Elmina Shepard Taylor

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Anstis Elmina Shepard Taylor was the first general president of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She served from 1880 to 1904.

She was born on September 12, 1830, in Middlefield, New York. After completing her education at Hardwick Academy at age sixteen, she moved to Haverstraw, New York, to teach school. While there, she met John Druce, who taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ and she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in July 1856. The following August, she married George Hamilton Taylor, another convert to the Church. They immigrated to Utah, arriving in Salt Lake City on September 16, 1859.

During a meeting for the Church’s adolescent girls on June 19, 1880, Taylor was named the first general president of what was then named the Young Ladies’ National Mutual Improvement Association. She filled the calling until her death on December 6, 1904.

With encouragement from Taylor’s presidency, Susa Young Gates founded the Young Woman’s Journal, a monthly magazine that was published from 1889 to 1929. In 1888, Taylor and others met with Susan B. Anthony in Seneca Falls, New York, and were part of the founding of the National Council of Women. Taylor was appointed an ex officio vice president of the organization in 1891 and held it until her death. Also under her leadership, the first general Young Women’s conference was held in 1890, Tuesday night was designated as Mutual night (1893), and a Young Women traveling library was instituted (1899). Taylor also shortened the name of the organization to the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association.

Taylor and her husband were the parents of seven children, three of whom died in infancy or early childhood. Her daughter Mae Taylor Nystrom later served as second counselor to Martha Horne Tingey, second general president of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association.