History of the Church Series
This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Ronald W. Walker. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.
For the past fifty years, scholars have written about the "Mormon village"—the archetypical Mormon pioneer frontier community. As a result, we know about its ideals (unity, cooperation, equality, and religious striving). We know about its physical layout (rectangular streets often laid off at the cardinal points of the compass) and its pattern of settlement (homes and gardens on village lots with agricultural fields and livestock nurtured several miles away). We even know that the Mormon village left a distinctive mark on the landscape (unkept outbuildings, pervasive water ditches, and poplar trees providing shade and a sense of order). But what was daily life in the Mormon village like? Fortunately, we can begin to answer that question, too. During the 1930s, the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) collected autobiographies, sketches, and questionnaire responses from Utah's surviving pioneers.