Olympia Brown


Suffragist and the First Woman Minister in the United States

Olympia Brown was a suffragist, the first woman to graduate from a theological school, and the first woman minister in the United States.* In 1863, the Universalist Church ordained Brown, the first woman ordained by that denomination. She was also one of the first generation suffragists who survived long enough [Read More ...]

Antoinette Brown Blackwell


First Ordained Woman Minister and Social Reformer

Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825–1921), was the first woman to be ordained as a minister in the United States. She was also a well-versed public speaker on the social reform issues of her time, and used her religious faith in her efforts to expand women's rights. Always ahead of her time, she wrote prolifically [Read More ...]

Mary Baker Eddy


First Woman to Found a Major Religion in the United States

Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910) was an influential American author, teacher and religious leader, noted for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health, which she named Christian Science. She articulated those ideas in her major work, Science and Health (1875). Four years later she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, [Read More ...]

Henriette Delille


Black History Month: Creole Nun

Henriette DeLille (1813–1862) founded the Catholic order of the Sisters of the Holy Family, made up of free women of color in New Orleans. The order provided nursing care and a home for orphans, later establishing schools as well. In 1989 the order formally opened its cause with the Vatican in the canonization of Henriette [Read More ...]

Julia Foote


Female Preacher in the Civil War Era

Julia A. J. Foote's autobiography, A Brand Plucked from the Fire (1879), is representative of a large number of similar texts published by women who believed that Christianity had made them the spiritual equals of men and hence equally authorized to lead the church. Although her autobiography attacks racism and other social abuses, [Read More ...]

Amanda Smith


African American Evangelist and Missionary

Amanda Berry Smith, a preacher and missionary, was a former slave who became an inspiration to thousands of women both black and white. During a forty-five-year missionary career of arduous travel on four continents, this self-educated former slave and washerwoman became a highly visible and well-respected leader despite intense opposition to women in public ministry, [Read More ...]