Why Write (and Read!) about Church History Women?

Mcarthur Krishna is an author, artist, and friend. She, along with Bethany Brady Spalding, is the author of the Girls Who Choose God series of books.

So, the church history department conducted a survey a few years ago and asked members to name five women from church history. (No, listing “Sister Smith” five times doesn’t count.) Not surprisingly, the vast majority of members could not. Why isn’t this a surprise to me? Because neither could I!

As always, this sort of thing drives my co-author to action. Let’s add another book to our Girls Who Choose God series— this one about women from church history. And so, here it is!

Now, writing this book was actually way more difficult than writing the first two volumes… for the exact opposite reason those were a challenge. First, THERE ARE SO MANY WOMEN IN CHURCH HISTORY! And second, I had to dodge all the people who wanted their own relative in… including my own family. (And trust me— their stories were also fabulous!)

Because, as we started looking around to educate ourselves about women in the church from the 1830s to the 1920s… there are gazillions. There are women who welcomed missionaries, led groups of saints, helped the prophet, crossed the plains, became doctors/politicians/writers, fought for the right to vote, raised families, started schools, received congratulations from presidents of the USA, and more! There are, frankly, a lot of impressive women. It took more than a year to read and read and read to find the collection of women we wanted for our book— and obviously had to leave a lot out. Thank goodness for the scholars at the church history department who kept us informed and tight along the way!

So, why should you read about church history women? Because, trust me, they will make YOU better. (They made me better.) They will inspire you to choose God— with boldness and bravery. You have a unique gift to offer the world— and these women can encourage you to work hard to make that passion happen. So, go read about these women… and go choose God in your contribution to the world.


  1. J. Stapley says:

    Can’t wait to read this with my kids. Amazon says Thursday arrival. Thanks!

  2. Who are some of the women included? Would love to know how you went about finding and choosing them.

  3. @Ardis

    Hello, this is McArthur. I figured I was best suited to reply to you. :) Some of the women include names you’d recognize like Lucy Mack Smith, Emma Smith, and the Rollins sisters (now of General Conference talk fame). We also tried to tell some the stories of women who are less well-known… like Emily Richards and Inez Knight. The trick for all the candidates is that we needed a clear moment when she chose God— she had to DO something, and it had to be recorded so we would know she did it. This, frankly, eliminates a lot of people. (There were still gazillions.) So, we read. A LOT. And then we got a hold of the fabulous church historians— who obviously know their stuff way better than I do! (I’m a story teller… and that is not the same thing as a historian!) They had great ideas on women to consider, read our write ups to make sure we got it right, and tidied us up when we hadn’t quite. This collection is a powerful group of women with a diverse set of talents— and we wanted to show that too! All talents can be put to use in service and God’s work. So, a hodgepodge. To shorten my answer way down. :)

  4. Thanks, McArthur, great if brief explanation. Readers should know that there is a real effort in telling these stories!

  5. Sounds great! Also, I’m curious about the study you referenced. Was there a definition of “church history” as far as the time period or church calling? My quick list was Lucy Mack Smith, Emma Hale Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Belle Spafford, Julie B. Beck. I’d have to think harder about the names of other women who were alive more than 100 years ago, besides my direct ancestors.

  6. One of the things (maybe the only thing) I liked about teaching church history in Primary was that there were plenty of stories about women and girls. Glad to know this resource is out there.

  7. Florence Jacobsen? I would love to read about her moment!

  8. She sounds amazing! We have toyed with doing a book of “modern” women from church history as our volume stops in the 1920s… Florence would be fabulous!

  9. Bro. Jones says:

    Awesome, will be purchasing this! Had lots of great conversations with my daughter about the first two books.Thank you so much!

  10. Your two previous books have been read several times in our home, and we look forward to getting this one too. Thanks Mcarthur for all you’ve done to tell such important stories.

  11. I was going for non Smiths. The last two are from my family history.

    Lydia Knight
    Ellis Shipp
    Ida B. Wells
    Eliza Snow
    Sarah Marinda Thompson Black
    Eleanor Temperance Ricks Jones

  12. @Emily
    The exercise was people were asked to name 5 men first and then 5 women from church history (no time specifications). 80% of people could name 5 men. About 17% could name 5 women. Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow and Lucy Mack Smith were the most often named. (One note: the exercise was done from a small sample size of about 100 Sunday schools from all over the world. This was an informal study (which is why I didn’t list more details before)— but it DID become my motivator!)

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