Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah

Mormon Sisters is a new edition of a book first published in 1976 by Emmeline Press Limited in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When the original work was published, it was considered to be a “pioneering” study of early Mormon history because prior to that time much of the focus of history had been on the male leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The book brought to the foreground many important issues about the lives of Mormon women in nineteenth-century Utah. Since the time of its first publication, many of the book’s contributors have become prominent scholars. The book published in 1976 represents some of the earliest work by these now widely published and well-accepted historians.

The topics chosen for the essays in the book include biographical sketches as well as essays dealing with some of the political, economic, social, and spiritual activities of women in Utah during the nineteenth century—women’s spiritual gifts, their roles in education, medicine, polygamy, and in the political sphere of promoting women’s suffrage and Utah’s statehood. One of the book’s strengths is that the chapters focus on what “average” women did and how they coped with their situations. While there is some discussion of famous Utah women leaders, I especially appreciated the examination of “typical” women’s lives—their struggles and joys—that leaves us with a much greater understanding of these women and allows us to feel a closer kinship with them.

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