Susa Young Gates clashed with her famous father at times, but spent much of her life making him proud of her.
Susa Young Gates, the daughter of one of Brigham Young’s many plural wives, may have been just a child among the Mormon pioneer prophet’s vast brood, but she would eventually stand out among all his offspring.
Although musically gifted, she made a name for herself as a writer and editor. She founded the Young Woman’s Journal, became the first editor of Relief Society Magazine, and published a biography of her famous father.
A go-getter, she worked for women’s suffrage and rubbed shoulders with Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other leading feminists of the time. She suffered from a painful first marriage and rejoiced in a happy second. She reveled in genealogy but also endured the deaths of eight of her 13 children.
Although her name figures 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 his personal, professional and religious life.
On this week’s show, Burke notes, among other things, that Susa Young Gates had notable run-ins with her distinguished father but remained devoted to him and spent much of her life trying to please him. She defended the religious practice – and that of her father – of polygamy, but never entered into a plural marriage herself. Although she lobbied for women’s suffrage, she was less keen on women running for office. She opposed birth control and was an early proponent of a concept that endures in some Latter-day Saint cultural circles – that women have motherhood and men have priesthood.
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