Full Time Practice

Friday, September 18, 2020

Utah Women of the 19th Amendment Series Part 8: Ellen Ferguson

 Unlike in most of the States, the Utah Territorial Legislature granted women the right to vote in 1870. At around that same time, a woman in Illinois named Ellen Brooke Ferguson was becoming keen on helping the suffrage movement throughout the US. 

Ellen was born in Cambridge, England on April 10, 1836, and as the daughter of a prominent lawyer, enjoyed the best education of that time. She had command of French, Latin, German, drawing, elocution, drama, and music and later lectured on those subjects; she also studied medicine.

In 1860, she and her Scottish husband, Dr. William Ferguson, immigrated to the US, specifically to Ohio, where they bought the newspaper, the Eaton Democrat. Ellen believed that she should take every opportunity to insert her influence into politics since she believed it would be years before women would have the vote.
Rendering of Clare, Ellen's daughter. No known picture of Ellen exists.
Rendering of Clare, Ellen's daughter.
No known picture of Ellen exists

They sold the paper and moved to Illinois where she began lecturing on women’s health issues. Although she had no medical degree, Ellen began referring to herself as Dr. Ferguson. Nine socialites wrote a newspaper article urging women to attend her lectures. They said, “We do feel that woman’s needs, her wants — her whole being cannot be more clearly portrayed than has been in this course and in a manner so clear and delicate that the most fastidious cannot take offence.” 

In addition to speaking on women’s health, Ellen became an active suffragist, speaking at the Illinois Women’s Suffrage Association’s meeting with Susan B. Anthony. The newspaper reported that “She inveighed against the practice of taxation without representation. She thought no woman should pay any more tax until she was granted a vote.” Furthermore, Ellen objected to the lack of good schooling for girls: “finery and feathers and not enough in the direction of useful information and the knowledge of how to take care of themselves.”

Around 1873 Ellen opened a medical institute “for the treatment of chronic diseases of women and children” and continued lecturing in the Eastern States. Once the clinic was established, Ellen toured Europe in 1875. Upon her return, she was stunned to learn that her husband had embraced the “Mormon” church and was planning their move to Utah. 

The Fergusons were both baptized in St. George and the next year moved to Salt Lake City. Ellen was devout, and immersed herself into her new religion but was also extremely busy. She co-founded the Utah Conservatory of Music, while lecturing throughout the US on women’s health and suffrage, and maintaining her medical practice. 

At this time, the national suffrage leaders protested Utah women joining their movement due to their opposition to polygamy. But, in 1879 they invited Ellen and another woman to attend their Washington convention and allowed Utah women to join their movement. 

After her husband died in 1880, Ellen moved east for a year to undertake more formal medical training. Back in Salt Lake, she drew up plans for a hospital which became the Deseret Hospital in 1882 where she was appointed chief physician and surgeon. She also established the first professional medical training center in Utah there in obstetrics.

Still involved in women’s rights, in 1886, Ellen was part of a delegation to President Grover Cleveland to petition against the impending Edmunds-Tucker Act, which removed the right of suffrage in Utah the following year. She redoubled her efforts and in 1886 spoke to the Great Mass Suffrage Meeting in Salt Lake. A portion of her speech follows:

“We are assembled here to-day in the capacity of a mass meeting, to lift our voices in protest against certain wrongs that are being perpetrated in this community, at the close of the nineteenth century, wrongs that would shame civilization two hundred years ago.


“It is indeed a shame that in free America, among a people where men pride themselves upon being the defenders and protectors of woman, women are compelled to meet and protest against insult and indignity heaped upon them in the courts. Strange it is that while in New York Americans are erecting a statue to liberty that shall lift up the beacon light of freedom to all the nations of the earth, that here in one of the dependencies of this republic women are led to prison and subjected to insult for no crime. Strange it is that here in Utah the purest, noblest and best of America’s citizens should be compelled to make public protest against injury and injustice received from those who have sworn to uphold and maintain the laws—but no less strange than true.”


Ellen served as the only woman to the Democratic National Convention in 1896, the same year Utah became a state, and with it, the women’s right to vote in Utah was reinstated. But, Ellen left her religion in 1897 and moved to New York. Some believe it was because of being asked to resign from Deseret Hospital due to implementing elevated professional standards with which the staff could not comply. Others thought that the anti-polygamy/Mormon sentiment from the National Suffrage movement upset her; after joining the church, her former Eastern admirers grew critical of her lectures. She died on March 15, 1920, just months before the 19th amendment was passed. 

(Written by Kathryn Latour, member of the JRCLS WIL and Media Committees) 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Utah Women of the 19th Amendment Series Part 7: Suffrage as Encouraged by Joseph Smith

excerpted from Leonard J. Arrington

“In 1906, a Mormon historian, Orson F. Whitney, wrote: ‘Among the outward evidences of the divine origin of ‘Mormonism’, there is nothing that testifies more clearly or eloquently to the truth of the Latter-day work, than the provision made therein for the uplifting and advancement of women; for the salvation and exaltation, in this world and in the world to come, of woman as well as man.’
Profile of Joseph Smith, Jr. (circa 1843)
drawing by Bathsheba W. Smith

"It began, no doubt with the First Vision of 1820, the organization of the church in 1830, the forming of the Female Relief Society in 1842, and the prophet’s subsequent action in turning the heavenly key to women that they might have a better day. Women used their privileges, as they referred to them, in creating programs and building institutions that would be helpful to them and to the church as a whole. Many women active in the Utah church heard the prophetic voice, acted upon it, and made lives brighter for their sisters. Articles and editorials in the Women’s Exponent and Relief Society Magazine usually in the March issue of each year when the anniversary of the organization of the Relief Society was celebrated, reminded the women of the prophet’s promise, and spurred the women on to helping realize it. That women had achieved equal suffrage, equal educational opportunity, could now own property and will or deed it away, could obtain divorces, stood equal before the law, were all attributed in some measure to Joseph Smith’s first vision and the divine revelations that followed.   
“In April 28, 1842, at the sixth meeting of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo… the prophet Joseph Smith made the following remarkable statement: '[Sisters], I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this Society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time. This is the beginning of better days for this Society.'
“His divinely appointed task was the Restoration, and an essential part of it was restoring to women the status they enjoyed in early Christian communities. … The Lord’s creative plan called for an approach to equality, and pointing society in this direction was one of the most sincere convictions of the prophet—one that he believed was divinely inspired. Under the blessing of God, as he believed, these women—and indeed all women—were to have a better day. The women of the Restored church, those who were present at this meeting and at other meetings where the prophet spoke, believe this to be a revelation on their behalf, and as they saw a gradual improvement in the position of women, in the church and in civilized society, they were quick to attribute this to the Lord, to divine influences for good.
“Latter-day Saint women were forerunners in many areas. In advance of many Christian women, they voted with their husbands and brothers to sustain church leaders and the policies they presented in conferences. They exercised leadership in the programs of their local congregations. In Utah, they were the first women in the United States to exercise the right to vote in political elections, and for that reason, with minor exception, they were the first women in the nation to observe on juries. They ran for office and sometimes were elected. A Latter-day Saint woman was the second woman in the nation to be elected to serve as a state senator, another was the first woman in the United States to serve as a county home demonstration agent. Latter-day Saint women comprised the largest bloc of women medical doctors of any group in the nation. And Latter-day Saint women held important positions in the National Council of Women, the International Council of Women, and the World Peace Movement. A Latter-day Saint woman, as legislator, sponsored a bill creating the first state arts council in the nation.
“Unquestionably, the prophet Joseph Smith led the way. One of his earliest revelations was addressed solely to a woman, his wife Emma… When Joseph learned that Sarah Granger, a fifteen year old… had seriously studied [all available scripture], he invited her to meet with the School of the Prophets. He encouraged the Relief Society to exercise leadership in teaching, in midwifery, in supervising relief to needy families, and in performing ordinances for the sick. He encouraged the sisters to go to school. He treated women with respect and kindness. He counseled with women as well as with men about programs and practices.
“This pattern, as with many others pioneered by Joseph Smith, was followed by Brigham Young. With his approval and encouragement women were not only given the privilege of voting in territorial elections, but they were also encouraged to found the Woman’s Exponent, first magazine published by and for women west of the Mississippi, and the Deseret Hospital, speak in general conference, operate cooperative stores, put on fairs and bazaars, write poetry and novels, go East to study medicine, engage in farming and business, and attend the University of Deseret. Remarkable in American educational history, there were as many women students as men in that institution.” 
Clearly, the views on women espoused by the prophet Joseph, developed under the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and allowed women to take charge of their own destinies.

(Written by Kathryn Latour, member of JRCLS WIL and Media Committees)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Women Who Can – Women in Law Pre-Law Conference 2019

On October 2, 2019, the Women in Law Committee hosted their pre-law conference with the timely theme of “I Am the Woman Who Can: Celebrating the Last 100 Years from Voting to Law School.” Held at BYU Law School, the room was filled to bursting to hear inspiring remarks from Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and Jane Wise, Associate Director for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies.  
Mayor Kaufusi, the first woman mayor of Provo, epitomizes a Woman Who Can. She told of her initial anxiety in beginning a career in politics. But, after winning the mayoral race, she shared her insight that women can serve in grander ways if we don’t hold ourselves back and are willing to take risks. She said that she has learned that great people are still just people who have leaned into the stiff wind of opportunity. Mayor Kaufusi encouraged us to consider a life in public service stating that, “You will never ever regret serving in public office. You will get to make things happen and have a seat at the table.” Even if politics is not for us, she reminded us that we, too, should be Women Who Can, by rising up and facing our challenges. 
Another Woman Who Can, Jane Wise, entitled her remarks, “The First 100 Years Are the Hardest.” Speaking of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Jane reminded us that this marvelous accomplishment is marked whenever a woman votes. She reminded us of other notable endeavors that have forged a path for her, and all women, to succeed in their chosen fields, such as that of Phoebe Couzins, the first female attorney in Utah. Although that was a breakthrough for women, from that time (1872) until now, there have been no roadmaps to guide us. 
In Jane’s youth, there were only a handful of popular occupations for women: teacher, secretary, nurse, or stewardess. Jane decided on acting and was blissfully pursuing roles in Community Theater and at the University of Utah when a female friend told her she was going to law school. Jane’s father had pushed her toward law before, but it wasn’t until this friend provided an example that Jane acted on this idea, too, providing evidence for her first rule of life: Always act on a good idea because it will be the catalyst for change. 
Although she was excited about this decision, Jane did not enjoy law school. Perhaps it was because the competitive nature of law school motivated others to sabotage each other, going so far as to rip important cases out of library textbooks. Jane was so discouraged that she quit as a 2L and headed for Hollywood. Not finding instant success, she returned to the University of Utah Law School and graduated, bringing her to her second rule of life: You have to hold onto life and wait until everything plays out. However, she still questioned her path, especially when seeing stellar actors such as Amanda Plummer made her yearn to abandon law in favor of her first passion.
Nevertheless, Jane persevered in the law, using her former drama coach’s wisdom to formulate her third rule of life: Curiosity is the key to humanity. The coach, Ursel Allred, meant that one had to find the person one was portraying by being curious about who the person was, and walking in their shoes. The same thing applies well to the law. Before one can understand one’s clients, one must consider things from their point of view. Sometimes to see one’s clients as having a common core of humanity requires us to have curiosity beyond our world of experience. This was true when Jane had to enter a prison to interview an inmate. There are 7 million individuals in the jail system and many are mentally ill. When they speak, they often do not just state their ideas but express their anger and disrespect as well. Sometimes it requires a great deal of curiosity to walk in their shoes and understand them. 
But, Jane’s 4th life lesson tells us that curiosity does not fix the harm and a great deal of courage is required of us to forge ahead with the assurance that there can be a happy ending. It is easy to become disillusioned at times without this level of courage. She talked about a student of hers at BYU Law School who was born in Haiti and raised on the streets with almost no access to formal education. After meeting the LDS missionaries, he turned his life around, but his law studies were not without great difficulty. After giving him extra help, this student presented Jane with a statue of a runaway slave blowing out a call for help on a shell. He epitomized living a life of courage.
Jane’s parting words to WIL were to remember the four life lessons when pursuing our different paths and to always believe that we women are united even in our differences. We are very grateful for these lessons and for the examples of these two women who are Women Who Can. 
Armed with these stirring words, the meeting adjourned to a networking session where current and prospective law students had the opportunity to discuss their future careers with established attorneys. At a ratio of 5 students to 1 attorney, the attorneys helped their fledgling counterparts crystalize their goals, consider optional paths to achieve them, and make important connections. As one attorney said, “I could have saved years of struggling in the wrong legal field had I had such a networking opportunity early on. Women guiding women is such a powerful concept. We need to help the new female attorneys forge an easier path than we did.”

Article written by Kathryn Latour, member of JRCLS WIL and media committees

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Utah Women of the 19th Amendment Series Part 6: Bathsheba Wilson Bigler Smith

Bathsheba Wilson Bigler Smith was born near Shinnston, West Virginia on May 3, 1822, the daughter of Mark Bigler and Susanna Ogden. Her middle name, Wilson, was not given to her at birth but was adopted by Bathsheba to honor her best friend, who took Bigler as her middle name. When Bathsheba was 15 she and her family were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and moved to Far West, Missouri to gather to Zion. Shortly thereafter, due to mob unrest, the family was forced to leave their farm and hurriedly move to Quincy, Illinois where her father subsequently died. The following year, they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. 
In Nauvoo in 1841, Bathsheba married George A. Smith who had been one of the missionaries that baptized her family. She was 19 and he, at 24, was the youngest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Some months later, and while 6 months pregnant, Bathsheba attended the first meeting of the Relief Society. Bathsheba was among the youngest present at the organization of the Relief Society in March 1842. She also attended the laying of the cornerstone of the Nauvoo Temple, was one of the first to receive her temple endowments and be sealed to her husband, and along with Eliza R. Snow, designed the first temple garment. Temple service would dominate her days for the rest of her life.
Because George A. Smith was a first cousin and favorite relative of Joseph Smith and an apostle, George A. and Bathsheba and Joseph and Emma often visited in each other’s home. According to contemporary accounts, Bathsheba was “as much attracted by the unusual strength and brilliancy of Emma Hale Smith as she was by the majesty and power of the great prophet himself.” Her autobiography asserted “her great love and respect for Emma … which has never changed” and emphasized her listening to the prophet, the divine manifestations that came to her while testifying of the truths he taught, and her earnest desire to carry out his wishes. One of these was his teaching of the nobility and important role of women. These discussions forever marked Bathsheba’s thoughts with her desire to improve the lives of all women.
After the martyrdoms of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Bathsheba followed Brigham Young west. By then she had two children, George Albert and Bathsheba. She gave birth to a second son, John, at Winter Quarters but he did not survive the day. Arriving in Salt Lake City in 1849, Bathsheba’s husband was called to be Church Historian. She often traveled with her husband to various settlements and missions and spoke to the women while he spoke to the men. Her large home, built in 1858, also served as the Church Historian’s office and was across the street from Brigham Young’s home. Because of Bathsheba’s associations, her home became a central gathering place for women and young people.
She always declared that her quiet but persistent efforts to advance the position of women stemmed from her conversations with Joseph Smith and the charge he gave to women during the Nauvoo Relief Society meetings in 1842. As with Eliza Snow and Sarah Kimball, one of these efforts was devoted to promoting the cause of women suffrage. In January 1870 when Bathsheba and other women in Salt Lake City read the Cullum bill (federal legislation that proposed to deny U.S. citizenship to anyone practicing plural marriage), they were shocked and felt outrage both at its substance and at the insulting language used in referring to Mormon women. In a meeting held in Bathsheba’s home on January 6, 1870, they planned a public protest. Sarah Kimball opened the meeting by saying LDS women would be “unworthy of the names we bear or of the blood in our veins, should we longer remain silent.” Eliza Snow added that it was high time for the women to “rise up in the dignity of our calling and speak for ourselves.” A vote to hold a protest was approved unanimously and a committee appointed to draft resolutions. 
After the resolutions were read and approved, the meeting took an even more aggressive turn. After a short speech indicating her pleasure with the actions taken, Bathsheba then moved that “we demand of the Governor the right of franchise.” A vote was taken and the vote carried. Then Lucy Walker Kimball, said, “We have borne in silence as long as it is our duty to bear,” and made a motion that “we be represented in Washington.” Eliza Snow and Sarah Kimball were elected representatives.

After women gained the franchise in 1870, Bathsheba encouraged them to be active. With her encouragement, the General Relief Society sent representatives to meetings of the National Council of Women, the International Congress of Women, and the meetings of the national and international peace movement. At this time, George A. was serving as first counselor in the First Presidency under Brigham Young. After his death in 1875, Bathsheba became more active in civic affairs and increased her local involvement in the women's suffrage movement, primarily through articles she wrote for the Woman's Exponent. Bathsheba heavily influenced the suffrage movement in Utah. Along with being involved with other civic affairs, Bathsheba sat on the Deseret Hospital Board of Directors and served as the matron of the Salt Lake Temple. In 1876 Bathsheba was called as treasurer for the Women’s Commission Store, created for women to sell their home industries. After she was selected to be a member of the general presidency of the Relief Societies of the Church in 1888 she emphasized home production of clothing. 

A granddaughter, whom Bathsheba reared in her home and encouraged to become civically involved, ran for state representative from her Salt Lake district in 1896 and was elected by a substantial margin. She was the second woman in Utah to serve in the Utah House.
Bathsheba was called to be the general president of the Relief Society in 1901 and was the last Relief Society general president who was also a member of the Nauvoo Relief Society. During her administration, she helped introduce classes on childrearing, industry, and marriage, and developed a centralized educational program with lessons for the weekly meetings. In addition, under Bathsheba’s leadership, the General Relief Society established an employment bureau for young women, educational nursing and mother's courses, and food storage plans.

As the Relief Society general president, Bathsheba urged women to rise up from the past and embrace the future with responsibility and action. At the end of 1905 she gave a speech in which she counseled women to seek more education. She said, “…[I]t is plainly necessary that women, as well as men, cease not while life lasts to study diligently for the knowledge which is of greatest worth. …Let us open the books of life and salvation and study also the great authors, poets, and painters that our minds may be clothed with intelligence and our hearts abound with human feeling.”

Bathsheba lived until 1910 when she was eighty-six. She had accomplished much including always encouraging younger women – those who had not known Joseph Smith as she had – to seize further opportunities for advancement.

(Researched and written by Kathryn Latour, member of the JRCLS WIL and Media Committees.) 

Monday, February 17, 2020

New WIL Board Member, Kylie Hicks

We have three new members of the Women in Law board who are dedicated to facilitating the interaction of and mutual support for women attorneys of faith. Kylie Hicks has taken the position of the Young Students board member.
Kylie never pictured herself going to law school. In fact, she was always more interested in interior design for which she took a summer internship in Seattle between her junior and senior years of high school. She found it to be enjoyable, but realized that it felt more like a hobby than a career. When she began attending college at BYUI, she took courses in logic and decided a career in business law would be a better fit. But, then she went on her mission and determined that family law was her true calling. Once back at BYUI, Kylie added the minor of Psychology to her course load and began looking at law schools
Since her family was in Washington State, she took a look at nearby law schools but another option was presenting itself. She looked at law schools on the east coast as well. But, when Concordia University Law School (based in Boise, Idaho) came to BYUI to recruit, she was impressed with their small class sizes and applied.  
Kylie explains the many reasons that influenced her decision to pursue a career in family law.  First, Kylie had had a less than ideal childhood and. because of it she found that family law held a greater appeal than business law. She decided that she would “use her screwed up childhood to help people.” At Concordia, Kylie has taken all of the family law and pro bono classes they offer.
Also at Concordia, Kylie met Tanner Bean, a practicing attorney who was the Young Student board representative of the Law Society. Tanner inspired her to get involved in the Law Society. Kylie formed a JRCLS chapter in Boise and offered her services as the Young Student WIL committee representative. We are grateful to have her enthusiastic and talented help, and look forward to seeing what a remarkable family lawyer she will become upon her law school graduation in spring of 2020.
Article written by Kathryn Latour, member of the JRCLS WIL and Media committees

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

JRCLS Annual Fireside This Friday, January 24th

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society will hold its next annual fireside on Friday, January 24, 2020, at the Latter-day Saints Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The fireside will begin at 6:00 pm, and a reception will follow at 7:00 pm. It is free to attend and no RSVP is necessary. The fireside will be broadcast around the globe. 
The fireside will feature Sister Sharon Eubank, the first counselor in the general presidency of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an organization with over six million adult female members.

Sister Eubank has been the worldwide director of Latter-day Saints Charities, the Church’s humanitarian arm, since 2011. Since 1985, Latter-day Saints Charities has provided over $2.2 billion in humanitarian assistance in nearly 200 countries and territories globally.

Sister Eubank

If you are not able to attend in Salt Lake City, the Fireside will be broadcast worldwide via the church satellite system. It will also be streamed at https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/broadcasts/languages/jrcls-annual-fireside-broadcast/2020

The broadcast will begin at 6:00 pm MST.  The web page will not be activated until the afternoon on the day of the broadcast.

There will also be a satellite rebroadcast beginning at 7:30 pm MST for those that couldn’t gather and watch the live event. 

The broadcast will be available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.  The Fireside will be available on that page for two weeks after the event has concluded.  Following those two weeks, the video will be published on the JRCLS website.  Please take the opportunity to view this in your Chapter.

If you experience any technical difficulties with the broadcast, please call the number for the Global Service Center for your area: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/help/support/toll-free-numbers-gsc?lang=eng.  

We'd love to fill the seats with as many women as possible, so please join us in the Conference Center if you can!!