May Anderson

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May Anderson
Photo of May Anderson
2nd General President of the Primary
October 8, 1925 (1925-10-08) – 1939
Called byHeber J. Grant
PredecessorLouie B. Felt
SuccessorMay Green Hinckley
First Counselor in the general presidency of the Primary
1905 – October 8, 1925 (1925-10-08)
Called byLouie B. Felt
PredecessorLillie T. Freeze
SuccessorSadie Grant Pack
Personal details
Born(1864-06-08)June 8, 1864
Liverpool, UK
DiedJune 11, 1946(1946-06-11) (aged 82)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting placeSalt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37″N 111°51′29″W / 40.777°N 111.858°W / 40.777; -111.858 (Salt Lake City Cemetery)
Alma materUniversity of Utah
OccupationKindergarten Teacher
President of the board of trustees of the Children's hospital in Salt Lake City.
Notable worksEditor of The Children's Friend
ParentsScott Anderson
Mary Bruce
AwardsBronze medal (U.S. Department of Labor 1919) Victory Loan Medal (U S treasury department 1919)

May Anderson (June 8, 1864 – June 11, 1946) was the second general president of the children's Primary organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) between 1925 and 1939. Anderson also served as the first counselor to general Primary president Louie B. Felt from 1905 to 1925.

Early life[edit]

Anderson was born in Liverpool, England, the third of Scott Anderson and Mary Bruce's 12 children. She emigrated to Utah Territory with her family after the family had been baptized by missionaries of the LDS Church. During the journey to Utah, Anderson met Louie B. Felt, who would become a lifelong friend and co-worker in the Primary Association of the church.

Involvement with the Primary Association[edit]

Louie Felt (right)
and May Anderson (left)

On October 5, 1890, Louie B. Felt, the general president of the Primary Association, asked Anderson to become a member of the general board of the organization. For the next forty-nine years, Anderson would work in some capacity in the Primary organization of the LDS Church. She was the general board's secretary for fifteen years (1890–1905), Felt's first counselor in the general presidency for twenty years (1905–25), and general president of the organization for fourteen years (1925–39). Anderson was also the first editor-in-chief of The Children's Friend, the church's official magazine for children.

During her tenure in the presidency of the Primary, Anderson initiated the Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, which is today part of Intermountain Healthcare. Anderson also helped establish kindergartens in Utah. Anderson's successor to the Primary general presidency was May Green Hinckley.

Anderson did not marry and died at Salt Lake City of arteriosclerosis.[1] She was buried at Salt Lake City.

Relationship with Louie Felt[edit]

Anderson had a lifelong friendship with fellow church leader Louie B. Felt. When Felt was suffering an illness in 1889, Felt's husband Joseph requested May to stay there to care for her while he was away on a business trip. During the period that Anderson was the editor-in-chief of The Children's Friend, it published an anonymous account of the friendship that existed between Felt and Anderson; the article referred to the couple as the "David and Jonathan of the Primary" organization.[2] This has led two dissident Mormon historians to theorize that Anderson and Felt had a partially closeted lesbian relationship.[3][4]

However, other LDS researchers have disagreed with this theory, calling it a distortion of LDS history and a misrepresention of facts.[5][6][7] Two researchers have stated: "No evidence exists to lead us to believe that their relationship was anything but that of true and chaste Christian friendship and sisterly love."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ State of Utah Death Certificate Archived August 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Mary and May", The Children's Friend, vol. 18, Oct. 1919, 420–21.
  3. ^ Connell Hill O'Donovan (1992) "The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature": A Brief History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1830-1980 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books).
  4. ^ D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth Century Americans: A Mormon Example (University of Illinois Press: Urbana).
  5. ^ a b George L. Mitton, Rhett S. James A Response to D. Michael Quinn's Homosexual Distortion of Latter-day Saint History Archived August 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Review of Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example by D. Michael Quinn Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1998. Pp. 141–263.
  6. ^ Klaus J. Hansen Quinnspeak Review of Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example by D. Michael Quinn Provo, Utah,
  7. ^ Vella Neil Evans, Women's Studies, University of Utah, at the Sunstone Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 16, 1996. Audio Tape No. 238


  • The Children's Friend, vol. 11, June 1912 (special edition dedicated to the life and work of May Anderson).
  • Conrad A. Harward, A History of the Growth and Development of the Primary Association of the LDS Church from 1878 to 1928, Master of Arts Thesis, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1976.
  • Mary R. Jack, "May Anderson: A Friend of the Children", The Children's Friend, vol. 40, Apr. 1941, 148.
  • Jenson, Andrew (1936). Latter-day Saint biographical encyclopedia: A compilation of biographical sketches of prominent men and women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 4. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Andrew Jenson Memorial Association (Printed by The Deseret News Press). pp. 5639 271 and 5896 273. ISBN 1-58958-026-5. Retrieved December 20, 2011.

External links[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Louie B. Felt
President of the Primary
October 8, 1925 (1925-10-08) –1939
Succeeded by
May Green Hinckley
Preceded by
Lillie T. Freeze
First Counselor in the
general presidency of the Primary

1905 – October 8, 1925 (1925-10-08)
Succeeded by
Sadie Grant Pack