Jenny Reeder

Proposal: Digital Mormon Women’s History
December 12, 2006, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

History has told us very little about women; judging from its pages, one would suppose their lives were insignificant and their opinions worthless. . . . But although the historians of the past have been neglectful of women, and it is the exception if she be mentioned at all, yet the future will deal more generously with womankind, and the historians of the present age will find it very embarrassing to ignore woman in the records of the nineteenth century. –Emmeline B. Wells, “Self-Made Women,” 1881

I shall try to present them in their terms and judge them in mine. That I do not accept the faith that possessed them does not mean I doubt their frequent devotion and heroism in its service. Especially their women. Their women were incredible. –Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail, 1964

The history of the women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, popularly known as Mormons, is rich and complex. Family, friends, community, and church were their binding force. aims to provide a meeting point for information relating to that history. Primary documents illustrate various experiences, both individual and institutional, with links to secondary analysis. A detailed timeline and brief biographies of both well-known and lesser-known women illustrates the complexity, the social network, the political and cultural activity, and the far-reaching influence of women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their national and international contexts. And a forum creates a virtual community of scholars and the interested public.

Scope: The website, will serve both as a reference and a meeting point for information about Mormon women’s history. The site will include a biographies, timeline, forum,documents , and links to other pages about Mormon women’s history.

As such, the site will serve a large audience of both scholars and the general public. The basic information found in the biographies, the timeline, the documents, and the links will act as a pedagogical tool: information can be used as reference and educational material. While scholars will act as the main source in providing information for the wiki biographies, others are invited to upload biographies of family members and other associates. While the forum will serve as a meeting point mainly for scholars, announcements for conferences, panels, symposia, exhibits, and publications, as well as discussion boards dealing with Mormon history topics, will be open to all. Documents will provide both primary and secondary material for all.

Altogether, this site will illustrate the breadth and depth of Mormon women’s history, their accomplishments, complexities, diversity, and common experiences, as well as analysis and examination of that history.

Map: While will have five separate pages with different information, hyper-links between each page will link sources, people, images, links, and other information. The basic map will be as follows:

  • Home: this page will serve as the main portal for all the information, a description of the site, and links to each further page. It will also (one day!) be a dynamic page with changing information (all RSS-accessible). I hope to add a box at the bottom with highlighted items that change daily to increase traffic. These will be listed in two columns, three rows, requiring a click for more information.
    • Biography of the day (from the biographies wiki)
    • On this day (from the timeline–the timeline will of course be loaded with enough information that there will be an event for every day of the calendar year
    • Document of the day (draws from primary documents and links to secondary articles and books)
    • Quote of the day
    • Fact of the day
    • Image of the day
    • Search menu for the entire site–will stretch across the bottom of the screen.
    • Biographies: “Like the pieces of a patchwork quilt, each woman illustrates a rich individual experience. Their personal stories help present a larger collective whole. The Biographies section allows viewers to edit or add to the collection of biographies in the form of a wiki. Each entry includes bibliographies for additional information. welcomes your participation.” Following the form of a wiki, the biographies will highlight select women from Mormon women’s history. In order to reach a wide variety of women, besides the prominent few who held important leadership positions or who have been remembered in Mormon cultural memory, the biographies will include lesser-known women. The wiki format will allow for more participation in the creation of the biographies, and ideally will serve as an online collection tool for new histories. Entries will be moderated by a team of women known as the Mormon Women’s History Initiative Team, based at Brigham Young University. The biographies may include photographs and hyperlinks to primary and secondary documents, all of which will be housed on the documents page. Ideally, the biographies on more prominent women will include a bibliography, again with links.
    • Timeline: “LDS women have participated in several significant events. Their activity both influenced and was influenced by larger national and international events. This timeline provides a visual depiction of interlinked events. Each entry will include references for additional information.” The timeline will feature several bands of smaller timelines, all lined up together, to illustrate events in American history, American women’s history, Mormon history, and on top, Mormon women’s history. Events will include a pop-up box with Javascript, giving slightly more information on the event. Some boxes will include an image, and many will include hyperlinks to biographies and primary and secondary documents.
    • Forum: “The scholarly study of Mormon women’s history occurs across the country and around the world. The forum provides a current list of people engaged in the study of LDS women with their various research areas. As well, announcements, conferences, publications, and discussion threads provide online interaction for all.” This forum page will act as a sort of bulletin board about events dealing with Mormon women’s history. In order to discourage blogging about contemporary or faith issues, a clear explanation of the purpose of this page will be provided, with links to other such blogs. Each comment will be moderated. This feature will also allow people to contact me and other site managers with questions or additional information.
    • Documents: “LDS women have recorded the interactions, events, and personal introspection of their lives in journals, diaries, correspondence, poetry, memoirs, and in more public spheres such as newspapers, publications, and other media. This page will provide links to some of these items, as well as to secondary literature by scholars about Mormon women’s history.” This site will both hold documents and link to other institutions holding documents. Ideally, documents will include primary documents (digitized archival material–journals, diaries, correspondence, reminiscences, memorials, etc.), printed materials (newspapers and magazines–the Woman’s Exponent, the Relief Society Magazine, the Young Woman’s Journal), and articles from such sources as BYU Studies, Journal of Mormon History, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and Utah Historical Quarterly, as well as national journals as Journal of American History and others. Blurbs about books will also be included, with bibliographic information. This page will expand to include podcasts and lectures on Mormon women’s history and images. The biographies and timeline entries will link to documents on this page.
    • Links: “Several websites make references to Mormon women’s history. This page will list several links to pages with information, bibliographies, and other services.” Ideally many of these pages will also link to The pages linked on this site are listed below under Related Sites.

    Rationale: Various pockets of Mormon women’s history exist. Several people at numerous institutions engage in the academic or religious study of these women. Many repositories and libraries hold documents by or about Mormon women. Several bibliographies have been created, both in hard copy publication form and online. None of these contain a component to provide the most basic information in the form of biographies and timelines. There is unfortunately no centralized institution that collaborates these efforts and documents.

    This digital project will create an online center. Scholars will find new ways to connect with other scholars beyond live networks at conferences or in academic publications. They can also provide information to other scholars as well as to the general population. As well, the interactive timeline will situate Mormon women’s history within a larger world. The ability to hyperlink between biographies, timeline, and documents will provide a more sound analysis. Easy access to such documents and analysis will provide a more sound understanding of Mormon women’s history across disciplines, allowing this segment of history to enter more accurately into wider practice. The virtual community will allow greater participation.

    As well, the digital form extends Mormon women’s history beyond the Utah and nineteenth-century past. The traditional realm of Mormon women’s history has explored nineteenth-century women in Utah. For the bulk of the second half of the 1800s, Mormon women were centralized in Utah. However, the turn of the century saw Mormon women spread across the West, then the nation, and across the globe. At this time, more than half of LDS members live outside the United States, and the historical records and analysis need to reflect that. The most efficient way to do that now is digitally.

    Review of sites: Several websites include information about Mormon women’s history. However, very few are comprehensive or accurate. Several websites make references to Mormon women’s history. This page will list several links to pages with information, bibliographies, and other services.

    LDS Women Studies Website The Mormon Women’s Studies resource organizes information and facilitates research about Mormon women. One component of the resource is this web site which assists in searching for articles, books, publications, biographies, diaries, documents, manuscripts, private papers, archival collections, family histories, dissertations, theses, research papers, photographs, film, music, art, and more.

    This website provides a comprehensive list of resources, databases, and links for Mormon women’s studies, well beyond history. The information comes through a gated BYU community; viewers must have a BYU id and password to access databases and many online documents. This is a resource for scholars associated with BYU, but does not provide interaction among scholars or basic information for the general public. As well, a Google search for this site will encounter difficulty because it is so embedded within the University website that it will not be easily found.

    L. Tom Perry Special Collections—Women’s Manuscript Collections Guide Interest in the lives and contributions of women increases with each decade. The women’s Movement of the 1960s and 1970s pointed out that history ad been written mostly by and about men. With this in mind, scholars have started to research and write about the diverse lives of women. But to adequately tell these stories, researchers need access to materials produced by women as well as broader contextual information showing women’s perspectives. The purpose of the Guide to Women’s Manuscript Collections is to provide greater understanding of and access to primary documents related to women which are housed in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections of BYU Library. These collections focus on Mormon and Western American women, but Mormon women, nationally and internationally, are also considered. The women’s collections exist to help document the lives, roles, and accomplishments of women, both prominent and the seemingly obscure.

    This website provides access to an online database of women’s manuscripts belonging to BYU. The searchable database allows searches by keyword and author, with brief biographical information and a summary of the manuscript.

    Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for LDS History, Women’s History Initiative With the disbanding of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute on September 1, 2005, many have asked what would become of the Women’s History Initiative. The Initiative still exists in a somewhat scaled-down form as members continue to meet to strategize and coordinate research projects that focus on Mormon women.

    This website covers the work and past work of the Mormon Women’s History Initiative. Now housed with BYU’s Women’s Research Institute, the MWHIT team works to coordinate scholarly efforts.

    Mormon Women’s History Refworks Bibliography This website includes a searchable database of sources dealing with Mormon women’s history. It is not comprehensive, and it contains quite a few random sources that are difficult to access, especially away from BYU. The site is difficult to find and can only be accessed through a link.

    Mormon Studies: BYU Library’s Guide to Online Resources This is the BYU Lee Library’s resource guide for online material on Mormon theology, history, culture, and people. Use this guide to facilitate your search for articles, books, biographies, diaries, manuscripts, dissertations, family histories, photographs, films, music, art, and more concerning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This website is easier to find through a google search. The site lists many online resources for Mormon history and is quite comprehensive. The site was built for BYU, and some of the databases require a BYU ID and password.

    Relief Society The official website for the women’s organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The link on history provides some very brief biographies of General Presidents of the Relief Society. There is also a brief history of the Relief Society building with a short video tour. The site also provides more theological explanation and current organizational assistance and information.

    LDS Church History Resources This official website includes documentary information about LDS church history, links to LDS historic sites, the LDS Museum of Church History and Art, Church History Library and Archives, and a site dedicated to Joseph Smith, containing some historic women’s documents. An extensive online database of overland trail information allows viewers to search by name and company.

    Daughters of Utah Pioneers The DUP was organized solely for historical, educational and public purposes and is completely non-political and non-sectarian. It is dedicated to perpetuating the names and achievements of those men, women, and children who founded our Utah commonwealth. We seek to encompass a broad scope of services, ranging from the preservation of historic landmarks to the education of thousands of school children and other citizens about their pioneer forebears. This website includes an online database index of histories on file and photographs on file but does not include the actual documents and images. History of the LDS Relief Society This brief history of the Relief Society links to a static timeline. There is also a history quiz, though unfortunately some of the answers are incorrect.

    Mormon Women’s Forum The mission of the Mormon Women’s Forum is to enrich the larger religious community by providing settings for the presentation and discussion of ideas and experiences, particularly in the context of Mormon culture and gender issues. We invite all people to re-examine traditional religious, social, and political beliefs and structures in an environment of openness and respect. We recognize the inherent worth of every individual. We value diversity, seek for truth, and encourage equity and community.

    Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought is an independent quarterly established to express Mormon culture and to examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Latter-day Saints who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with the larger stream of world religious thought and with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to ensure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints or of the editors.

    Mormon History Association The Mormon History Association is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the study and understanding of all aspects of mormon history. We welcome all who are interested in the Mormon past, irrespective of religious affiliation. academic training, or world location. We promote our goals through scholarly research, conferences, and publications.

    Association of Mormon Letters The nonprofit Association for Mormon Letters (AML) promotes the production and study of Mormon literature and its enjoyment by all.

    BYU Studies is an academic LDS journal that has been producing high-quality, peer-reviewed, scholarly LDS research since 1959. We also publish LDS books and dissertations about Mormon history and research, Mormon biographies>, and other gospel topics such as the Book of Mormon.

    Light Planet Directory of Famous Mormon People contains biographies of some prominent LDS people. A brief history of the Relief Society is found here. Unfortunately the site is not up to date and it is a little difficult to navigate.

    Online Newspapers and Journals

    Relief Society Magazine Index: The Relief Society Magazine ran from 1914 to 1970. This online index, provided by the BYU library, covers 1933 to 1970, and allows limited search capacity of lessons, articles, fiction, poetry, plays, recipes, notes from the field, and happenings. While this index is helpful, the magazine itself is not digitized and is difficult to find outside of Utah.

    Gerritsen Collection This online resource delivers two million page images exactly as they appeared in the original printed works. Users can trace the evolution of feminism within a single country, as well as the impact of one country’s movement on those of the others. In many cases, it also provides easy access to primary sources otherwise available only in a few rare book rooms.

    This online database contains two valuable Mormon women’s history digitized collections: the Woman’s Exponent and the Young Woman’s Journal. Neither collection is comprehensive, and the site requires a subscription. Many universities subscribe. BYU is in the process of digitizing a full run of the Woman’s Exponent.

    Exponent II The purpose of Exponent II, an online magazine, is to provide a forum for Mormon women to share their life experiences in an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. This exchange allows us to better understand each other and shape the direction of our lives. Our common bond is our connection to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and our commitment to women. The paper is published as a living history in celebration of the strength and diversity of women

    Segullah is a journal published three times annually to encourage literary talent, provoke thought and promote greater understanding and faith among Latter-day Saint women. They publish insightful writings which explore life’s richness and complexity while reflecting faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their aim is to highlight a variety of women’s perspectives within a framework of shared beliefs and values.

    Exponent II
    Feminist Mormon Housewives
    Mormon Mommy Wars
    Tales from the Crib
    Zelophehad’s Daughters

    Technical plan: This comprehensive, ambitious website will require the work of several teams. The Mormon Women’s History Initiative Team based at Brigham Young University will provide content management and editorial assistance. They have also planned a Mormon women’s history breakfast to occur at next year’s Mormon History Association’s Conference. They will announce this website and invite people to participate. Members of this team teach a course at BYU entitled Mormon Women’s History. In future offerings they will require students to produce a biography and other documents.

    Two women at BYU’s Special Collections are working on a Mormon Women’s Studies website with an attendant comprehensive bibliography. There was some discussion about combining this site with theirs. However, it was decided that a more accessible center for Mormon women’s history should be outside of BYU. We will definitely share information and link to each other, but will maintain separate sites. Their bibliography and digital documents will provide a valuable bulk of information.

    The technical expertise for the site’s aspirations will ocme from a variety of places. CHNM’s webmaster, Ammon Shepherd, has provided great assistance in building the site and has great expertise. He has expressed interest in future assistance as well. Volunteers will be canvassed from other places as well. The Mormon community is far-reaching.

    The technical aspect to produce this website is possible through several different software programs. The biographies will be in the form of a wiki. The exact wiki format is yet to be determined. The timeline draws from Simile timelines, allowing for built-in Javascript and hyperlinking as well as providing several different layers. The forum will also draw from a forum software, also yet to be determined. The documents will require some sort of database to organize and search. In all reality, this website will take quite a bit of time to be fully functional. Most likely it will evolve and change with time and use.

    Homepage: Please visit Return often, because the site will change dramatically over the next few months.


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Thank you for this website.

Comment by Arlene Reeder

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: