Ulrich connects women’s organizing in Utah to deep-rooted traditions of female leadership within the church ... As Ulrich is well aware, and as her book demonstrates, none of this evidence for women’s leadership and activism obscures the intensely patriarchal nature of Mormonism ... If the language of rights-based activism was not as central to the lives of mid-19th-century Latter-day Saint women as Ulrich suggests, A House Full of Females nevertheless provides a needed and moving corrective to accounts of Mormon history dominated by men such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young ... While Ulrich provides a few examples of harmonious families, A House Full of Females leaves little doubt that Mormon polygamy was a colossal mess ... The women of A House Full of Females knew how to wield that weapon, and in stitching their stories together, so does Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
Ulrich stitches together diaries, poems, meeting minutes, and quilt designs into a fascinating history of women’s lives. Tough doesn’t begin to describe it — they drove wagons across the frozen Midwest, bore and buried children, spoke in tongues, farmed, and organized relief societies while the men traveled on missions ... Anyone else in need of reassurance that family, faith, and intellect can live together need only consult her biography.
...an overlong, equivocating rehash of early Mormon history mainly composed of women’s and men’s diaries. What could have been a spirited tale of domination and defiance too often reads like a bloodless recitation ... One longs for a badly behaved historian calling out the fraudulent iniquities faced by female Saints throughout church history. Readers, and Mormon women, remain the poorer for it.