Mormon women's history "at a crossroads"

Historians in the News
tags: religion, women history, Womens History Month



The director of what he terms “the largest single repository of Mormon women’s history sources in the world” declared that such history stands at a crossroads today.

Keith Erekson, director of the Church History Library, was the opening plenary session speaker March 3 for the annual Church History Symposium sponsored by the Church History Department and the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University. The theme of this year’s conference was “Beyond Biography: Sources in Context for Mormon Women’s History.”

“Being at a crossroads in the 21st century isn’t all bad, considering that about a century ago in Mormon women’s history, we were at a no-roads,” Brother Erekson remarked.

“In the earliest [recorded] histories of the Church, women were typically absent,” he said. “In contrast to these Church histories, women were very present in anti-polygamy literature in the 19th century. They’re described as victims, … as defenseless, as slaves, de-literated, downtrodden, dull, senseless, sorrowful, degraded, shapeless, miserable.”

The next generation of writers in the Church responded to such portrayals defensively, he said, and “that defensive stance has really been a part of writing about Mormon women ever since.” ...




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