Dear 100 Hour Board,
I recently read that home teaching wasn't even called home teaching until 1963 or so. Previously it has been called other things as well. In D&C it appears to be the responsibility of Priests to visit homes specifically while Elders watch over the church. Can you describe the origin of when companions started being assigned as home teachers and how the policy of the church evolved into what it is today?
Home teaching has undergone a lot of changes. Previously, home teachers were called "block teachers," "acting teachers," and "ward teachers." Before the 1900s, home teachers were chosen to look after families in their geographic areas (source).
In 1963, as part of correlation, it officially became "home teaching" (source). It appears that by 1987 the basic home teaching we see today was established, with monthly visits by companions (source).
At the beginning, these teachers acted alone, as seen in the story of Elder William Farrington Cahoon. It looks like when they became companions really varied by ward and stake (which is a reason we had correlation). According to William G. Hartley's "Ordained and Acting Teachers in the Lesser Priesthood, 1851-1883" (it's available on the HBLL website), "in the 1850s some wards had but one pair of teachers do all the visiting, but as ward populations grew a minimum of one teacher per block became the rule, then two. A survey of Salt Lake bishops in 1870 showed that the wards then had between eighteen and twenty four teachers each, which meant teaching beats of eight to twenty families per team." There's a lot more detail on home teaching on that article; I strongly suggest looking it up! If you aren't a BYU student and don't have access to it, email me at email@example.com and I'll see if I can get a copy to you.
-guppy of doom