Janet Yellen was doubtful in 2009 that an emerging U.S. economic recovery would be at all robust and argued for the Federal Reserve to ramp up its efforts to boost growth, according to transcripts of that year’s policy meetings released by the central bank Wednesday.

The Fed ’s internal discussions, revealed fully for the first time, evolved as 2009 progressed—from the panic that marked the early part of the year and toward uncertainties about the strength of the brewing recovery.

Along the way, officials debated whether to do more to spur growth and both how and when to plot an exit from the easy-money policies put in place as the financial system imploded in 2008. Ms. Yellen often led the case among those arguing for more.

“The economic and financial news has been grim,” Ms. Yellen said at a March 2009 policy meeting when the Fed increased its efforts to boost the economy. “Things are now so bad that I actually open [Fed’s staff] economic projections with greater trepidation than my 401(k).”

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