Maxwell Institute Podcast #148: The Weight of Legacy, with Kate Holbrook

  • Kate Holbrook, PhD (1972–2022) was a leading voice in the study of Latter-day Saint
    women and Latter-day Saint foodways. As managing historian of women’s history at
    the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints history department, she wrote, studied,
    and interpreted history full-time. Her major research interests were religion, gender,
    and food. Her primary professional activity was to discover, encourage, and celebrate
    women’s flourishing in the scholarly and spiritual realms.

    A popular public speaker, Kate was voted Harvard College’s Teaching Fellow of the
    Year for her work as head teaching fellow in a course that enrolled nearly six hundred
    students, and she co-edited Global Values 101: A Short Course (Beacon Press, 2006),
    based on that class. In 2012, Kate co-organized a conference entitled “Women and the
    LDS Church: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
    .” She and her co-organizer,
    Matthew Bowman, edited a collection of essays that sprang from this conference
    entitled Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Kate has
    also published essays and book chapters about Latter-day Saint women and
    housework, Nation of Islam Muslims, Latter-day Saints and food, religion and
    sexuality, and religious hunting rituals.

    Kate grew up at the feet of the Rocky Mountains and returned there in 2006, to live
    among the historic sites, cultural currents, and food environments where her
    scholarship had its roots. She earned a BA in English and Russian literature from
    Brigham Young University, an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and a PhD in
    Religious Studies from Boston University. For her dissertation work on Latter-day Saint
    and Nation of Islam foodways, she was the first recipient of the Eccles Fellowship in
    Mormon Studies at the University of Utah. She was proud wife (to Samuel Brown) and
    mother (to Amelia, Lucia, and Persephone Holbrook-Brown).

    Kate and her family developed this endowment together. It was Kate’s wish as she
    departed mortality that these funds serve to help the women of the Church to flourish

    in their scholarly and spiritual lives. Kate herself benefited from a similar gift (from
    Ruth Silver of Denver, Colorado) early in her scholarly career, when she and Sam had
    minimal financial resources, and she needed time and money to devote to the study of
    women and religion. She hoped that such giving would become more and more
    common over time.