A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir
Edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson
Best Book Award, John Whitmer Historical Association
Best Documetary Book Award, Mormon Historical Association
Mormonism begins with Lucy Mack, mother of the prophet Joseph Smith. In her dictated memoir, readers detect the same seeds of religious fervor and frontier idiom that characterized her son’s writings and sermons.
Although much of her original voice was lost through editing in the more formal, first published edition of her memoir—14 percent of the overall content having been discarded—Lucy’s original manuscript survives and is presented here for the first time in its entirety. For comparison’s sake, it is arranged in parallel columns with the first (1853) edition. Significant variants from later printings are indicated in the editor’s footnotes, with prefatory chapters that provide historical background and textual genealogy.
Lucy’s story is gripping and occasionally heart-breaking. As Irene Bates notes in the foreword, the memoir is given “to a new generation of [Lucy’s] spiritual grandchildren” as both history and as inspiration. By restoring passages that relate Mother Smith’s own, personal understanding of important events, her reactions to them, and her portrayal of Mormon women as competent and strong (a theme that was removed from later editions), editor Lavina Fielding Anderson has allowed Lucy to say what she originally intended.
Lavina Fielding Anderson (Ph.D., English, University of Washington) lives in Salt Lake City with her husband Paul, a museum exhibit designer at Brigham Young University. They have one son. She is the editor of the Journal of Mormon History, co-editor of the Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance, current-issues editor of the Mormon Women’s Forum Quarterly, and production editor for the Review of Higher Education. She is a past president of the Association for Mormon Letters. She has been an associate editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and of the Ensign magazine. Her books include (as editor) Chesterfield: Mormon Outpost in Idaho; (co-editor) Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective; Tending the Garden: Essays on Mormon Literature; (contributor) On Their Own: Widows and Widowhood in the American Southwest, 1848-1939; Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience: A Mormon/Humanist Dialogue; The Wilderness of Faith: Essays on Contemporary Mormon Thought; and Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism. She is a recipient of the Grace Fort Arrington Award for Distinguished Service from the Mormon History Association.