BYU Women inspired by stories of the past

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Elaine Brewster, a member of BYU Women, performed in a variety of ways on Sept. 13 at this year’s opening meeting for BYU Women — an organization approaching its 100th year of establishment in 2014.

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BYU Women gather to celebrate the beginning of the 2013-2014 year. Photo by Ari Davis

In 1914, George H. Brimhall, president of BYU at the time, established this organization in hopes that these women would connect and serve each other while informing others in the community of the richness of BYU. Brewster explained the great opportunity it is to keep such a legacy living 100 years later.

Brewster, an actress, storyteller, teacher and former member of the Tabernacle Choir, told the history of three of her ancestors in an animated presentation. The theme for this meeting was, “Faith in the past and hope for the future — a message to us from three pioneers.”

“We gain great strength from those stories, and if we don’t write it down and tell it, then that strength doesn’t get passed on,” said Carolyn Wright, president of BYU Women and coordinator of the event.

Brewster passed on the history of her ancestors in an original way that kept this audience, of nearly 70 women, captivated by her remarks.

“I take the stories … and make real people out of them,” Brewster said. “If we realize that they are really people, and that they have fun times and hardships, then we will want to relate to them.”

Elaine Brewster plays the harp at the September meeting of BYU Women. Photo by Ari Davis

The history of her ancestors started in various parts of the world. Brewster told of stories in London, Ireland, the United States and other countries. With each of these stories, she had a dance or musical performance that related to the time or place of the event.

“I loved hearing her pioneer stories. I enjoyed the variety because each one was unique with different instruments and skilled dancing that went along with the story,” said Bronwyn Hughes, a member of BYU Women for two years, who did cancer research at BYU.

Two girls in sparkling Celtic costumes danced to play the part during Brewster’s remarks about Ireland. For various stories, Brewster played the harp, hammer dulcimer and other instruments. Additionally, she sang a few musical numbers between the instrumental pieces.

Her unique presentation at the September meeting of BYU Women was to help further the goal of this organization, the aims of which are “to provide intellectual and social opportunities for its members and to promote the ideals of the university by living lives of exemplary womanhood.”

These aims were met as Brewster helped these women remember the importance of keeping a personal history to help future generations receive strength from them, as these ladies received strength from Brewster’s ancestors.

“(The meetings) are geared to teach the women what is happening at the university in all areas and departments,” Wright said. “Then they carry that message to the community. This idea of living lives of exemplary womanhood is important to us. We carry BYU, and we want to carry that well.”

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