Kate Holbrook, writer, Latter-day Saint historian, dies of cancer at 50


Kate Holbrook, historian, writer, and champion of Latter-day Saint women’s history, died Saturday, August 20, 2022. She was 50.

His cause of death was listed as “rare cancer of the eye”, according to his obituary. Her husband, Sam Brown, announced his death on social media Saturday.

“Today I have no poetry, only a broken heart and the brutal fact that broke it,” Brown wrote in a Tweeter. “Kate died this morning. Funeral scheduled for Saturday in Salt Lake City.

“We are utterly bereft and equally filled with the joy of his existence,” his family wrote in Holbrook’s obituary.

Main contributions

Holbrook served as Chief Historian of Women’s History in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Born in Santa Barbara, California on January 13, 1972, Holbrook was raised by her mother and grandmother, Belle Fillmore Stewart, in Provo, Utah.

She served a Latter-day Saint mission in Russia before graduating from Brigham Young University. She later graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a master’s degree in divinity and earned a doctorate in religious studies from Boston University.

She was one of two historians who joined Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to speak to young adults about Church history topics in a “Face to Face” broadcast in 2018.

She was a key contributor to “The First Fifty Years of Relief Society,” “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women,” and other publications highlighting the faith and dedication of early female saints. of the last days.

Historian Kate Holbrook, center, speaks during a worldwide Church history broadcast ‘Face to Face’ in Nauvoo, Ill., Sept. 9, 2018. Attending were Quentin L. Cook, College of the Twelve Apostles, Holbrook and historian Matt Grandir. Holbrook died on August 20, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Holbrook has spoken at the BYU Women’s Conference and lectured at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute in 2020. She was also a guest featured on The Church News podcast in 2021.

“Kate loved Jesus with all her heart. There wasn’t a part of her that didn’t breathe God and the gospel. She had the honor of leading teams to tell Latter-day Saint stories to strangers and women’s stories to fellow Saints,” her obituary reads.

“While she contemplated her passing from mortality with great sadness, it was not because she lacked confidence in the reality of an afterlife. Instead, she mourned her absence. of the mortal life of her beloved ones She held in her hands and in her heart both the certainty that death is not our end and the terrible tragedy of shortened mortality.

Preserving Women’s History

Holbrook joined the Church History Department in 2011 as the first historian specializing in women’s history.

“The story needs to be told,” Holbrook said in 2016, “in a way that integrates what the men were doing with what the women were doing.”

Holbrook researched story projects that she felt would “be meaningful to people today and could help us today,” she said.

“We need to see more clearly how the contributions of women have been integral to building the church throughout the history of the church,” Holbrook said in 2016. seeing and understanding in order to understand how to move forward and help the last The saints of the day really feel their worth and, I think, to feel that this is a place to put their energy, to see that this is a place where women put their energy into important results and achieved important things. The fact that women can really see how Mormon women helped build the church is part of why I think the story is important .

Reaction to the death of Kate Holbrook

Friends and colleagues mourned Holbrook’s passing and paid tribute on social media over the weekend.

“The MHA is heartbroken at the news of the passing of Dr Kate Holbrook,” said the Mormon History Association wrote in a tweet. “We are grateful for her Latter-day Saint scholarship and for her service as senior historian of women’s history in the Church History Department.”

Spencer Fluhmanexecutive director of the Maxwell Institute:

“Kate Holbrook is a very bright light,” he wrote in a Tweeter. “We all love him.”

W. Paul Reeveprofessor and director of graduate studies in the history department at the University of Utah:

“Kate was such a light, Sam, and such a compassionate soul that I am truly sorry. My prayers are for God’s grace to uplift and surround you and your daughters as you grieve.

Matthew BowmanAssociate Professor of Religion and History and Howard W. Hunter Professor of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University:

“I organized a conference with Kate Holbrook which turned into a book,” he said. wrote. “She cared deeply about women’s history, about the openness and organization of communities, about the power of history to heal and make us better. I learned from her and relied on her. Peace and prayers to her and her family.

Erika Koth Barrett wrote:

“Kate Holbrook was my inspiration to get involved in the history and sociology of Mormon women. Her work is invaluable and will positively impact millions of people for years to come. She is a huge reason why voices of women in Mormonism are recovered. Past, future and present thank God for her.

Benjamin Parkassistant professor of history at Sam Houston State University:

“Kate Holbrook was not just a brilliant academic, but a phenomenally kind person. This is a heartbreaking loss.”

Holbook is survived by her husband and the couple’s three daughters.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages well-wishers to donate to BYU’s Kate Holbrook Scholarship Fund for Primary Caregivers of Children pursuing graduate studies in the humanities.


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