A Schoolmarm All My Life
Joyce Kinkead, editor

Chapter  16
Alice Louise Reynolds

[p.169]Alice Louise Reynolds’s father receives more attention in Mormon history than does his daughter who was so admired in her time that veritable fan clubs in her honor sprang up.1 Six of the original thirteen Alice Louise Reynolds clubs still exist (Keele, 284), devoted to the study of all fields (although Alice’s specialty was literature), intellectual discussion, educational travel, and the promotion of women’s rights. (See Ruesch’s autobiography in this book for poetry written to honor Reynolds.)

Born of British converts in Salt Lake City, Alice Reynolds enjoyed the benefits of growing up in Brigham Young’s inner circle where educational opportunities were many. Such opportunities were emphasized by her parents whose British schooling led them to want the best for their daughter, enrolling her in school at age four. She grew up in a house full of womenGeorge Reynolds had three wives.

While Alice did not suffer pioneer hardships, she did have a couple of trials during childhood: first, her father was imprisoned for two years on polygamy charges;2 second, her mother died in 1886 when Alice was [p.170]twelve. The year after her mother’s death, Alice went to Provo to study with Karl Maeser at the B.Y. Academy. She graduated from the Normal School in 1890 in the same class as Amy Brown Lyman, her good friend. She taught for a short time in the Salt Lake City schools before heading to the University of Michigan, where advanced training enabled her to return to BYA and teach the academy’s first Shakespeare and Chaucer courses (Arrington and Bitton, 230-31).

Those brief years in Michigan showed her a larger world, and she did not hesitate to embrace it. Teaching at BYAit became BYU in 1903during the fall and winter, she was able to spend summers at the University of Chicago, Cornell, and Queen’s College in Londonto name a few. In today’s society she would be termed a “culture vulture,” scouting out any exposition, celebration, dramatic event, or tour. The autobiography that follows offers glimpses into some of those trips and illustrates her independence at organizing such ventures.

Seven volumes of Reynolds’s papers are currently housed at Brigham Young University. Her autobiographywritten between 1935 and 1938 when she was dying from canceris the first volume; other volumes focus on her travels and lectures. Alice died in 1938, at age sixty-five; her friend and contemporary Amy Brown Lyman,3 in comparison, had not yet been named Relief Society general president and would live an additional twenty years after Alice, a person Amy eulogized as “a woman’s woman” (in Keele, 283).


I was born April 1, 1873, in Salt Lake City. My father was George [p.171]Reynolds, and my mother Mary Ann Tuddenham Reynolds. Both my father and mother were born in London, my father in Regent Street, London, and my mother in Bayswater, London. I was born on the twentieth ward bench where I lived almost continuously until I came to Provo to begin my work in the Brigham Young Academy. My childhood was exceptionally happy for I had the constant care of my father’s sister, Julia A. Reynolds, who lived in my mother’s home for thirteen years before her marriage.


That fall [of 1894] I went on to the faculty of Brigham Young Academy. I was then 21 years of age. I have been connected with the institution since that time. When I came into the institution there were 1200 students. There was one class in English Literature being taught by Dr. Whitely, with seven students in it. That year I taught a class in Chaucer, the first the institution had ever known and also a class in Shakespeare which was the first course in Shakespeare ever given in the institution. I had a class in the History and Development of English Literature, as well as a class in English Composition. I also taught Theology. The next year a better division was made of the work. Professor H. L. Nolson, who greatly liked to teach grammar and English Composition had all the grammar and English Composition and I had all the Literature. That enabled me to give a course in English Classics.

It was evident by this time that the teaching of literature was moving in new directions, colleges all over the country were giving literature courses in romantic Poetry, victorian Poetry and so on. So it was agreed that Professor Osman should do the work in Chaucer and Shakespeare and Milton, and that I should prepare myself to do work in the Romantic and Victorian Poets. Accordingly I went to Chicago in the summer of 1902 and took a course in Romantic Poetry, in the History of the Novel, and in teaching Literature, the latter from Dr. Myra Reynolds, a very clever teacher of literature.

In the summer of 1904, I left Provo in May, visiting in company with my father and my cousin, Evelyn Tuddenham, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Lords. For the first time in my life, I was a delegate to a national convention. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs held its biannual there. Mrs. Phillips N. Moore, who has proven [p.172]to be one of the most prominent of our American Women, was chairman of the Program Committee, while the President, Mrs. Penny-backer, from the South, was all charm and grace and won me completely. The convention lasted 12 days and presented a splendid program. It was an anxious convention because we knew that the Mormon question4 would come up and I was the only Mormon delegate there. Mrs. Neldon of Salt Lake City was one delegate, Mrs. Mary Allen of Park City another,5 Mrs. Edward Bischell of Ogden, another, and Mrs. Hattie Noon Buckley of Provo, another. Nothing came up until the last session of the 12th day, when many of the delegates had grown tired and gone home. Mrs. Allen was seated rather close to me as I recall only one person between us. She arose and said, “You do know something of the degradation of the life of the Mormon woman,6 > but it is impossible to portray it to you in all its dark phases, neither can you understand the influence of the Mormon church over the people. They dictate to them in all matters. They are not permitted to cast their vote in accord with their own convictions, but must vote as the church dictates.”7 When she sat down I got the chair. I knew that I [p.173]would be given only three minutes for reply, but I tried to make the most of those three minutes. I told them that I was a Democrat, that I voted the Democratic ticket, that everybody knew it, and that the Church did not interfere with my vote. That to the Mormon, his home was the holy of holies, a sacred spot from which he sought to keep all unhallowed influences, that infidelity to marriage vows and the living of an immoral life was denounced to the severest terms by Mormons who thought it a crime next to murder, and that there was nothing the Mormon emphasized more than purity in the home. When I got through, a reporter from the St. Louis “Post Dispatch” interviewed me. The paper report was favorable. I recall that it said, “My clear voice rang through the auditorium, and that I maintained that Mormons were not dictated to in matter of politics and that they held sacred the home.” The Associated Press took it up and it was published in the papers throughout the nation. President Joseph F. Smith8 sent me an appreciative message through a letter written me by my father.

At the close of the week, I went to Ithaca, New York, where I was guest of Mr. and Mrs. R. R. Lyman [Amy Brown Lyman]. Mr. Lyman was working on his Doctor’s degree. I came in contact with Professor Hyrum Corson, one of the characters of Cornell and one of the literary figures of America. I visited the Chaucer class, heard some lectures on Roman History, which were about the best lectures on Roman History I have ever heard, and enjoyed the Cornell Campus. After having visited the Harvard Campus, Princeton, Michigan, Chicago, Wisconsin, California at Berkeley and Stanford campuses in America; Oxford and Cambridge campuses in England, I do not hesitate to say that the Cornell Campus is by far the most beautiful campus I have ever seen. Na-[p.174]ture has been very kind to that campus, and the landscape architects have done nothing to ruin it.

I met there Nora Stanton Blatch, the grand-daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, well known suffrage leader. She was a noted swimmer; she had swum in England where she obtained part of her education. So she and a friend swam Cayuga Lake. Whether she really beat him or whether through gallantry he stayed far enough behind her to let her win, we don’t know, in any event, when she reached the shore she put her hand behind her and took hold of his hand to make sure they would touch the bank of the lake together. This was one of the most eventful summers of my life, and one of the most enjoyable. I learned to love the Cornell song, “Far Above Cayuga Waters.” I left very much improved in health. On my way home I visited the St. Louis Exposition once more. During the next year I taught my first college course, a course in Romantic Poets. I have been teaching the course on and off ever since.


In the summer of 1906, I made my first trip to Europe. We were a party of five girls consisting of myself; Marian Adams, later Mrs. Ray Gudmondson, a cousin of Mary J. Ollorton, who had been a teacher in the Albion State Normal School in Idaho; Angie Holbrook, one time member of the faculty of B.Y.U. now Mrs. Alma O. Taylor; Ora Holbrook now Mrs. Bynes Dixon, and Nellie Schofield who also served on the faculty of B.Y.U., now Mrs. J. W. Thornton.9 I placed my name at the head of the list because the notion was mine and the other girls wanted to go along with me.

We left Provo in May. When we reached Boston we were entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Huntington, parents of Ellsworth Huntington the noted geographer, connected with Harvard University. Their home was at Milton, a suburb of Boston. We had a very interesting time. The boys were graduates of Harvard, and the girls of Wellesley. One of them was a teacher in the women’s college in Constantinople.

We sailed from Boston on June 6, 1906 on the steam ship “Arabic,” [p.175]White Star Line. This was my first trip abroad, so I enjoyed the quiet and calm of the ocean very much. None of us were sea sick.

We landed in Liverpool, where R. E. Allen was acting as Secretary of the Mission and Brother Heber J. Grant was presiding. R. E. Alien made our visit in Liverpool interesting and enjoyable. We went to Cooks Office [travel agency] and there planned our trip. From there we went down to London.

My first night in London, which was in June 1906, I wrote a note to my father’s brother, Arthur, who was the second child of the family, my father being the first. He was living in Harrow, the seat of the famous boy’s school. I was surprised to have a reply within a few hours.

The next day Uncle Arthur and Aunt Eliza came to the Mission house, which was at Tottenham Court Road, to take me to Harrow. On our way we passed the church where Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning were married. As we passed, Uncle Arthur remarked, “I first met your mother in front of this church.” I had my first visit with my English relatives and enjoyed it greatly.

Then we went on to the continent. We visited Paris, Switzerland, Milan, Italy, which was holding an exposition celebrating the opening of the Simplone Pass; Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Venice, Berlin, Nuremberg, Brussels, and Amsterdam.

From Amsterdam we went to the Hook of Holland and then to England and while there, we visited Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Castle occupied by the Earl and Countess of Warwick. Warwick Castle is one of the few castles apart from Royal residence that may be seen in a state of comparative preservation in Europe; it having been kept up and not allowed to go to ruin. It is noted for its wonderful exhibition of armor.

From Warwick we went to Strafford on Avon, visiting the various Shakespeare interests. Then we went to Edinburgh; walked down the famous Princess Street, and later took the trip through the Scotch Trosachs. This is truly one of the scenic wonders of the world. We enjoyed crossing the beautiful calm Scotch Lakes, Loch Lomond and Loch Katherine and seeing the heather in bloom which covered much of the space between the two lakes. When we reached the heather, we met a [p.176]man in Scotch kilts, who played the bag-pipes. Of course we enjoyed seeing Ellen’s Isle, made famous in Scott’s “Lady of the Lake.”

In the evening we reached Glasgow. From Glasgow we visited Ayshire, noting places of interest that had to do with Robert Burns. Then we came into the English Lake District where we enjoyed the Wordsworth country and saw Southey’s Falls of Ladore. The water rambles over a mountain precipice and is clear and sparkling as it falls. From the Lake district, we found our way to Keswick, remaining overnight and finally returned to Liverpool where we boarded the “Arabic” once more for our return trip home.

We were tired of sight-seeing by this time. Nothing in the United States made any special appeal, yet we all agreed that the Library of Congress at Washington was as beautiful as some of the buildings across the water.

In the summer of 1907, I made my first visit to California, attending a convention of the National Educational Association held at Los Angeles. Going down the crowd was so great that we didn’t get our breakfast until 1 P.M. The session was interesting. David Star Jordon made one of the chief addresses. The whole session featured foreign people. The idea was to promote international understanding and international good-will.

In 1909 the school year passed as usual.


The spring of 1910 I left the University in company with James L. Barker and wife and daughters Nancy and Angio and Florence Holbrook and Fawn Brimhall. We were going to Europe that year because we knew that the Passion Play would be on in Oberammagua and in about a year the coronation of King George and Queen Mary would occur as Edward VII had just passed away.

This time we sailed from New York. Brother Ben E. Rich, who was presiding in New York, sent us to a hotel he felt he could recommend. That night we found out that some of the stories we had heard about drinking in hotel rooms was quite true. I had practically no sleep that night because a man and woman in the next room were drinking and swearing until day-break. That was my third visit to New York City, and my first time to get up against the bad side of New York life.

[p.177]Next day we sailed in a German boat which was a mate of the Kaiserine. We started out on a choppy sea and all got sick except James L. and Nancy, age two. It was my first experience being sea sick and many things about the boat seemed to aggravate it. There was so much red paint and so many things that Germans liked to eat and I didn’t. My special aversion was Rolled Mops, a raw fish tied in a roll with cloves stuck in it. James L. Barker said they were good. I could scarcely endure the looks of them let alone the smell and taste. After a few days of miserable sickness, we floated on a calm sea, and all was well. We ate something of the six meals served each day three heavy ones and three light ones. The three heavy ones consisted of everything one could think of. The first light meal, at ten-thirty, consisted of broth and crackers, the second was afternoon tea or coffee which consisted of tea, coffee, or milk and bread and butter and cakes of some sort. The meal at nine o’clock consisted of gruel, cheese, and crackers.

We played shuffle-board and snoozed around on deck chairs and had a good time in general. At last we reached Cherbourg, a French port. It looked very quaint to us. Then we took a train for Paris.

In Paris the cherries were just ripe. French cherries are so pretty and so good. Then we visited Switzerland, and enjoyed the mountains and the Oberland. The Swiss mountains and lakes and alpine flowers are like the sun, moon, and stars—one never gets tired of them.

We went to Brussels and visited the world’s fair and were fortunate in getting there before the fire. President Smith, Bishop Nibley, Mary Swartz Smith, and Mrs. Julia Nibley were in Europe. One day it was said Joseph F. Smith; Jack Johnson, the pugilist, and King Albert of Belgium were all on the grounds the same day.

We went into Germany where we remained six weeks. While in Berlin, we saw Kaiser Wilhelm review the troops. We paid two dollars and fifty cents for a seat on the grandstand. It was on the Belle Alliance Field and was the same review Theodore Roosevelt saw when he was in Berlin. Despite the fact that I saw the coronation pageant in London, which was staggering in its conception, I think, take it all in all, the review of those troops was the most brilliant and colorful pageant I have ever seen in my life.

The Kaiser was on a white horse and wore across his right shoulder, converging at the waist, bright ribbons and some medals. The [p.178]Crown Prince mounted beside him was somewhat similarly arrayed. The Kaiserine and Crown Princess, wearing picture hats trimmed with ostrich feathers, sat in an open carriage. Opposite them were the two little princes. What made the pageant so gorgeous was that one platoon after another marched forward with men dressed in their best Sunday clothes. They were in their most engaging costumes, both colorful and historic. Each when he reached the Kaiser, saluted and then for a given number of yards went into the Kaiser’s step or what is known as the “goose step.”

From Berlin we went to Munich and saw, as all tourists see their tremendous beer barrel and their lovely art gallery. We also saw a light opera written by Oscar Strauss called the “Geshena Frau.” Then we took the railroad that zig-zags its way through the Austrian Tyrol with its green grass and poppies to Oberammagua. We found it a quaint little city with fruit trees trained as vines against the walls and some walls on which pictures had been painted on Biblical subjects. We might have picked an apple off the apple vine against our window but we realized they were there for decorative purposes.

[She here recounts in detail the passion play and their stay in Vienna.]

Just before Christmas our party, consisting of Angie and Florence Holbrook left Vienna for Paris. We spent Christmas in Paris with Professor James L. Barker and wife who were there.

A few days later I left for London as I had not yet decided whether I would enter the University of London or do work at Cambridge or Oxford. I visited Cambridge University and informed them that I was interested in the Romantic and Victorian periods and they said to me, “Whatever you do or do not do while in England take some work from Professor Ker for he is the best critic of English literature in Great Britain, at present.” Then I visited Oxford and they also advised me to do work with Professor Ker because of his splendid work as a critic. I discovered too, that by attending Queen’s College, London University, I could get precisely the same courses in Tennyson and Browning as I could get at Oxford, as the Professor went back and forth giving the courses in both Colleges. Consequently, because I could get the same work in London, as in Oxford and because London offered me Professor Ker as well as access to the library of the British Museum, I decided [p.179]to study in London, where it is possible to get two full terms as their spring term did not close until about the middle of July, giving me nearly seven months of work.

During the spring vacation, in company with Miss Sarah Gertrude Pomeroy, I went to Canterbury and there attended services in the Canterbury Cathedral which were conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Then we went to Devonshire and visited Tomes, which was the home of my grandfather, George Reynolds, the place from whence he moved to London. Later we went up to Strafford on Avon and took part in the elaborate Shakespeare festival arranged for the coronation year.

The coronation was held in the summer of 1911. The nation had observed the year of mourning for the death of King Edward VII. Everything in London took on a gala appearance. Sir Herbert Tree gave to the world the most magnificent production of Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII” the world has ever seen, at least that was the general belief. He was at His Majesty’s Theater and had been putting on Shakespearean plays during the winter. As a producer, Tree has seldom been equaled, and seldom if ever, surpassed. In the play, Hampton Court Palace was produced accurately. He studied carefully every picture extant of Henry VIII so that Mr. Boucher, who played the role looked as though he had stepped down from the canvas. Mrs. Boucher played the part of Catherine. He concluded the play with the coronation of Anne Boleyn, which made a fine ending and gave opportunity to reproduce the coronation scene at Westminster Abbey. Laura Cowie, the daughter of a Scotch minister, played Anne Boleyn. She was new on the stage and very beautiful.

At another theater Hall Cain’s “Prisoner of Zenda” was being played because it too had in it a coronation scene. Henry Anley, a very popular English actor appeared in both plays. Anley took the part of the Duke of Buckingham in “Henry VIII.” Early in the scene of “Henry VIII” he was sent to the tower. He used to disappear in a boat on the Thames from the first audience and then take a taxi cab to the other theater and play the role of the lover.

The English people know the art of making atmosphere, and they created for the coronation a free piece of work which reached its climax in the processions. The one of the first day exhibited the King and [p.180]Queen as they went to and from Westminster Abbey for the coronation ceremony. The procession of the second day was somewhat more military in nature. Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener taking part. The entire week was given over to festivities. The Premier who entertained the King and Queen at Number 10 Downing Street presented “John Bull’s Other Island,” by George Bernard Shaw. It was thought to have a political significance.



1. The first club was organized in 1932. Apparently, organizing clubs in a teacher’s honor was not unheard of; Gardner’s autobiography mentions a Neelke Club organized to honor Miss Miriam Nelke, an outstanding elocution teacher at BYA in 1899 (36).

2. George Reynolds, secretary to Brigham Young, offered to test the legality of plural marriages. He lost. The case went to the U. S. Supreme Court; [p.170]the result was Reynolds spent two years in prison (1879-1881) during Alice’s childhood (Dredge, 140). A learned man, Reynolds kept a prison journal; he also served as regent to the University of Deseret and edited the Deseret News and Millennial Star.

3. Reynolds and Lyman had a “mutual admiration society.” See Reynolds, “Tribute to Amy Brown Lyman,” Improvement Era (September 1932) and Lyman’s A Lighter of Lamps, The Life Story of Alice Louise Reynolds, Provo: The Alice Louise Reynolds club, 1947.

4. Feelings toward Mormons across the country were still unsettled in 1904; after all, the Manifesto had been in effect only fourteen years and the effects of plural marriage were still evident. Not until World War I did Mormons earn a reputation as patriots, even super-patriots.

5. Settled in 1881 because of its silver ore, Park City was founded by non-Mormon miners and has remained largely gentile as it evolved from boomtown to ghost town to international ski resort. Mrs. Allen probably felt keenly the problems of being in the minority (non-Mormon) in the state during a time (1904) when the majority had not fully reached respectability.

6. The polygamy question had been fought in national forms since it became public knowledge in the mid-1800s. The anti-polygamy fire was fueled by “autobiographies” such as the one by Ella Young Harris: Life, Confession and Execution of Bishop John D. Lee, The Mormon Fiend! His Seventeen Wives Startling Details since his DeathImplication of Brigham Young The Massacre at Mountain Meadows. Also the Escape of his Daughter from Salt Lake CityHer Pursuit by the Danites for Refusing to Marry Orson Pratt. Her Exposure of the Affairs of “The Lion House” (Philadelphia: Old Franklin Publishing House, 1877).

7. When the Mormons decided finally to meet the requirements for statehood, they went about it in their usual efficient manner. Fearing that homogeneous church members would all veer toward one party (at that tune, the Democratic party was the favorite of church members), bishops were said to divide wards into Democrats and Republicans depending on which side of the chapel people sat (Arrington and Bitton, 247). Although the state is currently a Republican stronghold, in recent history it has been known to cross party lines and elect Democrats as governor or Salt Lake City mayor.

8. The son of Hyrum Smith (killed with his brother Joseph in Carthage, Illinois), Joseph F. Smith served as president of the church from 1901 until his death in 1918.

9. Although some of the women listed here were once on the faculty at Brigham Young University, they left it once they married.