Pansy’s History

The Autobiography of Margaret E. P. Gordon, 1866–1966

Book Notice

Pansy’s History: The Autobiography of Margaret E. P. Gordon, 1866–1966, transcribed and edited by Claudia L. Bushman (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2011).

With Pansy’s History, Claudia L. Bushman, renowned scholar of Latter-day Saint women’s history, adds to the published corpus of frontier women’s writings. Bushman’s subject is both personal and academic: Margaret “Pansy” Gordon was her maternal grandmother. The daughter of an Anglican missionary, Gordon spent her girlhood in England and in remote Indian villages in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. In 1885, her family converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emigrated to Utah, where they made a home first in Salt Lake City and then on the shores of Bear Lake. At the dawn of the twentieth century, Margaret and her husband, James Gordon, settled other frontiers, struggling to establish themselves in the Mormon towns in Alberta, Canada. Later in life, the Gordons moved to the growing LDS community in Los Angeles, where Margaret found purpose and energy in directing genealogical efforts in the Church’s California Mission.

Margaret Gordon’s memoir, composed over several decades, is notable for the author’s clear voice and independent spirit, as well as her detailed accounts of frontier life, financial and family hardships, church service, and transcontinental travel. This book will provide new sources of study for historians of frontier life in northern Utah and Alberta and especially of the experience of Mormon women in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Bushman has annotated her grandmother’s manuscript and provides family correspondence and excerpts from Gordon’s diaries to supplement the main narrative, enriching it as a potential source for scholarly inquiry and expanding a unique portrait of one woman’s life journey across three nations and two centuries.


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