Ruth May Fox
Ruth May Fox served as the third president of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, the precursor to the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was also a writer, poet, and songwriter.
She was born on November 16, 1853, in Westbury, Wiltshire, England. Her mother, Mary Ann Harding, died in childbirth when Ruth was eighteen months old. Various relatives and members of the Church took care of Ruth for several years while her father served as a traveling elder for the Church. When she was eight years old, her father took her to Yorkshire, where he was employed. A few years later, he immigrated to America, leaving Ruth with Mrs. Saxton and her daughter Clara. They soon joined him in Pennsylvania, and her father married Mrs. Saxton. Ruth worked in a cotton mill to earn money to help finance the family’s move to Utah.
Ruth worked in the Deseret (Salt Lake City) and Ogden Woolen Mills, where her father was a carder, and used her earnings to help purchase the family home. She then attended John Morgan's College in Salt Lake City for four months, which ended her formal education. When her father returned to Salt Lake City and started his own mill, she helped him operate the heavy equipment.
Ruth married Jesse Fox in 1873 and she eventually bore twelve children. The Foxes experienced financial difficulties around 1888. Soon after, Jesse married a second wife, without forewarning Ruth. He eventually lost his business, accumulated large debts, and lost the family home. Jesse lived with the other wife, and Ruth was largely left to her own resources to survive. In 1900 she and her children ran the Saint Omer Boarding House to supplement their income. In 1914 she began work as a typist for the Young Women Mutual Improvement Association. She cared for her husband from 1921 through until his death in 1928.
She was strongly committed to suffrage for women and was active in the Utah Woman Suffrage Association and the Republican party. She helped draft the suffrage clause of the Utah Constitution. She and Emmeline B. Wells met with Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw when they visited Salt Lake City on May 12, 1895. Fox served as president of the Utah Woman's Press Club, treasurer of the Utah Woman Suffrage Association, chairman of the Salt Lake County Second Precinct Ladies' Republican Club, and board member of the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society and of Traveler's Aid Society.
Fox served as general president of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association from 1929 to 1937. She served previously as first counselor to Martha Horne Tingey (from 1905 to 1929). During her tenure as president, Fox changed the name of the organization to the Young Women’s Mutual Association and replaced the organization’s slogans with scriptural themes.
In 1930, Fox wrote the hymn "Carry On", a song that was associated with the Young Women and Young Men organizations for many years. It was included in the 1985 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Fox lived with her children until her death on April 12, 1958.