Utah’s First Female Editor: Louisa Green Richards and The Woman’s Exponent

by BAYLEE STEPHENSON

LuLu_Greene_Richards

Louisa Greene Richards was the first female editor in Utah. She served as the first editor of the Woman’s Exponent. Digital Collections, Utah State Historical Society.

The Woman’s Exponent carved a path for women, equality and woman suffrage in Utah through the assistance of two incredible editors. Emmeline B. Wells is probably the most notable editor to have worked for the publication, but had it not been for her predecessor, Louisa Greene Richards, the newspaper would not have existed. Richards, known fondly as Lula or Lulu, was born in 1849 as the eighth of thirteen children to Evan Greene and Susan Kent in Kanesville, Iowa. (Bennion, 2) Greene and Kent were first cousins by their mothers, who were the sisters of the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young. Richards relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, with her family in 1852 when Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers left Iowa. It was in Utah that she found her passion for writing. (Bennion, 2)

Richards had always enjoyed writing and had a knack for poetry. It is believed that her first poem was written when she was fourteen, with her first step into journalism happening at the age of twenty when she began editing the Smithfield Sunday School Gazette. That same year she made the decision to attend the University of Deseret, presently known as The University of Utah. (Bennion, 3) By late 1871 she had finished school and was in Salt Lake City inquiring about a teaching position. While there, she received a letter requesting that she return home due to a family illness. She didn’t have the funds for the journey and decided that she would stay up all night and write poetry in the hopes that she might be able to sell it to a publisher in exchange for the fare she needed to get to Smithfield. The next day she went to the Salt Lake Daily Herald to meet with the editor, Edward L. Sloan, to sell her poetry for the $7.50 she required. She was successful in her endeavor. (Romney, 262)

Richards made the journey back home to be with her family, which is where she received a letter from Sloan asking her if she would be interested in editing a paper for Mormon women that he would print on the Herald’s presses. (Bennion, 3) She had her reservations regarding the idea and wrote to Eliza R. Snow, the president of the Relief Society, the women’s organization within the church, to ask her if she could discuss the prospect of the newspaper with the president of the church, Brigham Young. Richards believed that if Young approved of the paper then she should pursue the opportunity of running the new publication. Young gave Richards a calling to serve a mission, which is a personal assignment to be done for the church for a designated time frame, as the editor of the paper. (Bennion, 3)

On April 9, 1872, Sloan sent a copy of the Daily Herald to every member of the Relief Society with an advertisement promoting the Woman’s Exponent and its first issue. It read, “…a proposed woman’s journal … will be found in the Herald this morning. A more extended notice of it is crowded out until to-morrow by a press of other matter.” The ad was in two spots on the third page, one announcing the new paper and another expanding on what the publication would be writing about and who its target audience would be. That ad elaborated on the Exponent’s mission to write to the women of the Relief Society and the goals it had set. The advertisement announced Richards would be the acting editor of the bi-monthly paper, which would release its first issue on May 1, 1872. Subscription costs were based on delivery frequency, ranging from $1.00 to $18.00.

Richards married shortly after she became the editor of the paper and during her time she had two daughters, both of whom died. She helped build and mold the publication into the successful female-centric paper remembered under the leadership of Emmeline Wells. Wells took over in 1877 when Richards stepped down to pursue being a wife and mother full time. (Bennion, 9) While her personal life changed, and grew during her tenure as editor, she never neglected the paper and prioritized its success. The paper focused on what mattered to women as well as what was going on within the news.

WomansExponent-Volume1-Number11-1872

The November 1, 1872, issue of the Woman’s Exponent featured the news that a Connecticut woman might be the first female to cast a ballot for the president of the United States. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Richards was unable to meet the release date of May 1, 1872, so the first issue of the paper published on June 1. It featured articles and information that Richards thought to be the most interesting and important to women at the time. The paper didn’t simply focus on matters of the home, or what could be considered the traditional normative role women typically took within society due to the religious influence. On page 4, an article titled “Our Position” delved into Richards’s intentions for the paper, which stated that the purpose was not to advocate for woman suffrage, “for it is enjoyed by women of this Territory.” Women in Utah had received the right to vote per a decision by the territorial legislature in 1870, years prior to the 19th amendment. This right was revoked by Congress in 1887, but was ultimately restored in 1895 upon it being written into the state constitution. (White)

The Exponent aimed to speak for many of the women within the state, knowing that there would be dissenting opinions. Richards knew that there was still much to be done for women’s rights, but she strived to reach the majority in the hope that the topics discussed and covered were those that were significant to the women of Salt Lake City. On page 5 of the first issue, an article titled “Woman’s Rights and Wrongs” examined the equality that women lacked in relation to their male counterparts. This article explained the hardships women faced in doing the same amount of work as a man and receiving only a portion of the pay, as well as addressing the issue that women have the right to do any job their desire regardless of gender should they be able to adequately perform. Whether Richards intended for the publication to speak on behalf of women, equality, and at times for woman suffrage, it did and it became a key player in advocating for women in Utah.

The first issue of the Exponent set the stage for what would come from Richards, and later her successor, Emmeline Wells. The front page of the publication began with an article titled “News and Views.” This article commanded the entire front page of the paper and disclosed the news and opinions of Utah, as well as what was happening nationwide. Topics discussed in this article included religion, politics, suffrage, and race. Richards didn’t shy away from discussing what she believed in and what she thought the women of Utah wanted to be reading. The bold approach she took in writing and editing the paper helped catalyze the publication into the success that it experienced during its 42-year lifespan. On page two of the first issue, there is an article written by Eliza R. Snow on “The Female Relief Society,” which became a regular column in the Exponent penned by Snow. It gave readers a summary of the happenings of the church at the time. Richards felt that providing women with insight into the church was important as most of her readers were members of the religion. She also felt that having this section written by the president of the relief society was important for the women consuming the material.

The articles seemed to mildly contradict in that the written purpose was not to advocate for equality, but the articles themselves did articulate the support and advancement of equal rights for women. Emmeline B. Wells, who was known for her work within the woman suffrage movement, became Richards’s successor when Richards chose to withdraw as editor. Under the new leadership of Wells, the publication began taking a stronger stance on equality and woman suffrage.

On August 1, 1872, the Exponent published an article titled, “Why Women Should Vote.” This article touched on the fact that while some women cared nothing for politics and would most likely not vote, women should still be able to participate in voting and the voting process. The article stated that it was an important part of our society and should not exclude half of the nation’s population, as women had well-informed opinions and deserved to have a voice within democracy and politics. This article was extremely well received because women in Utah already possessed the right to vote and it led to further articles regarding woman suffrage and equal rights.

For example, on October 1, 1872, there was an article titled “Lady Lawyers” that recognized the remarkable accomplishment of two women who were admitted and sworn into the bar to become attorneys-at-law in the state of Utah. And while it wasn’t their intention or desire to practice law, they understood the large impact this would have for women across the nation. The article acknowledged that just a few years prior to this event, women were often ridiculed for their pursuits. The article also addressed the right of a woman “to earn her living in any honorable career for which she has capacity.” Utah was a remarkably advanced state within the union at the time and encouraged women to pursue their aspirations and career goals.

The first few months of the Exponent under Richards’s leadership laid the foundation for this progressive paper. Just five years after she signed on to the project, she decided to remove herself as acting editor. On July 15, 1877, the final issue of the Woman’s Exponent crediting Richards was published. That issue continued to advocate for equal rights, provide updates on the LDS church, and share poetry. The issue also shows significance in that it sold ad space on the last page, which generated revenue and income for the publication. Throughout all the stories and articles published in this issue, there is no acknowledgement of Richards’s departure. In a following issue of the paper, dated August 1, 1877, Richards penned an article titled “Valedictory,” in which she bid the paper farewell and discussed her reasons for departing the Exponent. She made it clear in her message that she would not be losing contact with her readers, but would be communicating with them as a contributing writer for the Exponent. She noted that she was in good health, but her “head and eyes need recruiting.” She also wrote that she believed her time would be best spent dedicated to domestic duties. Richards was content to relinquish all claim to the Exponent, because she knew she would be leaving it in good hands. She ended her farewell by asking her “sisters old and young” to subscribe and write to the Exponent to make it “more interesting and successful in performing its mission.”

After retiring as the editor of the Woman’s Exponent, Richards turned to being a wife and mother full time, but she never stopped writing. Her poetry is what launched her into her career with the Exponent; her poetry is how she continued to express herself throughout her life. Richards published a few of her poems during her five-year run with the paper and afterward found herself publishing a book, Branches That Run Over the Wall. Richards spent her life dedicating her time to her family and her writing. Never forgetting who she was or what she believed in, and was never afraid to speak her mind in the effort of being an independent woman at a time when that wasn’t always fully embraced. Louisa Lula Greene Richards was the first female editor in Utah and became a respected public figure and advocate for women all over the state.

The Woman’s Exponent provided women with an outlet and a resource that wasn’t a common commodity at the time. The publication had a female editor, the first in the state and breached topics that were both helpful, informative, and at times controversial. Looking back at the many issues of the paper, it is obvious that these women were dealing with issues that are still prevalent today. We are still fighting for gender equality in many regards, we are still fighting to give women an independent voice and we are still fighting to break into male dominated industries. Utah was a unique place, where women held positions without it being perceived as a woman trying to take over a man’s role. These women were praised for their work and made strides in the fight for equality for women everywhere. The paper was so successful that it even spurred the conception of Exponent II, a quarterly publication launched to give feminist Mormon women a voice. (Sheldon) Women across Utah, especially within the Mormon community, have been deeply impacted by the Exponent and the work of Richards and Wells. Their efforts have resonated with women across generations for over 100 years and even led to the development of other publications. This progressive paper was created by women for women.

Baylee Stephenson graduated in May 2017 from The University of Utah with a degree in communication. She moved to New York City after graduating to pursue a career in product development and now resides in the city full-time.

Sources

Louisa L. Richards, Branches That Run Over the Wall: A Book of Mormon Poem and Other Writings. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Magazine Printing Company, 1904.

“Valedictory,” Woman’s Exponent, August 1, 1877, 36.

Woman’s Exponent, June 15, 1877, 25-32.

“Lady Lawyers,” Woman’s Exponent, October 1, 1872, 68.

“Why Women Should Vote,” Woman’s Exponent, August 1, 1872, 36.

“News and Views,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 1.

“Our Position,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 4.

Eliza R. Snow, “The Female Relief Society,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 2.

“Woman’s Rights and Wrongs,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 5.

“Woman’s Exponent,” Salt Lake Daily Herald, April 9, 1872, 3.

Bennion, Sherilyn Cox. “Lula Greene Richards: Utah’s First Woman Editor.” BYU Studies 21, no. 2 (1981): 1-14.

Romney, Thomas C. “Louisa Lula Greene Richards.” The Instructor (September 1950): 262-263.

Sheldon, Carrel Hilton. “Launching Exponent II.” Exponent II. http://bit.ly/2otlTLP

White, Jean Bickmore. “Women’s Suffrage in Utah,” Utah History to Go. http://bit.ly/2kWl4rr

 

 

 

Florabel Muir, First Woman Reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune and Pioneer for Women in Journalism

by MADISAN HINKHOUSE

Florabel Muir was a pioneer for women in journalism, from being the first female reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune after getting her start at a lesser known Salt Lake paper called the Salt Lake Herald, to being the first woman to witness and report on an execution. In this analysis of the life and career of Muir, I will explore these implications and other aspects of her career in the world of journalism.

1950_BookMuir, born in 1900, grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She credited her upbringing for her ability to handle the “rough and tumble” side of journalism, meaning blood, fights and murder. Muir described Rock Springs as a mining town where rugged people had a better chance of survival, and most arguments were settled with fists. She was the youngest of eleven children. She wrote in her autobiography, Headline Happy, “Being a nonconformist from an early age, I developed a great strength of will to keep myself from being swamped by dos and don’ts from the rest of the family.” (Muir, 3)

The non-conformity began when Muir attended college at the University of Washington, where, following in the footsteps of her sisters, she studied to be a teacher. She went to work for the student newspaper to make extra money. This is where she was “bitten by the bug.” Muir writes about the time she spent as a teacher in rural Wyoming, but teaching was not what she wanted to do. (Muir, 3-4)

She made her way to Salt Lake City in search of a reporting job. Muir posed as an experienced reporter in an attempt to land a job. The language she learned while at the student publication helped her sound more experienced than she was. Even with this language and prior experience Muir worked odd jobs for nearly three months before getting a reporting job with the Salt Lake Herald. (Muir, 2-5)

Her career in professional news began in 1926 as a police reporter, according to an obituary published in Boxoffice in 1970. In her autobiography, Muir reflected on the hardships she faced being a woman in an industry dominated by males. She recalled when she got her start with the Herald: Women were not looked upon as proper instruments with which to get out the gutsier parts of the newspaper.” (Muir, 3) In this time, the 1920s and 1930s, editors allowed women to cover societal events and club pages. According to Muir, those beats bored the “bejesus” out of her. This boredom inspired her determination to cover murders, robberies and malfeasance with the boys. (Muir, 3; Boxoffice)

Although The Salt Lake Tribune was her first choice, it had never had a female reporter and the editor, Forest Lowry, had no intention of hiring one. Eventually Francis Matson, editor of the Salt Lake Herald, gave Muir a job covering the City and County Building. (Muir, 3-5)

In regard to landing the job, Muir wrote: “Matson was motivated primarily by a sly urge to dish out a cowering insult to a veteran Tribune reporter, Tom Higgs, with whom he had been feuding, by sending a girl to cover the beat against him.” (Muir, 4) This is only the beginning of the obstacles Muir faced in the journalism world solely based on her gender.

Muir worked hard to make a name for herself in Salt Lake City covering murders and scandals. She wrote in her autobiography about a time when she ruined the only good shoes she had by tramping through blood and gore to get information on a murder for a story. She wrote about sneaking around policemen to prevent being arrested for breaking and entering. “I do not intend to convey the impression here that walking around in blood is standard practice among newspaper reporters, but it does seem in retrospect that I have had more than my share of it,” Muir wrote in her memoir. (6)

She eventually landed a job with The Salt Lake Tribune as the newspaper’s first female general assignment reporter. While at the Tribune, Muir made it clear to her editor that she was not going to cover society or club news, which was the standard for women journalists. A history of the newspaper describes Muir’s career following her time with the Tribune as “violence studded.” She covered gang wars, murder and sensational trials. (Malmquist, 419-420)

Muir’s breakthrough for women reporters came when she was the first woman to cover the legal death of a man whose story she originally covered when he murdered his lover. During her time in Salt Lake City, Utah law stated only men could witness executions, leaving women out of a possible story during an already turbulent time for women in news, as discussed above. In order to cover the execution, Muir went to Utah’s attorney general and was ruled a reporter, not a woman, according to a 1944 article in Time. (Muir, 28-29)

Muir was successful in her push to cover the execution, but was provided a male back-up reporter, just in case she became ill while witnessing a man die. As it turned out, her backup is the one who fell ill watching a man die in front of a firing squad. (Malmquist, 419-420)

She writes a detailed and insightful chapter in Headline Happy about covering the execution. She remembered her editor telling her she had handled the story better than expected, considering she was not the reporter who became sick. She observed, “I graduated into the big time that day. I could handle a story like a man. That was very important to me.” (Muir, 32)

Through her career, Muir moved on to work for the New York Daily News, where she wrote a daily column, according to a 1932 story in Variety magazine. Muir wrote columns that were syndicated to Chicago and Los Angeles, giving her a wide readership and well-known name among journalists. (“Florabel Muir succeeds”) She spent time in her career covering Hollywood-esque beats while also heading out on multiple special assignments according to another article in Variety. (“Charterer as a Scenarist”)

In her autobiography, Muir relates a colorful story of a time when she was shot in the “derriere” while following an infamous New York gambler for a story. It happened in July 1949 when she followed Mickey Cohen to various night spots around Hollywood. She wrote that she was waiting for someone to kill him in hopes that she would be there when it happened. She succeeded, but not without scars. When the shooting began, a bullet hit an object and then Muir, but she got the “newsbreak” that several other reporters missed because they gave up and left before the shooting started. (Muir, 1-2)

Muir found herself in trouble later in her career, once for buying and reselling liquor licenses and once for spitting in the face of another reporter, according to Variety. The story, published October 14, 1953, detailed how the former got her fired from a beat at the L.A. Mirror, and that she didn’t resign, as other news outlets reported.

At the end of her career, Muir was widely respected by fellow writers and journalists. One Variety reporter observed in 1938, “Many of Miss Muir’s kidding phrases were fine bits of reporting and evidenced a showmanship slant of the principals.” From my research, I conclude that Muir enjoyed the peak of her career between 1926 and 1938.

A 1950 review of her autobiography published in Variety praised Muir and cited her “delicious sense of humor and double barreled talent for superb writing craftsmanship.” The book accounted the adventures of her exciting career in journalism.

Muir died of a heart attack at the age of 80. In the New York Times obituary she was quoted as saying, “I was having a talk with my croaker the other day. He says ‘Florabel, your ticker ain’t worth a pot in hell—you take it easy, so I guess I will.’”

While researching and reading her autobiography, I grew to admire Muir’s love of journalism of being a reporter. She claimed to be suffering from an occupational disease called “Headline Happy,” which she described as a “wonderful, stimulating form of looniness in the like of which is found only in the newspaper game.” She wrote that colleagues found her expeditions to get stories crazy. She claimed they were right: she was crazy about journalism. (Muir, 1)

Madisan Hinkhouse is an alumna of The University of Utah with a fiery passion for journalism and the First Amendment. She enjoys fly fishing, skiing and spending more time outdoors than indoors.

Sources

“Florabel Muir resigns,” Variety, February 16, 1932, 3.

“Charterer as a Scenarist,” Variety, June 21, 1932, 53.

“Florabel Muir, Take a Bow,” Variety, December 28, 1938, 45.

“The Press: Florabel,” Time, November 13, 1944, 70.

Florabel Muir, Headline Happy (New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1950).

“‘Headline Happy’ Is Just That,” Variety, October 25, 1950, 61.

“Miscellany: Florabel Bounced By L.A. Mirror,” Variety, October 14, 1953, 2.

“Florabel Muir succeeds Hedda,” Variety, February 9, 1966, 4.

“Florabel Muir, 80, of The Daily News,” The New York Times, April 28, 1970, 41.

“Florabel Muir, 80, Dies following heart attack,” Boxoffice, May 4, 1970, 4.

Malmquist, O. N. The First 100 Years: A History of The Salt Lake Tribune, 1871-1971. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1971.

 

Printed Voices of the Salt Lake City LGBT Community in the Early 1990s

by BRIAN ROBLES

A newspaper’s success is heavily dependent on the character and strength of the people behind the scenes. This is especially true of the alternative press, including newspapers targeted for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. Without a large group of readers and subscribers, it would make printing and distributing a heavy cost not easily paid. Luckily, there are people who are willing to champion this cause. In recent years, Salt Lake City has become one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the U.S., which contrasts with the city’s conservative image. (Breen) This is in part due to the LGBT community that pioneered for a voice.

Tracy Baim, an award-winning journalist in the gay community, wrote in her book, Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America, that:

There is a reason a gay press was needed. When the media of the previous two centuries were not wholly ignoring everything about homosexuals and the growing gay-rights movement, they were doing far worse: moralizing, demonizing, criminalizing, medicalizing, “repairing,” proselytizing, polarizing, ostracizing and often just pitying those poor, sad, pathetic “avowed” homosexuals. (Baim, 15)

Gay media were able to supply the LGBT community with something that it desperately needed: gay news that was relevant to the community. Because the mainstream media tended to show the gay lifestyle in a negative light, it was important for readers to have somewhere to turn for reinforcement that it was OK to be gay. The gay press was able to provide role models and inspirational authors who were able to help readers find a positive self-image. A study on the effects of media on gay identity states that without these role models there “was a sense of being excluded from traditional society.” (Gomillion and Giuliano, 347) Without the gay press, the LGBT community of Salt Lake City would have found themselves as outsiders with no room for their alternative lifestyle.

The purpose of this project is to illustrate the crucial role that the writers, editors, and publishers of certain Salt Lake City publications played in creating a voice for the LGBT community in the early 1990s. Their staunch support and willingness to represent this minority demographic enabled the LGBT community to have its issues gain public awareness. Highlighted are the attempts by these editors and publishers to draw the lay public into action.

Excerpts from three publications that were published through the early 1990s in Salt Lake City will be presented and interpreted in this article. These publications were: The Bridge, Outfront Review, and The Pillar of the Gay Community. The editors and publishers of these papers reflected on specific LGBT issues at the beginning of each publication, which helped set the tone of that particular publication. Their blurbs, pieces, and publications provided a place for these community contributors to try to bring the LGBT voice of out complacency and to bring the community together as a collective chorus that would assure that their voices would be heard.

The Bridge

Starting in 1990, a monthly publication called The Bridge, and its copublishers Becky Moorman and Alice Hart, brought the call to action and urgency to the Salt Lake City LGBT community. The forceful tone found throughout the publications present LGBT issues that demand to be heard. The Publishers’ Notes varied from introductions of the month’s publication to celebrations of queer culture to short shout-outs to close friends. These Publishers’ Notes are how we see just how deeply invested Moorman and Hart were in their community. According to the note in the second issue of The Bridge, published in November 1990:

Besides being a service to the gay and lesbian communities of Utah, The Bridge is Utah’s watchdog to the arts (and art censors): literary and visual. And if you don’t believe they need guarding; you don’t get out much. America’s art, music, and culture are going to the congressional dogs, and the constitution right along with it.

From the beginning, Moorman and Hart showed a penchant for the political. This was a publication that had publishers who were not willing to let their community be voiceless any longer.

caption

Cover of The Bridge. This publication, and others discussed in this article, are available at the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The Bridge was a call to action for the LGBT community. The publishers were not merely interested in presenting alternative news; they wanted to shape their history and society. The editors and publishers of The Bridge believed that involvement was the way to bring change. But that is not to say that Moorman and Hart were solely interested in what affected the LGBT community. In the sixth issue, published in March 1991, Moorman and Hart wrote to their readers regarding pending legislation — The Hate Crimes Statistics Act and Anti-Abortion laws. The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which was ultimately adopted in 1992, required the state to collect and publish the hate crimes committed in the state. Pro-life versus pro-choice was also a hot topic at the time with the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case discussing abortion. In this sixth issue, the editors were not afraid to show where they stood nor were they afraid to push their readers to action:

“Be sure to voice your support for the Hate Crimes Statistic Bill and to mention how disgusted you are with the new anti-abortion law. Remember to boycott Utah. Cancel your conferences. Encourage everyone you know out of state not to travel here, spend money or do business with Utah companies until the unconstitutional ban on choice is lifted. Gut and burn any cars you see with anti-choice bumper stickers. Or if you’re a republican pro-lifer, bomb an abortion clinic for Jesus. There’s no one in them right now; which makes it less fun, but infinitely safer.”

This use of language — asking the readers to participate in boycotts and the like — was to encourage readers to come out and start taking an active role in their community. While this call for boycotting and law breaking was strong, the idea itself proves to be a radical one and may have perhaps alienated some of the readers of these notes. The other issue with boycotting Salt Lake City as a whole is that it would hurt the LGBT community just as much as the general population. A powerfully emotional, and perhaps too zealous, call to action can prove to be more detrimental than helpful in this case.

As mentioned, not all of the Publishers’ Notes were written in this authoritative call to action, but it was the urge for readers to become one of their community, to shirk their fear of retaliation due to the way they chose to love, that made The Bridge such an important publication. The February 1992 issue featured one of the more powerful calls to raise the voice of the LGBT community:

Love & Hate — this is the month for it! Hate Radio! Hate Crimes! Hate legislation! Homosexuals are the fashionable to-hates. The last sanctioned discrimination. Legislators, churches hide behind silence and exclusion — tacitly financing violence. Stop the straight war on gay love. No one can afford to be a fence-sitter. Violence is everyone’s problem. We can only stop it by saying STOP in as loud a voice as we can. Ask everyone. TELL everyone. They don’t have a right to NOT have an opinion. Don’t be complacent. Don’t let anyone be complacent. They may not like you for it now. Equality is contagious. If you keep on person from being silent – other’s will speak up. Others will listen. Silence is death. There may be blood on your hands for every time you heard gays talked about, joked about, whatever and didn’t say STOP!

Here Moorman and Hart explain that it’s not only a right, but also an obligation to raise one’s voice and to participate. They take a stand against those who don’t walk their talk. Discrimination of any kind is kept in power by the silence of the people who may oppose it in their hearts but never lend their voices to the cause. As a member of a community, one has certain responsibilities. If readers chose to read this particular publication and be a part of the community, it was their responsibility to become an active member to help further the progress of the LGBT movement in Salt Lake City.

Image courtesy of J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Outfront Review

The second publication of focus is the bi-monthly publication Outfront Review, originally Out Front Magazine, whose editor provided a more unified vision to their readers. Throughout the years, Editor Randy Richardson used a voice that seemed more suggestive than authoritative in the call to arms for the LGBT community of Salt Lake. While reviewing the Editor’s Notes in these publications, it’s found that Richardson spoke more with an appeal to pathos in contrast to Moorman and Hart’s lean to logos.

Like The Bridge, Outfront Review called for the LGBT public to participate in politics in order to gain awareness and make political strides. Outfront Review presented this same line of thinking in November 1992 when Richardson wrote:

“When you VOTE, remember all those who have gone before us and died needlessly because we had no rights. Remember all of those who never had a chance because AIDS was a Gay disease. Do it in remembrance of all those who have fought hard all of these years to get us to where we are today … think of all of our children … what future will they have, what legacy shall we leave them?

“PLEASE VOTE. We know you are out there, and that you do really care!”

This piece shows that appeal to emotion in the mention of children and the dead but its plea is similar to that of The Bridge in that the editor still seeks participation from the community.

The second issue, published in November 1992 discussed the role of the community in politics. The Editor’s Note addressed the need for the community to come together rather than remain segregated into gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgender individuals ­— an issue that continues even today. Editor Richardson wrote: “Perhaps we need to look at forming a united gay and lesbian alliance … so that we can discuss things together, in an open forum … and then vote to obtain a majority opinion, speaking with one voice, representative of … and in … the best interest of our desires, goals and objectives as a community.”

The Pillar

Image courtesy of J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

This brings us to The Pillar of the Gay Community (The Pillar for short), which began publishing in 1993 with a specific demographic in mind — gay men. As The Pillar grew in popularity, it became apparent that the niche it filled could be inclusive to all of the LGBT community. The paper started to expand its role in the LGBT community, which can be seen in the paper’s changing tagline. For example, it started as a publication for “For Utah Mehn,” [sic] then billed itself as being for the “Lesbian and Gay Community” before broadening its focus to the “the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Community” of Salt Lake. The Pillar was the longest lived of the three publications presented in this article and continued publication until 2007. Its longevity may be due to its mix of LGBT news, entertainment, and flat out in-your-face attitude. Here, in the paper’s debut issue published April 1993, the writers set the record straight on what they will contribute to their community — and what the community could expect in future issues:

Why another paper in an over-developed market such as Salt Lake City you might ask? Great Question! We at The Pillar feel that there is a “hole” that is not being filled in the Gay Media and we hop to plug it! With the demise of The Bridge, and the Outfront, a group of us desired to compliment The Womyn’s Community Newsletter by mirroring them in our Mehn’s community. We are not out to offend anyone but get use to seeing Faggot, Dyke, and Queer in print and some outrageous Gay consciousness raising at times. We are firm proponents of the Gay Human Rights and we make no apologies for being homosexually proactive.

As mentioned in the note above, The Bridge and Outfront Review had both closed their doors, leaving a gap for this publication to fill.

The Pillar seemed to combine the best aspects of both The Bridge and Outfront Review. In the premier issue, readers were introduced to what they could expect from The Pillar — an unapologetic, authoritative use of language, which is reminiscent of the pieces published in The Bridge. But then The Pillar also adopted that same desire for unity that The Bridge sought, as seen in the “From The Editor” piece by Kim Russo in the December 1995 issue:

Too many times and on too many occasions when we have had a conflict or could not come to an agreement as an organization, we tended to “eat our own.” Instead of resolving differences or understanding that we can disagree and still function as a group or organization, anger took its turn and we “ate our own.” Torie Osborne coined that phrase and I resolved never to forget it. She said that in gay and lesbian communities around the nation, when conflict occurred, members would turn against each other and tear the other one down. How right Torie is. Therefore, resolve to be fair and not too critical. You know of all communities that should stick together because they have personally experienced their own kind of pain, it is us. Indeed may we stand together through it all.

This piece echoes Richardson’s note from Outfront Review, showing us that there was, and is, still the need for the community to band together.

Conclusion

The Editor’s Notes and Publisher’s Notes are often missed or skipped over for the traditional news and entertainment articles. This is a problem as these notes and additions to periodicals reveal so much emotion in them and provide insight to why the LGBT publications existed in the first place. The stories found between the covers of the publications discussed here held many of the same qualities found throughout great journalistic articles, but these notes presented something similar to a dialogue, which helped make these documents relevant even after nearly two decades. It was like reading a letter from a dear friend. They provided summaries of what had happened, and hopes of what may come, and always pushed readers to be better in their community and their lives.

The efforts by the influential people of the time helped make the LGBT community as strong as it is today. There’s still work to be done and maybe today’s publications, like QSaltLake, will be what The Bridge, Outfront Review, and The Pillar were for the LGBT community in the early 1990s. There’s still a need for gay press to spur the people into action, to inform them of what rights they have (or don’t), and to unite the factions within the LGBT community.

Brian Robles is a senior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in mass communication.

Sources

Kim Russo, “From The Editor,” The Pillar of the Gay Community, December 1995, 6.

Kim Russo, “From The Editor,” The Pillar of the Gay Community, May 1994, 2.

“Premier Issue,” The Pillar of the Gay Community, April 1993, 1.

Randy Richardson, “Editor’s Note,” Outfront Review, November 15-30, 1992, 2.

Randy Richardson, “Editor’s Note,” Outfront Review, November 1-15, 1992, 3.

Randy Richardson, “Editor’s Note,” Outfront Review, July 15-31, 1992, 3.

Alice Hart and Becky Moorman, “Publishers’ Note,” The Bridge, February, 1992, 5.

Alice Hart and Becky Moorman, “Publishers’ Note,” The Bridge, March, 1991, 4.

Alice Hart and Becky Moorman, “Publishers’ Note,” The Bridge, November, 1990, 3.

Baim, Tracy and John D’Emilio. Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

Breen, Matthew. “Gayest Cities in America,” The Advocate, January 9, 2012.

Gomillion, Sarah C. and Traci A. Giuliano. “The Influence of Media Role Models on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity.” Journal of Homosexuality 58, no. 3 (2011): 330-54.

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lecture in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on May 11, 1923

by VALERIE JOHNSON

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for creating Sherlock Holmes, became a fervent Spiritualist during the latter part of his life. He strove to prove the existence of spirits through psychic photography and exposed fraudulent psychics. According to an interview he gave to the Deseret Evening News on May 11, 1923, he became interested in spiritualism about 35 years before, or around 1888, when A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel, was published. After his son and his brother died in World War I, Conan Doyle turned his attention towards Spiritualism, the Daily Utah Chronicle reported on May 9, 1923. This was his second academic tour of the United States and his first time visiting Utah and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, both of which had been featured prominently in A Study in Scarlet, the latter unflatteringly so. With some arrangements from the extension division of the University of Utah, Conan Doyle headed to Salt Lake City.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle arrived in Salt Lake City on May 11, 1923, around 12:50 p.m. He was accompanied by his wife, Lady Jean Elizabeth Conan Doyle, his three children, Denis, 14, Malcolm, 12, and Miss Jean, 10, his business manager Wallace Erskine, and the children’s governess, Miss French. Conan Doyle was immediately impressed with the Salt Lake Valley that he was seeing for the first time. According to a May 11, 1923, Deseret Evening News article, he described the valley as “very lovely and so well cultivated and neatly done. It is quite inspiring.” The same article neglected to mention that not only did he have one more son who died in World War I, but he also had two other daughters, one of whom was traveling with him. The Salt Lake Tribune and The Salt Lake Telegram both mention that Conan Doyle was traveling with his three children, but the Deseret Evening News either forgot about his daughter, or chose to omit her altogether. It’s possible that they didn’t feel the need to mention her because she was a girl.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was scheduled to lecture in the Tabernacle at 8:15 in the evening. Tickets were priced from $0.50 to $2.00, and all 5,000 seats were sold out, according to the May 12, 1923, Salt Lake Telegram article. His topic, “Recent Psychic Evidence,” sparked great interest. A May 11 Salt Lake Tribune article attributed the unprecedented popularity of Conan Doyle’s lecture to the fact that he could answer the question of what might lie beyond the grave. The other reason was that he was the creator of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. The Salt Lake Tribune expected the crowd to consist of “pastors of many churches, attorneys, doctors, men of science, students of literature, bankers, merchants, mechanics, salesmen, railroad men, from executive down to the clerical force; women, from social leaders down to house servants – representatives of every type and station.” All came to see the exciting psychic photographs or to meet the author of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories.

The most popular feature of Conan Doyle’s visit were his photographs proving the existence of spirits. The Salt Lake Telegram published several stories on Conan Doyle’s work in Spiritualism in the weeks before his arrival. One of these pictures was described in detail in The Salt Lake Tribune on May 9, 1923. It described the scene of a crowd around a soldier’s tomb, with the presence of spirit faces amongst the living. It was to this photograph that women reacted so emotionally. On the same day, The Salt Lake Telegram described a photograph of a paraffin glove created by a spirit during a séance. Conan Doyle explained that only a spirit could have made the glove of wax because the thin layers were unbroken.

In order to show these photographs, a special screen was erected in the Tabernacle. On May 9, 1923, the Deseret Evening News asked for “an expert slide operator and a machine with an adjustable carrier since the slides which Sir Conan will use are of English manufacture and a little different in style from the American make.” According to an article in The Salt Lake Telegram on May 11, Russell E. Enger was put in charge of the visuals so that everyone could see the slides. Levi Edgar Young was chosen to introduce Conan Doyle’s lecture. He was also the toastmaster at a luncheon given at the Alta club, where Conan Doyle and his wife were guests of honor.

A May 13, 1923, article in The Salt Lake Telegram detailed the luncheon given by F. W. Reynolds, director of the extension division of the University of Utah. It was through his arrangements that Conan Doyle was able to lecture at the Tabernacle. During his stay, Conan Doyle was able to visit a pioneer museum and compared the items to those he had seen in South Africa after the Boer War.

The Deseret Evening News seemed hesitant to print anything about Conan Doyle’s psychic endeavors. The paper focused on what Conan Doyle had to say about Salt Lake City and on the literary achievements of his 12-year-old son, but had little to say about Conan Doyle’s photographs. On May 12, 1923, a summary of his lecture gave the overall impression that spiritualism was an optimistic religion that promoted tolerance. It hardly mentioned the photographs that were supposed to be the main feature. Like Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle kept his lecture free of “the uncanny” and explained the difference between the tricks used by swindlers and real psychic phenomena.

The Salt Lake Tribune took a different stance to covering Conan Doyle’s lecture. On May 12, 1923, it described the process for photographing spirits, how the spirits were able to become visible for brief periods, and what kind of life one should expect beyond the grave. It took as clear and calculated a tone as Conan Doyle was likely to have taken with his lecture. The Salt Lake Tribune took Conan Doyle’s methods seriously, but with a grain of salt and didn’t take his theories to be fact.

The Salt Lake Telegram was possibly the most “spellbound” of the papers to summarize Conan Doyle’s lecture on May 12, 1923. It was impressed by Conan Doyle’s conversations with his dead brother and mother, and explained how his view of Spiritualism depended on the Bible and Christianity. It is the only paper to put some doubt in his lecture: “It was when he grew argumentative that his logic at times appeared to be far from invulnerable.” It also brought up an argument against Conan Doyle’s claim that life is mostly unhappy, reminding readers about the joy of childhood.

Most of the credibility of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s claims comes from Sherlock Holmes. Even though Conan Doyle was trying to shift his readers’ attention from his popular Sherlock Holmes novels to his more serious, historical works, the great detective still comes back into play. The public believed that someone who could create as analytical and clever a character as Sherlock Holmes must himself be a man of science and understanding. In The Salt Lake Tribune May 11, 1923, article, Conan Doyle’s sincerity and integrity was placed next to the mention of Sherlock Holmes. On the same day, The Salt Lake Telegram ran a story on Conan Doyle with a sub-head of, “Man Known to World as Sherlock Holmes Will Exhibit Photos Showing Evidence of Ectoplasm.” The mystery of what lay beyond the grave was akin to one of Holmes’ cases, and would be solved just as easily. Were it not for Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle wouldn’t have nearly as much credibility, and the articles about his “spirit” photographs or the sighting of spirits around a soldier’s tomb would not have been run in The Salt Lake Tribune on May 7 and 9 respectively.

Valerie Johnson is a junior at the University of Utah. She is majoring in mass communication and minoring in creative writing. She has also been a Sherlock Holmes fanatic for six years and is an aspiring Sherlock Holmes expert.

Sources

Primary Sources:

“Sir Conan Doyle is Accompanied by Family,” Deseret Evening News, May 9, 1923, sec. 1, 5.

“Doyle Delighted With First Visit to Western U.S.,” Deseret Evening News, May 11, 1923, sec. 2, 1.

“Most of Mankind Deserves Reward Says Sir Conan,” Deseret Evening News, May 12, 1923, sec. 2, 8.

“A. Conan Doyle to Lecture on Psychic Proofs,” Daily Utah Chronicle, May 9, 1923, 1.

“Doyle Will Exhibit ‘Sprit’ Photographs,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 7, 1923, 7.

“Doyle Will Arrive in City Friday Noon,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 8, 1923, 11.

“Doyle Film Pictures Dead Around Tomb,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 9, 1923, 7.

“Doyle Awakens Much Interest,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 11, 1923, 11.

“Spirit Proofs are Advanced,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1923, 18.

“Recent Psychic Evidence” (advert for Conan Doyle’s Lecture), The Salt Lake Telegram, May 7, 1923, 10.

“Conan Doyle Comes Friday,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 9, 1923, 5.

“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Salt Lake Visitor: Noted Author Will Tell of Spirit Research,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 11, 1923, 2.

“5000 Attend Conan Doyle Spirit Lecture,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 12, 1923, 3.

“Conan Doyle is Entertained at Luncheon Here,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 13, 1923, 3.

Secondary Source:

Michael W. Homer, “‘Recent Psychic Evidence’: The Visit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Utah in 1923,” The Journal of The Arthur Conan Doyle Society 6 (1995): 160-168.