‘Mormon Land’: Puncturing the mystery of Emma Smith, who loved church founder Joseph Smith but loathed polygamy

Historian Jennifer Reeder discusses her new book about the faith’s first first lady, including her trying home life, her battles with Brigham Young and her eventual embrace of the Reorganized Church, now called the Community of Christ.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Emma Hale Smith, wife of church founder Joseph Smith.

She was church founder Joseph Smith’s first scribe. She created the first Latter-day Saint hymnal. She was the first president of the women’s Relief Society. She was, indeed, the faith’s first first lady. Yet Emma Smith, beloved wife of Joseph Smith, remains a mystery to many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jennifer Reeder, a historian for the Utah-based church, seeks to break through that mystery and the myth in her new biography, appropriately titled “First: The Life and Faith of Emma Smith,” revealing Emma’s undying love for her prophet-husband and her feeling of betrayal at his practice of polygamy, exploring her painful loss of young babies and her lifelong commitment to surviving children, examining her fractious relationship with Brigham Young and the Utah church and her eventual embrace of the Reorganized Church (now called the Community of Christ).

On this week’s show, Reeder talks about Emma Smith, the “elect lady” of early Mormonism.

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