The first book in a series dedicated to highlighting the inspirational lives of Mormon women is finally hitting bookshelves. “Women of Faith in the Latter Days,” the first of seven volumes, features the biographies of women born between 1775 and 1820. Each biography was submitted by a contributor and edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brittany A. Chapman of the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The women who appear in Volume 1 were generally first-generation Latter-day Saints who experienced characteristic trials of their day, including abandonment by family or friends when they joined the church, persecution after joining, and the hardships of pioneering again and again as they moved from one location to another,” the editors wrote in the preface.
The realization that little has been published regarding the faith and dedication of the women in the church, both past and present, sparked the idea for the series. Approximately half the people in the history of the church have been women, Turley said in December 2010. “Most of history we’ve created focuses on men. We’ve recognized a huge gap that needs to be filled,” he said.
Plans for the series were announced in May 2010. Subsequent volumes will follow at about one-year intervals and each will cover a 25-year time span. Volume 2 includes women born between 1821 and 1845; Volume 3 from 1846 to 1870; Volume 4 from 1871 to 1895; Volume 5 from 1896 to 1920; Volume 6 between 1921 and 1945 and Volume 7 from 1946 to 1970.
Volume 1 contributors range from well-established scholars to beginning writers.
Each chapter includes a biographical sketch and life experiences from each woman. Some chapters follow a scholarly approach, often quoting the subjects' own words at length, while others avoided long quotations. Some women left few or no writings behind, which made it difficult to quote them.
One goal for the series was to feature a diverse group of women, including those well known and unknown.
Turley serves as the assistant church history and recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Chapman is a historian in the church history department.
“We hope both scholarly and popular audiences will find value in these volumes. Our intent in producing them is to plant seeds for future work," the editors wrote in the book's introduction. "If our series leads to better scholarly and popular works, we will feel rewarded for our efforts.
“We invite you to join with us in celebrating the many Latter-day Saint women whose lives should be an inspiration to readers in the present generation and in generations to come. We hope these volumes will prompt readers to write about their own lives and will lead to longer works about past and present women of faith in the latter days.”