Current Honorees

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Maurine Whipple,
Women of Letters » Literature

Teacher, lecturer, and author of The Giant Joshua (1941), a vivid portrayal of pioneer and polygamous life and widely considered one of the most important Mormon works of fiction. Born in St. George, Utah –- the setting for The Giant Joshua -– Whipple won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Prize in 1938 to help her finish the book. Whipple later wrote This is the Place: Utah and published articles in Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, Life, Time, Pageant, and numerous other periodicals. Whipple also taught high school at various locations in Utah and Idaho.
Virginia Sorensen,
Women of Letters » Literature

Mormon novelist associated with the 'Lost Generation' group of Mormon writers. Born in Provo and educated at Brigham Young University, Sorensen later moved from Utah and spent most of her adult life abroad. A prolific writer, Sorensen often focused her novels on the conflicts between independent-minded individuals and Mormon small-town society. Sorensen was twice awarded Guggenheim fellowships, and her children’s novel Miracles on Maple Hill (1957) won the John Newbery Medal of the American Library Association.
Ellen Meloy,
Women of Letters » Literature

Writer, artist, and naturalist, Meloy is perhaps best known for her book, The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art and Spirit, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 and won the Utah Book Award for nonfiction. She wrote four collections of essays, primarily on the topic of the human connection to wilderness, deserts, and rivers. Prior to her death, Meloy was an active member of the Bluff City Historic Preservation Association, helping to save historic sites and create a trail system near the river.
Image courtesy of Mark Meloy.
Kate B. Carter,
Women of Letters » History

Prolific writer and historian as well as president of the International Society Daughters of the Utah Pioneers for more than thirty-five years (1941-1976). Carter’s works include Our Pioneer Heritage (twenty volumes), Treasures of Pioneer History (six volumes), and Heart Throbs of the West (twelve volumes).
©Image used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.
May Swenson,
Women of Letters » Literature

Nationally renowned poet. Born in Logan, Utah, and educated at Utah State University, Swenson spent most of her adult life in New York City. During the course of her literary career, Swenson published twelve volumes of poetry and was awarded numerous prizes, including the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Bollingen Prize from Yale University, and an Award in Literature from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Swenson also received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ford, Rockefeller, and MacArthur Foundations as well as a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Eliza Kirtley Royle,
Common Roles/Uncommon Lives »

A leader in the women’s club movement, Royle founded and was the first president of the Ladies Literary Club, the first Utah women’s club affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Born in Columbia, Missouri, Royle moved in 1871 to Salt Lake City, where she remained for the next forty years. Prior to founding the Ladies Literary Club, Royle was a member of the Blue Tea – Utah’s first women’s club. Upon her death in 1910, the Salt Lake Tribune heralded Royle as “one of Utah’s most prominent pioneers and one of the most brilliant women of the West.”
Olene Walker ,
Women in Public Service » Politics

Utah’s first and only woman governor. Prior to becoming governor, Walker served ten years as Lieutenant Governor of Utah and eight years as a member of the state legislature (including a term as majority whip). Walker is a champion of children's literacy and was the founder and director of the Salt Lake Education Foundation. She also directed the Utah Division of Community Development. In honor of her service, the State of Utah created the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, which provides for and protects affordable housing for low-income residents throughout the state.
Christine B. Durham,
Women in Public Service » Law

Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. Born in Southern California, Chief Justice Durham attended Duke Law School and practiced law in North Carolina before moving to Utah in 1973, where she taught at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. Chief Justice Durham became a trial judge in 1978 and served for four years, one of them as the presiding judge, before being appointed to the Utah Supreme Court by Governor Michael Leavitt in 1982. She became Chief Justice in 2002. Throughout her career, Chief Justice Durham has been an outspoken advocate of female role models in public life and the safety and security of children. She is also the recipient of the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of the most prestigious judicial honors in the country. To date, Chief Justice Durham is the only Utahn to have received the award.
©Image used with permission of Utah State Courts.
Afton Bradshaw,
Women in Public Service » Politics

Tireless public servant who served eighteen years in the Utah House of Representatives and on numerous state and national boards as a community volunteer. Widely respected on both sides of the aisle, Bradshaw was known as a moderate and proudly bore that label. Her many awards include the University of Utah Merit of Honor, Salt Lake Council of Women Hall of Fame, YWCA Legislator of the Year, Susa Young Gates Award, League of Women Voters Community Service Award and Chamber of Commerce Pathfinder Award. She was also named Salt Lake City Republican Woman of the year in 1998.
Alice Merrill Horne,
Women in Public Service » Politics

Utah legislator and founder of the Utah Arts Council and the State Art Collection. Horne spent her early years as an educator and artist before being elected in 1898 as a member of the Utah House of Representatives –- only the second woman to serve in that body. As a legislator, she introduced and shepherded through a landmark bill to create a state art institute, the first of its kind in the United States. Horne served for fourteen years on the board of the Relief Society of the LDS Church and as chair of the Society’s art committee where she prepared lessons on art appreciation, landscape study, and architecture. Over the course of her career, Horne gave two addresses to Congress, represented the Relief Society and the United States at the International Congress of Women in Berlin, Germany, and served as secretary, historian, and second president of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
©Image used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.
Maxine Conder,
Women in Public Service » Military

Rear Admiral in the United States Navy –- the second U.S. woman promoted to that rank –- and director of the Navy Nurse Corps (1975-1979). Admiral Conder is a native of Utah and received a nursing diploma from St. Mark's Hospital School of Nursing in Salt Lake City and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah. As director of the Navy Nurse Corps, Admiral Conder was responsible for training, recruiting, promoting, and retaining 2600 Navy nurses worldwide. In recognition of her service, Admiral Conder was awarded the Legion of Merit, one of only two U.S. military decorations to be issued as a neck order.
Alta Fife,
Women in the Arts » Folk Art

Noted folklorist who, along with her husband Austin, chronicled the traditions of the Mormon communities of Utah and Idaho, providing a critical foundation for future folklore studies. The Fifes wrote five books as well as numerous articles, and although Alta Fife was the primary writer, it is impossible to separate the work of husband and wife. Among their many awards, the Fifes were jointly honored with the Senior Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Alta Fife was also honored in 1986 with the Utah Governor’s “Service to Folk Arts” Award. Beginning in 1966, the Fifes began donating folklore material to Utah State University. These donations were the foundation of the Fife Americana and Fife Mormon collections, which eventually became the Fife Folklore Archives.
Image used by permission, Special Collections & Archives, Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University.
Mae Timbimboo Parry,
Women in the Arts » Folk Art

Leader and matriarch of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. An empathetic speaker and determined lobbyist, Parry was a tribal representative to the White House Conference on Indian Tribal Affairs where she petitioned the federal government to pass the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Parry is also credited for gaining recognition for the phrase “Bear River Massacre” in reference to a tragedy in which the U.S. Army attacked and killed hundreds of Shoshone men, women, and children. (The incident was previously known as the “Battle of Bear River.”) Parry was one of the first winners of the Utah Women’s Achievement Award and was Honorary Utah Mother of the Year in 1986.
Mary Holiday Black,
Women in the Arts » Folk Art

Prolific basket weaver considered primarily responsible for the preservation and renaissance of the art of Navajo basketry. Black is perhaps most famous for her “story baskets,” which are baskets depicting legends and beliefs in woven form. Among her many honors, Black has received the Utah Governor’s Folk Art Award (1995) as well as a National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts -- the highest honor given to American folk artists -- which was presented to her in 1996 by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Merle Shumway,
Women of Letters » History

Teacher and performer of song, music, and old-time dance to hundreds of school children in Arizona and Utah. Shumway also preserved old-time songs and dances by writing down the words and tunes she learned during her childhood. In recognition for her work, she received the Governor’s Award from the Utah Arts Council in 1988.
Rose Ann Gunther,
Women of Charity » Humanitarian Service

Coordinator of worldwide humanitarian efforts. Over the last ten years, Gunther has been responsible for organizing the collection, assembly, and shipping of over one million personal hygiene kits, newborn kits, and school kits to developing countries around the globe. Gunther is also a founding member of the American Fork Literacy Center, which provides one-on-one reading assistance to young students throughout the community.
Mary Teasdel,
Women in the Arts » Art

Impressionist artist who studied in Europe under Jules Simon and James MacNeil Whistler. Teasdel was the first woman from Utah to exhibit at the French Salon. Later, she served as president of the Utah Institute of Fine Arts (now the Utah Arts Institute) -- the first state-supported arts organization in the United States. Some of her most famous works include Mother and Child and Dutch Woman Knitting.
Ella G. Peacock,
Women in the Arts » Art

Painter who spent twenty-nine years in Spring City, Utah. Although her works were exhibited in several galleries in Utah and neighboring states and she received regional recognition and numerous prizes and awards, Peacock remained relatively unknown throughout her career. Modest and unassuming, Peacock was best known for her plein-air paintings and slice-of-life themes. BYU staged a one-woman show of her work (about sixty paintings) in 1982.
Minerva Tiechert,
Women in the Arts » Art

Painter most famous for her artwork depicting Western and Mormon themes –- particularly her murals of scenes from the Book of Mormon. Born in Ogden, Utah, Teichert studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under John Vanderpoel and later in New York under George Bridgeman and Robert Henri. Later, Teichert moved with her husband to Cokeville, Wyoming, where she spent much of her life painting in complete isolation. In addition to her painting, Teichert was an outspoken political conservative and advocate of women’s rights.
Laura Lee S. Bradshaw,
Women in the Arts » Art

Notable sculptor presently residing in Provo, Utah. Born in California, Bradshaw moved to Utah at age nineteen to attend BYU, where she completed a BA and MA in Art. Bradshaw was recognized as one of Utah’s finest artists at the Lieutenant Governor’s Annual Invitation Art Exhibition. She also received honors from the Business and Professional Women’s Utah Foundation. Among her notable works are Martha Hughes Cannon, an eight-foot bronze displayed at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda, Acanthus Child, a six-foot figure displayed at the University of Utah Medical Center, as well as several sculptures on display at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
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