To Forsake Thy Father and Mother : Mary Fielding Smith and the Familial Politics of Conversion
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
The 2012 Mormon History Association Conference was held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 28-July 1. The following papers were presented in a session titled "Conversion in 19th-Century Mormonism: Identities and Associations in the Atlantic World."
In 1852, Heber C. Kimball delivered a funeral oration for Mary Fielding Smith, the sister-in-law of the martyred prophet and the wife of his brother Hyrum. Kimball described her as a devoted wife and mother. In many ways, this emphasis upon Mary's virtue continues today. Conference talks, biographies, and children's books extol her virtues and offer her as an example to Mormon women on how to be a Saint. Although the emphasis provides young women with a much-needed female role model, it also misrepresents her life. Mary Fielding Smith indeed sacrificed much for her commitment to Mormonism, but doing so was not easy or uncomplicated. Here, Hendrix-Komoto discusses the life and family of Mary Fielding Smith.