“Joseph Smith introduced the second anointing the same day, September 28, 1843, that women were introduced to the endowment….nineteen men and seventeen women received their second anointing in the short span of nine months before Smith’s death. He introduced it to trusted followers as the ‘fulness of the priesthood,’ saying it fulfilled the promise of the first anointing in confirming their appointments as kings and priests, queens and priestesses in the next life. The second anointing was said to be the ‘crowning ordinance’ of the Restoration, a ritual that ‘seal[ed] their exaltation upon them while they are yet in this life.’
“After Smith’s death, Brigham Young increased the number of second anointings and opened the ordinance to plural wives. Before the temple closed in February 1846, a total of 603 second anointings had been performed, nine of which were by proxy for the dead. Then the ritual was curtailed for over three decades until 694 anointings were ultimately performed in the Endowment House before its closure in 1889.
“In 1884, President John Taylor let it be known that he alone would designate the parties who should receive these ordinances.’ He allowed recommendations from families for deceased ancestors but not for the living. Understandably, those who acted as proxies for the dead had to have already received the ordinance themselves.
“President Taylor’s successor, Wilford Woodruff, continued to discourage individuals from requesting the ordinance, for themselves or for their ‘faithful aged,’ preferring ‘that their names should be presented by their bishop and stake president,’ he wrote. In 1901 bishops were told not to make recommendations, reserving the responsibility to stake presidents. President Lorenzo Snow decided that only those who had gathered to Utah were worthy to receive the highest ordinance—not only among the living, but also among the dead unless they had desired to immigrate but had been prevented from doing so.
“In 1926 stake presidents were asked to stop recommending individuals, as the Church presidency now reserved the right to do so to members of the Quorum of the Twelve. Because most members were not personally known to the apostles, recommendations were usually made when members of the hierarchy visited stakes and heard about individuals from stake presidents.
“In time, [George F.] Richards would become so distraught that the ordinance had fallen into disuse, he wrote the First Presidency and Twelve in 1949 that he could not bring himself ‘to feel that the Lord is pleased with us in
neglecting such an important and sacred endowment.’ Up to that time, 32,901 second anointings had been performed throughout the Church, but during the last twelve years, Richards pointed out, there had been only eight.
“The second anointing continues to be performed on a limited basis. In 1966, the First Presidency ‘went over a list of the Brethren of the General Authorities who have not had their second anointings.’ David O. McKay asked Joseph Fielding Smith ‘to officiate at these ordinances in behalf of these Brethren.’ David Buerger interviewed three temple presidents who confirmed that the ordinance is still being performed, although it remains shrouded in secrecy. And as Buerger concluded, ‘the current official policy initiated by Heber J. Grant suggests that Church authorities now feel that the second anointing is not required for exaltation.’”
(2011-03-22). The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History (Kindle Locations 653-663). Signature Books. Kindle Edition.