Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014

Politicians, missionaries and mothers: 11 remarkable women in LDS Church history (11 items)

By , Deseret News

May 6, 2014

When it comes to appreciating the women in our lives, late LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley offered this advice in a 2003 general conference address: "Be kind to the women. They constitute half of the population and are mothers to the other half."

In honor of mothers and women everywhere, here is a look at 11 remarkable women in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The list includes women of different cultures who endured difficult challenges. They are mothers, wives, activists, physicians, missionaries, professors, writers and politicians. Each one is distinguished in her own way.

"These women leave behind a legacy upon which we can draw inspiration and strength," said Brittany A. Chapman, a historian in the Church History Department. “When we remember their stories, they become part of our own and help us to live better lives.”

Note: Information for this list was taken from Volumes 1-3 of the series "Women of Faith in the Latter Days."

Related: LDS Church leaders reflect on examples of motherhood in their lives Related: Jimmer, Jane Clayson Johnson, others share tributes to mothers of faith

1 of 11. Mary Fielding Smith (1801-1852)

Mary Fielding Smith is numbered among the great pioneer women in early church history.

She married Hyrum Smith after his first wife died. Her son, Joseph F. Smith, who became the sixth president of the church, was born while Hyrum and other church leaders were in Liberty Jail.

After Hyrum and Joseph Smith were killed, she led her family to Utah despite many hardships.

She was a woman of meager means, but remained stalwart and faithful until her death in 1852.

2 of 11. Jane Manning James (1822-1908)

Jane Manning James was among the first of African descent to join the church, according to a profile written by Margaret Blair Young in “Women of Faith in Latter Days, Vol. 2.”.

She was baptized in Connecticut in 1842. When denied passage on a ship, James and other family members walked more than 800 miles to Nauvoo.

Jane was invited to live with the Prophet Joseph and Emma Smith for a time before crossing the plains and settling in Utah.

Over the next several decades, James endured tremendous adversity in terms of divorce, poverty, and the deaths of several children and grandchildren.

Young wrote that when James died in 1908, the Deseret News published this tribute: “Few persons were more noted for faith and faithfulness than was Jane Manning James, and though of the humble of earth numbered friends and acquaintances by the hundreds.”

3 of 11. Elmina Shepard Taylor (1830-1904)

Elmina Shepard Taylor joined the LDS Church as a teenager and married another convert, George Hamilton Taylor, and they moved from Omaha, Nebraska, to Salt Lake City.

The couple had seven children, three of whom died in infancy or early childhood.

Taylor served in several church callings over the years, highlighted by her call as the first Young Women general president in 1880. She held this position until she died in 1904 at age 74. During those years, Taylor oversaw the publication of the first issue of the monthly Young Women’s Journal, the organization of the first general young women conference and the designation of Tuesday as mutual night, according to her profile on

4 of 11. Emily Sophia Tanner Richards (1850-1929)

Emily S. and her husband, Franklin S. Richards, were leaders in Utah's Suffrage Movement.

In addition to serving for more than 30 years on the Relief Society General Board, Emily Richards proposed that Utah organize a woman suffrage group to be affiliated with the National Woman Suffrage Association. She formed friendships with such leaders as Susan B. Anthony, Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt.

According to a profile written by Andrea G. Radke-Moss in "Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Vol. 3," one highlight of Richards' efforts on behalf of Utah women was her participation in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Richards was also involved in social and peace activism.

5 of 11. Elizabeth C. McCune (1852-1924)

Raised in Utah and Nevada, Elizabeth C. McCune married her childhood sweetheart and successful businessman Alfred W. McCune.

While on a tour of Europe, McCune was invited to speak about Utah and the church with members of the European mission presidency. She was instrumental in helping church leaders realize the power of sister missionaries.
1. LittleStream
Carson City, NV,
May 7, 2014

What a wonderful article and pictures! Women will leave their mark in spite of the struggles. They seem to quietly proceed in the direction they know they should go. There are women in my ward that are like this. I'm so blessed by these sisters.

2. Cinci Man
May 7, 2014

What a wonderful tribute. In each case, these women lifted where they stood and no blessing was ever denied them. What a stark contrast this is to the handful of women who insist that they need the priesthood to reach their full potential. I honor my wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, my daughters-in-law, and the many women who have served me and my family. The women in my ancestry were also amazing women. And all of them lifted where they stood; and they stand tall in my eyes. Thanks to all sisters who serve so faithfully.

3. Shushannah
Kendal, Cumbria,
May 7, 2014

great article, thanks DN... however, Mary Fielding Smith would have been a very old lady indeed, had she truly died in 1953 :)

4. Joseph M
May 7, 2014

For more stories of incredible LDS women I recommend checking out the Mormon Women Project. It's a collection of interviews and biographies of some of the marvelous LDS women who are doing incredible things now.

5. Trent Toone
May 7, 2014

Thanks for pointing out the error on Mary's death. It's fixed now.