magazine was a great success. Although the Children’s Friend was first printed for leaders and teachers, Sister Felt and Sister Anderson soon included stories and activities for children, as well.
In 1970, the First Presidency announced that the Primary Association would no longer put out the magazine. A new magazine, published for Primary-age children, was to take its place. President Gordon B. Hinckley, then serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said that the Friend “will be a new friend, a better friend, for the children of the Church, and we hope for many others. With wonderful stories and fascinating art, it will open small and delightful windows and bring … understanding of eternal and marvelous gospel principles. It will be a blessing in every home into which it goes.”†
Since that time, the Friend has become what you find in your mailbox every month—a magazine for you, filled with messages from the prophets, family activities, uplifting stories about other children living the gospel, and articles to help you understand the scriptures.
It has grown through the century to become your best Friend!