No Ladies in the Lady’s Book


Commissioned by Utah Opera to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Golden Spike in May 2019.

Teachers and Students: Read through suggested response topics in the document below before watching this 14’ minute opera. Teachers may want written responses sent to them; we invite you to send responses and questions to our artists via the “Ask a Singer” box below. Our composer, Lisa DeSpain, is also willing to answer any questions submitted for her!  She grew up in Utah County, but now is composing away in her New York apartment during this stay-at-home period.


Historical Background: In August 1869, Godey’s Lady’s Book, the most popular ladies’ magazine of the day published an article claiming “no women” had helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Yet at that same time, women held over 95 registered patents for inventions and innovations directly related to the railroad. NO LADIES IN THE LADY’S BOOK opens with Louis Godey preparing his article for publication. He is soon visited by many of the women he is writing out of the record book.

The ladies quickly set him straight. These women include Susan Morningstar, Catharine Gibbon, Jane Swisshelm, Eliza Murfey, Mary Elizabeth Walton, Mary Jane Montgomery, Mary Jane Colter, Sarah Bagley, Elizabeth Cogley, and Miriam Leslie.

If students would like to give the performers responses or ask questions, invite them to Ask a Singer (or Pianist).  One of our professional artists will answer them!

Or, perhaps they will find the answer to their question on our FAQ page.

Teachers, if you assign students to watch a Virtual Assembly, please let us know your school and number of students who were assigned.  This will help us with our funding for artists and programs.