The History of Louisa Barnes Pratt: Being the Autobiography of a Mormon Missionary Widow and Pioneer

Louisa Barnes Pratt’s History, published here as volume three in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher’s series Life Writings of Frontier Women could have asked for no more qualified editor than S. George Ellsworth. Along with being a founding editor of the Western Historical Quarterly and editor of The Journals of Addison Pratt, Ellsworth has written and edited several books and articles on pioneer women, the history of southern Utah, and the history of the LDS Church in the South Pacific. These topics are central to Louisa’s narrative which comprises a valuable resource for students of the Saints trek west Mormon missionary work early Mormon settlement in California and life in nineteenth century southern Utah.

For all its bearing on these important subfields of Church history, however, the greatest contribution Louisa’s History makes is in the field of LDS women’s history. Married, but often separated from her husband, and involved with everything from the Nauvoo exodus to teaching the gospel in French Polynesia, Louisa offers her reader a woman’s view of life in the Church unparalleled by other memoirs or biographies. As such, History will be an essential read for a long time to come for anyone interested in LDS women’s history.

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