Susa Young Gates, the daughter of one of Brigham Young’s many plural wives, may have been just one child among the Mormon pioneer-prophet’s vast brood, but she eventually would stand out among all his offspring.
Although gifted at music, she made her name as a writer and editor. She founded the Young Woman’s Journal, became the first editor of the Relief Society Magazine and published a biography of her famous father.
A go-getter, she labored for women’s suffrage and rubbed shoulders with Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other leading feminists of the day. She suffered through a painful first marriage and rejoiced in a happy second one. She delighted in doing genealogy but also endured the deaths of eight of her 13 children.
Even though her name appears prominently in the pages of Mormon history, few Latter-day Saints know much about her.
Romney Burke, hopes to change that with his new book, “Susa Young Gates: Daughter of Mormonism” — an exploration of her personal, professional and religious life.
On this week’s show, Burke notes, among other things, that Susa Young Gates had notable clashes with her distinguished dad but remained devoted to him and spent much of her life trying to please him. She defended the faith’s — and her father’s — practice of polygamy but never entered a plural marriage herself. Though she pushed for women’s right to vote, she was less keen on women running for office. She opposed birth control and was an early proponent of a concept that lives on in some Latter-day Saint cultural circles — that women have motherhood and men have priesthood.
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