Perhaps this has been discussed to death on CG or even here, but I haven't noticed it and I haven't looked much.
For much of the first 100 years of LDS history, Mormon women could lay their hands on the sick, anoint them with oil, and offer a blessing for their recovery. They felt a special obligation to bless their own children and other mothers during pregnancy “confinement” and childbirth. That all ended in the mid-20th century, when the practice became the exclusive realm of the men-only Mormon priesthood.http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsfa...hurch.html.cspAt an April 1844 Nauvoo General Conference, the authors note that Young declared, “I want a wife that can take care of my chi[ldre]n when I am away — who can pray — lay on hands anoint with oil & baffle the enemy.”
Young was such an advocate of female healing, Stapley and Wright argue, that in 1869 he chastized women who were seeking blessings from men, saying: “Why do you not live so as to rebuke disease? It is your privilege to do so without sending for the elders. ... ”
When I was a missionary we went one Sunday to an RLDS meeting. There were women blessing and passing the sacrament, but also there was a blessing in the middle of the main meeting in which a mother (accompanied, as I recall by other women) blessed one of her children who was sick. As foreign and peculiar as it seemed to a born and raised Utah mormon, the idea seems perfectly normal to me now.