Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Susa Young Gates, 1856-1933
By Erin Pack-Jordan, independent writer.
Writer, advocate, and Mormon feminist.
Delegate and chairperson, National Council of Women.
President, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
Founder, National Household Economics Organization.
Susa Young was born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory on March 18, 1856. She was the daughter of Brigham Young and his twenty-second wife Lucy Bigelow. She married her first husband in 1872 and divorced him in 1877. They had two children. In 1880, she married Jacob Gates. The couple eventually had 13 children together.
A prolific writer, Gates published many novels, articles, genealogical indexes, and biographies. One of her most well-known biographies was of her father, Brigham Young. Upon returning from a mission to the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawai'i), Gates founded the Utah Press Club and began writing The Young Woman's Journal.
In 1897, The Young Woman's Journal was adopted as the official publication for Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association. In addition to founding the Utah Press Club, Gates also founded the National Household Economics Council. She served on the Board of Regents at both Brigham Young University and Utah State Agricultural College, now Utah State University.
In addition to writing and editing publications and serving on college boards, Gates was also a dedicated women's rights advocate and early Mormon feminist. After taking a summer course at Harvard University in Massachusetts, she convinced her professor, Maud May Babcock, to move to Salt Lake City. Babcock would become the University of Utah's first ever woman professor.
Gates began her suffragist activities around the year 1889 when she founded The Young Woman's Journal. Gates served as a delegate and speaker to the International Council of Women, and as a chairperson and delegate to the National Council for Women. During one of these International Council of Women meetings, she took tea with notable leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Queen Victoria.
At the 1901 International Council of Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, she presented a paper entitled, "Scientific Treatment of Domestic Science." In this paper, she argued that "women have...done many improper things; and one of them is they often preferred men's opinions to their own and even yielded points of conscience for the sake of pleasing them." In jest, several Latter- Day Saints at the time referred to Gates as "the thirteenth apostle." She died at age 77 in Salt Lake City.
Allen, James B. and Jesse Embry. "Provoking the Brethren to Good Works: Susa Young Gates, the Relief Society, and Genealogy", Brigham Young University Studies Journal, 1991.