Mormon Women in Nineteenth-Century Britain
In the two hundred or more diaries and personal histories of the Latter-day Saint women who lived at least several years in Britain before their migration to the United States or Canada very few said much about their life in Britain. Most of them began their life stories by saying, "I was born at such and such a place; my parents were so and so; we were introduced to Mormonism by the elders in such and such a year, and we decided to gather with the Saints shortly thereafter." At that point they then tell in great detail about the voyage across the ocean, the landing at New Orleans, the trip up the Mississippi by riverboat, and life for a few months in St. Louis or Florence, Nebraska, the frontier outfitting point. The narrative proceeds with comments about the trek across the Great Plains, their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, their early homes, how they made a living in Utah, their activities and experiences in the Church, and so on to the end of their lives.
Clearly, the important thing to all of these people was how they happened to hear the missionaries, how they came to be impressed with the gospel, and their baptism—which often occurred very quickly after first hearing the gospel message—sometimes within a day or week after first hearing the elders. It is almost as if they were already converted to the message the elders brought, and when they heard it preached they quickly recognized it and were ready to make their covenants. Hardly any of the personal histories say very much about their lives as children and young women in Britain.