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A history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told through the lives of its women.
A history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told through the lives of its women.
558 backers pledged $38,124 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$38,124

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Stretch Goals - Make the Project Even Better

The minimum goal for _She Shall Be an Ensign_ has been passed, and there will be a book, without fail. As of the moment we write this (15 June), backers have ordered 42 copies of the e-book and 615 copies of the print book – in Mormon history book circles, that’s already a best seller!

Now what?

Kickstarter is allowing _She Shall Be an Ensign_ the full pledge period – another 15 days – to raise funds to make this project even more useful – not merely to pre-order more copies, but to make the project better.

What if there were a packet of lessons, or parts of lessons, that built on the stories of women in LDS history? Materials that coordinated with the existing LDS curriculum, not with the intent of replacing official lessons, but to enable teachers and parents to enrich existing lessons with new stories and illustrations? Primary Sharing Time – the youth curriculum – Relief Society – seminary – Family Home Evening – the High Priests’ Group – wouldn’t many teachers welcome assistance in matching Church history stories to the principles taught in a lesson, and wouldn’t class members respond to new and interesting examples of our latter-day heritage?

Ardis is now working on a packet of lesson plans built around the contributions of women to Latter-day Saint history, geared to the LDS curriculum.

Prepared with the help of master teacher Julie M. Smith, this sample lesson packet matches stories of women in Church history with existing lessons in the LDS curriculum, from Nursery to Elders’ Quorum.

IF the Kickstarter total reaches $40,000 by the end of the pledge period, every backer who has pledged $10 or more will receive this additional reward, on top of whatever reward has already been chosen. Current and future backers need do nothing to claim this reward – if the project total reaches $40,000, then every backer who has contributed $10 or more will automatically receive the bonus, along with the previously chosen reward.

This past Sunday morning Ardis received a text from a friend about the friend's Beehive aged daughter:

“Yesterday [C]’s YW teacher asked her to share a story in class about an example of someone ministering to others. This moment in class she is sharing the story of Johanna Tippett.*

“It begins... ”

Can we reach $40,000, and make it easier for parents and teachers to continue to incorporate faithful Latter-day Saint women in their teaching?

[*Joanna Tippett Porter was the oldest member of the Church in England when she died in 1945; a sketch of her life is posted here: http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2008/06/29/johanna-tippett-porter-in-active-service-to-the-end-redux/ ]

The Project

The scriptures refer to Zion as “she,” but women’s roles in building the Church have often been overlooked. We take that for granted—most of us don't notice when all the main characters in Mormon histories are men, with the occasional appearance of a wife or child.

Ardis E. Parshall wants to change that. Over the past fifteen years, her study of history has focused less on the books and scholarly articles where men have traditionally taken center stage and more on primary documents—letters, journals, minutes and periodicals—where women’s thoughts and stories were preserved, even at times when historians didn't find them significant.

Left: The first Relief Society in Brazil, 1933. Right: Sisters in Japan, 1910.
Left: The first Relief Society in Brazil, 1933. Right: Sisters in Japan, 1910.

On her Mormon history blog, Keepapitchinin, Ardis has brought readers the stories of some of those women. Some, like Tsune Nachie and Herta Klara Kullick, brought the gospel into new cultures. Some, like Laura Rees Merrill, may not have changed the course of history, but lightened it with their compassion. Some, like Josephine Marie Augustine de la Harpe Ludert Ursenbach, stand out for the epic sweep of their own lives. And some, like Anne Maria Jewkes, stand out as reminders of the quiet faith that has held the Mormon community together for almost 200 years. 

In She Shall Be an Ensign, Ardis will weave the stories of a wide range of Mormon women into a single history of the faith. Beginning with the events that led to the organization of the Church and continuing to the present day, she'll tell the history of how the Church's work has advanced—giving women's contributions, perspectives, and stories center stage, with the occasional appearance of a husband or prophet.

Left: Sisters in the American South. RIght: Sisters in Southern Germany.
Left: Sisters in the American South. RIght: Sisters in Southern Germany.

The project is a pioneering effort in more ways than one:

It signals a new direction for the study of women in history. Since the 1970s, scholars have been working to tell women's stories more often and more effectively. In many cases, that's meant writing more biographies of women and studies of women's movements. She Shall Be an Ensign takes another big step forward by taking a well-known larger history and telling it with a female cast.

It takes every generation seriously. Just as past histories of the Church have focused on the contributions of men, they have tended to focus on the saints in Joseph Smith's day and on the pioneers. She Shall Be an Ensign will show how the Restoration continues, and help us pay the debt of gratitude, long overdue, to people who gave their time, talents, and imaginations to the Lord’s work in the 20th century, and on into our own day.

It introduces some LDS women from around the world for the first time. Some of the characters in She Shall Be an Ensign are those who were prominent in the Church in their day. But because Ardis is working from primary documents, She Shall Be an Ensign will introduce even the most experienced students of Mormon history to people from around the world, whom they have never met but whose experience defined the Church as we know it today.

Young and old, making contributions small and large.
Young and old, making contributions small and large.

Rewards

The greatest reward for backing She Shall Be an Ensign is helping bring forgotten stories back into popular Mormon memory. By giving Ardis time to focus on writing the best possible book, backers will help enrich conversations about Mormonism in general and Mormon women in particular. Your pledges will pay the expenses of the physical production of ebook, print book, and related materials; shipping, and professional assistance with artwork, book design, and editing. Funds raised beyond those expenses will enable Ardis to concentrate on writing and on the remaining research.

The book is planned for a release just before Mother's Day 2016. Most backers will receive their print or electronic versions of the book at that time. In the meantime, we're also creating a limited edition set of trading cards featuring characters of the book from each era, with profiles by Ardis E. Parshall and art by Ashley mae Hoiland. At increasing contribution levels, we'll send you sets of 3, 6, 9, or all 12 cards as a thank you gift.

Sample card images: Vienna Jaques, Mary Elizabeth Rollins, Tsune Nachie, and LaVern W. Parmley. Artwork is from original oil-on-wood paintings. The back of each card will feature information about the historical figure on the front.
Sample card images: Vienna Jaques, Mary Elizabeth Rollins, Tsune Nachie, and LaVern W. Parmley. Artwork is from original oil-on-wood paintings. The back of each card will feature information about the historical figure on the front.

For the most part, Ardis's time over the next year will be focused on this project. For an inner circle of up to 20 backers, though, she'll take time to identify and describe a personal Mormon History heroine for you or a loved one, based on information you send about your interests, hopes, and experience.

Ardis has a reputation in Mormon history circles for eye-opening presentations. For up to five top backers, she will prepare a presentation for your group, inspired by information from you about the group's interests. Transportation arrangements will be the responsibility of the group: the reward applies only to the presentation itself.  

Stretch Goals

If $40,000 in funding is achieved by the time the Kickstarter closes, then everyone who has pledged $10 or more will receive an additional reward, on top of whatever reward has already been chosen: a packet of lesson plans built around the contributions of women to Latter-day Saint history, geared to the LDS curriculum.

Prepared with the help of master teacher Julie M. Smith, this lesson packet matches stories of women in Church history with existing lessons in the LDS curriculum, from Nursery to High Priests’ Quorum.

Current and future backers need do nothing to claim this reward – if the project total reaches $40,000, then every backer who has contributed $10 or more will automatically receive the bonus.

For more detail, see the Update of June 10.

Risks and challenges

Producing a historical book requires research, outlining, writing, editing, layout and design, and publishing.

Ardis E. Parshall has compiled the research, completed an outline, started drafting the text, and established a consistent work schedule. She has also assembled a team of people with experience in editing and publishing who have committed to help with the final stages of polish and production.

As always, it is possible that delays will be introduced and She Shall Be an Ensign won't be available by the Mother's Day 2016 release goal. Rewards will come at the time of release.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    READER:
    A copy of the She Shall Be an Ensign eBook.

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    OWNER:
    A copy of the print book.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    COLLECTOR:
    A copy of the print book PLUS one set (3 different cards) of Great Mormon Women trading cards.

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    PATRON:
    A signed copy of the print book, with your name included in the acknowledgments, PLUS two sets (6 different cards) of Great Mormon Women trading cards.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    GIFT PACK:
    Five copies of the print book to share.

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    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    DELUXE GIFT PACK:
    Five copies of the print book, your name in the acknowledgements, PLUS five sets (9 different cards in each set) of trading cards to share.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    INNER CIRCLE:
    Five signed copies of the print book, your name in the acknowledgements, five complete sets of trading cards (a dozen cards in each set), plus an individual consultation with Ardis to help her find your own Mormon history heroine, based on your personality and experience.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    PRESENTER:
    Ardis will give a presentation to your group on a historical topic you choose in consultation with her. Also includes five signed copies and five full sets of trading cards (a dozen cards in each set), plus your name in the acknowledgments. Travel not included.

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Funding period

- (35 days)