The Church Historian's Press

Emma Jane Kelly

5 March 1846–9 June 1916

Born 5 Mar. 1846 in Watertown, Jefferson Co., New York.[1] Daughter of James W. Kelly and Isabel Jane Welch.[2] Taught music in Jefferson Co. and in Faribault Co., Minnesota, 1870–1880.[3] Moved to Salt Lake City, 1880, and taught music for the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute (now Westminster College) and St. Mark’s School, 1880–1885.[4] Served as the first president of the Children’s Service Society of Utah, 1883–1909.[5] Married John McVicker, 14 June 1886, in Salt Lake City.[6] Worked extensively with EBW speaking in meetings throughout Utah about women’s suffrage, 1891–1904.[7] Author of “The Presbyterian Work in Utah” in the World’s Fair Ecclesiastical History of Utah, 1893, and “Home and Foreign Missionary Society of the First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake” in Charities and Philanthropies: Woman’s Work in Utah, edited by EBW, 1893.[8] Founded the Free Kindergarten Association, 18 June 1894.[9] First woman regent of the University of Utah, 1896; member of the advisory board, 1897–1905.[10] Member of the Woman’s Press Club, 1899; the Women’s Peace Committee with EBW, 1899; the Teachers’ Association, serving as president, 1901; the Cleofan Club (Ladies’ Literary Club); and the Utah Federation of Women’s Clubs, serving as treasurer and president.[11] Earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Utah, 1900.[12] Appointed by Utah governor Heber M. Wells to fill the remaining three-month term as state superintendent of education, 8 Oct. 1900.[13] President of the Utah Teachers’ Association, 1901.[14] Worked with the Council of Women, 1902; helped EBW conduct a survey of women’s charitable work.[15] Earned a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkley, 1903.[16] Published Some Saline and Thermal Algae in the Vicinity of Great Salt Lake, 1903.[17] Moved to Berkeley, Alameda Co., California, 1908.[18] Died 9 June 1916 in Berkeley.[19] Buried in Salt Lake City.[20]


[1] “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795–1925,” database and images, (, accessed 6 July 2020), Emma J. McVicker; from National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. 1900 U.S. Census, Salt Lake City Fifth Ward, Salt Lake Co., UT, ED 51, p. 4. “Family Tree,” database, FamilySearch (, accessed 20 June 2019), Emma Jane Kelley (KHJ5-9B6).

[2] The History of Columbia County, Wisconsin (Chicago: Western Historical, 1886), 1029.

[3] 1870 U.S. Census, Adams, Jefferson Co., NY, p. 28, Emma Kelly. 1880 U.S. Census, Joe Daviess, Faribault Co., MN, ED 64, p. 151A, Emma Kelly.

[4] Rhonda Lee Rhodes, “A History of Music Education in the Utah Territory, 1850–1895” (PhD dissertation, Boston University, 2017), 120–121, 131, 153, 286. 

[5] “For the Charitable,” Salt Lake Daily Herald, 16 July 1886, 5. “At the City Council,” Salt Lake Daily Herald, 14 Dec. 1887, 8. “Incorporation Papers Held Up Two Years,” Salt Lake Telegram, 15 July 1909, 3.

[6] “Married,” Salt Lake Evening Democrat, 15 June 1886, 4.

[7] EBW, Diary, July–Dec. 1895. “Woman Suffrage,” Deseret Weekly (Salt Lake City), 23 Mar. 1895, 20. “Suffrage Convention,” Salt Lake Herald, 14 May 1895, 3. “Republican Women,” Salt Lake Herald, 21 July 1895, 3. “Mrs. M’Vicker’s Success,” Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Aug. 1895, 1. “Clubwomen Are Entertained Here,” Salt Lake Telegram, 19 May 1902, 5.

[8] World’s Fair Ecclesiastical History of Utah (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1893), 257. EBW, ed., Charities and Philanthropies: Woman’s Work in Utah (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1893), 36–38.

[9] Andrea Ventilla, “Women and the Kindergarten Movement in Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 81, no. 2 (Spring 2013): 138. “Kindergarten Is Incorporated,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Jan. 1896, 8.

[10] “The Board of Regents of the University,” University Chronicle (Salt Lake City), 8 Apr. 1896, 344. “Meeting of Regents,” Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 14 Jan. 1902, 8. “University of Utah,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Jan. 1900.

[11] “Woman’s Press Club Meeting,” Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Oct. 1899, 3. “Society Notes,” Salt Lake Herald, 19 May 1895, 7. “Reception by W.W.P.C. and R.,” Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 1 May 1895, 5. “Women’s Clubs in Utah,” Salt Lake Herald, Christmas Edition, 26 Dec. 1897, 20.

[12] Naomi Watkins, “Emma McVicker, Utah’s First Female Superintendent of Schools,” Better Days 2020 (, accessed 8 Oct. 2020).

[13] “Mrs. M’Vicker Qualifies,” Salt Lake Herald, 11 Oct. 1900, 7. “Mrs. M’Vicker Named,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Oct. 1900. “Teachers in Session,” Standard (Ogden, UT), 3 Nov. 1900, 5.

[14] Mary R. Clark and Patricia Lyn Scott, “From Schoolmarm to State Superintendent,” in Women in Utah History Paradigm or Paradox?, edited by Patricia Lyn Scott and Linda Thatcher (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2005), 236.

[15] “Council of Women,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 4 Oct. 1902, 6. Patricia Lyn Scott and Linda Thatcher, eds., Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox? (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2005), 118.

[16] The University of California Chronicle, 1903, no. 1, 93. W. W. Merrill, Catalogue of the Academic Senate, 1889–1905 (Berkley, CA: University Press, 1905), 102.

[17] Emma J. McVickers, Some Saline and Thermal Algae in the Vicinity of Great Salt Lake (Berkeley, CA: University of California Libraries, 1903).

[18] “Happenings at the Bay,” Sacramento Bee, 12 June 1916, 2.

[19] “California, Death Index, 1905–1939,” database, (, accessed 1 Aug. 2018). “Births-Marriages-Deaths,” San Francisco Chronicle, 12 June 1916, 6.

[20] “Distinguished Woman Scholar to Be Buried,” Salt Lake Telegram, 14 June 1916, 9. “Service Tomorrow for Mrs. M’Vicker,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 June 1916, 12.