Mormon Women's History

Beyond Biography

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Rachel Cope, Amy Easton-Flake, Lisa Olsen Tait, Keith A. Erekson
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Mormon Studies Series
  • Lanham, MD: 
    Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
    , November
     300 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.



Mormon Women’s History: Beyond Biography demonstrates that the history and experience of Mormon women is central to the history of Mormonism and to histories of American religion, politics, and culture. Yet the study of Mormon women has mostly been confined to biographies, family histories, and women’s periodicals. The contributors to Mormon Women’s History engage the vast breadth of sources left by Mormon women—journals, diaries, letters, family histories, and periodicals as well as art, poetry, material culture, theological treatises, and genealogical records—to read between the lines, reconstruct connections, recover voices, reveal meanings, and recast stories. 

Mormon Women’s History presents women as incredibly inter-connected. Familial ties of kinship are multiplied and stretched through the practice and memory of polygamy, social ties of community are overlaid with ancestral ethnic connections and local congregational assignments, fictive ties are woven through shared interests and collective memories of violence and trauma. Conversion to a new faith community unites and exposes the differences among Native Americans, Yankees, and Scandinavians. Lived experiences of marriage, motherhood, death, mourning, and widowhood are played out within contexts of expulsion and exile, rape and violence, transnational immigration, establishing “civilization” in a wilderness, and missionizing both to new neighbors and far away peoples. Gender defines, limits, and opens opportunities for private expression, public discourse, and popular culture. Cultural prejudices collide with doctrinal imperatives against backdrops of changing social norms, emerging professional identities, and developing ritualization and sacralization of lived religion. 

The stories, experiences, and examples explored in Mormon Women’s History are neither comprehensive nor conclusive, but rather suggestive of the ways that Mormon women’s history can move beyond individual lives to enhance and inform larger historical narratives

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Rachel Cope is associate professor of church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

Amy Easton-Flake is assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

Keith Erekson is director of the LDS Church History Library, associate member of the graduate faculty at The University of Texas at El Paso, and a member of the editorial advisory board of the Indiana Magazine of History.

Lisa Olsen Tait is a historian and writer specializing in women’s history at the LDS Church History Department.


Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments