Unitarian Universalist Women's Heritage
Notable Universalist and Unitarian Women: S
Mary Augusta Safford (Dec. 23, 1851-Oct 25, 1927) Unitarian
A driving force of the "Iowa Sisterhood," she founded or organized six Unitarian societies in Iowa, one in Illinois, and one in Florida, and helped coordinate the efforts of this important group of Women ministers in organizing nine more congregations. She served as a Director of the American Unitarian Association and of the Women's Unitarian Conference member of the Western Fellowship Committee and occasional chaplain in the Iowa State Legis1ature. For a time she edited the missionary magazine, Old and New, for the Iowa Unitarian Association. She was also a popular lecturer on women's suffrage and president of the Iowa Suffrage Association. Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Elizabeth Elkins Sanders (Aug. 12, 1762-Feb 19, 1851) Unitarian
In 1782 she married Thomas Sanders who became one of the most prominent and wealthy men of Salem MA. She was angered by the treatment of American Indians and felt that General Andrew Jackson personified the inhumane treatment. When he was nominated for president in 1828, she published (anonymously) in Salem Conversations, Principally on the Aborigines of North America, which expressed admiration for Indian Culture and outrage over its destruction. In 1829 she wrote on similar themes in The First Settlers of New England. A member of Salem's First Church, she believed that missionary (Particularly Evangelical and Calvinist) preaching served principally to degrade others. She believed that it was ridiculous to contribute to foreign missionaries when we were already guilty of mistreatment of our own country's cultures, e.g. Indians and Africans who had been held in Slavery.
Maria Louisa Sanford (Dec. 19, 1836-Apr 21, 1920) Unitarian connections
School teacher and then professor of history at Swarthmore College and the University of Minnesota, she also gave popular public lectures and on many occasions filled Unitarian pulpits. She traveled extensively and lectured on the arts, public affairs, and women's suffrage. The first women's dormitory at the University of Minnesota is named for her. In 1920 she gave her famous apostrophe to the flag at the opening of the Daughters of the American Revolution assembly in Washington, DC, and died the next day. Her statue is one of Minnesota's two representatives in Statuary Hall at the Capitol.
May Sarton (May 3, 19l2-July 16, 1995) Unitarian Universalist
A poet, novelist and essayist, May Sarton was born in Wondelgem Belgium. Her family fled to England and then to the United States as World War I became inevitable. May's father was a historian of science, employed by the Carnegie Institute in Washington and by Harvard University. Her education was piecemeal but rigorous, in spite of interruptions caused by the family's travels between America and Europe. In 1926 she graduated from Cambridge Latin High School. Her interest in the theatre led her to join Eva LeGallienne's Civic Repetory Theatre which ran out of funding after several years. May lectured at a number of institutions, was a instructor at Harvard, served as poet-in-residence at Bryn Mawr, among other Positions. In 1958 after the death of her parents she bought a farm in New Hampshire and was settled in rural New England for the rest of her life. She was a prolific writer, producing volumes of poetry journals and commentary. Among her most important books are The Bridge of Years (1946), Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Sing (1965) and The Reckoning (1978).
Caroline Mehitable Fisher Sawyer (Dec. 10, 1812-May 19, 1894) Universalist
Author and editor, in 1831 she married a Universalist minister, Thomas Sawyer. She helped organize the work of the Universalist Ladies' Dorcas Society to aid the poor. She contributed stories, essays and poems to The Universalist and other magazines, such as the Christian Messenger, Universalist Union, Democratic Review, Graham's Magazine, the Knickerbocker Magazine and the New Yorker. From 1850-58, she edited the Rose of Sharon, an annual gift book, and from 1861-64, the Ladies' Repository. Her first book The Merchant's Widow and Other Tales (1841), sold out a first edition of 1000 copies in ten days. In 1845, she published The Juvenile Library, a four- volume collection of her stories, although she was best known for her poems. At the Sawyers' graves in Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge MA, the President of the Boston Universalist Club dedicated a monument in the form of a cross, as a mark of the gratitude Universalists everywhere owed to the couple.
Elizabeth Emerson Turner Sawyer (Aug. 27, 1822-?) Universalist
One of the Lowell "mill-girls," Lizzie was a part of the Rev. Thomas' Improvement Circle and wrote for The Lowell Offering. She married Charles B. Sawyer and moved to Chicago IL, where she was active in civic and literary organizations, devoted to the cause of women's suffrage, and a member of St. Paul's Universalist Church. Her poem, "Feed My Sheep," is reprinted in Our Women Workers, by Eliza R. Hanson (Chicago, 1882).
Louisa Lee Schuyler (Oct. 26, 1837-Oct. 10, 1926) Unitarian
Educated by private tutors and trips abroad, Louisa worked as a volunteer sewing instructor for immigrant children under the auspices of the Children's Aid Society of New York. Her talents for organizing blossomed when she became administrator for the Women's Central Association of Relief during the Civil War. Louisa's writings can be found in the Bulletin of the Sanitary Commission. A pamphlet, "Forty-Three Years Ago" (1915) was published by the State Charities Aid Association which she founded to reform public institutions of charity and correction. Columbia University conferred a Doctor of Laws degree on her and she received other honors for her work. Selections of her papers can be found at the NY Public Library, the NY Historical Society, Russell Sage Foundation, Smith College, and Columbia School of Social Work.
Julia H. Kinney Scott (Nov. 4, 1809-Mar. 5, 1842) Universalist
Born in Sheshegain PA, she taught school in Towanda where she met and married Dr. D. L. Scott. A poet and friend of Sarah Carter Edgarton, she published Poems (Boston: A. Tompkins and B.B. Mussey, 1843); The Sacrifice: Clergyman's Story (Hudson: Ashbel Stoddard, 1837); and Memoir (Boston: Abel Tompkins, 1860).
Mary Slaughter Scott (Aug. 13, 1900-Nov. 13, 1973) Unitarian Universalist
Mary was the granddaughter of the founder of Liberty Universalist Church in Camp Hill AL, where she was born. She graduated from Judson College in Alabama and taught high school in Homer LA. She did graduate work at Tufts University and St. Lawrence University and served as Director of Religious Education at the Universalist Church of Haverhill MA. In 1923 she became a Field Worker for the Universalist General Sunday School Assoc. She married the Rev. Dr. Clinton Lee Scott and became stepmother to his two daughters. A son was born to the couple. Mary directed religious education programs in churches her husband served in Peoria IL, Dayton OH, Gloucester MA, and Tarpon Springs FL. She edited the Midwest Messenger, taught at summer conferences and served as a Trustee of the Universalist Church of America. She was a founding member of the Charles Street Universalist Meeting House in Boston and the Curator of the Inness paintings at the Universalist Church in Tarpon Springs.
Eliza Scudder (1821-1896) Unitarian/Episcopalian
She was a hymn writer.
Ellen Bacon Sears (1811-1897) Unitarian
Ellen came to First Parish Church in Weston MA in 1865 when her husband, the Rev. Edward Hamilton Sears, was called there. He died in 1876, but she remained in Weston until her death. She was one of the founders and for many years President of the Ladies' Benevolent Society. She also started the first youth group in the church.
Catharine Maria Sedgwick (Dec. 28, 1789-July 31, 1867) Unitarian
After rejecting her Calvinist upbringing, she joined the Unitarian Meeting House in New York in 1821. Friend of William Ellery Channing, she wrote a tract that became the novel, A New England Tale (1822), acclaimed as the best work at the time by a woman writer. Redwood (1824), Hope Leslie (1827), Clarence (1830), and The Linwoods (1835) followed. Married or Single? (1857) was intended to lessen the stigma placed on the term "old maid." She had a strong social conscience and championed religious tolerance and reform in city tenement conditions. In 1848 she became the first director of The Women's Prison Association in New York. She also wrote numerous moral tracts and didactic tales which were published in magazines and gift books. Her papers are at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Kate Olivia Sessions (Nov. 8, 1857-Mar. 24, 1940) Unitarian
She was a California horticulturist who in 1939 became the first woman to receive the Meyer Medal, awarded by the Council of the American Genetic Association for distinguished service in the area of foreign plant introduction for her contribution to the horticulture of California. In 1909 she helped found the San Diego Floral Association and for twenty years served as an officer or board member. To the association's journal, California Garden, she contributed 250 articles. In 1915-18, she served as supervisor of agriculture for the San Diego grammar schools and taught classes for children. In 1939 she taught adult classes for the University of California extension division. In 1935 "Kate Olivia Sessions Day" was celebrated at the California-Pacific International Exposition in San Diego. An elementary school and a memorial park were named for her.
Caroline Maria Seymour Severance (Jan. 12, 1820-Nov. 10, 1914) Unitarian
Reformer and women's club pioneer, she was born in Canandaigua NY, and raised with Episcopalian and evangelical influences. She credits her marriage to Theodoric Severance, from a liberal New England family, with freeing her from authoritarian dogma. Their home in Cleveland OH became a gathering place for abolitionists, women's suffrage and other reform leaders, and a visiting place for touring lecturers, many of whom were Unitarian. When the opportunity presented itself, they moved to Boston, MA, where they became active in Theodore Parker's church and she became involved in the women's suffrage and abolitionist movements. After the Civil War, she lectured on "practical ethics" at Dio Lewis' girls' school in Lexington MA. She was a founder of the American Suffrage Association, the Moral Education Association of Boston, and the New England Woman's Club, which helped establish the Girls' Latin School and the Co-operative Building Association. She worked for the election of women to the Boston school board and other feminist causes. In 1875 she and her husband left for California, where two of their sons were living and where they founded Unity Church, the first Unitarian congregation in Los Angeles. Her letters are in the Huntington Library, the Sophia Smith Collection, and the Schlesinger Library.
Lucy Ellen Sewall (Apr. 9 (?), 1837-Feb. 13, 1890) raised Unitarian
Her father was a liberal Unitarian, but she apparently had no church affiliation. In 1862 she graduated from the New England Female Medical College, of which her father, Samuel Sewall, was a director and trustee. In 1869 she became one of two attending physicians and a director at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, of which her father was vice-president. She also devoted much of her time to private practice. She was so absorbed by her work that she did little writing, nor was she a member of any women's rights organizations, although as a feminist she was one of eight women physicians who unsuccessfully offered Harvard $50,000 in 1881 to admit women to their medical school. In 1892, the new maternity building at the New England Hospital was dedicated to Lucy Ellen and Samuel Sewall.
May Wright Sewall (May 27. 1844-July 23, 1920) Unitarian
Educator, suffragist, clubwoman, and pacifist, her efforts in editing the records of the 1893 Worlds Congress of Representative Women and her chronicling of the National and International Councils of Women provide some of the most extensive resources of women's thinking of the time. Although she was an effective speaker, her chief contributions were in the areas of organization and administration. She was well known for her work in the organized women's movement and travelled both nationally and internationally on behalf of women's rights and world peace, often serving to bring these two causes together. Active locally as well, for several years she edited a women's column in the Indianapolis Times. Although for most of her life she was a member of the Unitarian church, she turned to spiritualism after her husband's death. Her book Neither Dead Nor Sleeping (1920) describes her psychic and beyond-the-grave experiences.
Pauline Agassiz Shaw (Feb. 6, 1841-Feb. 10, 1917) Unitarian
Educator and philanthropist, in 1877 she opened two kindergartens and by 1883 was supporting another 31. She convinced the city of Boston MA to revive and expand their kindergarten program. Her initiative, money (when her husband died in 1908, he was one of the richest men in New England), and expertise is greatly responsible for the kindergarten movement in the East. In 1878, she opened a chain of day nurseries for children of working mothers. She offered many services to immigrants, and in the 1880s she opened two training schools in Boston's North End. In 1901, she opened a school for civic training of the foreign born and founded the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government. She served as president for sixteen years and contributed large sums of money to suffrage campaigns.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) Unitarian connections
Her famous mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, died 10 days after her birth, leaving her in the care of her father, William Godwin and eventually a step-mother. Mary was not formally educated, but absorbed the intellectual culture created by her father and his friends who often visited. One such visitor was Percy Shelley, whom Mary married in 1814 and who died in 1822. Mary completed Frankenstein and another novel, Valperga, in 1823. She and her son traveled, and she wrote Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843 (1844) to recount their experiences. Among her other works are The Last Man (1826), and (1830), Falkner (1837).Two verse dramas were published posthumously, Proserpine and Midas (1922), as was her novel Mathilda (1950). She edited some of Percy Shelley's works, but her death left her biography of him unfinished. Her journal was published in 1947. Her letters, edited by Muriel Spark and Derek Stamford, were published in 1953, and a biography by Muriel Spark in 1951.
Mary Palmer Dana Shindler (Feb. 15, 1810-1883) Unitarian
She was born in Charleston SC. After her marriage in 1830 to Charles E. Dana, she moved with him to the Iowa Territory. She returned to Charleston when he died and published The Parted
Margaret Homer Shurcliff (Oct.?. 1879-?) Unitarian
This member of King's Chapel wrote an autobiography, Lively Days, (Taipei, China: Literature House, Ltd., 1965) which describes her life in Boston in fascinating detail.
Jadwiga Sienjenska (16th century) Polish Unitarian
She was the prime mover in establishing the Unitarian center of Rakow, Poland, in l567. The town was named after her family coat of arms.
Alyce Biddle Slabic (Jan. 19, 19l3-Oct 21-1998) Unitarian Universalist
She was born in Fulda MN, and graduated from high school there. Then she and her family moved to Minneapolis where Alyce worked her way through the University of Minnesota. There she became a Unitarian. She taught school in Pipestone, MN, and Davenport, IA, and was a captain in the Red Cross during World War II. In 1945 she married Clyde DeLaney who had a small daughter and moved to Santa Barbara. She was active in the League of Women Voters and president of the National Organization for Women. The UU Women and Religion Resolution galvanized her to in the Women and Religion Task Force of the Pacific Central District. She worked to bring about changes, challenging sexist biases wherever she found them -- in language, in hymnbooks, inscriptions, etc.
Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith (Aug. 12, 1806-Nov 15, 1893) Universalist/Unitarian
Her father's family was Universalist but at 13 she joined the Congregationalist church. Several years later she joined William Ladd's American Peace Society and became Unitarian. She wrote many poems, sketches and short stories for popular journals. Among her published work: The Western Captive (1842), and Old New York (1842), Stories for Children (1847), which appeared on Broadway in 1853. In 1851 she attended the second national women's rights convention in Worcester MA, where her fancy New York dress led Susan B. Anthony to deny her the Presidency of the convention. She wrote a series on Women's rights for the New York Tribune which was soon published as Woman and Her Needs. In 1851 she became one of the first women to join the Lyceum Circuit, and she made annual lecture tours. In 1854 she published a woman's rights novel, Bertha and Lily, and The Newsboy. In the 1860s she wrote several "dime novels," such as Bald Eagle (1867). She had a lifelong interest in religion and the occult. For a time she was drawn to the Roman Catholic church. In 1877, she became a pastor of an independent congregation in New York. She continued to be active in the suffrage movement.
Sophia Smith (Aug. 27, 1796-June 12, 1870) raised Unitarian
She was the founder of Smith College and was greatly influenced by the Rev. Joseph Lyman of the Hatfield MA Congregational church. She believed herself to be a Congregationalist although, out of respect to her Unitarian father, she did not join the Congregational church until 1834. When she was forty, she became deaf. In 1836 her father died, leaving more than $10,000 to each of his four children. By 1861 her three siblings had died, leaving her a large fortune to invest. She consulted the Rev. John Greene, a graduate of Amherst College, for advice on how to spend the funds. He suggested founding a college for women comparable to the best academic programs and standards of men's colleges. Two professors from Amherst helped him draw up a plan for the College. Shortly before her death Miss Smith directed that the college should be located in Northampton. Her bequest for the institution amounted to $393,105. Smith College was chartered in 1871 and opened in 1875.
Mary Prudence Wells Smith (July 23, 1840-Dec 17, 1930) Unitarian
Born in Attica NY, she moved as a child to Greenfield MA and after her marriage to Fayette Smith, to Cincinnati OH. There she started the Women's Unitarian Alliance in 1881 and was also a founder of the Unitarian Post Office Mission and the Cincinnati Woman's Club. Returning to Greenfield in 1896, she founded the Women's Alliance at All Souls Unitarian Church and became President of the CT Valley Associate Alliance. She was president of the Greenfield Woman's Club and the Historical Society and also founded and presided over the Equal Suffrage League. As Mary P. Wells she wrote the popular children's series Jolly Good Times, The Young Puritans (1897-1900) and Old Deerfield (l901-1907) as well as Boys of the Border (1907) and others. A friend of the Rev. Margaret Barnard, she raised money for the construction of the Chapel at Rowe MA and was connected with the early days of Rowe Camp and Conference Center.
Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780-1872) British Unitarian
Mathematician, astronomer, author and suffragist, she was hailed by the London Post as "The Queen of Nineteenth-Century Science." Her translation of LaPlace's Mecanique Celeste as Mechanism of the Heavens, prefaced with her own dissertation on astronomy, became a standard text for the rest of the century. She also wrote On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences and Physical Geography. She was an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society and of the Royal Academy of Dublin and received the first gold medal given by the Royal Italian Geographical Society. In 1857 she was elected to the American Geographical and Statistical Society and in 1869 to the American Philosophical Society. She was an outspoken feminist and the first to sign J. S. Mill's petition for women's suffrage. Somerville College at Oxford University is named for her. Her scientific library went to Girton College for Women in Cambridge, England.
Caroline Augusta White Soule (Sept. 3, 1824-Dec. 6, 1903) Universalist
Author, church worker, and Universalist minister, she turned to writing at age 27 to support her five children after her husband's death. She first published a biography of her husband which became one of the standard Universalist biographies. Many of her articles appeared in denominational journals, such as Rose of Sharon and Ladies' Repository. Home Life, or a Peep Across the Threshold (Boston: A. Tompkins and B.B. Mussey, 1855) is a collection of her moral tales. The Pet of the Settlement: A Story of Prairie-Land (Boston: A. Tompkins, 1860) was her first novel, based on experiences of her own life. Her last book was Wine or Water (1862). Other writing concerned her church work. She was an editor of Ladies' Repository from 1856 to 1865. She established and edited for 11 years her own Sunday School paper, the Guiding Star. She helped organize the Women's Centenary Aid Association and was its first president. In 1880 she was ordained in Glasgow, Scotland. There is a collection of her letters in the New York Public Library.
Catherine Helen Spence (1825-1910) Australian Unitarian
Born in Scotland and raised Presbyterian, she emigrated to Australia in 1839 and later became active in the Adelaide Unitarian Church, where she often spoke. It was largely through her efforts that women in South Australia got the right to vote in 1894. She also campaigned for proportional representation, the single tax, world peace, and spoke on behalf of all these causes at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. She wrote eight novels, including Clara Morison, A Tale of South Australia During the Gold Fever (1884) and Mr. Hogarth's Will (1865), which discussed restrictions on women's employment. Her Autobiography was published in 1910 (Adelaide: W. K. Thomas). Susan Margery wrote Unbridling the Tongues of Women: A Biography of Catherine Spence (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1985). Catherine Helen Spence: A Collection of Her Writings was edited by Helen Thomson (St. Lucian NY: University of Queensland Press, 1987). The State Library in Adelaide has a listing of the drafts of sermons and prayers delivered at the Adelaide Church. In later life the press called her "The Grand Old Woman of Australia."
Anna Carpenter Garlin Spencer (April 17, 1851-Feb. 12, 1931)
Unitarian Minister, professor, lecturer, and reformer, she focused her writing on ethics and social problems. She became active in the Ethical Culture movement and taught sociology and ethics at Meadville Theological School (IL). Her best known book, Woman's Share in Social Culture (1913), is a compilation of her magazine pieces, grappling with a variety of topics concerning women, such as the difficulties of the married woman wage earner, the frustrations of the talented woman, problems of unmarried and older women, as well as prostitution, divorce, and suffrage. She reflects the view that women should not only seek equality in the masculine world but also should evolve new ethical and social positions based on women's perspectives and insights. The Family and Its Members (1923) continued her campaign for a new view of the family. Earlier writings include Bell Street Chapel Discourses (1899), written and given while she was minister of this non-denominational chapel in Providence RI. "Parting Words" was published when she left that ministry in 1902. Several of her essays are available in pamphlet form, "Reason in Religion' (Providence, RI: Bell Street Chapel, 1889); "Social Ethics and Private Morality," in Ethical Addresses XV (April, 1908, pp. 193-210); For What Do Social Hygiene Associations Stand? (NY: American Social Hygiene Association, 1925). "The Duty of Religious Liberals Towards Marriage and Divorce" is included in The Unity of the Spirit: Proceedings of the First Congress of the National Federation of Religious Liberals (Philadelphia, PA, April, 1909). Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Dorothy Tilden Spoerl (Mar. 29, 1906-Dec. 2, 1999) Unitarian Universalist
Dorothy was born in Brooklyn NY. She graduated magna cum laude from Lombard College in Galesburg IL in 1927, and received a Masters degree from Boston University in 1928. She was ordained in the Universalist Church of Bath ME, and then went on to receive a PhD in psychology from Clark University. She taught psychology at American International College in Springfield MA and served as both teacher and principal at Acworth Elementary School in Langdon NH. She was curriculum editor for the Unitarian Universalist Association. She also taught at Starr King Theological School. She was minister at Hartland and Woodstock VT. She received the UUA Distinguished Service Award in 1987 and the Angus MacLean Award in Religious Education in 1984. In 1973 she received a Doctor of Sacred Theology from Starr King School of Ministry and a Doctor of Divinity from Meadville/Lombard Theological School.
Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford (Apr. 3, 1835-Aug. 14, 1921) Unitarian
As an author she was both sponsored and influenced by Unitarian minister Thomas Wentworth Higginson. She published Sir Rohan's Ghost (1860), The Amber Gods (1863), and Azarian:An
Elisabeth Rebecca Lowell Sprague (1831-1904) Unitarian
A member of King's Chapel, she was active in charitable work, and in the preservation of the State House. She also was an incorporator of the Society of Colonial Dames of America and its first registrar.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Nov. 12, 1815-Oct. 26, 1902) Unitarian connections
This famous leader of the women's rights movement was raised Presbyterian, but her daughter remembers attending Sunday school at the congregation where Octavius Brooks Frothingham was settled. Along with her close friend Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton is credited with being the torch bearer of the struggle for suffrage for women. See Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eighty Years and (1898); Elizabeth Cady Stanton as Revealed in Her Letters, Diary, and Reminiscences (2 vols., 1922). Her papers are at the Library of Congress, Vassar College Library, Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe.
Martha R. Stacy (Dates unknown) Universalist
She came from the American Board of Foreign Missions to the Universalist Japan Mission. In 1938 Martha was sent to Japan to be the House Mother at Blackmer Home. She came into Universalist fellowship in the church in Tokyo.
Grace Ellery Channing Stetson (1860-1920) Unitarian
Granddaughter of William Ellery Channing, she was a close friend of Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman. She married Charles Stetson after Charlotte divorced him and raised Charlotte's and his daughter, Katharine. A noted author, she wrote Dr. Channing's Note Book (1887); The Sister of a Saint ( 1895); Sea Drift (poetry, 1899); and The Fortune of a Day (1900). A note in St. Nicholas (December, 1898) announced another of her stories, "The Las Cruise of the `Santa Marie."
Lillian Marrion Norton Ames Stevens (Mar. 1. 1844-Apr. 6, 1914) raised Universalist
She accepted some of her father's Universalist beliefs, but she strongly supported her mother's Baptist church and was active in the temperance movement. In 1875 she helped found and became treasurer and then president of the Maine Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She also helped in the management of several local institutions to aid and reform delinquent women and children, often taking neglected children temporarily into her home. For several years she represented Maine at the National Conference of Charities and Correction and campaigned for a state women's reformatory. A suffragist, she was treasurer of the National Council of Women from 1891-95. A leader in the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, in 1903, she became vice-president of the World'sWoman's Christian Temperance Union.
Nettie Maria Stevens (July 7, 1861-May4, 1912) Unitarian
This pioneering cytologist was born in Cavandish VT, but moved to Westford MA as a young girl and graduated from Westford Academy in 1880. Westford church records show that she joined First Parish, Unitarian in 1889. She served locally as teacher and librarian until, at 35, she went to Stanford University for a Masters in Biology and on to Bryn Mawr for her PhD. She was a member of Bryn Mawr's biology department for the rest of her life, lecturing and writing widely. While studying beetles in 1905, Dr. Stevens discovered the difference between the male XY and the female XX chromosomes and was the first to publish this ground-breaking observation. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1994.
Maud Conkev Stockwell (1863-1958) Unitarian
She was the president of the Women's Suffrage Association from 1900-1910, and thereafter a member and secretary of the state executive board. In 1922 she founded and chaired the Minnesota section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and in 1926 went as a delegate to the League's Dublin conference. She also served on the Minnesota Disarmament Committee and the National Child Labor Committee. She and her husband Albert were longtime members of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis and championed many liberal causes. A grandson, William P. Everts of St. Paul, MN is writing a biography of the Stockwells.
Lucinda Hinsdale Stone (Sept. 30, 1814 - Mar. 13, 1900) Unitarian
Lucinda was born and grew up in Vermont and, as a young woman, went as a governess to Natchez MS, where she witnessed the slave culture and became a staunch abolitionist. After her marriage, she moved to Michigan, where her husband became president of Kalamazoo College while she ran the "Female Department." They entertained Frederick Douglass and his wife in their home, and Lucinda began a lifelong correspondence with Mrs. Douglass. She also supported the women's suffrage movement and was invited to sit on the platform at Susan B. Anthony's 80th birthday celebration as "one of a band of early workers for this noble reform."
Lucy Stone (Aug. 13, 1818-Oct. 18, 1893) Unitarian
Feminist, abolitionist, and suffragist, from a well-established New England family, she objected at an early age to the assigning of women to an inferior role and left the Congregational church when she learned that women could not vote. After a period of teaching, she entered Oberlin College at age 25 to study Greek and Hebrew in order to better understand Biblical passages concerning women's role. At Oberlin she became intimate with Antoinette Brown; they later married Blackwell brothers. A poem by Phebe Hanaford, reprinted in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000) describes their debate about whether to choose ministry or other means to further the cause of women's rights. When she married, Lucy decided to keep her own name; she and her husband read a protest against marriage laws (also reprinted in Standing Before Us) as part of their wedding ceremony, which was held in a Unitarian church. Lucy chose to use her energy as a lecturer and organizer in the movements for racial justice and women's rights. She became the moving force behind the woman suffrage movement in New England and founded and edited the Woman's Journal. Her letters are in the Blackwell Family Papers in the Library of Congress and at the Schlesinger Library in the Blackwell, Olympia Brown, and Anna Howard Shaw collections. A biography by Andrea Moore Kerr, Lucy Stone: Speaking Out for Equality, was published by Rutgers University Press in 1992.
Emily Howard Jennings Stowe (May 1, 1831-Apr. 30. 1903) Canadian Unitarian
Born in S. Norwich, Upper Canada (now Ontario), she was the first woman doctor in Canada, a pioneer for women's rights in education, and a member of the First Unitarian Congregation in Toronto. She began as a school teacher and became the first woman school principal in Canada in 1852. She married John Stowe and, after his illness, decided to become a physician. Because she was not permitted to enroll in the University of Toronto, she studied at the New York College of Medicine for Women, graduating in 1867. After a long fight, she was finally admitted as a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario in 1880. She was the first woman authorized to practice medicine in Canada. She eventually persuaded the University of Toronto to admit women to its medical school and gained admission for her daughter, Augusta. She became an active suffragist and formed the first suffrage group in Canada in 1877, the Toronto Women's Literary Club. An excerpt from one of her speeches to this group is included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000). In 1893, it became the Canadian Suffrage Association, with Emily as its first president. Her papers are at Victoria College, University of Toronto. Maureen Killoran has published an Occasional Paper about her, available from the UU Women's Heritage Society.
Eliza Read Sunderland (Apr. 19, 1839-Mar. 3, 1910) Unitarian
Born on a farm in Huntsville IL, she grew up with a passionate desire for education which led her to Mount Holyoke Seminary in MA, and a degree in 1865. She taught in the high school and became principal there in 1865. In 1871 she married Baptist-turned-Unitarian minister, Jabez Thomas Sunderland and followed him through pastorates in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Illinois, Mississippi, California, Ontario, and Connecticut. She earned a PhD from the University of Michigan and was president of the Women's Western Unitarian Conference (1882-87). She represented Unitarian Women of America at the World's Parliament of Religions and at the Congress of Representative Women, both held in Chicago in 1893. Her speech at the Congress was one of the best-received by the attendees.
Emma B. Sweet (Dates unknown) Unitarian
Active in the Unitarian Church in Rochester NY, she served as Susan B. Anthony's secretary for many years.