Romania B. Pratt Penrose

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Romania B. Pratt Penrose
Photo of Romania B. Pratt Penrose
Personal details
Born Romania Bunnell
(1839-08-08)August 8, 1839
Washington Township, Wayne County, Indiana, United States
Died November 9, 1932(1932-11-09) (aged 93)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting place Salt 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 mater Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania
Spouse(s) Parley P. Pratt, Jr.
Charles W. Penrose
Children 7
Parents Luther Bunnell
Ester Mendenhall

Dr. Romania Bunnell Pratt Penrose (August 8, 1839 – November 9, 1932) was a leading figure in late-19th-century and early-20th-century Mormonism and Utah culture.

Romania Bunnell was born in Washington Township, Wayne County, Indiana to Luther Bunnell and his wife Ester Mendenhall.[1] Her parents were Latter Day Saints and lived in Nauvoo, Illinois and when the Latter-day Saints left Nauvoo, Romania and her family moved to Ohio. Luther went west to California in 1849, where he worked in gold diggings but died of typhoid fever in the process. Her family then moved back to Indiana. She attended the Quaker-sponsored Western Agricultural School in Ohio and then the Female Seminary in Crawfordsville, Indiana.[2]

Romania Bunnell was not baptized until 1855, shortly before moving to Utah Territory. She came west with her mother and siblings in the John Hindley company. Shortly after arriving in Utah, Bunnell taught some of Brigham Young's children. There she married Parley P. Pratt, Jr., the eldest son of Parley P. Pratt. Over the next several years the Pratts had seven children, although for most of the first six years of their marriage Parley was away serving as a missionary.

In 1873 Romania was specifically called by Brigham Young to study medicine. She went to the Women's Medical College in New York City and later to the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, leaving her five children in the care of her mother. Her willingness to become a doctor was partly the result of having had two other children died before the age of three and realizing that there was a need for more skilled doctors in Utah. Prior to going to medical school in Philadelphia Romania spent time in New York assisting her husband in editing his father's autobiography.

Pratt was the first Mormon woman to earn a medical degree. After returning to Utah Territory she trained women in medical fields. About four years after her return from medical college, she divorced Parley P. Pratt, Jr. Romania later married Charles W. Penrose.

Romania was on the board of the Deseret Hospital along with such other leading Mormon women as Phebe C. Woodruff, Ellis Shipp, Mary Isabella Horne, Emmeline B. Wells, Zina D. H. Young, Jane S. Richards, Matilda M. Barratt, and Bathsheba Smith.[3] Sister Penrose was also one of three instructors for the Relief Society Nurses Department.[4]

Romania was also involved in the Women's Suffrage Movement. While she served with Charles as he presided over the European Mission she served as the Utah delegate to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance conference in Amsterdam. Also while in Europe with her husband she oversaw the first organization of Relief Societies there.


  1. ^ "Romania B. Pratt Memoirs, 1881". Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  2. ^ Shana Montgomery, "Romania Pratt Penrose" in Worth Their Salt, Too: More Notable but Often Unnoted Women of Utah, p. 29-31
  3. ^ Parker, Scott. "Deseret Hospital" in Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: MacMillan, 1992) p. 375
  4. ^ Conference Report, LDS Church, October 1906, p. 59