"A Modern Patriarchal Family" : The Wives of Joseph F. Smith in the Relief Society Magazine, 1915-19
Joseph F. Smith : Reflections on the Man and His Times
Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, BYU; Deseret Book
[2014 Mormon Historical Association Winner for Best Article on Mormon Women’s History Award]
Since its founding in 1915, the Relief Society Magazine had frequently given face and voice to the wives of Joseph F. Smith. They were featured not only for their relationship to him but also for being accomplished women in their own right. Today these remarkable women are largely unknown, and even in biographies of Joseph F. Smith they are mentioned only in passing. Yet we cannot hope to fully understand President Smith's life without a complete picture of his families - "his greatest work" and the context in which he lived on the most personal level. Even more, these women - Julina, Sarah, Edna, Alice, and Mary - deserve recognition as individuals whose life experiences were at once unique and representative of many other LDS women of their generation.
This article presents a preliminary step toward a complete study of the Joseph F. Smith families by examining the portrayals of Joseph F. Smith and his wives in the Relief Society magazine from its inception in 1915 to his death in 1918. [From the text]