One of the things that still disappoints every time that I look for scholarship on Mormon women or attend the Mormon History Association is how little work has been done on women’s issues beyond Nauvoo-era polygamy and how few women actively work and publish in Mormon History. Although Mormon Enigma was published 30 years ago, it remains the best work on Mormon women’s history. Its standing power is at once a testament to its power as a book and to the fact that little work has been done about women’s lives within the Mormon Church since the 1980s.
In recent years, a few organizations have been founded to help address that lack. The Mormon Women’s History Initiative sponsors an annual breakfast at MHA, sponsors lectures on Mormon Women’s History, and maintains a database of women working on Mormon History. Blogs such as Feminist Mormon Housewives and Zelophehad’s Daughters address contemporary issues in the church, and Claremont University has established an oral history initiative designed to record women’s experiences in the church. Brittany and I will also be hosting a women’s history tea and discussion group again at the Mormon History Association on Thursday, June 6th at 4:30 p.m. (Location, TBD). We will be reading selections from Claudia Bushman’s edited volume “In Their Own Words” as well as a short article related to the theme of authority. We will make an announcement soon about specific readings.
Most recently, Jessica Duckett Finnegan established the Mormon Women Scholars’ Network (http://mwsnetwork.org/) , which is designed to be a resource for women working in a wide variety of disciplines related to Mormon Studies. Finnegan intends the network to include religious studies scholars and literary theorists as well as historians. She is also posting Calls for Papers, listing conferences, and hosting a blog on Mormon women’s issues. Eventually, the website will also include lists of resources and articles on being a female scholar within the largely male space of Mormon Studies. Its purpose is to help connect female scholars, facilitate collaboration, and offer support for projects in Mormon Studies.
Check out the Network and e-mail Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to become involved.