The women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have an impressive legacy. I have always known there were many great women in our history. Bits of their stories have been woven into the lessons I have both taught and been taught over the years but I have never found more extensive biographies except for a few well-known women. I have long wished that more of their stories were published.
And now, with Deseret Book’s Women of Faith in the Latter Days series, my wish has been granted many times over. I was recently offered the opportunity to review the third volume in what will be a seven-volume series. This book contains 23 biographies of strong and valiant Latter-day Saint women born between 1846 and 1870.
In perusing the table of contents (to see who was featured in the book as each woman has her own chapter), I found a few names I recognized and started my journey through women’s LDS history there. Yes, I do confess to bouncing around and not reading them in any particular order—and with this book, that works just fine.
The lives of these women are inspiring to me. To see all they accomplished, how they overcame tragedy and trials—and how they kept their faith and magnified their lives and their callings humbles me and makes me proud to call them sister. Their stories also remind me that I can—and must—do better and be better.
And their accomplishments range far beyond missionary service and church callings. An early doctor, our country’s first female state senator, teachers, writers, mothers, pioneers all—in both the literal and more philosophical sense.
Though these 23 women came from varied backgrounds and experiences, the common thread s of faith, endurance and purpose are woven through all their stories. I am so happy to see that more of the stories of our sisters are being preserved and shared. This series should happily find a place in the library of any scholar of LDS history—and of American women’s history.
This is an interesting time period because these women were born during the Mormon pioneer handcart trek to Utah. So they were born in Utah, crossed the plains as small children, or came to Utah when they were older which includes by train. We are familiar with many stories of the women who crossed the plains, but these are their children as well as others who joined the church.
These women also lived through the turn of the century. So much changed in America during that time! These women not only lived pioneer lives in the newly established Utah territory, but also participated in women's suffrage movements, women's councils, lived through world wars, and modernized women lifestyles.
I also really like that the stories about the different women are written by different people so each is it's own story and different things in each woman's life are highlighted. These women are great examples to all of us! They accomplished so much, but were also faithful LDS women and many had families that they were also devoted to.
I really enjoyed reading this book, even more than I expected. Not only was it inspiring in showing how the highlighted women overcame challenges in their lives, but that despite the difference in their circumstances and mine, the same gospel principals apply equally well. I was surprised at how much I had in common with some of these ladies. A really fabulous read not only in terms of a look at the historical aspects but also the faith-filled aspects of these women's lives as well.
Wow! I had no idea Utah had such a rich early history of women holding political office, being doctors, and fulfilling prominent roles in society. This being the first volume I've read in the Women of Faith series, I jumped in at volume three, and at a time period I really love. Utah was just on the cusp of gaining statehood and the women activists were fighting for the right to vote and hold office. Women of religious conviction with large families and often with little ones at home who worked in their community post offices and stores, and traveled to the East to obtain higher education. For instance, did you know "in 1896, Martha Hughes Cannon ran as a Democrat" in Utah for one of the open Senate seats? One of her opponents was her Republican husband. Martha won and become the first female Senator in the United States of America. She served two terms in the Utah state legislature. Utah also had the first woman to serve as a Chaplain for the Senate, Maud Mary Babcock.
Between 1911-1913, five Utah women served on the first all-woman town council in Kanab with Mary Elizabeth Woolley Chamberlain as mayor. Women of Faith vol. 3 shares many stories like these, three of just how strong, determined and active LDS women were. I was fascinated by their desire to get their degrees, to serve in their homes an in their government. Other stories include, a sister in Japan who became like a mother to the missionaries in Tokyo, and a Maori sister who came to live in Utah from New Zealand. If you are looking for historical examples, journal entries, photos and testimony of the early sister Saints, this is a book you will want to buy to have on your shelves. My testimony was bolstered, my faith encouraged and I came away wanting to pursue my dreams while maintaining roots at home. I highly recommend Women of Faith in the Latter Days volume 3, and I will be picking up the rest of the series!
There are 23 chapters in this book, each one about a different woman of faith during this time period. Each chapter is actually written by a different author, from well-established scholars to beginning writers and different approaches are taken for each chapter. It also includes sketches of women outside of the United States.
This series will consist of seven volumes and the chapters are arranged alphabetically by the last name of each woman. Since it's not in a novel form, you can start with any of them. I found it easier for me to read a couple of chapters at a time in between other books I was reading.
The women in these stories come from all walks of life. Some are highly educated and others have little formal schooling. I related to some of the women more than others. This is during the time that polygamy was a hot issue so a lot of women in these stories were involved in polygamous relationships. Polygamy was abandoned around this time so their chapters include the trials and hardships that came from that. The common thread for each woman in this book is that they each had trials and had plenty of opportunities to exercise their faith and each story was inspirational. This book is definitely worth the read!