“I would not be forgotten quite,” wrote twenty-eight-year-old Eliza R. Snow. It was the last line in a poem published in the Ohio Star in February 1832 under the pseudonym “Cornelia.”1 Snow wrote this poem, “Forget Me Not,” three years before her baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Little did she know then that she would go on to become one of the best-known women in Latter-day Saint history.
Two preceding volumes published by the Church Historian’s Press have featured the words and discourses of Latter-day Saint women: The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (2016) and At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women (2017). While Snow’s words are included in about thirty texts, both written and spoken, in First Fifty Years and in four sermons in At the Pulpit, the Discourses of Eliza R. Snow provides a comprehensive collection of the spoken words of this remarkable woman. The project—an electronic collection of every known Snow discourse and a print volume of selected discourses—was conceived by Jennifer Reeder and Matthew McBride, who were members of the Church History Department web team. Initially, the team proposed calling the final publication the Sermons of Eliza R. Snow. But as the project progressed, it became clear that Snow was more than a preacher—that her public speaking was not limited to religious subjects. She was also a cultural and political leader, and her willingness to acknowledge God’s hand in all things allowed her to understand and address the connection between temporal and spiritual matters through her discourses.
Over the course of three years, a team of Church History Department staff and volunteers labored to locate and transcribe all the extant discourses Snow delivered in her lifetime, including through her participation in debating and literary societies. The efforts to publish all of Snow’s discourses in one place involved reading over fifteen hundred Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary, general, and Sunday School minute books; fifteen years’ worth of Woman’s Exponent issues; and many newspapers, personal journals, and other sources. Eventually the team found and transcribed more than one thousand discourses. All of the transcripts were also verified at least two times.
In addition to the meetings at which she gave her extemporaneous discourses, Snow also presided over meetings but refrained from speaking to allow other women the opportunity to share their testimonies—in fact, she often encouraged the sisters to overcome their diffidence and rise up with courage to speak in their meetings. Meetings in which Snow presided but did not speak—or at least where no record was preserved of her words—are noted in a calendar of documents and maps of her travels. According to the accessible records, excluding any lost or destroyed records, Snow presided as general leader of women and the Relief Society at a total of over twelve hundred meetings of women, men, and children.
In February 2020, the Church History Department received approval from the First Presidency to publish Eliza R. Snow’s discourses. All the discourses the Church History Department team discovered are included on this website. A print edition of selected discourses will follow.
Jennifer Reeder oversaw the project as lead editor, and Elizabeth A. Kuehn worked as an editor on the project and provided documentary editing assistance. Julie A. Russell managed information and workflow, assisted with locating the discourses and preparing the texts, and source checked introductory material.
Volunteers and interns who searched through minute books and newspapers and provided transcriptions include Britta Adams, Laurel Barlow, Rachel Carter, Thomas Clark, Chére J. Clarke, Taylor Huguely, Nathan Jones, Brooke LeFevre, Andrea Maxfield, Elizabeth Mott, Mary Ann Olsen, Elizabeth Rice, McKall Ruell, Diana Wing, Erika Wright, and Susan Yungfleish.
As the work of transcription and verification continued, Ben Ellis Godfrey oversaw the development of the project pages on the Church Historian’s Press website. In addition, he coordinated the efforts to find photographs and prepare the text for online publication. Jenny Rollins, Naomi White, and R. Eric Smith edited the transcripts and the other materials on this site. John Heath arranged for publicity efforts and created the interactive map showing locations of discourses. The location of each discourse was verified against the MormonPlaces database, edited by Brandon S. Plewe of Brigham Young University. Blake Baker of Geographical Information Services, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, created the maps of two of Snow’s tours. Executives and managers of the Church History Department—especially LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., church historian and recorder and executive director of the Church History Department; Kyle S. McKay, department assistant executive director; Matthew J. Grow, department managing director; and Matthew McBride, director of the department’s Publications Division—provided support and encouragement throughout the process.
Like Snow, every single one of these people who worked to bring her words to light in the twenty-first century “would not be forgotten quite.”