Last year, Cassler and McBaine published results of their survey on “the Naming of Women’s Positions and Organizations in the LDS Church.” Around 400 survey respondents who self-identified as LDS women answered questions about whether or not they would change the names of various women’s roles and groups, including the Young Women’s groups (Beehives, Mia Maids, and Laurels), the term “auxiliaries” (used for Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary), bishops’ wives, and mission presidents’ wives. It’s an interesting survey, with lots of expressed desire for change. (And yes, I’m aware that the people who participate in an online poll are likely not representative of the Church as a whole. Still interesting, I’d propose.)
The title on which there was most consensus for change was “Mission President’s Wife,” with 96 percent preferring a change in name. As the authors put it, “The urgency for this to be changed seems to stem from the understanding that the wife is as actively engaged with mission life, if in different ways, as her husband, and is equally required to sacrifice, endure physically and emotionally challenging situations, and become intertwined in the missionaries’ lives as her partner. Furthermore, she is called and set apart, just as her husband is.” I agree in principle and in practice. The wife of my mission president gave me counsel that shaped the course of my post-mission life.
So I was interested to see — in a footnote of Jennifer Reeder’s essential book At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women — that mission presidents’ wives used to have a distinct title:
“During this period , women married to mission presidents served as ‘Relief Society mission presidents.’ In this capacity, they organized Relief Society conferences and visited individual units of the Relief Society, oversaw record keeping, coordinated Relief Society activity with missionary work, communicated and established Relief Society policy, and reported to church headquarters. The practice of appointing Relief Society mission presidents began by 1916 and lasted until 1964, when the title of the position changed to ‘Relief Society mission supervisor.’ Relief Society mission supervisors were appointed until at least 1973.”
So there is a historical precedent for a title other than “wife” in this case. Cassler and McBain’s respondents had other suggestions. You can read them here.
 The McBaine who wrote the article is the same McBaine who wrote the excellent Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact. Here’s my review.
 If you don’t have At the Pulpit, I strongly recommend it! It’s a perfect blend of scholarship and spirituality. I’ll write more once I’ve finished it.
 The title of this blog post overlaps with Cassier and McBaine’s article. But it’s a really common idiom because — you know — William Shakespeare.
 The plus of “The Mission President’s Wife” as a title is that it could be a spin-off to Mette Harrison’s The Bishop’s Wife mystery series.