Vesta Pierce Crawford papers, 1844-1955

Overview of the Collection

Crawford, Vesta Pierce, 1899-1983
Vesta Pierce Crawford papers
1844-1955 (inclusive)
3.5 linear feet
Collection Number
MS 0125
The Vesta Pierce Crawrford papers contain her research for the unfinished book "The Elected Lady," correspondence, poetry, and a journal.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT

Telephone: 8015818863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Vesta Pierce Crawford (1899-1983) was born in Salt Creek near Levan, Juab County, Utah the daughter of Sylvester and Alice Maude Redington. She graduated from Gunnison Vallety High School and went on to get a Bachelors of Arts degree from Brigham Young University; she studied English literature at Stanford University and received her Master's degree in literature and journalism in 1928 from the University of Wyoming. On April 3, 1924, she married Arthur L. Crawford (1899-1990), and together they had a daughter, Marian Crawford Anderson. Vesta Crawford taught in a number of Utah and California schools, as well as at the University of Utah. She was appointed editorial secretary of the Relief Society Magazine in 1945, and associate editor in 1947. She is a member of the League of Utah Writers, the Utah State Poetry Society (President, 1967-1971), the Utah Sonneteers, the Poetry Society of Pennsylvania, the Poetry Society of Virginia, and Poets of the Pacific. A prolific writer, she was published in many different venues, and wrote over six hundred poems. She was the recipient of numerous state and national prizes and awards, and was included in many anthologies. She was accomplished and noted in many diverse fields of writng, and her work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers of national circulation, as we as magazines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1965, Vesta Crawford was awarded Utah Poet of the Year for her book, Short Grass Women.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Vesta Pierce Crawford papers consist of research materials relative to an incomplete biographical manuscript of Emma Hale Smith, entitled "The Elect Lady." The material was collected and the biography begun with Miss Fay Ollerton, co-author, assisting and advising. An introductory statement by the two authors indicates that as small girls, they listened to stories related by their pioneer ancestors concerning early involvement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the trek they made into Utah and the people and circunstances making early church history. They learned that Emma Hale Smith and her children did not come to Utah, and they wanted to know why. To Vesta Crawford and Fay Ollerton, "The Elect Lady" was to have answered the question "why?" In attempting to determine the answers to Emma Hale Smith's decisions,they collected materials available in correspondence, magazines, articles, newspaper clippings, and church history items in both the LDS Church, and the RLDS Church. They interviewed surviving members of the Hale and Smith families, pioneers, and descendants. Only a small amount of the original interview and correspondence remained in the collection when it was received by the University of Utah. Most of the material is from printed sources.

Background materials about early polygamy, social, economic and political conditions are included. Emma's church and music activities were researched. The materials in the collection mainly cover the years of Emma Hale Smith's life after the death of Joseph Smith: Her children; her marriage to Major Lewis C. Bidemon; and the establishment of the RLDS Church; her death and burial.

Other materials in the collection are correspondence from Arlon Rowan to Vesta, written during World War I, and poetry by Grace Ingles Frost.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library's Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Collection Name, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Processing Note

Processed by Elizabeth Newby and Marijane J. Lambert in 1979.

Click here to read a statement on harmful language in library records.

Related Materials

Forms part of the Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women's Legacy Archive.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Research NotesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 1
Biographical Notes on Emma Smith
1 2-5
Background Information on Emma Smith
1 6-7
1 8-9
Notes on Emma Smith
1 10-11
Joesph Smith-Wives and Plural Marriage
1 12
Chronology of Emma Smith
1 13
Audentia Smith Anderson, Alice Reynolds, George Albert Smith, and Vida Smith Yates.
1 14
One page of a journal on organization of the Relief Society; a poem by Eliza R. Snow; one page of an unidentified journal. These are photocopies of holographs.

"The Elect Lady"Return to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
2 1
Harmony. Contents and Introduction
2 2
Shinehah (Kirtland)
2 3
2 4
Nauvoo the Beautiful
2 5
The Female Relief Society
2 6
Mistress of the Mansion
2 7
The Prophet's Widow
2 8
Mrs. Bidamon
2 9
Emma and Brigham Young
2 10
2 11
Manuscript Copy
This folder contains a copy of the first three chapters of "The Elect Lady" exchanged between Vesta Crawford and Fay Ollorton.

CorrespondenceReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 1
Vesta Crawford and Fay Ollorton
The correspondence in this folder concerns the research for the book on Emma Smith.
3 2
Lillian B. Fackrell
Letters and poems, including "Orderville As It Was."
3 3
Minnie G. Kingdom
The letter in this folder includes a biography of Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer.
3 4
Alice Ludlow
3 5-10
Arlon Rowan
3 11
Joseph Smith Jr.
These are photocopies of correspondence to Emma Smith.
3 12
Joseph Smith III
3 13
John R. Young
These are two handwritten copies of a letter attributed to John R. Young, and written to Vesta Crawford.

SubjectsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
4 1
Smith Family Home
The contents of this folder are research materials used by Vesta Crawford.
4 2

Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
5 1
Vesta Crawford, Relief Society Pictures
5 2
A Journal History of the Relief Society Building Main and North Temple Streets, Salt Lake City Utah
This is a bound journal which was complied during 1954-1955 by Vesta P. Crawford, Associate Editor of the Relief Society Magazine.

Grace Ingles MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
6 1
6 2
Poetry and Notes
This folder contains poetry by Gracy Ingles, as well as notes and correspondence to Vesta Crawford.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Latter Day Saint churches--Missions--Great Britain
  • Polygamy

Personal Names

  • Bidamon, Lewis C. (Lewis Crum), -1891
  • Frost, Grace Ingles
  • Ollorton, Fay
  • Smith, Emma Hale
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., 1805-1844

Corporate Names

  • Relief Society (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)--History

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence