Before the Manifesto: The Life Writings of Mary Lois Walker Morris

By Melissa Lambert Milewski | Go to book overview
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Preface

If not for the voluminous writings that Mary Lois Walker Morris left behind, she might only be remembered as a woman much like many others, but Mary Lois wrote detailed accounts of her life—a four-inch thick memoir, day books containing daily accounts of forty years, and an eightypage book of poetry. Because of the sheer volume of her writings, it is for now impractical to publish them all. This volume contains her extant record of the first half century of her life, including the portion of her memoir recounting her life until 1887 and the diary she kept between 1879 and 1887.

The Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints and the Utah State Historical Society both hold microfilm copies of Mary Lois Morris's diaries. The original diary and memoir were in the possession of Marion Ramsey Morris, a granddaughter, when the LDS Historical Department filmed them in 1963. Linda Kidd, Mary Lois's great-granddaughter, now has them. The diary comprised eighty-nine day books; the copies of those still extant take up five rolls of microfilm.1 Seventeen of the day books (numbers 19, 34 to 35, 39 to 52) are missing, leaving gaps between December 4, 1894 to July 16, 1895, March 12, 1902 to September 26, 1902, and August 31, 1903 to February 18, 1906. For 1879 through 1887 the day books range from 4 to 4.5 inches wide and 6.5 to 7 inches long and are bound in different shades of tan, red, and black leather. In later years Mary Lois generally wrote in red or black leather day books of the same proportions, although she also occasionally used small, tan unbound notebooks 3.5 by 6.5 inches or small leather day books 3.75 by 6 inches. She wrote the diary entries with a pen in cursive script. Occasionally, she made a notation in the margin or inserted a separate, loose sheet between a day book's pages.

Mary Lois's surviving diary begins on January 1, 1879. She may have kept a diary earlier, but no record of such survives in historical archives or catalogs. As she began her 1879 diary by calling it her first day book

1. See also the description of the diary and memoir in Davis Bitton, Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies, 248.

-vii-

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