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COLLECTION Identifier: A/F7935: M-133, reel E28

Papers of Ruth May Fox, 1856?-1977, undated


Autobiography, diary, and biographical information about Ruth May Fox, Mormon and advocate for women's suffrage in Utah.


  • Creation: 1856-1977

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed; use microfilm or digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ruth May Fox is held by Karen Fox and in the event of her death, by her heirs. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.21 linear feet ((1/2 file box) plus 1 photograph folder.)

This collection contains a typed autobiographical account of Ruth May Fox's life as compiled by her sons, Feramörz Y. and Leonard Grant Fox, 1973; transcript of Fox's diary entries, 1894-1939, edited by Leonard Grant Fox, 1976; articles by and about her; and photographs of Fox from age 3 to age 100. Also included are biographical accounts of the lives of Jesse W. Fox and Rosemary Johnson Fox.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Ruth May Fox was born on November 16, 1853, in Westbury, Wiltshire, England, the only child of James May and Mary Ann (Harding) May. Her parents became Mormons when Fox was five years old. Her mother died about a year later, and she stayed with friends and relatives while her father served as a Traveling Elder. In 1865 James May emigrated to the United States and soon sent for his daughter, a Mrs. Saxton, with whom Fox had been boarding, and Mrs. Saxton's daughter. Upon their arrival, James May married Mrs. Saxton and the family settled outside Philadelphia. In 1867, they moved to Parley's Canyon, Utah, and two years later settled in Salt lake City, where Fox would live the rest of her life.

Fox attended school in England and briefly in Utah, but by the age of 17 she was teaching Sunday School while working in a woolen mill. On May 8, 1873, she married Jesse W. Fox, Jr., a surveyor; they had twelve children. (Jesse Fox took a second wife in 1888 and fathered ten more children by her.)

Fox was active in women's organizations in the Mormon Church, serving as a ward primary teacher and officer from 1879 to 1898. For 42 years she served with the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association (YLMIA), beginning as a ward president (1895), member of the General Board (1898), counselor (1905), general president (1929), and as a frequent YLMIA delegate to the National Council of Women. She also served as an auditor of the NCW, 1919-1925. Fox worked as a clerk in the YLMIA office, part-time (1914-1917), and full-time from 1917 to 1937, when she retired at the age of 83.

Fox published her first poem in about 1891 and continued writing poems throughout her life. She was founding treasurer (1891) and held other offices in the Utah Women's Press Club. She was a founding member (1893) of the Utah Territorial Woman Suffrage Association, and during 1895 campaigned for the Utah sate constitution, which included women's suffrage. She traveled to numerous Mormon conferences and conventions, during World War I worked for the Red Cross, and was a member of the board of Traveler's Aid. Fox died in Salt Lake City on April 12, 1958.

Additional information about Fox may be found in the Elsie (Hogan) Van Noy papers in the LDS [Latter Day Saints] Church Archives, and the records of the Utah Woman's Press Club in the Utah State Historical Library, both in Salt Lake City.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 79-M191

The papers of Ruth May Fox were given to the Schlesinger Library in 1979 by Karen F. A. Fox, a great-granddaughter of Ruth May Fox. They were processed and microfilmed as a part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project.

Related Material:

Additional information about Fox may be found in the Elsie (Hogan) Van Noy papers (MS 5376) in the LDS [Latter Day Saints] Church Archives, and the records of the Utah Woman's Press Club in the Utah State Historical Library, both in Salt Lake City.

Processing Information

Processed: December 1988

By: Jane E. Ward

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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