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On Her Own: The First LDS Woman to Serve a Mission without Her Husband

Mildred Randall first served with her husband; later she was called to serve on her own.

"I am on a foreign mission, and the first woman who has ever been sent on such a mission without her husband."

photo by olivier graziano

When Brigham Young called Mildred Randall to serve a mission with her husband in the Hawaiian Islands in 1865, she was expected to serve a role that was then typical for an LDS woman missionary—manage the house, take care of the children, and feed the missionaries while her husband was teaching the gospel. To prepare, Randall sold her home to pay for her voyage to the islands. When she arrived at Laie, Randall set up a plantation school where she taught the native children. When her husband returned to the United States after two months, Randall remained in Hawaii and became the first LDS woman to serve a mission without her husband. In “I Am on a Foreign Mission,” Elizabeth Maki recounts Randall’s story.

Although alone, Randall continued to run the school in Laie for over a year until Brigham Young released her and commended her for her “faithfulness and diligence in staying there after [her] partner returned home.” In 1873, President Young called Randall to return to Hawaii to continue teaching at the plantation school. By doing so, she became “the first woman to be officially set apart for a mission without her husband.”

Randall was determined to succeed. “I am on a foreign mission, and the first woman who has ever been sent on such a mission without her husband,” she wrote. “I consider it a great privilege and shall endeavor to do all the good I can while here.”

For three years, Randall ran the school and supported herself financially from her work there. It was a difficult task, but she felt that her efforts were helping to spread the gospel in the Hawaiian Islands. “My school has increased in number and . . . I feel more encouraged,” she wrote in 1874. “The work is progressing on the islands.”

Even after she returned to Utah, where she died in 1913, her missionary efforts in Laie were remembered by the Hawaiian people. 

Discover more about Mildred Randall’s mission in Elizabeth Maki’s article, “I Am on a Foreign Mission.”

Source: LDS Church History

—Shantel Fitzgerald, Mormon Insights

feature image by thomas marban

Find more insights

Explore “Women with a Mission,” a series of articles on the Church History website, to learn more about the early women missionaries of the Church.

Browse the Early Mormon Missionaries Database to find out more about early LDS missionaries.

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