"It's kind of fun to do the impossible. " - Walt Disney
Question #90438 posted on 10/10/2017 6:38 p.m.

Dear Illustrious 100 Hour Board,

Who was the first LDS female scientist? Or some of the earliest ones? (And I guess a doctor would be okay, but I'd prefer a research scientist.)

-Azul Ateh


Dear Blue,

The guppy of doom has you covered as far as research scientists goes (and the difficulty in finding them), so I'll just chip in that one of the first LDS female doctors was Ellis Shipp. She founded the School of Nursing and Obstetrics in Salt Lake in 1879, and was on the board of the Deseret Hospital Association. Plus she's one of my ancestors! She was a pretty cool lady.

And fun fact, a lot of LDS women in the early Church actually became educated as doctors and scientists at prestigious universities back east, and it was highly encouraged by Church leaders. Partially it was because they needed more doctors/scientists in Utah, and partially because they were sort of trying to prove to the rest of the world that Mormons weren't a bunch of backwards weirdos.



Dear you,

One of the first LDS female political scientists was Martha Maria Hughes Cannon (1857-1932). She was a physician, polygamist wife, women's rights advocate, and Utah State Senator. Martha Hughes Cannon worked as a doctor after receiving her Bachelors in Chemistry and MD. She's one of my favorite Mormons because she, a Democrat, ran against her husband, a Republican, for the office of Utah State Senator. She beat him, becoming the first female state senator in the U.S.

Esther Romania Bunnell Pratt Penrose (1839-1932) was the first LDS woman to earn an MD degree and the first female doctor in Utah.

After searching in vain for any research scientists, I emailed Connie Lamb, the BYU librarian for Women's Studies. She said, "I do not know the answer to your question and have searched in several places but haven’t found anything.  There is information on early Mormon women in medicine (midwives, nurses, and doctors) but I can’t find other women scientists.  Sorry." 

If any readers know of any early LDS female scientists, please leave a comment!

-guppy of doom