Podcast: Susa Young Gates and the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

Lisa Olsen Tait claims that Susa Young Gates is the most important Mormon woman that most have never heard of.

Susa grew up in a time when cultural gender roles were changing and women’s opportunities were expanding in exponential ways. Susa took advantage of these opportunities and was active in civic and religious spheres as a writer, editor, educator, and LDS Church leader.  She also started both the Relief Society and Young Women’s magazines.

In the 1880s, she accompanied her husband Jacob on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. There she developed a deep and enduring friendship with Elder Joseph F. Smith.

It is perhaps because of her passion for genealogy work that the Prophet Joseph F. Smith shared with her a vision he had concerning the redemption of the dead. The doctrine was not new, but it was comforting to have it articulated in one place. Susa recorded the prophet’s dictation and the vision was first distributed in Church magazines.

Join Nick Galieti of LDS Perspectives Podcast as he discusses with women’s historian Lisa Olsen Tait the reception history of Doctrine and Covenants 138.

1 thought on “Podcast: Susa Young Gates and the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

  1. I’ve forgotten the details, but it seems to me that Susa had a real problem with Emmaline Wells. As I recall, Susa ended up effectively shutting Emmaline out of later management of things.

    It was interesting to see it from Susan’s point of view, where Emmaline isn’t even featured as a player.

    It’s interesting to think of the Relief Society magazine in light of the Exponent newspaper, which was about Mormon women by Mormon women and for Mormon women. The Relief Society magazine cast a much wider net, as we see from the fact that non-Mormon women in Nauvoo, decades after formation of the Relief Society magazine, we were meeting together and encouraging one another to subscribe.

    Good on Susa for her incredible work in getting the modern vision of genealogical work grounded. I see in my own family history how folks got together in 1900 to perform the temple work for their ancestors, which included Austin Cowles, one of the primary conspirators that caused Joseph Smith’s death.

    So one could say it really was in the era of Joseph F. Smith and Susa Young Gates that we see the temple work become universal, with most of the animosity and hard feelings over the apostasies and mob violence of Missouri and Illinois overcome by a vision of saving all mankind.

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