Pioneer Women of Arizona is now available from Deseret Book. The beautiful hardcover book has its roots in the foundation, history and culture of hundreds of early Arizona women. It includes numerous pictures as well.
Roberta Flake Clayton, born in 1877, wanted Arizonans to know the stories of the real women who pioneered the West. She pursued this desire with thirty-three years of research, culminating in the 719-page book she self-published in 1969 when she was in her early nineties.
A few copies of her original book can be found in several special collection libraries in Arizona and in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU.
Clayton was a member of the Arizona branch of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. She encouraged Mormon women to write their stories or gather stories from their female ancestors.
Most historical books deal with the pioneer experiences primarily of men. Clayton focused on struggles and challenges faced in the daily lives of young women, mothers, grandmothers, female leaders and businesswomen, as well as church services, births, deaths and changes in women’s roles, among other topics.
Researchers and authors Catherine H. Ellis and David F. Boone revised and expanded Clayton’s original work, which now contains 946 pages.
Within minutes of opening the book Pioneer Women of Arizona, Jeff Williams, a native Arizonan, found several of his relatives and their stories.
“I was surprised. I thought I knew most of the stories of my Arizona ancestors, yet I found out much more about their lives at the time.”
Williams added, “The book does not pass judgement, but does tell the facts, even a fact or two that could be considered family skeletons in the closet—incredibly intriguing.”
Pioneer Women of Arizona is published by BYU and Deseret Book.