A Woman of Faith & Service: Caroline Hemenway Harman

Painting of Caroline Harman sitting and reading

The Bachelor of General Studies office is located in the Continuing Education or “Harman” Building, named for Caroline Hemenway Harman, a woman of incredible faith and service.

Caroline grew up as the second of eleven children to faithful and hard-working parents. In 1895, she married George Harman in the Salt Lake City Temple, at the age of twenty-two. Later their first son died within just four months. In the next fourteen years, they six more children were born. After 17 happy years of marriage, George passed away, leaving Caroline with six children—the oldest age 15, and the youngest only 3 years old. Four months after the passing of her husband, her mother also passed away.

Her grief was undoubtedly heavy, but this did not stop her from working hard on the family farm, waking up each morning at 5 a.m. to care for the house, feed the chickens, and work the orchards. She was soon called as a Relief Society president, and served in that capacity for eighteen years. During this time, she led efforts to knit sweaters and send supplies to soldiers overseas and to help families in the midst of a deadly flu epidemic.

The epidemic took many lives, and Caroline’s family was not immune. Caroline’s sister Grace was so drastically weakened that she died in childbirth with her ninth child. Caroline soon after married Grace’s widowed husband, David, and became the stepmother to their children. Only a month later, Caroline’s oldest daughter passed away from the same illness. Caroline was devastated, and her health took a sharp downturn. She was diagnosed with severe diabetes, and battled it for the rest of her life without complaint.

Despite their many losses, the Harman home, on a farm in rural Utah, was always filled with warmth and love. Everyone in the area knew and loved her as “Aunt Carrie” and felt the power of her faith and prayer.

In 1894, David was struck with an illness, the treatment of which ended up killing him within just a week. Caroline was a widow again, and was now solely responsible for fourteen children. The children helped her on the farm, with fulfilling her Relief Society duties, and in taking care of people in need in their hometown. Because of Caroline, the children learned to serve and to work hard from a very early age.

The youngest of these children was Pete, who loved to accompany Caroline wherever she went. Pete grew up to co-found Kentucky Fried Chicken with Harland Sanders, no doubt partially due to his persistent work ethic learned from Caroline's example.

Caroline eventually married Eugene, who shortly had a stroke and becoming immobile. Caroline cared for him for the next five years until he also passed away. She lived alone after that, but with frequent visitors from her children and grandchildren. She continued to farm and tend to their chickens until the day she died, quietly with her daughter Mignon by her side, at the age of 67. 

After Pete’s great financial success in the food business, he wanted to donate to BYU to have a building constructed to honor his “Aunt Carrie” and carry on her legacy of serving others. The Caroline Hemenway Harman Building works as a living memorial to the many unsung female heroes in each our lives who teach, serve, and exemplify Christlike lives.

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Business Hours

Monday–Friday (except holidays)
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. mountain time
Closed Tuesdays from 10:45 a.m. to noon for the university devotional

Street Address

Harman Continuing Education Building (HCEB)
770 E University Pkwy
Provo UT 84602

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Bachelor of General Studies
102 HCEB
770 E University Pkwy
Provo UT 84602

801-422-4351

bgs@byu.edu