Peggy Pascoe, RIP (1954-2010)

By July 29, 2010

Peggy Pascoe, a leading historian of sexuality, gender and race relations in the American West, recently passed away after a bout with ovarian cancer. Her research and career path resulted in a few Mormon connections. Pascoe’s first major work, Relations of Rescue: The Search for Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 examined Protestant female missionaries who established homes throughout the West to “reform” and help wayward women. One of her case studies included a home set up in Salt Lake City to help Mormon women who wished to escape from polygamy. The book remains one of the most influential and important books published on women in the West. Pascoe also published her magisterial What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America, which treated miscegenation law broadly from Reconstruction through the late 20th century. Although What Comes Naturally does not include discussions of Mormons, the work includes important information that contextualizes our own troubled history with intermarriage. Pascoe’s other Mormon connection comes from her having taught at the University of Utah for a decade from 1986 to 1996. She’ll be missed.

Article filed under Announcements and Events Biography Gender Race


  1. Whoa. I just wrote a paper on her last week, using the miscegenation piece. Sorry to hear of her passing.

    Comment by Tracy M — July 29, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  2. This is unfortunate. Thank you for noting it here David and drawing attention to her work.

    Comment by Jared T — July 29, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  3. Thanks for the note.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 29, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

  4. Oh no! I just checked out “Relations of Rescue” from the library a few weeks ago. Between her passing and that of Jeanne Boydston a year and a half ago, women’s history is considerably poorer.

    Comment by Amanda HK — July 29, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  5. That’s terribly sad.

    I know next to nothing about Peggy or her work, other than a brief perusal of What Comes Naturally. I sent her a query about Utah’s early anti-miscegenation law in April and received a very helpful and thoughtful response. Given the circumstances, that was remarkably considerate of her.

    Comment by John Turner — July 29, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

  6. Like everyone else here, I was shocked to hear about this. I hadn’t heard she was ill. She has been one of my favorite historians for a few years now. She always emphasized the importance of transcending artificial sub-field boundaries and looking for connections beyond your immediate field of expertise, which she demonstrated superbly in What Comes Naturally.

    Comment by David G. — July 29, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

  7. Peggy was an extraordinary teacher. As a member of my dissertation committee, she was the one who did the closest reading of my work and she is the one who offered the most useful critiques. Her enthusiasm for my writing gave me courage. What I came to learn in the 25 years that I knew Peggy is that she gave the same enthusiastic support to all of her students. Everyone’s work received a thorough reading and compassionate critique. She was a role model for many young historians and a kind, generous woman. Her death is a great loss.

    Comment by Janet Ellingson — July 30, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  8. This is a nice tribute to a great scholar, person and lady!

    Comment by Jordan F. — July 30, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

  9. Comment by Brandon — August 3, 2010 @ 7:22 am


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