Emma Lucy Gates Bowen was born on November 5, 1880 in St. George, Utah to Jacob F. and Susa (Young) Gates, daughter of Brigham Young and Lucy Bigelow. Although her name was Emma Lucy, she was known as Lucy Gates by most of the public, and Lulu by her close friends and family. Lucy began taking piano lessons as a child in Utah. Her first teachers were Mrs. Lillie Roberts De Lorey and Professor J. J. McClellan. When she was seventeen Lucy 's parents made the decision to send Lucy to Germany where she could further study the piano. Lucy left Utah in 1897 and attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Berlin. While studying at this school some of her professors happened to hear Lucy sing and were surprised at the quality of her voice. They encouraged her to stop focusing her energies on the piano and develop her voice instead. Lucy decided to follow their advice and soon found training with Mme. Blanche Corelli, with whom she developed a close relationship. Vocal training with Corelli helped Lucy to advance her talents and she was soon well known throughout the world for her opera voice. She made her first debut at the Royal Opera House in Berlin as Anchen in the opera, Der Friestschutz. Lucy sang in many European countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as the United States. Her fame was very widespread, and Lucy had plenty of opportunities to live abroad, but she chose to return to Utah and live among her family and friends. Lucy met Albert Ernest Bowen in 1914, and after a two year courtship they were married on June 30, 1916. Lucy continued to sing and travel after her marriage, but tried to stay in Utah as much as possible to help raise her two step-sons, Albert's children from a previous marriage.
This large collection consists of ten boxes full of letters and papers. The letters are unique because they were Lucy and her family's primary source of communication when Lucy lived abroad. Because of this, there are hundreds of letters and they are full of information about not only the Gates family, but also any world news that affected any of the members of the family. Most of the letters have been divided into folders depending on the writer and the intended receiver of the letter. Many of the letters are in German or from Germany. The letters discuss family issues such as finances, health, relationships, and specific family members. They also talk about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, missionary work, polygamy, genealogy, World War I, various musical concerts and appearances, Lucy's experiences with her different music teachers and schools, and Lucy's decisions about her career as an opera star. Prominent individuals mentioned in the letters include Reed Smoot, Joseph Ballantyne, George W. Brimhall, Golden Kimball, Heber J. Grant, Joseph F. Smith, Brigham Young, Eliza R. Snow, and Zina D. H. Young. The letters are arranged, for the most part, chronologically within each folder. The contents of the boxes are divided as follows: Box 1 contains letters from Lucy to her family. Box 2 has three folders of letters from Lucy to her family and seven folders of letters from Lucy's family to her. Box 3 holds three folders of letters from Lucy's parents, Jacob Gates and Susa Young Gates, to Lucy, four folders of letters from Lucy to Albert Bowen, and three folders of letters from Albert Bowen to Lucy. Box 4 has nine folders of letters from Albert Bowen to Lucy and two folders of letters to and from Catharine A. Bamman, Lucy's manager, as well as other business correspondence, bills, and concert information. Box 5 has five folders of letters to Lucy from her siblings and their spouses, some of her aunts and uncles, and her grandmother, Lucy Bigelow Young. There are also five folders of letters from Lucy to various people written from 1896 to 1948. Box 6 contains three folders of letters to Lucy from various people, three folders of letters to and by Jacob F. and Susa Young Gates, one folder of letters from Lucy's brother, Harvey Gates, to his parents and family, and one folder of letters from Lucy's father, Jacob Gates, to Lucy's brother, B. Cecil Gates. Box 7 holds thirteen folders of miscellaneous papers including copies of blessings given to Lucy and advertisements for Lucy's concerts and appearances. There is also a scrapbook belonging to Susa Young Gates with newspaper clippings of various stories, poems, ideas, and articles about herself and Lucy glued to the pages, and a hand made Christmas greeting card made for Lucy by B. L. Nelson with about eleven different photographs of Lucy in the card. Two children's books are included in this box as well, Rip Van Winkle by George P. Webster and Nelle's Prayer by George R. Sims (a gift to Lucy on her tenth birthday). Box 8 has four folders of miscellaneous papers including Berlin Theater programs in German, concert programs of operas Lucy participated in, and other various papers. Box 9 has seven folders of clippings about Lucy from newspapers printed all over the country, photocopies of many of the newspaper clippings, certificates, greeting cards, some papers belonging to Susa Young Gates, and some biographical sketches of Lucy and her brother, B. Cecil Gates. It also contains a postcard album full of postcards sent to Lucy while she was in Germany and a scrapbook belonging to Lucy full of newspaper clippings of articles written about herself. Box 10 contains various concert programs and many opera scripts in both German and English.