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“For Men and Women to Mingle”: The View from 1910

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 25, 2013

Elbert D. Thomas, newly called from missionary to president of the Japan Mission, and future United States Senator from Utah, reported a development in the Japan Mission in a letter of August 1910:

Yesterday we organized the Tokyo Saints into a Mutual Improvement Association and set apart the officers. The purposes of this Association will be many-fold, the principal object being to make real saints out of our converts. Besides learning about the doctrines of the Church the men must be taught and made ready for the Priesthood and given chances to assume responsibilities and in that way grow strong. The women have their parts to perform also and they too must learn them. In this organization the men and women will be together. Our church is one of the few in Japan where the men and women even sit together and I have great hopes from our little Mutual Improvement Association, to be able to show some of the Japanese what Mormonism and Mormon methods can do for one of their greatest of future problems. Their problem is this, – that while the Japanese government has granted to women equal educational advantages with the men, still socially and of course politically, the women are still kept in their inferior positions, and few Japanese can see how it will ever become possible for the men and women to mingle as they do in western lands.

We have been careful and always will be careful in bringing about changes or starting new ideas, but I have full faith that the Gospel, lived rightly, will overcome any problem we will have to meet.



6 Comments »

  1. Whoah!

    Comment by David Y. — September 25, 2013 @ 7:24 am

  2. Fascinating.

    Comment by Dovie — September 25, 2013 @ 8:16 am

  3. The hard thing is that this is still the state of affairs in much of the world.

    Comment by Joseph M — September 25, 2013 @ 8:28 am

  4. Wonderful find. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Andrea R-M — September 25, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  5. And people think we have sexism here in the US. We’ve forgotten more about sexism more than most countries may ever dream of learning.

    Comment by Paradox — September 25, 2013 @ 8:45 am

  6. I don’t think that we should dislocate our shoulders patting ourselves on the back.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 25, 2013 @ 11:45 am

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