Louisa Greene Richards

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Louisa “Lula” Greene Richards was a poet, writer, and editor, best known as the first editor of the Woman’s Exponent.

She was born on April 8, 1849, in Kanesville, Iowa. Her parents were converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they followed the Saints as they settled in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and on to Salt Lake City, Utah. They settled in Smithfield, Utah, by the time Lula was three.

Lula wrote poetry as a young girl. She attended a private school from 1868 to 1869, briefly taught school with her sister, and attended the University of Deseret in 1869.

She served as the editor of the Smithfield Sunday School Gazette. She wrote about “blessings, good manners, and the Book of Mormon as well as the importance of paying attention in Sunday School.”[1] Her first published work for a larger audience was a poem entitled “Time Out,” which was published in the Salt Lake Daily Herald. Soon after its publication, Lulu needed to return home to Smithfield, but lacked the funds, so she stayed up all night writing more poetry with the belief that the editor of the Herald would pay her for her work. The next day Edward L. Sloan purchased her poetry as she had hoped, and offered her the opportunity to be the editor of a newspaper for Latter-day Saint women called the Woman’s Exponent.

Lulu felt unsure of herself in such a position, so she sought the advice of Eliza R. Snow, general president of the Relief Society. With her blessing and a call to the work from President Brigham Young, Lulu edited the Woman’s Exponent until 1877. She continued to contribute articles and poems to the Exponent as well as to the Relief Society Magazine, the Children’s Friend, the Improvement Era, and the Young Woman’s Journal. In 1883 she became an editor with the Juvenile Instructor and was called by George Q. Cannon to write a column specifically for children, which was called “Our Little Folks.”

In 1905 she won first prize in a Church-wide contest for writing a poem honoring Joseph Smith on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. She also published a collection of writings for children that year entitled Branches That Run over the Wall.

In 1873, she married Levi W. Richards (a nephew of Church leader Willard Richards). They had seven children; four of whom lived to adulthood. Lulu served as a member of the Primary general board for twenty-five years. She also served as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple for forty years. She died on September 9, 1944.

  1. Susan Easton Black and Mary Jane Woodger, Women of Character (American Fork, Utah: Covenant, 2011)