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A Faded Legacy
Amy Brown Lyman and Mormon Women’s Activism, 1872–1959
Mormon Studies / Women's Studies
Amy Brown Lyman was a leader once admired for her dynamic personality, her inspiring public addresses, and for her remarkable vision of what Mormon women in the Relief Society could achieve. Yet today her name is barely known. This volume introduces her to a new generation, showing how the accomplishments of Lyman and her peers benefitted subsequent generations.
Dave Hall examines the roots and trajectory of Mormon women’s activism. Lyman entered public life at a time when the practice of polygamy was ending and Mormonism was assimilating mainstream trends. The book recounts her involvement in the Relief Society, the Mormon women’s charity group that she led for many years and sought to transform into a force for social welfare. Lyman’s later life, after she resigned from the Relief Society amidst personal tragedy, offers insight into the reasons Mormon women abandoned an activist heritage for a more conservative role, that is again evolving.
Dave Hall lectures in history at California State University Fullerton and Cerritos Community College. His “A Crossroads for Mormon Women: Amy Brown Lyman, J. Reuben Clark, and the Decline of Organized Women’s Activism in the Relief Society,” won the T. Edgar Lyon Award for best article in Mormon history and the Western History Association’s Arrington-Prucha Award for Best Article of the Year for Western Religious History.
Table of Contents:
List of Figures
Introduction: Mormon Women in an American Context
1. A Mormon Girlhood
2. Wider Worlds
3. Reinventing the Relief Society
4. A Revolution in Church Charity
5. Saving Mothers and Children
6. Trying to Hold on during the Great Depression
7. Mission Interlude
8. A Presidency Pushing against New Limits
9. A Faded Legacy
List of Abbreviations
Praise and Reviews:
“The book is particularly valuable in its exploration of the tensions between the Mormon experience and the American tendency of requiring women to strike a balance between home and the wider world.”
—John Sillito, coeditor of Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters
“We need this book. There has been so much talk for so long about how scholars need to look at Mormonism in the twentieth century. Hall gets down in the trenches and actually does this—and does this well. It’s very strong work.”
—Susanna Morrill, author of White Rose on the Floor of Heaven: Mormon Women's Popular Theology
“An important and compelling biography....The craft with which Hall weaves disparate resources into Lyman’s world clearly places her within the history of the American West and shows readers how she both influenced and was influenced by her time and place in the world.”
—Association for Mormon Letters
“The story of Amy Brown Lyman...is not just a Mormon or a Utah or a woman’s story—it’s a very human one—and one deftly told by the author, Dave Hall, who has studied Lyman’s life extensively.”