It is with enormous sadness that her family and friends notify the
members of the Mormon History Association, the John Whitmer Historical
Association, and the Western History Association of the sudden and
unexpected death of Val Avery, a former president of MHA (1987-88). A
gifted biographer, with a special interest in the lives of women, Val
was the co-author with Linda King Newell of Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale
Smith, Prophet's Wife, Elect Lady, Polygamy's Foe (1984, 2nd Ed.,
1994), and author of From Mission to Madness: The Last Son of the
Mormon Prophet (1998). Both biographies won the Evans Award for the
best biography in Western history. She was also the author of many
articles, reviews, and commentaries. For many years, she was Professor
of History, with a specialty in women's history, at Northern Arizona
University. She retired in 2005. Her beloved husband Bryan Collier
Short also died unexpectedly in 2003.
Val is survived and deeply mourned by her four children,
Christopher, Maureen, Nathan and Thad, and by her many friends,
especially her close friends and "sidekicks" Jan Shipps of IUPUI and
Liz Dulany of the University of Illinois Press. Jan said, "This is an
incalculable loss of a friend and colleague who had a way of making
every person she knew feel special and making people believe that they
had the capacity to accomplish whatever it was they set out to do. Liz
and I will never forget those legendary road trips, and her many
friends will remember the late-night 'smokers' in our digs at
professional meetings, and Val's irreplaceable friendship. She had the
essential empathy that is key to great biography and that empathy also
made her one of the world's greatest friends."
Val's family will be establishing an endowment in her name at
Northern Arizona University. Contributions clearly marked as a
memorial to Val may be sent to the NAU Foundation, P.O. Box 4094,
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4094.
Best known for co-authoring Mormon Enigma, "a series of episodal
chapters that dealt sympathetically with Joseph Smith's first wife and
challenged traditional assumptions about Joseph Smith, plural marriage
in Nauvoo, and Mormonism itself," Val Avery is the author of the
following works (not including book reviews):
Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Jane Manning James:
Black Saint, 1847 Pioneer," Ensign, Aug. 1979, pp. 26-29.
Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, "New Light on the
Sun: Emma Smith and the New York Sun Letter," Journal of Mormon
History 6 (1979), pp. 23-35.
Valeen Tippetts Avery and Linda King Newell, "Lewis C. Bidamon,
Stepchild of Mormondom," BYU Studies 19 (Spring 1979), pp. 375-388.
Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, "The Elect Lady: Emma
Hale Smith," Ensign, Sept. 1979, pp. 64-67. (Sympathetic portrait of
Emma Smith significant for its appearance in an official LDS
Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Sweet Counsel and
Seas of Tribulation: The Religious Life of the Women in Kirtland," BYU
Studies 20 (Winter 1980), pp. 151-162.
Valeen Tippetts Avery and Linda King Newell, "The Lion and the
Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith," Utah Historical Quarterly 48.1
(Winter 1980), pp. 81-97, reprinted in Roger D. Launius and John E.
Hallwas, eds., Kingdom on the Mississippi Revisited (Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 1996), pp. 198-213.
Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Emma Smith: An Unknown Sister," in Maren
M. Mouritsen, ed., Blueprints for Living: Perspectives for Latter-day
Saint Women, Volume Two (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press,
1980), pp. 25-31.
Valeen Tippetts Avery, "The Last Years of the Prophet's Wife: Emma
Hale Smith Bidamon and the Establishment of the Reorganized Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (M.A. thesis, Northern Arizona
Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Linda King Newell, and Valeen Tippetts
Avery, "Emma and Eliza and the Stairs," BYU Studies 22 (Winter 1982),
Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma
Hale Smith (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984), 2d ed. rev., (Urbana,
IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994). (Controversy following the
book's publication in 1984 is detailed in Devery S. Anderson, "A
History of Dialogue, Part Three: The Utah Experience, 1982-1989,"
Dialogue 35.2 (Summer 2002): pp. 40-48.)
Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Emma Smith Through Her Writings," Dialogue
17 (Autumn 1984), pp. 101-106.
Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Insanity and the Sweet Singer: A Biography
of David Hyrum Smith, 1844-1904" (Ph.D. diss., Northern Arizona
Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Sketches of the Sweet Singer: David Hyrum
Smith, 1844-1904," John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 5
(1985), pp. 3-15.
Valeen Tippetts Avery, From Mission to Madness: Last Son of the
Mormon Prophet (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1998).
Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Irreconcilable Differences: David H.
Smith's Relationship with the Muse of Mormon History," Journal of
Mormon History 15 (1989), pp. 2-13.
See also "Mormon History Isn't Just for Mormons Anymore: A
Conversation with Valeen Tippetts Avery," Sunstone 117 (Feb. 2000),