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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Tell Your Stories!" Says Claudia Bushman at Phoenix WIL Lunch

On November 4, the Phoenix JRCLS Women in the Law group held its Fall Luncheon. In addition to enjoying good food and each others' great company, the group had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Claudia L. Bushman speak on the topic "Telling Our Stories."

Claudia Bushman is a scholar of American and Mormon history and a pioneer in studying and capturing Mormon women's voices. She is the author of a number of books, including her most recent, Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America. She has spent the past few years teaching at Claremont Graduate University with her husband, historian Richard L. Bushman, and they will be teaching a course together on Contemporary Mormonism at Columbia University in the spring.

She was a recipient of the prestigious Leonard J. Arrington Award from the Mormon History Association in 2010, and her latest project is an oral history project called, "Mormon Women in the Twentieth Century." Her daughter, Phoenix lawyer Margaret LaBianca, gave the introductory remarks, and Dr. Bushman's granddaughter (also named Claudia) was also in attendance.

Dr. Bushman talked about the Mormon Women Oral History Project, which records and transcribes the words of contemporary Mormon women for scholarly use. The collection currently has over 100 completed histories with many others in the works. Dr. Bushman shared several heart-felt personal narrative excerpts from the project and encouraged all in attendance to believe that they have stories worth recording, and to take concrete and immediate steps to start (or continue) recording their own personal stories as well as the stories of loved ones.

As Dr. Bushman emphasized, when a person leaves this earth, he or she takes a personal library of information that should not go unrecorded while the opportunity exists. Sharing doable tips and suggestions for capturing our stories on an ongoing and consistent basis, those in attendance left enriched and inspired. As the author Ursula Le Guin put it: "There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories." Here's to telling our stories!

--Jessica Everett-Garcia is a partner in the Phoenix office of Perkins Coie and practices in the area of complex commercial litigation. Jessica is the current chair of the WIL Committee for the JRCLS Phoenix Chapter.

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