If Eliza R. Snow kept journals during the years between 1849 and her death in 1887, as she rose to preeminence among Latter-day Saint women, they have yet to be unearthed. However, The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow offers considerable consolation for that larger lack. This volume includes Eliza’s Nauvoo journal extending from June 29, 1842, to April 14, 1844, and her diaries written from February 12, 1846, to August 16, 1849, covering her journey to the Salt Lake Valley and her first two years there. The preface to the diaries contains a formal sketch of her life, the original version of which Eliza wrote for Edward W. Tullidge’s The Women of Mormondom, published in 1877. She revised it some years later for Hubert Howe Bancroft’s proposed series of histories of the western territories.
Editor Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, professor of English and research historian in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University, is an authority on Eliza’s life and work, as evidenced by numerous papers and articles and a 1991 book, Eliza and Her Sisters. For Personal Writings, Beecher provides brief commentaries at the beginning of each section of Eliza’s writings. In her introduction, “The Life Writings of Ordinary Women,” Beecher defends the value of reconstructing history from the often mundane records left by women diarists, The argument is persuasive, although it overlooks Eliza’s far-from-ordinary status.