Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




"Beyond history's garden gates, the thick jungle of the past remains, and memory's trails lead off into it" (Richard White). Historians throughout time have had to decipher and toil between memory and history as they have reconstructed the past-laboring with the similarities between the two, as well as major differences. With these historical studies have come theories about memory and history, with new divisions within each category, from private to public to historical memory and from autobiographical to biographical histories. This paper originated as a biographical study of Emma Hale Smith Bidamon, a leading figure in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon church), as well as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS church, now known as the Community of Christ). It began with simple questions: What was life like for Emma when Joseph Smith, her famous husband, was alive? What was it like after his death? As I studied, I quickly found that while Emma left few written documents herself, her name was found in newspaper articles in the East, and thrown back and forth in political debates in the West. Personal memoirs, as well as official, public histories, mention her very specifically and with some depth of feeling. The question soon became: How and why is Emma used by these different groups?



Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Ritterhouse

Departmental Honors Advisor

Susan Shapiro