Utah History to Go
19th-Century Utah Women Spun Yarn and Also Dug Ditches
Overland Migrations
Bartleson-Bidwell party
Nancy Kelsey
Bryant-Rusell Party
Harlan Young Party
Hastings Cutoff
Donner Party
This is the Place
Mormon History
Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company
Handcart Companies
A Girl Triumphed Over Handcart Tradegy
Many Mormon Immigrants Delayed Their Journey
Settlement and Exploration
Colonization of Utah
Salt Lake City
The Founding and Naming of Moab
Hole-in-the-Rock Trek Remains an Epic Experience
What Made the Mormon Landscape Unique?
Snowslides Devastated Northern Utah in 1875
A Fatal Snowslide in Provo Canyon
Those Pioneering African Americans
The Lives of Six Pioneer Girls
He Was an Outsider in Utah But Not For Long
Forty-Niners in Salt Lake Valley
Utah Farmer and the Pike's Peak Gold Rush
Emma Lee Endured Many Hardships in Pioneer Utah
Alice Parker Isom Faced Challenges WIth True Grit
19th Century Utah Women Spun Yarn and Dug Ditches
Hilda Anderson Erickson, Working Woman
Oliver B. Huntington and His Bees
A Policeman's Lot in Early Salt Lake CIty
A Blind Man and His Harp
Fanny Brooks Helped Establish the Jewish Community
Reverend McLeod and Building of Independence Hall
Jenny Baker Stanford Bridged Mormon-Gentile Gap
Welshman Dan Jones Was One of Zion's Busiest Bees
The Case of Grave Robber Jean Baptiste
Slavery in Utah
History of Polygamy
The History of a Pioneer Utah Cottage
The Pioneer's Cost of Living Versus Today's
Coins and Currency
The Sego Lily, Utah's State Flower
Pestiferous Ironclads: Grasshopper Problem in Utah
From Pioneer Fort to Pioneer Park
Ensign Peak
Temple Square
Virgin River Doused Cotton Mission Settler's Hopes
Gardner Mill and the Birth of the Valley's West Side
The United Order Movement
The Beginnings of the University of Utah
Arrival of the Episcopal Church
Ben Holladay, the Stagecoach King, in Utah
The Pony Express Added a Colorful Chapter in Utah
Mark Twain's Utah
Pony Express in Utah
The Telegraph Was Information Highway of the 1860's
The Steamboat Era Was Glamorous But Brief in Utah
Cowboys and the Cattle Industry
Old La Sal Was Once a Thriving Cow Town
Preston Nutter Made Utah Home of His Cattle Kingdom
Robbers' Roost Was a Haven For Outlaws
Utah Had Hollywood Style Western Gunfights
Just Who Was the Outlaw Queen Etta Place?
Josie Bassett-Jensen's Remarkable Woman Rancher
Military in Utah
Utah War
The Civil War in Utah
Mountain Meadows Massacre
Fort Douglas
Fort Duchesne
Camp Floyd
The Colonel Orders a Grand Review

W. Paul Reeve
History Blazer, January 1995

In 1870, 13.3 percent of American women over age ten were working outside of the home. By the end of the nineteenth century, largely due to expanding businesses, this figure climbed to nearly 20 percent of American women. Over the same period Utah's female work force grew from 4 percent to 13.5 percent but remained well below the national average. Regardless, these numbers do not come close to suggesting the significant and integral role Utah women played in taming the harsh western frontier and in building the Beehive State.

Utah's pioneer women not only oversaw domestic chores but also shared in farm and field work. Missions and church assignments frequently took Mormon husbands and fathers away from home, leaving women to manage the household and farm. In Deseret, Millard County, Christina Oleson Warnick described her dizzying list of tasks that included digging irrigation ditches, plowing, planting and fertilizing the land, shearing the sheep, cutting hay for the cows, and spinning yarn and weaving cloth. Other women's workloads were similar; some supplemented the family income with sewing, laundering, or other home-based employment. Understandably, in Utah's urban areas the percentage of women working outside the home was higher than for the territory as a whole. Jobs held by Salt Lake City female workers in 1870 included shoe shop keeper, nurse, and hotel steward, but the large majority worked as domestic servants.

Utah women also engaged in a variety of other activities and organizations, including lecture societies, woman suffrage, the temperance movement, and a plethora of women's auxiliaries and clubs. In 1875 the Catholic Sisters of the Holy Cross opened St. Mary's Academy of Utah and that same year began a small hospital for sick and injured miners. Similarly, Mormon women opened the Deseret Hospital in 1882; it was almost entirely managed and staffed by female directors and doctors. In addition, LDS Relief Society women energetically became involved in a number of enterprises designed to help care for the state's poor. They not only donated money, food, and materials but managed business operations such as silk raising and grain storage.

As the nineteenth century wore on, employment opportunities for women expanded. In 1872 two Utah women, Phoebe W. Couzins and Georgie Snow, were admitted to the Utah Bar; others traveled east and earned medical degrees. One Provo woman worked as a miner in 1900, and many women became telegraph operators, school teachers, nurses, and milliners. Still, by the turn of the century most Utah women remained primarily occupied as homemakers. Regardless of their title, however, it seems clear that Utah women were active in charity groups and other avocations that provided opportunities to develop their skills and participate in civic campaigns for change. In general Utah's women embodied a spirited force that shaped nineteenth-century Utah.

For additional information see Michael Vinson, "From Housework to Office Clerk: Utah's Working Women, 1870-1900, Utah Historical Quarterly 53 (fall 1985): 326-35.


The Land
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Statehood & the Progressive Era
From War to War
Utah Today