Ruth May Fox

While reading Women’s Voices, by Kenneth and Audrey Godfrey and Jill Derr, I enjoyed reading the diaries of these great women.  In particular, Ruth May Fox’s journal was especially noteworthy.

Ruth May was born in England, in 1853. Already, members of the Mormon Church, her mother died when Ruth was a toddler and she was raised by relatives and friends.  Her father eventually traveled to America and later sent for his family, which included a new wife.  They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1867.  At age 19, Ruth married Jesse W. Fox.

The couple was well off and planned on building a large mansion for their 12 children.  This plan ended when her husband’s business failed and she was forced to simplify her life drastically.  Ruth was an amazing woman who accomplished much in her lifetime. 

  • She was intensely involved in Utah politics, as the territory became a state.
  • She worked tirelessly, alongside leading women of the day, to bring about suffrage.
  • She was the 3rd General President of the Young Women.
  • She wrote the hymn Carry On.
  • She was a writer and poet, being active in the Utah Women’s Press Club, the local writing group.
  • She lived to be 104 years of age.

Following are some excerpts from her diary:

Tues.  went to sufferage meeting in the afternoon and Press Club in the evening.
Sat. Worked very hard all day. In the evening finished writing the Ten Virgins.

Jan 29 went to Relief Society. Sister E Taylor spoke to us asking our faith and prayers as she was going to Washington to represent the young ladies. 

Tues Feb 5 Went to Suffrage Association. Tried to vote down petition but failed.   

Feb 8th  Went to Sister E Stevenson’s birthday party. Had a glorious time. Sister Bathsheba Smith and Helen Mar Kimball Whitney were present. Sister Sarah Phelps spoke in tongues with great power insomuch that the floor and the chairs and our limbs trembled. She blessed Sister Whitney who was an invalid for years. The sisters laid hands on Sister W. and prayed for her speedy recovery Sister N C Taylor being mouth.  (Why doesn’t that happen anymore, I wonder?)

Sat eve.  Went to Press club.  Sister Ellis R. Shipp had gone to Washington.  I was chosen to represent the club at the Utah Federation of Women’s Clubs.

24th Sunday.  Sick had cramps. I am afraid there are many little incidents my journal will not get. 

I am so busy I do not get time to attend to it but today the 6th of March I attended the Federation business meeting. This morning and this afternoon a reception given to the delegates, both at the Women’s industrial home. Everything went along nicely. I was appointed one of a committee to organize womans clubs throughout the territory, but declined. My home duties are too pressing. Two subjects of the Press clubs were accepted for discussion at the May meeting in Ogden. Yesterday attended Suffrage meeting.

Thur 28.  A very rainy day but I attended the convention to hear the debate on the sufferage question.

Sept 1st.  I am so busy that I almost forget my journal. Bro Fox and I went to the lake Republican day. Had a very pleasant time. 

Tues. 27 of Aug. eve I went to speak in the sixth Ward on registration. 

Fri. 30th I went to Brigham City with Sister E B Wells to organize a Republican Womens club. There was no one to stay with the children so did not go to meeting. I have been invited to speak at the Republican Ratification tomorrow eve. My speeches as yet are very short, not being accustomed to it.

Tues eve. It is election day. Have been to the Y.L.M.I.A. Do not know as yet how it will turn out but do not care much. Believe we have got Statehood assured so far as the vote is concerned and that means sufferage for women.

This is her final testimony: 

“Ever since I could understand, the gospel has meant everything to me…It has been my very breath, my mantle of protection against temptation, my consolation in sorrow, my joy and glory throughout all my days, and my hope of eternal life. ‘The kingdom of God or nothing’ has been my motto.”

I love to see all the good that Ruth was involved in. Clearly, she saw all things spiritual and having to do with eternal importance. She stepped up to the bar, even when it was uncomfortable for her. She sacrificed her meetings for the family when it was necessary. Her church meetings were just as important as her political meetings. And enjoying associations with her friends was important as well. She was just a woman, but a vibrant, happy, spirited, faithful, strong, fearless, and loving woman. We can all learn from her example.

Note: Suffrage means having the right to vote. Today, we tend to think of it as a feminist idea, causing us to think these early Saints were Feminists, but that is an incorrect assumption. Suffrage and Feminism were not related, although it overlapped depending on the individual.