Degree Name






Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Leslee Thorne-Murphy

First Faculty Reader

Kristin Matthews

Honors Coordinator

John Talbot


Woman's Exponent, Early Mormon Women, Mormon History, Lifewriting, Biography, Mormonism


This thesis examines the life of Lydia Dunford Alder (1846–1923), who was a prominent but now nearly forgotten early Mormon writer, women’s rights activist, missionary, and leader of various women’s clubs. A respected member of the late-nineteenth– and early-twentieth-century Salt Lake City, Utah community, Alder was the colleague and friend of various distinguished Mormon leaders. While these leaders have been studied in-depth by scholars, Alder’s similar achievements have never been examined in scholarship. As the first comprehensive biography ever written on Alder, this thesis explores her birth in England (1846), her immigration to the United States (1850), her return to England, her second immigration to the United States (1853), her migration to Utah and California (1854–1856), her migration and life to St. Louis (1856–1867), and her final migration to Utah (1867). Categorically, this thesis also explores Alder’s marriage (1864–1898), her children and her relationships with her children, her service to the Mormon Church, her proselyting mission to England (1899–1901), her poems, her prose writings, her suffrage work, her volunteer service for various clubs, her death, and her legacy. As a whole, this thesis seeks to put Alder’s life in historical and cultural context in order to both prove that Alder’s life is worth studying and provide scholars a basis for future study of Alder’s life, her literature, and her volunteer work in her Salt Lake City community.