Carol Cornwall Madsen: Mormon Historian

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Carol Cornwall Madsen Mormon Historian

Carol Cornwall Madsen is a historian specializing in Mormon women’s history, Utah, and the United States. She was a research historian with the LDS Church Historical Department from 1977 until 1982 when she moved to the newly formed Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University. In 1986, she became an associate professor in BYU’s history department. She also served as associate director of BYU’s Women’s Research Institute.

She became a professor in the history department and a research professor in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute in 1994 and held these positions until she was granted emeritus status in 2002. She was a Senior Research Fellow with the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute until it was dissolved.

Prior to her association work with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Madsen served as an associate instructor in the University of Utah's English department from 1960 to 1967. She then joined the Department of Continuing Education at the University in 1967, and from 1970 to 1991, she was an instructor with the Department of Independent Studies.

Madsen earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature and her master’s and PhD in American history from the University of Utah.

Madsen is the co-editor of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society (2016) with Matthew Grow, Jill Mulvay Derr, and Kate Holbrook. She is the author of In Their Own Words: Women and the Story of Nauvoo; Journey to Zion: Voices from the Mormon Trail; Battle for the Ballot: Essays on Woman Suffrage in Utah; Sisters and Little Saints: One Hundred Years of Primary; and An Advocate for Women: The Public Life of Emmeline B. Wells (which won three best book awards). She is the co-editor of two compilations of talks from the BYU Women’s Conferences (As Women of Faith and A Heritage of Faith). She is the author of more than fifty articles on Utah.

She was a historical consultant and participant on seven historical productions for PBS and KJZZ-TV (including Trail of Hope, An American Prophet, Women Vote in the West, and The Joseph Smith Papers).

She served as vice chair of the Utah State Board of History (1993–2001), as president of the Mormon History Association (1989–1990), and as president of the Utah Women’s History Association (1979–1980, previous two years as president elect). She has also been a member of the Coalition for Western Women’s History, the Western Association of Women Historians, and the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession.

Madsen is the youngest daughter of J. Spencer Cornwall, former conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She married Gordon A. Madsen in 1953 and they are the parents of six children. She has served in many capacities in the Church, including as a member of Church Hosting.