The Untold Travels of Gladys Woodmansee: A Would-be Wife and the Next Generation of Post-Manifesto Plural Marriages, 1890

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Citation

Kolakowski, Morgan E., “The Untold Travels of Gladys Woodmansee: A Would-be Wife and the Next Generation of Post-Manifesto Plural Marriages, 1890,” Scholar@Simmons, accessed December 4, 2020, https://beatleyweb.simmons.edu/scholar/items/show/137.

Title

The Untold Travels of Gladys Woodmansee: A Would-be Wife and the Next Generation of Post-Manifesto Plural Marriages, 1890

Creator

Kolakowski, Morgan E.

Date

2018

Description

I focus on Mormon women choosing to enter into polygamous marriages during the end of the nineteenth century. More specifically, I use the travel diary of one engaged, Mormon woman, Gladys Woodmansee, as a lens through which I explore how questions of Mormon family structure, the role of Mormon women in the public spotlight, and ultimately the practice of plural marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were discussed by both Mormons and non-Mormons. This work provides a broader overview of the way in which Mormon women who chose to continue the polygamous lifestyle viewed themselves and their faith in the 1890s. Through such analysis I examine an underused collection as a main primary source when looking at this pivotal time period in church history. Rather than focusing on her more prominent and widely covered husband, I examine the writings of Woodmansee to bring greater historical perspective to the unique individual journey she made to the Mormon headquarters in Liverpool.

I argue that Gladys Woodmansee’s experiences provide historians with greater knowledge about the impact of this pivotal period before and after plural marriage was no longer sanctioned by the church. As an engaged woman interacting with the general public during her trip, Woodmansee experienced the misconceptions non-Mormons had about Mormon women and their position within the church. Her travels provide evidence of the powerful authority Mormon women had over public opinion and shed light on the inclusion of women in the church abroad during the years prior to the establishment of unmarried, female missionaries. By examining some of the most important scenes highlighted in Woodmansee’s diary, I illuminate not only the role of leisure travel as a gateway for Mormon women’s missionary work, but I also contextualize Woodmansee’s opinions surrounding plural marriage and romantic love. Her thoughts and emotions allow for a more intimate understanding of the opinion pieces and literary works existent in Mormon publications at the time, shedding light on similarities expressed publicly in printed works such as newspapers to the more private and privileged world of a Mormon woman’s mind.

Publisher

Simmons College (Boston, Mass.)

Format

1 PDF (56 Pages)

Language

English

Type

Masters Theses

Collection