Alice Louise Reynolds

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Alice Louise Reynolds was an academic who contributed to learning, especially for women. She was a professor at Brigham Young University (then Brigham Young Academy), the first woman at the academy and the second woman in Utah to be named a full professor.

She was born on April 1, 1873, the daughter of Apostle George Reynolds and Mary Ann T. Reynolds. She loved books and at the age of four attended a private school. When she was twelve years old, her father sent her and her younger sister Florence to Brigham Young Academy for high school. She was inspired by her instructors, especially Karl G. Maeser. She went on to study literature at the University of Michigan. She also received a Bachelor of Pedagogy degree in 1895, a Bachelor of Didactics degree in 1897 (awarded by the Church Board of Education), and a Bachelor of Arts degree from BYU in 1910. She pursued graduate studies at Cornell, Berkeley, Columbia, and Chicago.

After teaching for one year, Reynolds joined the faculty at the academy and at the suggestion of the academy’s president Benjamin Cluff, established a literature department. She introduced college literary courses when high school level grammar, rhetoric, and composition were the typical offerings. She became the first woman at the academy to teach classes other than home art skills or music. Reynolds was a beloved instructor.

Also at the academy, she served as a member of a committee to establish a library. During her nineteen years as chair of the committee, she oversaw fund raising campaigns to increase the library collection to 100, 000 volumes. Women of the state of Utah honored her donating books to the academy through a book shower given in 1922. Ten years later, friends held a birthday celebration for her and suggested the formation of the Alice Louise Reynolds club. It was formally organized on February 19, 1933. A conference room in the campus Harold B. Lee library is named in her honor. The library also hosts the annual Alice Louise Reynolds Women-in-Scholarship Lecture series.

Reynolds was called to serve on the Relief Society general board in 1923. She was the editor of the Relief Society Magazine from 1923 to 1930. She also wrote for the Young Woman’s Journal, the Improvement Era, and the Instructor. She also wrote lessons for the Sunday School, the Relief Society, and the Mutual Improvement Association.

She was also politically active. She was a women’s activist and served as a delegate to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the National American Women Suffrage Conventions, and the League of Women Voters. In 1920, she was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention.

Reynolds died of cancer on December 5, 1938.