September 15, 1880 issue
|Editor||Louisa Lula Greene (1872–1877)|
Emmeline B. Wells (1877–1914)
|Headquarters||Salt Lake City|
The Woman's Exponent was a periodical published from 1872 until 1914 in Salt Lake City. Its purposes were to uplift and strengthen women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and to educate those not of the Mormon faith about the women of Mormonism. Although it was not an official publication of the LDS Church, it was closely tied to the church, especially to the Relief Society. The number of women in the Relief Society that subscribed to the Exponent was approximately ten percent, but the influence of this paper reached more people than those who subscribed because it was used for discussion between women in venues such as Relief Society meetings.
Throughout the time of its publication, the newspaper covered many topics. It was a strong voice in support of woman's suffrage. It also actively supported plural marriage, which was a religious practice of the LDS Church. Home, family, and the overall role of women were also frequent topics. In addition to these social and political topics, the Exponent included poems and stories, tidbits of humor or wisdom, and current news. Even though it was a private publication, women of the Relief Society were actively encouraged to subscribe, as well as contribute to the paper.
Editor of the Salt Lake Herald, Edward L. Sloan, thought up the idea for a women's newspaper in Utah. He recruited Louisa Lula Greene as editor, who accepted the position with the approval of her great uncle — Brigham Young, the president of the LDS Church. Emmeline B. Wells, who would later become general president of the Relief Society, joined Greene as co-editor in the 1 December 1875 issue. They are both listed as editors on page 100 of vol. 4 no. 13; The two worked together to edit the magazine until Greene decided to take some time for her family in July 1877. She is last listed as editor on page 28 of vol. 6 no. 4; Wells was later joined by her daughter, Annie Wells Cannon, as associate editor in June 1905.Her name first appears on page 4 of vol. 34 no. 1; Both continued to serve as the publication's editors until it folded in 1914. Facing increasing financial pressures in the early 1900s, Wells unsuccessfully lobbied the Relief Society General Board to adopt the newspaper as its official publication. With their rejection, the paper was forced to close. The Relief Society Magazine, a separate magazine and an official publication of the LDS Church, began in January 1915.
After the consolidation of the Relief Society Magazine into the Ensign in 1970, an independent publication calling itself Exponent II was started in 1974 by several Cambridge, Massachusetts-area women, including Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Claudia Bushman. Produced by a non-profit organization unrelated to the LDS Church, this newspaper focuses on the concerns and experiences of some Mormon women from a feminist perspective.
During the 1970s, according to Alice Colton Smith, a member of the Relief Society General Board at the time, members of the Board were not permitted to subscribe to Exponent II, yet she and a few others did so under the names of their husbands. Exponent II is published quarterly and as of 2016 was edited by Margaret Olson Hemming and Pandora Brewer.
The Exponent Blog
With the blessing of the Exponent II editorial board, Caroline Kline, Jana Remy and Deborah Farmer established a blog called The Exponent in January 2005. More than two dozen writers regularly write for blog and it includes Relief Society lesson materials written from a Mormon feminist perspective.
- Barlow, Rich (17 June 2006), "A Feminist Look at the Mormon Faith", Boston Globe, retrieved 8 July 2014
- Bennion, Sherilyn Cox. (1993), "Sisters under the Skin: Utah's Mormon and Non-Mormon Women and Their Publications", BYU Studies, 33 (1): 111–130.
- Bennion, Sherilyn Cox (Summer 1976), "The Woman's Exponent: Forty-two Years of Speaking for Women", Utah Historical Quarterly, 44 (3)
- "Exponent II". Exponent II. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- K, Caroline (2016). "Then Year Retrospective Series Begins". The Exponent Blog. wordpress. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- R, Jana (2006). "The Exponent II blog begins!". The Exponent Blog. WordPress. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Richards, L. Greene; Wells, Emmeline B. "The Woman's Exponent 1875-12-01 vol. 4 no. 13". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- Richards, L. Greene; Wells, Emmeline B. "The Woman's Exponent 1877-07-15 vol. 6 no. 4". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- Thomas, Shirley W. (1992), "Woman's Exponent", in Ludlow, Daniel H. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, p. 477, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140
- Wells, Emmeline B. "The Woman's Exponent 1905-06 vol. 34 no. 1". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- Prince, Gregory (2016). Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. p. 238. ISBN 9781607814795.
- Women's Exponent (PDF scans) courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
- Exponent II scans via BYU's repository on archive.org.
- Paxman, Susan. Susan Paxman Collection of Exponent II Records. Provo, Utah: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
- Exponent Blog The Exponent Blogsite