Culture Clash and Accommodation
Frederick S. Buchanan

Chapter 1
“Mormon Country” Schools
The Cultural Context of Utah’s Schools

[p.1]When the Salt Lake District produced its golden jubilee history in 1940, not a word (except the term “Ward Schools”) referred to the fact that these schools prior to 1890 were vital components of Mormon culture. Indeed, a person unfamiliar with the larger context of the schools would not know that the Mormon church, its members and leaders, played a dominant role in the development of these schools. Even references to the early years, when Mormons were the only Europeans in Utah, keep from mentioning the notorious “M” word. Nor, on the other hand, would a newcomer reading such an account realize the early role played by Protestant mission schools. And there is no hint that behind the facade of unity and progress were numerous confrontations between Mormons and those of other faiths (the vaguely defined “non-Mormons” or “gentiles”)–contestants perceiving elections to the board of education as struggles to determine whether the “insiders” or “outsiders” should control school policies in Utah’s capital city.1

A balanced history of schooling in Salt Lake City–or in Utah in general–cannot ignore ways in which Mormonism’s interactions with other groups influenced Utah’s educational institutions. From Salt Lake’s initial settlement in 1847 to the establishment of the first public schools in 1890 to the present, the history of education in the city was molded first by the dominant presence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and second, by the resistance from those of other persuasions, secular or religious, who tenaciously opposed Mormon dominance in the affairs of the city’s public schools.

Prior to the passage of Utah’s 1890 free public school law, Salt Lake City had 21 school districts, each coterminous with the city’s 21 Mormon wards (or parishes) and each with its own elected three-person school board. While a few teachers and trustees were “gentiles,” the vast majority were Mormons, and the schools were in effect quasi-public Mormon district schools, controlled by local ecclesiastical wards, supported by local taxes and tuition fees, and catering mainly to the city’s Mormon majority.

In 1890 this changed when the city became one consolidated school district with some 21 ungraded schools (designated even by the non-Mormon board as First Ward School through Twenty First Ward School) and the Salt Lake High [p.2]School, all controlled by an elected board made up of two trustees from each of the city’s six municipal wards and supported by territorial appropriations and local taxes. Within a few years school names were changed to represent American political and literary heroes such as Lincoln, Jefferson, Sumner, Whittier, and Bryant, symbolizing an effort to make them mainline, secular institutions. Even if Mormons had objected to renaming the schools, there would have been little they could have done about it: the first city-wide school board election in July 1890 gave the city a predominately gentile board consisting of seven non-Mormons and three Mormons.2

While the elections of the 1890s included debates on efficiency, the best heating and toilet facilities, financial accountability, and free text books, the overriding issue in all eight campaigns for board seats can be reduced to one statement made in the aftermath of the first election: “Our people must control their own schools,” a statement meaning something quite different to each of the opposing groups.

The Redemptive Community at Risk

While Mormons feared that gentile-controlled schools would not confirm their children’s faith, gentiles feared that Mormon-controlled schools would become proselyting agencies of the dominant religion. At the more crucial level of cultural continuity, the Mormons feared that secular public schools would discretely separate the secular from the sacral, something the Mormons’ integrated community resisted. For them, as for the Mennonites and the Amish, the close-knit Mormon community was a “redemptive community” within which the faithful would not only find peace for their souls, but food for their stomachs. Naturally, schools for the Mormons would be expected to reinforce rather than challenge this way of life.

The fear that the community would be disrupted is at the root of the Mormon resistance to schools that would not reflect their community values of, for example, egalitarian cooperation, even if these were weakening as the nineteenth century drew to a close. Underlying this is a tenet from Joseph Smith’s revelations which sets out the close correlation in nineteenth-century Mormonism between spiritual and material spheres: “if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” (Doctrine & Covenants 78:6). Earthy and heavenly things were all one for early Mormons, as their sixth president, Joseph F. Smith, succinctly expressed for a non-Mormon publication, Out West, in 1905: “It has always been a cardinal teaching with the Latter-day Saints that a religion which has not the power to save people temporally and  make them prosperous and happy here, cannot be depended upon to save them spiri-[p.3]tually, to exalt them in the life to come.”3 When this notion is extrapolated to the political realm, it is easy to understand why the Mormons resisted gentile efforts to clearly distinguish between the two. Only a few documented instances can be found in which the Mormons used the Bible and other Mormon sacred texts in the ward schools. Nevertheless, the fact that the schools met in the LDS meeting-house and almost all teachers and students were Mormon made even the supposedly secular district schools a reflection of the Mormon community and its values. In such circumstances, the hidden curriculum of the Latter-day Saints was pervasive. As far as non-Mormons were concerned it was also probably intrusive. Prior to 1890 prayers were part of the school routine, and gentiles were convinced that Mormonism “by the devices of its schools aims to educate only to that extent as to produce faithful contributions to the one institution.” Which was, of course, the traditional aim of many religious schools.4

A concrete example of the public schools acting as extensions of the Mormon community is the 1889 book, The School and Primary Songster, designed for use in both the public schools and in the “Primary,” the weekday religious education program organized for LDS children. The book contains secular songs, as well as LDS hymns. The gentile objection to Mormon dominance can perhaps be understood when one realizes that one such hymn said: “Hail to the brightness of Zion’s glad morning, Joy to the lands that in darkness have lain, Hush’d be the accents of sorrow and mourning, Zion in triumph begins her glad reign.” The overt purpose of the Songster was to teach music; its covert purpose was to reinforce Mormon ideology, with “Zion” really a code word for the Mormon church. Given the role schools from Horace Mann’s time have played in displacing the local community’s value system, it is not surprising that Mormons resisted the gentile desire to tear asunder what they thought should stay together. And just as stoutly did the gentiles resist the Mormon insistence on having the school reflect Mormon values. As Carmon Hardy has observed, “Next to polygamy, Mormon attitudes toward education were probably cited … more often than anything else as evidence of Mormonism’s alien and backward condition.”5

The election of trustees to the Salt Lake City Board of Education in the 1890s vividly illustrates the opposition between Mormons and gentiles. It also shows that these conflicts were not simply local, precinct-level fights, but indicators of radically different value systems. One set derived from a sacral orientation rooted in the American Puritan heritage and the other from a secular orientation that downplayed religious values in the affairs of the modern state. Ralph Waldo Emerson, after visiting Utah and Brigham  Young in 1871 opined that Mormon-[p.4]ism “was the after-clap of Puritanism.”6 Perhaps, but it was no minor distant rumbling in the Western skies. As a self-proclaimed “city on a hill” it attracted more than its share of secular lightning, both within Utah and nationally.

Similar tensions between public schools and religious communities can be seen in the cases of Roman Catholics in New York, the Old Order Amish in Ohio, and the Russian Mennonites in Minnesota. But the Utah case was exacerbated by high-profile Mormon proselyting, the Mormon hold on civic government in Utah, and large-scale emigration from Northern Europe and the British Isles as part of the LDS doctrine of “the gathering.” Unlike other groups, the Mormons were not content to draw boundaries around “Mormon Country” and await the second coming; they intended to expand Zion’s boundaries to encompass the whole earth, and schooling would play a role in this hegemonic enterprise. Mormons, in shaping public schools to their own ends, were protecting a cooperative community at odds with individualized industrial America.

What Are Schools For?

Those who opposed Mormonism in the nineteenth century denigrated the Mormons as ignorant, credulous, and naive. Some claimed they owed their success to a policy of intellectual bondage. In the words of one disaffected Mormon of 1874: “The rule is [among the Mormons]: them that is Ignorent keep them Ignorent Or they will cause trouble.”7 Such an interpretation, popular as it was, ignores the fact that Mormons did establish and support a system of quasi-public schools from the late 1840s to the 1880s. In common with most nineteenth-century Americans, Mormons favored schooling in general; the problem arose, in Utah and elsewhere, in determining what purposes schools should serve, what should be taught beyond the rudiments, who should go to school, how the system should be supported financially, and the extent to which religious influences should permeate the actions of those who managed the schools and those who taught the community’s children.8 In a society still unsure of the route it should follow, attempts to answer these questions often stirred acrimonious debates—as they still do—over competing notions of the school as change agent and the schools as preserver of the status quo. The central issue in such disputes, historically and currently, is whether tax-supported, public schools should promote values contrary to those of large segments of the population. Before the common school became a widely accepted and highly centralized public institution, diverse communities in the early nineteenth-century United States had created a [p.5]potpourri of quasi-public schools supported by a combination of local taxes, charitable societies, religious groups, and local boosters. These locally controlled schools reflected the needs of individual communities. Many, in fact, resisted the tendency of the new Massachusetts style common schools to accommodate the larger state community Even with their localist perspective, some early institutions were very good; but whether adequate or inadequate, they reflected a popular notion that schools should mirror their societal roots.9

What non-Mormons perceived as a Mormon conspiracy against public schooling can be viewed as an extension of this earlier American impulse to establish schools that served constrictive religious, economic, and community needs. Michael Katz’s use of the term “democratic localism” in describing the locally controlled school systems that dotted the landscape in the first half of the nineteenth century, can also be applied to the schools that emerged in Utah under the auspices of Mormon culture between 1847 and the 1880s.10 This type of locally controlled school was in direct contrast to the system urged on America by Horace Mann and other educational leaders, which tended to be liberal, secular and more expansive in its notion of community.

In retrospect, the much criticized Mormon-established schools, operating from the 1840s to the 1880s, represent a culture lag similar to that experienced in other areas of the United States before the secular, tax-supported, compulsory Common Schools became the norm. In nineteenth-century Utah, the Mormons, although enjoying a significant degree of local control in their semi-theocratic society, nevertheless perceived themselves as being treated as second class citizens by the dominant secular society centered in the East.

Schools of the Kingdom

Mormon opposition to free public schools can be summed up in Brigham Young’s own words: “Would I encourage free schools by taxation? NO! That is not in keeping with the nature of our work.”11 The perception of the school’s role in Mormon society reflects the Mormons’ notion that they were a chosen people whose religious obligation was to establish on earth a religious commonwealth known to them as the “Kingdom of God.” This “kingdom” would eventually take the place of “man-made” governments and prepare the way for the imminent second coming of Christ. The drive to establish earlier “redemptive communities” in Kirtland, Ohio, and in Independence, Missouri, in the 1830s and in Nauvoo, Illinois, in the early 1840s precipitated conflict between Mormons and their neighbors in these areas. Mormon community building (which included schools) [p.6]led ultimately to an “extermination order” issued against them in Missouri in 1838 and in their expulsion from Illinois in 1846. The church’s dominant role in the political, economic, and social aspects of the communities they controlled was strenuously objected to by those who did not accept the Mormon claim that they were building the Kingdom of God.

In the American West, under Brigham Young’s vigorous leadership, the Mormons took advantage of the sparsely populated, wide-open spaces, establishing hundreds of communities ranging from San Bernardino in southern California to Franklin in southern Idaho. Like early Puritans, Mormons made few distinctions between church and state. Given the dominance of Mormons in the area, no one seemed to challenge the practice or the assumptions on which they were based. Faithful Mormons saw no conflict in having the president of their church, Brigham Young, serve also as the civil governor of the territory, or the president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, John Taylor, serve as the superintendent of common schools.

Although Protestant critics in the 1870s and 1880s made much of the intermingling of public and private domains in Utah, objecting to schools that reflected Mormon values, throughout America Protestants supported public schools in large measure because they sustained a generic Protestant ideology. Public schools in nineteenth-century America were by no means neutral with respect to religious preference, although it was usually interpreted by Protestants as “non-denominational Christianity” The dichotomy between public and private ideology in the common schools was not as clear cut as their boosters claimed.12

Utah’s unique settlement by one cohesive religious community tended to create in critics a demand for a greater separation between the things of God and the things of Caesar. However, for Mormons to back away from what they considered to be divine mandate would have been tantamount to denying their belief that they had been chosen to fulfill the divine will in establishing the Kingdom of God. Consequently, much of Utah’s history in the late nineteenth century reflects the conflict between these competing conceptions of the role of private versus public religious values, most evident as the Mormons sought, without initial success, the status of statehood.

Given their commitment to a revelation-led community, it is no wonder that the Mormons perceived their children’s schools as necessary aspects of kingdom building. Schools were, as already noted, needed to reinforce beliefs and practices. In the 1880s, as schools gradually evolved toward the free school model, they could not formally inculcate the tenets of the Mormon religion. At the same time, neither could they (in Mormon thought) threaten the community’s values or undermine faith in its leaders. Following Brigham Young, Mormon leaders in [p.7]the late 1880s took the position that compulsory schools maintained by public taxes would eventually become “Godless” institutions. As such they would reflect the values of a federal government that had waged a relentless crusade for over a decade to destroy Mormon economic, political, and social hegemony in Utah. The struggle saw six rejected attempts for statehood before it was finally achieved in 1896.13

The federal crusade against Mormon “plural marriage,” consensus politics, and cooperative economics, convinced the Mormon leadership that dominant, direct influence over the public schools of Utah had ended. In April 1886 the First Presidency of the church declared it essential for Mormons to “keep their children away from the influence of the sophisms of infidelity and the vagaries of the sects” by “establish[ing] schools taught by those of our faith, where being free from the trammels of State aid, they can unhesitatingly teach the doctrines of true religion combined with the various branches of general education.”14 That same month, George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, criticized the Mormon-controlled territorial legislature for imposing a tax on the people for the support of public schools. “Latter-day Saints through their own unwise legislation,” Cannon said, had created a situation in which schools, supported by taxes levied on Mormons, were teaching everything but religion: “Thus it is that all our schools are secularized, and the Bible, the Book of Mormon and all our Church books are rigidly excluded from our schools. No teacher is permitted to inculcate any religious doctrine, and no one is required to teach even morality, lest in doing so would trench on the domain of religion.”15

As a direct consequence of the leadership’s disapproval of public secondary schools, a private Mormon secondary school system emerged during the late 1880s. However, no Mormon elementary school system developed parallel to the free public schools, perhaps because of the church’s economic difficulties or because local elementary schools were less threatening than the more sophisticated secondary schools. Perhaps most Mormon parents simply did not want, or could not afford, to set up a costly parallel private school system, although some did try.

“A School Independent of the District System”

One such attempt at providing a parallel system was made in 1884 when the Mormon Eighteenth Ward decided to construct a new school building adjacent to its chapel. The impetus for this project came from the bishop of the ward, Orson E Whitney, who believed the ward should have a “school independent of the District System, where the children might be taught the principles of truth and [p.8]virtue while they are young.”16 At another meeting Whitney emphasized to parents that a “fear of God should be instilled into the minds of children as the very basis of education.” While the new school would promote the development of physical, musical, and intellectual faculties, Whitney left no doubt that the “most important of all is the spiritual.”17

However, even before the Eighteenth Ward Seminary in Salt Lake City opened, doubts arose as to whether the school could be locally supported. After almost four years of construction, the ward asked church president Wilford Woodruff to allow a tenth of the tithing collected in the ward to help support the school. The request was rejected, as the church could not allow other wards similar leeway This reluctance is understandable; given the Church’s extreme financial difficulties, general church support of academies was minimal.18

Eventually the Eighteenth Ward raised $6,083.84 to help pay building debts, and by the end of August 1889, some $11,239 had been paid. However, every year revealed a thousand-dollar deficit due to operating expenses. Notwithstanding such financial strictures, the first class began in September 1889—one year before all the other ward/district schools in the city would automatically become public schools. Though the patrons who supported the “Latter-day Saints’ Seminary of the Eighteenth Ward” were drawn from wards other than the Eighteenth, the vast majority of the students registered in its first year of operation were residents of the Eighteenth Ward—twenty-five students were even turned away because of lack of room. Students from outside the Eighteenth Ward were required to pay higher tuition fees: for example, Preparatory students from the ward were assessed $1.75 per term; those from outside the ward, $3.00 per term. With the exception of one or two non-Mormons, almost all the 211 pupils were LDS, ranging in age from six to twenty: sixty of whom were Preparatory students; eighty-four, Intermediate, and sixty-seven, Primary. The rolls listed children of a number of LDS general authorities (including the daughters of Apostle Heber J. Grant) and children with prominent Mormon family names such as Kimball, Romney, Reynolds, Toronto, Pyper, and Clawson. Notes in the student register record that some students dropped out because they were not doing adequate work—Howard Snelgrove withdrew because he came in “last in theological exercises” to which was added a clear cut reason for his failure: “refused to take.” In the second year, entries indicate that some children were withdrawing to attend public schools in the city, and by the beginning of the third year (1892-93) requests for volunteers to make good on their pledges to meet the deficit were being made in the ward. At the end of the third year it was apparent that meeting the deficit was becoming a perennial difficulty At this time [p.9]an editorial appeared in the Mormon publication the Juvenile Instructor which actually sealed the fate of this parochial school in one of Salt Lake City’s most prestigious and wealthiest Mormon wards.19

The straight-forward editorial, probably written by George Q. Cannon, cautioned the Saints against establishing ward seminaries. An astute businessman, Cannon was well aware that good intentions could not make up for depleted resources. Recognizing the need for schools in which children would not be led astray, many Mormons had concluded that the church should establish schools for all Latter-day Saint children. Desirable as this might be, financial circumstances would not permit it. Nor, given the need to be perceived as less exclusive, was it politically astute for Mormons to be seen as withdrawing from the public schools, which would leave them open to the common charge that the Church was opposed to education.

The coup de gras to ward-sponsored seminaries came when Cannon stated that although the church would help maintain academies for older students, because “Latter-day Saints paid their taxes the same as other citizens” they should also use the public elementary schools. Members simply could not afford to pay taxes and school fees. Apparently referring to difficulties in the Eighteenth Ward, Cannon noted that some Salt Lake City schools were “admirably conducted,” and that Mormons could now “avail themselves of the district schools and thus be relieved from the necessity of paying tuition fees.” After-school religion classes and Sunday Schools could mitigate against the children’s religious instruction being neglected. Of course, if some wards were able and willing to pay taxes and school fees they were entitled to do so, but most Latter-day Saint children would have to attend public school.20

After reading the editorial, the Eighteenth Ward leadership requested a meeting with the First Presidency to ask if it applied to their seminary. The “Brethren” reiterated the position carefully outlined in the Cannon editorial: that if any ward wanted to support such schools it was “all well and good,” but no support from the Church would be forthcoming. The ward leaders reported to the membership that the First Presidency “could see no reason why we should not take advantage of the free schools which had been established.” With a deficit of some $443 before the school even began in September 1893, it was moved, seconded, and carried that, in view of financial distress, “we do not endeavor to conduct the School during the coming year.” On 19 February 1894 the Mormon school on the Avenues was disbanded.

This effort on the part of a group of Latter-day Saints to establish their own school was made in response to many statements by Mormon leaders which seemed to encourage such schools. But it was the exception rather than the rule [p.10]in Utah in the late 1880s. As Monnett points out in his study of the rise of the Mormon academies, in spite of a stereotypical expectation to the contrary, Mormons have not always been willing or perhaps economically able to give over their decision-making prerogatives to the “Brethren”; a majority of Mormon parents simply did not respond to continual entreaties to support the academy movement. Nor did the Eighteenth Ward experiment serve as a prototype for other ward elementary schools. Even the centerpiece of the Mormon educational system—the Brigham Young Academy-had difficulty rousing enthusiastic support: “prominent and influential men in Provo … whispered in the ears of students not to listen to the ‘old Dutchman’ [Karl Maeser, founder and President of Brigham Young Academy]” and “to make matters still worse [those same] influential men in the community not only had no confidence in the stability of the new venture, but openly opposed it by using their influence against it.”21 The “prominent and influential” people in Provo of the 1890s were certainly committed members of the LDS church; it was not simply the laity in rural areas who resisted the Brethren’s advice regarding the expansion of “higher education.”

The Camel’s Nose in Zion’s Tent

Nineteenth-century Mormon leaders and members did not so much oppose the idea of public schools or the acquisition of new knowledge as they did the different moral, social, and religious values which might be communicated through the schools. Of course, those convinced that the “different” value orientation of the Mormon people was in fact an irrational (as distinguished from a non-rational) perspective on life concluded that these values could only be sustained by ignorance and credulity. However, the existence of a relatively urbane and educated group among the faithful Mormons of Utah in the nineteenth century indicates that not all Mormons can be stereotyped as ignoramuses.22 Nonetheless, given the “spiritual” emphasis present in conversion, it is understandable why some would oppose, or at least be loath to embrace, a secular system of instruction which excluded the teaching of particular spiritual experiences. Along with other conservative religious groups, some Mormons thought too much focus on “book learning” was impractical and might undermine faith. In addition to fears that orthodox religion might be undermined by secular schools, leaders such as Brigham Young and George Q. Cannon had reservations about tax money being used to support public schools, which went contrary to their ideological assumption that individual families, not the public treasury, should be the basis for funding schools. During an 1890 meeting on the issue of free schools [p.11]between Mormon legislators and church “authorities” in Salt lake City, it was recalled that “Brigham Young always opposed free schools because he feared [they] would pauperize the people and make them feel that the state owed them an education.”23 This, of course, was a fairly common position expressed when the public school movement was being established in the East and Midwest in the 1840s and certainly not unique to the Mormons in Utah. In many rural areas in the nation, and in Utah, there was considerable resistance to common public schools, which were not viewed as necessary to an agrarian society Similarly, there was an almost universal revulsion to government control of children and the “awful monster”—taxation.24

Another factor creating a lag in Utah’s development of public schools was the failure of the federal government to contribute financially to territorial schools. The original Organic Act of 1850, which created the territory of Utah, stipulated that two sections of land in each township should be reserved for schools. However, this promise was never fulfilled. For political and other ideological reasons, federal authorities opposed granting these lands for school use during the 1870s and 1880s and ignored frequent appeals for the release of this “federal aid” to Utah schools.25 From the remarks of Robert L. Campbell, Utah territorial superintendent of schools between 1862 and 1874, it appears that some territories did have their lands released to them prior to statehood. Unfortunately, opposition in the administrative and legislative branches of the federal government prevented Utah from getting school funds until statehood was granted in 1896. Consequently, some Mormons interpreted the refusal as a deliberately punitive act, part of the colonial mentality that pervaded much of the federal system of administering the western territories. Until 1869 Congress refused to establish a land office which would make Mormon land claims legitimate, and even then they only did so when a large gentile population demanded it. The lack of an official government survey also hindered the process of granting land to the territorial government and subsequently to the district schools.26

The coming of the railroad in 1869 and the discovery of silver in 1873 attracted large numbers of non-Mormons to the territory. By 1880 some twenty percent of the population was listed in the census as being non-Mormon. As early as 1874 one quarter of Salt lake City’s population was non-Mormon, claiming a greater say in the city’s affairs by virtue of the fact that their property taxes [p.12]and licenses for businesses provided almost half of the city’s budget of $110,000.27 Although non-Mormons were not able to achieve a majority in any of the city and school board elections until the 1890s, cultural pluralism became more of a reality in Salt Lake City in the 1880s and gentile citizens began to make their opinions and values known.

The twenty-one district schools which had attempted to serve the needs of the predominantly Mormon Salt Lake City community were viewed by non-Mormons as inadequate partly because they were staffed almost entirely by Mormon teachers. Quite apart from the fact that some Mormon teachers were competent, their allegiance to the Latter-day Saint faith was enough to disqualify them in the eyes of non-Mormon citizens. And just as clearly and with as much logic, in 1867 Brigham Young expressed his feelings about the tendency of some Mormon bishops to ignore Mormon teachers in favor of outsiders. They were unwilling, he claimed, to pay a local Mormon “possessing the best talent we have among us … [b]ut bring a poor, miserable, rotten-hearted, cursed gentile, and they will lick the dust off his shoes to have him keep school, when he does not know half as much as the Eiders in Israel know.” At the same conference Young referred to these imported teachers as “miserable little, smooth-faced, beardless, good-for-nothing Gentiles.”28 James Clark succinctly sums up the reasons for Brigham Young’s strong denunciation of some bishops for allowing the “camel’s nose” in the form of gentile teachers into the Mormon tent. Given the Mormon claims to being the chosen people, “one can readily understand the concern of Brigham Young as Mormon control of the education of its children began to slip through their fingers. To the Mormons more than the three R’s was at stake. President Young felt that the eternal salvation of the children sent to school under such ‘Gentile’ teachers was at stake.”29 Interestingly enough, the first non-Mormon day school, St. Mark’s Day School, was established in Salt Lake City by the Episcopal Church only two months after these denunciations. As Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other Protestants established private schools as a countervailing balance to the Mormon controlled district schools, their explicit purpose was to wean the Mormon children away from their parents by “Christianizing” them. There can be little doubt that such explicit aims were perceived as a threat to the Mormon community and its values.

The Teacher Corps in Salt Lake City

Although the University of Deseret’s original charter made that institution a “Parent School” for the preparation of teachers, lack of resources led to the dissolution of the fledgling university (and its potential as a teacher preparation program) only a year after its founding in 1850. Over the next twenty to thirty years Utah’s “schools drifted to  a low ebb because of an insufficient number of quali-[p.13]fied people who could provide learning experiences of a high quality”30

In spite of much contemporary rhetoric to the contrary, Utah was not widely recognized as a center of academic or scholarly activity during the nineteenth century. Nor was there a general interest in promoting high quality teacher education. Schools and their teachers reflect in large measure the societies which produce them—and teacher preparation was neglected in Utah as elsewhere because of lack of interest, lack of money, or lack of will. As Utah historian Charles Peterson expressed it, “[t]here was a dearth of qualified teachers in the early Utah years; and many who were educated either could not afford to teach or were diverted from it by pioneering, concern with salvation, or the conviction that the great teachers, after all, were life’s experiences and the Holy Ghost.”31 Although meant as a humorous jest, the comment of R. W. Ashton reflects what was a common perception of teacher preparation in Utah in much of the nineteenth century: “The principal qualifications of a teacher in those days were well-developed biceps, long finger nails, square-toed shoes and the ability to hold a spelling book right side up.”32

Through the 1860s, a major theme of the Territorial Superintendent of Common Schools, Robert L. Campbell, was that the “greatest lack … is that of qualified teachers.” Partly as a result of Campbell’s efforts, within a few years of the re-establishment of the University of Deseret in 1870, provision was made for the organization of a Normal School designed to prepare teachers for the territory’s school districts. In typical fashion, however, rhetoric exceeded reality and the Normal School was given no financial aid. Campbell and his successor, Dr. Obadiah Riggs, made repeated requests for support, but not until 1876 was there an appropriation of five thousand dollars given to the university for the preparation of teachers. This aid was given on condition that forty potential teachers annually would be instructed free of charge in the normal department of the university Students assisted in this way were required to teach one year in the district schools for each year of free tuition received.33

In 1880 the law was changed so that any student graduating from the normal division of the University of Deseret would be entitled to teach in any district school, provided that the county board of examination was able to “attest to the moral character” of the graduate, but graduation from a normal program was not at this time a requirement for teaching. There were apparently too many teachers needed and too few candidates to make such certification mandatory. Most teachers were certified to teach on the basis of successfully completing an examination set by the county board of examinations regardless of what their formal schooling had been. Indeed, not until 1910 were  elementary teachers [p.14]required to have four years of high-school work.34

In the absence of organized programs in teacher education it was left to the initiative of teachers themselves to help prepare the current and future cadre of teachers. As early as the 1873 Robert L. Campbell was advocating that teachers should be involved in what came to be known as “in service training,” as a means of improving their skills as teachers. At the initial meeting of the Teacher’s Association in Salt Lake City in 1870, the President of the University of Deseret, John R. Park, commented that the forming of the association was a “happy blending of theory and practice” which would “give teaching a tone and respectability which it so justly deserves.” The minutes of the new association went on to say that the group “[s]ustained the idea of Dr. Park that school teachers should be professionals” and “[s]poke disparagingly of the present rather inconsistent manner of teaching our common schools.” Eleanor J. Pratt noted that it was “great toil and displeasure” to instruct children” in the old manner of mixed graded schools” and urged the adoption of better gradation of pupils in the schools. In words that are repeated in the regular cycle of school reform rhetoric, it was also recommended that more progressive approaches to the teaching of spelling be adopted other than “the too common method of arbitrary memorizing.” There was also the perennial urging that the Deseret Alphabet (Brigham Young’s attempt to reform English “orthography”) should be adopted in the schools. However, it was also noted that including the Deseret Alphabet as part of the curriculum had an adverse affect on student spelling. At the November meeting in 1871 Mary E. Cook read an address of the Superintendent of Public Schools in St. Louis, Missouri, William T. Harris, “on the bearing of the political state of society of the present day upon education.” At the other end of the theory-practice spectrum, at the next meeting Miss Cook read materials and led a discussion on “tardiness and cleanliness.”35

Eventually these meetings evolved into Teacher’s Institutes where teachers could receive instructions from veterans such as Karl Maeser, John R. Park, Warren and Wilson Dusenbury and Mary and Ida Cook. Such meetings were usually well attended and provided an “interchange of ideas” which helped promote a sense of solidarity among teachers and helped stimulate the emergence of teaching as “a distinct and well-defined profession.” As might be expected, the expenses incurred by these institutes were borne by the teachers. In 1886 Parley L. Williams, the federally appointed territorial Commissioner of Schools, campaigned vigorously for public financial assistance for these professional development institutes. Some support was given in 1890 and for a number of years attendance was even made mandatory, but by 1916 the institutes gave way to college attendance and participation in a standardized teacher education program.36

[p.15]Such a standardized program was in place at the University of Deseret by 1890. The program for prospective teachers at the University’s Normal Department was “designed for those intending to become teachers in our district schools.” The brochure noted that anyone having the care of children could find “this course of study and discipline a profitable one,” including parents. In addition to the required courses in pedagogy (the science of education, history of education, principles of master teachers, school management), mathematics, geography and history, science, English, vocal music and drawing were taught “with special reference to the work of the teacher.”37

The ultimate power to grant teaching certificates was lodged securely in the county educational offices during the 70s and 80s (and after 1890 in the city boards of education), but with the coming of statehood in 1896, the trend towards standardization continued and the program for the preparation of teachers at what was now the University of Utah became more centralized. All graduates from the normal course received a five-year teaching certificate and if they received an academic degree they were entitled to teach in the elementary and high schools of the state. Given the university’s location in Salt Lake City there was a considerable degree of cooperation between it and the Salt Lake City Schools in the preparation of teachers.38

During the long period in which an institution for teacher preparation emerged there were individual teachers who were well-trained among the Mormons; one thinks of John R. Park, teacher par excellence in Draper, the Dusenbury brothers in Utah County and the Cook sisters in Salt Lake, who had received their education in the East and had settled among the Mormons as teachers before joining the Mormon Church.39 Most professional educators seem to have brought their expertise with them and it was not until the late nineteenth century that locally trained teachers from the University of Utah and Brigham Young Academy began to meet the needs of the burgeoning public school movement. With the establishment of free public schools the need for more and better teachers increased rapidly. When Salt Lake City’s schools opened in the fall of 1890 a major problem was simply finding competent teachers; previously the community had called upon whomever was willing to bear the burden of educating future generations.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century most classroom teachers in the United States were men, but by mid-century a majority were women. In 1870 some 60 percent were women, increasing to 70 percent by 1900, peaking with 86 percent around 1920 and dipping to 66 percent in 1978.40 The following [p.16]chart shows the proportion of males to females teaching in the Salt Lake Valley during the years prior to the adoption of the free public school system.41

teacher ratio - male/female

The significant decrease of men in the teaching force in 1869 may be accounted for by increased opportunity for male employment with the coming of the railroad. Similarly the increases in male teachers in 1874 and 1875 may be attributed to local and national economic depression. Apart from these increases and decreases, the most important aspect of these statistics is the indication that in nineteenth century Salt Lake City, as in the nation at large, males played a more significant role in teaching than in the twentieth century.

The new Salt Lake City School District showed a preference for a feminized teacher corp from the beginning. In 1890, for example, 43 percent of teachers were men, 58 percent women. By 1893 the percentage of women had more than doubled and stood at 87 percent. By the end of the decade 90 percent were [p.17]women, peaking at 95 percent in 1909, reflecting and even exceeding the national trend towards a feminized profession. The difference could be accounted for by Salt Lake City being a more urban region and reflecting the national tendency for urban areas to have a larger percentage of women in their teaching force. Another factor which might help explain the rapid change is the hiring of outside teachers by the new administration, most of whom were women—and non-Mormons at that. There was therefore a dramatic change in the religious and gender complexion of the Salt Lake teaching corps between the 1880s and 1890s: previously the ratio between non-Mormons and Mormon teachers had been 1:11; in 1893 that reversed, 11:1. In the first year of the district’s existence there was an influx of 125 non-Mormon female teachers into the state, most of whom came to Salt Lake City In the state as a whole, however, in 1896 there was almost an even split between male teachers and females, which reflects not only the more rural nature of the state, but also the fact that the Mormons were still in control of the county school systems.42

The bias towards viewing men as more capable of dealing with the intellectual content of the schools, while women were perceived as “nurturers” and substitute mothers is reflected in the fact that teachers in the high school in Salt Lake City for most of the 1890s were predominantly males, while in the primary grades (one through three) all teachers were female.43

The virulence of the Mormon leaders’ responses to imported teachers helps explain why the territory in 1888 supported a mere thirty-five non-Mormon teachers out of a total of 581. However, paralleling the increase in non-Mormons political power, by 1891 the number of non-Mormon teachers had risen to 209 and the Mormon teachers to around 700. By 1895 the gentile contingent in the teacher corps stood at 443, while the Mormons showed only a nominal increase to 750. At this time almost half of the non-Mormons teaching in Utah (around 220) were teaching in the Salt Lake City schools. During the first years of their existence, the Salt Lake City schools had actually gone from being staffed almost entirely by Mormon teachers prior to 1890, to being staffed by 128 non-Mormons and only 10 Mormons in 1892.44 In response to the accusation that he was biased in his selection of teachers, the Congregationalist Superintendent, Dr. Jesse F. Millspaugh, gave a break-down of teachers based on religious preference. Ten religious groups were represented, but of 128 non-Mormon teachers eighty were from the four main Protestant churches: Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Episcopalian. Only one Catholic was teaching in 1892 and twenty nine teachers had no religious preference.

[p.18]Some in the community saw the paucity of Mormons as evidence that the board was discriminating against local teachers, but the LDS Deseret News defended the Board of Education’s hiring practices saying that as much consideration was being given to “home talent” as was justified. Apparently, even the Mormons recognized that there were simply few competent local teachers available.45 The quality of instruction in the ward-district schools was consequently very uneven, but some of them were under capable leadership.

German-educated Karl Maeser served as head teacher in the Budich Institute in Dresden before converting to Mormonism and influencing the quality of education at the Twentieth Ward School (later renamed the Lowell School). Non-Mormon Parley Williams, later the territory’s Commissioner of Education, also taught in the Twentieth Ward. Other city schools which seemed to have earned a reputation as the “principal schools” of the city were those in the Seventh, Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Eighteenth Wards of the LDS church.46 However, in at least one of these wards, non-Mormon residents were a majority of voters, but according to one of the non-Mormon educators in the Seventh Ward School, A.S. Martin, the “bitterness and rancor” which characterized much of the city’s politics was kept out of the school, even to the extent that the non-Mormon majority elected a staunch Mormon (and critic of free schools), David McKenzie, to the board in 1888.47 Instances such as this indicate sometimes unclear delineation between Mormons and non-Mormons that at times allowed cooperation between the two. But there is also evidence indicating political maneuvering on the part of gentiles to oust Mormon trustees in the district schools. For example, shortly after Horace Cummings returned from his LDS mission in 1887, Salt Lake County Superintendent William Stewart asked him to be principal of the Twentieth Ward School. The decision probably had the support of the all-Mormon, three-man board of education (all of whom were members of the Mormon People’s Party). In July 1888, however, the anti-Mormon Liberal Party arranged to pack a meeting called to select new trustees. By the time the representatives of the People’s Party arrived at the ward house, the Liberals had approved the selection of a chairman, a secretary, two trustees and motion to adjourn the meeting. The Mormons arrived too late to find that they “had been outwitted, and that their district was in the hands of the Liberals.” The new board immediately repudiated Cummings’s contract, forcing him to seek employment as principal of the new Eighteenth Ward Seminary.48

“Quite Fair” Salaries

[p.19]Statistics on teacher salaries in Salt Lake City before the adoption of free public schools cannot be separated from the Salt Lake County Schools as a whole, but given the fact that the city made up a major part of the county population, the overall figures provide a basis for discussing salary ranges in the area of Salt Lake City in the years before public schools became a reality From these records it appears that the teachers in Salt Lake County in 1861 were receiving an average of $267.00 per year. In 1867 Salt Lake County teachers were earning $320.82 for working a school term of eight and one half months. Salaries paid to male and females are not broken down in terms of monthly averages, but using the total amount spent on males and females and the numbers of males and females teaching in the schools it is possible to get an idea of the yearly differences between the two. For example, males earned an average of $349.00 in 1868 while females earned in the same year an average of $242.00. The annual amounts paid to teachers in Salt Lake County illustrates how large the differential between male and female teachers was and how it fluctuated over the years: from women earning 31 percent less than what men earned in 1868 to them earning 58 percent less in 1882. The sustained decrease in the average of women teachers’ salaries as a percentage of men’s salaries in the 1870s (women were earning 68 percent less than men) may be accounted for by the fact that there was an economic depression during this period and also an influx of males into the teaching ranks. Simply because they were males (and perhaps heads of households) men had a better chance of being hired and also receiving higher salaries.49

During the nineteenth century rhetoric tended to outweigh reality in appraisals of the pioneer commitment to education; comparisons of neighboring school systems between 1873 and 1887 indicate that in terms of teacher salaries, Utah lagged behind every western state and territory with the exception of New Mexico. During this period Utah paid its male and female teachers an average monthly salary of $41.10 and $23.87 respectively By contrast Nevada paid its teachers $99.69 and $78.37; Arizona, $88.89 and $78.94; California, $81.67 and 64.65; Wyoming, $80.00 and $60.00; Idaho, $65 and $50.00 and Colorado, $53.82 and $54.16. Even with this difference, one 1881 report termed the salaries paid to Utah teachers as “quite fair” and suggested that some teachers were actually being paid more than they were worth.50

Pride in School Economy

The pre-1890 schools were supported rather sparingly by local district taxes (for building and maintenance mainly) and tuition fees. This type of funding was inadequate to meet the needs of the growing school population and it differed [p.20]from district to district. Some districts had more financial resources at their command than other districts—even within the confines of Salt Lake City Given the different property evaluation throughout the city, school patrons certainly must have differed in their ability and willingness to pay tuition fees.

In 1874, an attempt to equalize expenditures was made by aiding local district schools with territorial funds. Modest though the amount was ($15,000 for two years) this law set important precedents in requiring local trustees to maintain a school in each district for at least three months; failure to do this would lead to forfeiture of the territorial appropriation. Over the next six years the appropriation for district schools increased and by 1880 the territorial legislature was making more than $62,000 available for the school districts of the entire territory. In that year too, appropriations for the district schools were made on the basis of the number of children in the district between the ages of six and eighteen. Along with increased appropriations came increased demands from the Territorial Legislature that schools meet some minimal standards.51

Still, Utah did not have what could be termed a system of “free public schools” and the Liberal Party, organized in the early 1870s to counter Mormon influence in Utah politics, brought considerable pressure on the territorial legislature to adopt a free public school system. However, the Second Ward School has been claimed as the first “free public school” because in 1888 it became the first school in Utah to be maintained entirely through tax-money rather than a mix of taxes and tuition. Obviously, some LDS wards in Salt Lake City were willing to tax themselves to support adequate institutions, anticipating the kinds of schools established by the School Act of 1890.52

By no means was there an absence of schools in Salt Lake City (or in Utah as whole) prior to 1890, but as Mormon historian B. H. Roberts observed in 1913, the Mormons were much too proud of their economy in government to appropriate adequate support for educational purposes. He also acknowledged that they were often spurred into action by the activities of Protestant churches in establishing competitive private schools available at low cost to the public.5354

“A Good General School Law”:  Utah Adopts the National Panacea

[p.21]As part of the federal strategy of the 1880s to abolish the practice of plural marriage, the office of Territorial Superintendent of Schools was put under the control of the Territorial Supreme Court. Latter-day Saint leaders and legislators still opposed efforts to expand the support of public schools through territorial appropriations, while non-Mormon legislators, Commissioners of Education, and territorial governors persisted in their attempts to pass legislation that would make public schools available to all children. An 1888 measure supported by three members of the Liberal Party and two members of the Mormon People’s Party was overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Representatives by a vote of seventeen to five. The council then attempted to assure the expansion of an independent and parallel Mormon school system. After caucusing with Mormon apostles they passed a bill “providing for the establishment and support of district and private [including religious] schools… in lieu of [C. E. Allen’s] original … act to establish a public school system and to provide for the maintenance and supervision of public schools in the Territory of Utah, which has been rejected.”55 According to Edward L. Lyman, a number of LDS apostles (including Heber J. Grant, Franklin D. Richards and John Henry Smith) met with legislators to consider a variety of appropriations bills and educational matters. They did not agree with the governor’s priorities and “recommended economy in all ways.”56 One gentile proponent of free schools, C. E. Allen, who had attempted to get a free school law passed in 1888, claimed that the LDS church supported and Heber J. Grant “openly fathered” this proposal to give public funds to private schools.57

As might have been expected, the non-Mormon Governor, Caleb West, vetoed the proposed legislation. In West’s view the provision of public funds for the support of private interests (including denominational schools) would be a “blow at the public school system which prevails in every section of our country.” West argued that the act did not include any provisions for public control or supervision, thus allowing the schools to be used to promote particular religious tenets. The outcome, in West’s view would, “destroy the imperfect system of district schools already existing.”58

Allen, a prominent Congregational member of the Territorial Legislature, introduced legislation (for the second time) to establish free schools during the [p.22]1890 legislative session. He was able to negotiate himself into being appointed chairman of the education committee and on 15 January he introduced public school legislation to the House of Representatives. Incidentally, four days later at a meeting of some LDS general authorities, “it was agreed to seek … to get a good general school law passed and to have free public schools.”59 However, Abraham H. Cannon, a Mormon apostle present at this meeting, recorded that the majority of the “brethren” and legislators present at this meeting expressed opposition to the idea of free schools:

[B]ut in view of the present perplexing school laws which were enacted contrary to the advice of President Young and other[s], and which are anything but good, it was thought best to go a little further and prepare the very best school law possible and then submit it to this Council. The establishment of free schools by our people it is thought will have a good effect among the people of this nation in proving that we are the friends of education. Free schools will therefore be established.60

This journal entry clearly indicates the dose relationship between church and state in Utah, and also suggests that this apparent change in the Mormon position, in part motivated by the “good press” it would give the Church, helped C. E. Allen accomplish his ends. From his position as education chair he shepherded a free public school bill through the House of Representative where it received unanimous approval from the sixteen Mormons in the People’s Party and six non-Mormons in the Liberal Party This education bill disappeared in the all-Mormon Council, however, and it appeared as if it would not be acted upon there. However, as a back-up in his efforts to have free schools established in Utah, Allen had made arrangements (should his bills not be acted on) for Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont to introduce the same Utah bill as federal legislation. The federal government would then establish a school system and provide maintenance and supervision of a public school system in Utah. According to Allen, when the Mormon legislators read in the newspapers that his school proposal was actually being considered in Washington, D.C., as a federal education bill, “all at once the committee on education in the council became very active” and Allen’s free school legislation was approved unanimously.61

This act created schools which were in large measure free by making them dependent on tax revenue rather than on tuition, giving elected boards of trustees added authority, and eliminating the traditional small districts which had dominated Utah since pioneer times. A localist perspective supported by the Mormon church was giving way to a more centrist one supported largely by non-Mormons.

Under a variety of pressures, Mormon society underwent much change in [p.23]the late nineteenth century. In these decades a new public Mormonism was being born in which plural marriage was officially banned, cooperative economics was de-emphasized, and in which Mormons began to align themselves politically as either Republicans or Democrats rather than with the “People’s Party.”

It should be noted, however, that external pressures had produced changes in only “the most visible symbols of Mormon distinctiveness,” while the core of the culture remained quite secure from the onslaughts of modern challenges. Some even assert that “many Utahns to this day have successfully and happily eluded ‘Americanization.'”62 Perhaps they changed just enough to pragmatically “get along,” a perspective which some historians have termed “creative adjustment.”63 During the development of the public schools in Utah it is evident that Mormons accepted the secular system because they had to. They then proceeded to adjust it to fit their own needs and make it their own. Given the past conflicts some Mormons and gentiles wondered if a publicly supported system could be established in such a divided community Others accepted the challenge and set about creating a public school district which they hoped could circumvent the conflicts of the past by focusing on the needs of the present and of the future.


[p.1]1. Fifty Years of Public Education (Salt Lake City, Board of Education, 1940). This volume was actually the Fiftieth Annual Report, School Year 1939-1940.

[p.2]2. Sources for the election campaigns for the Salt Lake Board of Education are the city’s major newspapers—the Mormon Deseret News, and the Salt Lake Tribune, which generally supported the non-Mormons in school and other social issues. The coverage for board elections appeared in July issues of the papers for 1890 and thereafter in November and December issues.

[p.3]3. Joseph E Smith (1905), cited in Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience (New York: Alfred E. Knopf, 1979), 262.

4. C. Brian Hardy, “Education and Mormon Enculturation: The Ogden Public Schools, 1849-1896,” Ph.D. diss., University of Utah, 1995, 53-54, 182; Salt Lake Tribune, 7 May 1881, citing an article in the Washington Republican.

5. Evan Stephens, The School and Primary Songster (Salt Lake City: Coalter & Snelgrove, 1889), 103-104. Carmon B. Hardy, “The Schoolboy God: Amormon-American Model,” Journal of Religious History 9 (Dec. 1976): 179.

[p.4]6. Cited in William Mulder and A. Russell Mortensen, eds., Among the Mormons: Historical Accounts by Contemporary Observers (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969), 382-4.

7. John MacNell to Ann MacNell and Elizabeth Thompson, 11 Feb. 1874, in Frederick S. Buchanan, ed., A Good Time Coming: Mormon Letters to Scotland (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1988), 177.

8. For an extended discussion of Mormon attitudes toward public schools in Utah, see my article “Education Among the Mormons: Brigham Young and the Schools of Utah,” History of Education Quarterly 22 (Winter 1982): 435–459; also Charles S. Peterson, “The Limits of Learning in Pioneer Utah,”Journal of Mormon History 10 (1983): 65–78.

[p.5]9. For an overview of the quasi-public schools in the United States prior to the establishment of public common schools, see Carl E Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780-1860 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1983), 13-61.

10. Michael B. Katz, Class, Bureaucracy, and School: The Illusion of Educational Change in America (New York: Praeger, 1975), 15–22.

11. Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool: F. D. & S. W. Richards, 1854–86; Reprint, 1967), 18:357.

[p.6]12. Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic, 74-79; Michael B. Katz, Reconstructing American Education (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 132-35. For an account of one Protestant group’s attempt to combat Mormon controlled schools in Utah, see Dee R. Darling, “Culture in Conflict: Congregationalism, Mormonism, and Schools in Utah, 1880-1893,” Ph.D. Diss., University of Utah, 1991.

[p.7]13. An insightful analysis of the struggle between Mormons and non-Mormons in Utah during the latter half of the nineteenth century is Edward Leo Lyman, Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Statehood (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986).

14. Epistle of 6 April 1886, cited in James R. Clark, “Church and State Relations in Education in Utah,” Ed.D. diss., Utah State University, 1958, 246.

15. [George Q. Cannon], “Topics of the Times,” Juvenile Instructor 21 (Apr. 1886): 134.

[p.8]16. Eighteenth Ward Board, Minutes, 16 Mar. 1884. Microfilm copy of original minutes in Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Hereafter cited as LDS Historical Department.

17. Eighteenth Ward Board, Minutes, 11 May 1884.

18. For a detailed account of the emergence of the LDS academies, see John D. Monnett, Jr., “The Mormon Church and its Private School System in Utah: The Emergence of the Academies, 1880-1892,” Ph.D. diss., University of Utah, 1984.

[p.9]19. Eighteenth Ward Board, Minutes, 10 Sept. 1888; 22 Dec. 1888; 6 May, 6 June 1889; 18 May 1891; 2 Sept. 1892; 4 Aug. 1893; also, “Latter-day Saints’ Seminary,” Deseret Evening News, 29 Aug. 1889. Details about the students attending the Eighteenth Ward Seminary can be found in the “Eighteenth Ward Seminary Student Register,” microfilm copy of original, LDS Historical Department. I am indebted to Gordon Irving of the LDS Historical Department for bringing this material to my attention.

20. [George Q. Cannon], “Topics of the Times,” Juvenile Instructor 28 (15 June 1893): 392-94.

[p.10]21. Reinhard Maeser, as cited in Monnett, “The Mormon Church and Its Private School System in Utah,” 180.

22. See, for example, Dr. John A. Widtsoe’s response to the charge that Utah’s Mormon-oriented schools were of inferior quality He cited his own record at Harvard, “of which I am not ashamed,” as evidence that the church schools of the 1880s did a credible job of preparing him and others for rigorous university work. His “list of similar cases would fill several columns of your paper,” he claimed. See “Widtsoe Upholds Standards Maintained by Utah Schools,” Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Nov. 1921.

[p.11]23. Abraham H. Cannon, Journal, 15 Jan. 1890, photocopy of original in possession of H. Stanley Cannon, Salt Lake City.

24. The popular notion that all Americans were enthusiastic about having tax-supported public schools is challenged by Wayne E. Fuller in his The Old Country School (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 38–41.

25. Laverne C. Bane, “The Development of Education in Utah (1870 to 1896),” Ed.D. diss., Stanford University, 1940, 48–49.

26. John C. Moffitt, comp., “Reports of the Superintendents of Public Schools, 1861-1895.” Typescript volume in Brigham Young University Library and copy in Special Collections, University of Utah, 6, 22. See also Calvin S. Smith, “Public School Land Policies of the State of Utah,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1978, 1–41; Dean L. May, Utah: A People’s History (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 116.

[p.12]27. Thomas G. Alexander and James B. Allen, Mormons and Gentiles: A History of Salt Lake City (Boulder, CO: Pruett, 1984), 92-93.

28. Journal of Discourses 11:353, 12:406-407.

29. Clark, “Church and State,” 194.

[p.13]30. John C. Moffitt, The History of Public Education in Utah (n.p., 1946), 280.

31. Charles S. Peterson, “A New Community: Mormon Teachers and the Separation of Church and State in Utah’s Territorial Schools,” Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Summer 1980): 295.

32. “Surprise and Banquet,” Deseret News 11 Sept. 1891. This comment was made at a dinner honoring William M. Stewart, the outgoing superintendent of Salt Lake County Schools.

33. Moffitt, History, 280-86.

[p.14]34. Ibid., 309.

35. Minutes of meeting of the Salt Lake Teacher’s Association held in “Council House” Salt Lake City,    18 Oct. 1870; 22, 29 Nov. 1871, Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City.

36. Moffitt, “Reports,” 259; Moffitt, History, 293–97.

[p.15]37. Annual of the University of Deseret 1890-91 (1890), 26-29.

38. Moffitt, History, 287, 289.

39. For sketches of Park and the Dusenburys, see Peterson, “A New Community,” 308-9, 299-300; Jill Mulvay, “The Two Miss Cooks: Pioneer Professionals for Utah Schools,” Utah Historical Quarterly 43 (1975): 396-409.

40. David B. Tyack and M. Stroher, “Jobs and Gender,” in Educational Policy and Management: Sex Differentials, Patricia Schmuck et al., eds. (New York: Academic Press, 1981), 133.

[p.16]41. Prior to the establishment of a consolidated school district in Salt Lake City in 1890 statistics for the city schools were included in the Salt Lake County reports. The county figures are used here to show the overall trend of which Salt Lake City was a significant part. As far as total numbers, of course, the twenty-two Salt Lake City school districts were the largest unit in the county.

[p.17]42. Statistics on male and female teachers come from the reports compiled by various territorial and city superintendents. See Moffitt, “Reports of the Superintendents of Schools… ,” passim. Reports for the following years were not available: 1863-64, 1867, 1870, 1872, and 1884-87.

43. First Annual Report of the Public Schools of Salt Lake City for the Year Ending June 30th, 1891, 105. Hereafter the annual reports will be cited as [Number] Annual Report [School Year]; Ninth Annual Report 1898-99, 79.

44. Bane, “The Development of Education in Utah (1870-1896),” 76; Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Dec. 1892.

[p.18]45. Deseret News, 8 Dec. 1893, cited in Karl E. Lingwall, “The History of Educational Administration in Salt Lake City, 1890-1901,” M.S. thesis, University of Utah, 1967, 57.

46. For descriptive details of the Salt Lake City schools before they were organized as free public schools, see Fifty Years of Public Education, passim.

47. “Fourteen Years in Salt Lake’s Schools,” Deseret News, 4 May 1902.

48. Horace H. Cummings, Autobiography, Chapter XVII, “Teaching Resumed.” Photocopy of rough typescript in LDS Historical Department.

[p.19]49. Statistics on salaries paid to Utah teachers are found throughout the reports of the territorial superintendents of common schools published between 1868 and 1882. See Moffitt, “Reports,” passim.

50. Stanley S. Ivans, “Free Schools Come to Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 22 (1954): 328.

[p.20]51. Moffitt, History, 111–13.

52. The claim of the Second Ward as Utah’s first “free” school was made in a letter of George K. Reese to Oscar Van Cott, [1924?] LDS Historical Department. Other claims have been made for other “firsts” including the Salt Lake Seventh Ward. According to Joseph L. Henriod, his grandfather Eugene A. Henriod, an emigrant from France, was the first teacher in Utah’s first free school established in American Fork in 1867. Lorraine Henriod cites the Provo Herald, 8 Dec. 1970, as a source for this claim. To confuse matters more the Salt Lake Tribune of 6 September 1878 claimed that a “free” school had been established at the Liberal Institute in Salt Lake City I have made no attempt to determine which school actually was the first “real” free school prior to 1890. Each commumty apparently had its own definition of what precisely “free” meant; it is clear, however, that there was no widespread system of free public schools prior to 1890. See Deseret News, 4 May 1902; Lorraine Henriod to author, 25 May 1993.

53. B. H. Roberts’s comment was made in a speech to a session of the National Education Association in Salt Lake City in 1913. See Deseret News, 6 July 1913.

[p.21]54. House Journal of the Twenty-Eighth Session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah (Salt Lake City, 1888), 323.

55. Edward Leo Lyman, “The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood,” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Riverside, 1981, 200-1, 246.

56. Allen’s comments are recorded in R. N. Baskin, Reminiscences of Early Utah (Salt Lake City: Tribune Reporter Publishing Co., 1914), 199. Clark, in “Church and State Relations,” 258-59, gives the impression that the bill providing financial aid to all private schools was an example of Mormon largesse. On the other hand, non-Mormon C. Merrill Hough interprets it as an attempt to give Mormon private schools a financial advantage. See his “Two School Systems in Conflict: 1867-1890,” Utah Historical Quarterly 28 (1960): 126. To me, the evidence points more to Mormon self-interest than “largesse.”

57. House Journal of the Twenty-Eighth Session (1888), 342-43.

[p.22]58. John Henry Smith, Journal, 18 Jan. 1890, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah..  Smith was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church.

59. Cannon, Journal, 18 Jan. 1890.

60. Allen’s account of his role in passing the school law is found in a letter he wrote to R. N. Baskin on 7 December 1911. See Baskin, Reminiscences, 198–201.

[p.23]61. May, Utah: A People’s History, 130.

62. See Arrington and Bitton’s discussion of “creative adjustment” in The Mormon Experience, 242-61.