Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in conversation with PEA's Tom Simpson


Join us for a fascinating conversation between acclaimed historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Tom Simpson, PhD, instructor in religion at Phillips Exeter Academy and author of American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940.

Note the early start time of 6:30pm!

From the author of A Midwife's Tale, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize for History, and The Age of Homespun--a revelatory, nuanced, and deeply intimate look at the world of early Mormon women whose seemingly ordinary lives belied an astonishingly revolutionary spirit, drive, and determination.

A stunning and sure-to-be controversial book that pieces together, through more than two dozen nineteenth-century diaries, letters, albums, minute-books, and quilts left by first-generation Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, the never-before-told story of the earliest days of the women of Mormon "plural marriage," whose right to vote in the state of Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature as an outgrowth of polygamy in 1870, fifty years ahead of the vote nationally ratified by Congress, and who became political actors in spite of, or because of, their marital arrangements. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, writing of this small group of Mormon women who've previously been seen as mere names and dates, has brilliantly reconstructed these textured, complex lives to give us a fulsome portrait of who these women were and of their "sex radicalism"--the idea that a woman should choose when and with whom to bear children.

Praise for A House Full of Females:

"As crucial as it is fascinating . . . It's no secret that history is full of people, often women, whose usually unpaid labor allowed famous men to make their marks on the world. . . . Historians like Ulrich make sure they're not forgotten." -- Time

"Movingly portrays believers' early struggles. . . . Ulrich is a gifted historian whose works have forged new paths in women's studies."

-- The Boston Globe

"[An] empathetic account of the women of early Mormonism. . . . Ulrich describes the daily lives of these women in attentive detail, their sorrows . . . their stubborn strength, and their willingness to defy social norms. To the astonishment of the outside world, the same women who vigorously defended multiple marriages also fought for--and won--female suffrage." --The New Yorker 

LAUREL THATCHER ULRICH was born in Sugar City, Idaho. She holds degrees from the University of New Hampshire, University of Utah, and Simmons College. She is 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University and past president of the American Historical Association. As a MacArthur Fellow, Ulrich worked on the PBS documentary based on A Midwife's Tale. Her work is also featured on an award-winning website called She is immediate past president of the Mormon History Association. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Tom Simpson teaches courses in religion, ethics and philosophy, with special attention to race, gender and human rights. He chairs the Academy's MLK Day Committee. He lives in Ewald with his family, is an assistant coach for the JV baseball team and led the Academy's 2015 fall term abroad program in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Apart from his work at the Academy, he also serves as an instructor for the summer Global Citizens Youth Summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mr. Simpson writes about postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina and the history of religious diversity and identity in the United States. He is the author of the book American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940 (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) and two literary essays about postwar Bosnia that have been featured in the Canadian literary magazine Numéro Cinq. 

Event date: 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 6:30pm

Event address: 

Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women's Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307742124
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - February 20th, 2018

American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781469628639
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of North Carolina Press - September 6th, 2016