Unitarian Universalist Women's Heritage
Notable Universalist and Unitarian Women: G
Ann Sargent Gage (1794-1876) Unitarian
Her poetry and a collection of her letters are in Elizabeth Peabody's Aesthetic Papers.
Frances Dana Barker Gage (Oct. 12, 1808-Nov. 10, 1884) Universalist
Reformer, lecturer, and author, she was a Universalist early in life but left formal church affiliation when she found the Universalists lagging in the cause of abolition and other reforms. She came from an Ohio farming family, married a lawyer and iron founder, and raised eight children. Nevertheless, she found time to read avidly and write letters to newspapers concerning the three reforms of abolition, women's suffrage, and temperance, which she considered one great "triune" cause. She also published poetry and frequently contributed writings to the Ladies' Repository. Around 1850, she began a series of letters from "Aunt Fanny" in the Ohio Cultivator, a bimonthly farm journal. She also gained local fame as a speaker on reform subjects. In 1853 her family moved to St. Louis, where she became more involved with national reform leaders and wrote for Lily and Saturday Visitor. Back in Ohio during and after the Civil War, she was active in relief work, in helping resettle former slaves, and later as a lecturer. In 1867, she published a volume of Poems and a temperance novel, Elsie Magoon. Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Zona Gale (Aug. 26, 1874-Dec. 27, 1938) Unitarian connections
Novelist, playwright, essayist, and lecturer, born in Portage WI, she was strongly influenced toward liberal Christianity by the noted Chicago minister, Jenkin Lloyd Jones. Her most artistically successful novel, Miss Lulu Bett (1920), describes the banality of middle-class, small-town life--as Sinclair Lewis did in his novels. Other books, like Birth (1918) and Faint Perfume (1923), contributed to the reinterpretation of this life-style by other writers of the 1920s. In addition to her writing, she also took public responsibility to change what she critiqued. She served as Director of the American Civic Association, as a member of the Women's Trade Union League, and as vice-president of the Wisconsin Peace Society and the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association.
Laura Bowman Galer (May 12, 1877-Feb., 1956) Universalist
After graduating from teachers college, she became a teacher but later decided to become a minister and went to Ryder Divinity School (IL). In 1911, she was ordained a Universalist minister in Maresan WI. In 1912, she married Roger Galer in Wellesley Hills MA. She was a minister in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, where she served as vice president and then president of the Iowa Universalist Convention. In 1918, she became superintendent of the Elementary Department of the Universalist Sunday School Association, where she wrote quarterly study guides for church schools. From 1912-15, she was a trustee of Lombard College (IL). In 1940, she was presented with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Meadville Theological School (IL). Together, the Galers organized the first Sunday School Institute at Ryder Divinity School in 1919, and both taught there. They also served as co-editors of The Universalist Helper and wrote regularly for The Universalist Leader.
Anna Linzee Tilden Gannett (July 13, 1811-Dec. 25, 1846) Unitarian
Educated at Waldo and William Emerson's school (Boston), Anna longed to continue her learning but such opportunities weren't available. Instead she read as much as she could while working as a teacher at the school she and her sisters operated. An attentive member of Federal Street Church, Anna took notes on the many sermons she heard preached by William Ellery Channing, Henry Ware, (senior and junior), Orville Dewey, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the young Ezra Stiles Gannett. She questioned much about Christianity, and the Rev. Gannett, in trying to answer her questions, ended by asking one himself. They were married in October of 1835. Almost immediately Ezra suffered a collapse and was sent away to recover, first to the country, then to London. Anna became the ministerial counselor, filling his absence at the church while keeping him informed of events there. Finally she joined him in London. When he recovered, they returned to Boston. She died at age 35.
Anna Gardner (Dates unknown) Universalist
She wrote for the Ladies' Repository. One article "Life Among the Freedmen" (Feb. 1873) describes the vast resources which the southern part of the United States possesses and the possibilities they offer. She emphasized the potential for progress that educating Negroes represented.
Elizabeth Gaskell (Sept. 29, 1810-1865) British Unitarian
Novelist, short story writer, friend of Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, and wife of the minister of Cross Street Chapel in Manchester, England, she was at the forefront of 19th century writers who used fiction as a medium to criticize the social institutions of their day. Her first novel, Mary Barton (1848, now republished in England), caused a furor in Parliament because of its powerful description of the plight of mill hands in Manchester. Other novels include Lizzie Leigh, Ruth (1853), Cranford (1853), North and South (published in serial form beginning in 1854), The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857), The Manchester Marriage, and Wives and Daughters (published posthumously). Her Lectures and Notes have been published as well.
Mary B. Gifford (Dates unknown) Unitarian
She was the author of "The Bible," published by the Post Office Mission.
T. D. Foster Giles (Dates unknown) Canadian Unitarian
The third daughter of Helen Webster Foster and the Rev. John Foster, she wrote articles and book reviews. She married Unitarian minister, Henry Giles, who served the Montreal congregation briefly in 1842. All three sisters settled in Montreal.
Emily E. Hawley Gillespie (April 11, 1838-1888) Universalist
Emily was born and raised in Michigan on the family farm. At about 20 she went to Iowa as the "hired girl" to help her uncle manage his inn and farm. There she met and married James Gillespie. Her Universalist belief sustained her through a limited and isolated life in the early midwest, and she developed an understanding of the limitations of women's possibilities in the culture of the time. Her diary, A Secret to Be Buried (Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 1989), is a chronicle of the life of a farm family in that era.
Lucia Fidelia Wooley Gillette (Apr. 8, 1827-Oct. 14. 1905) US/Canadian Universalist
When Lucia Fidelia came to the Bloomfield Ont. Universalist Church from Rochester MI in 1888, she was probably the first ordained woman of any denomination in the province. Until 1886, women had not even served as members of church committees unless as adjuncts to their husbands, so her appointment was groundbreaking. By all accounts, Fidelia's ministry was highly successful, and the Bloomfield congregation grew by leaps and bounds during her tenure there. Daughter of a Universalist minister, she began publishing poems in The New York Tribune by age 14, and contributed many works for denominational as well as national magazines and papers. She published a biography of her father (1855), a volume of poetry, Pebbles from Shore (1879), Editorial and Other Waifs (1889), and other works. Her papers and unpublished writings were given to the Rev. Osgood and Minnie Colegrove and to the Rev. G. F. Thompson. Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Caroline Howard Gilman (Oct. 8, 1794-Sept. 15, 1888) Unitarian
This New Englander settled in Charleston SC with her Unitarian minister husband, Samuel Gilman, in 1819. She came to consider herself a southerner, attempting to unite North and South through an emphasis on the unique American institution of the family household, in which she saw women and children as the moral center. In 1832, she began The Rose-bud, one of the earliest children's magazines, and this was followed by a long stream of novels, poetry and non-fiction, such as Recollections of a Housekeeper (1834), Recollections of a Southern Matron (1838), and The Ladies' Annual Register and Housewife's Memorandum Book (1838). Firmly committed to the South during the Civil War, she wrote little after the war and was buried beside her husband in the Unitarian churchyard in Charleston.
Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman (July 3, 1860-Aug. 17, 1935) Unitarian connections
This prolific writer has been rediscovered by contemporary feminist scholars, and much of her writing is currently available in paperback and in various anthologies. Some key writings include The Yellow Wallpaper, first published 1892, available in The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader, edited by Ann J. Lane (NY: Pantheon Books, 1980); Women and Economics, first published in 1898, available in an edition edited by Carl Degler (NY: Harper and Row, 1966); and Herland, first published in 1915 (NY: Pantheon Books, 1979). She wrote one of the first books of feminist theology, His Religion and Hers: A Study of the Faith of Our Fathers and the Work of Our NY: The Century Company, 1923). Excerpts from this work are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000). Her poems, published in 1893 in In This Our World: Poems (NY: Arno, 1974), were favorite pulpit readings of Unitarian ministers.
Helen Louise Gilson (Nov. 22, 1835-Apr. 20, 1868) Universalist
This Civil War hospital worker taught school and organized a soldiers' aid society in Chelsea MA. She worked extensively in the field and on hospital ships and later with the Sanitary Commission. After the war, she worked in a Negro orphanage maintained by the Soldiers' Memorial Society of Boston, until she died in childbirth. A monument to her. a tribute from Civil War soldiers, is in Woodlawn Cemetery, Chelsea MA. Excerpts from her wartime letters are in the April and May, 1872, editions of Old and New, in "Helen L. Gilson: A Memorial," by Mrs. P.M. Clapp.
Eleanor Elizabeth Gordon (Oct. 1, 1852-Jan. 6, 1942) Unitarian
Part of the "Iowa Sisterhood," she worked throughout her life for women's rights and was a Unitarian minister for 33 years, serving churches in Sioux City, Iowa City, Burlington and Des Moines IA; Fargo ND; and Orlando FL, where she organized the church. She and Mary Safford edited Old and New for the Iowa Unitarian Association, and she served as field secretary for the State Unitarian Conference of Iowa, 1907-1910. Toward the end of her life, she wrote a letter to Frederick May Eliot (Feb. 4, 1938, Unitarian Universalist archives, Harvard Divinity School) objecting to the then-current practice of discouraging women from entering the ministry. Lisa Doege has published an Occasional Paper examining her sermons and other writings, available from the UU Women's Heritage Society. Excerpts from her writings are included in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936 (Boston: Skinner House, 2000).
Jean Margaret Gordon (1865-Feb. 24, 1931) Unitarian
Kate M. Gordon (July 14, 1861-Aug. 24, 1932) Unitarian
These sisters worked for social justice and women's suffrage in New Orleans LA. Jean worked for passage of child labor legislation and for the establishment of facilities for mentally retarded children. She opened a day nursery for working mothers and helped establish and teach in the School for Applied Sociology. Kate helped to found the New Orleans Anti-Tuberculosis League and Camp Hygeia, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Travelers Aid Society. She campaigned for adequate sewage and water systems. Together these sisters founded the Era Club to work for women's suffrage and related legislation.
Josephine T. Gould (Dates unknown) Unitarian
She wrote the parents/teachers guide for the Martin and Judy series. There is an annual discourse in her honor in the St. Lawrence District.
Margaret Graham (Dates unknown) Canadian Unitarian
Originally Presbyterian, she became Unitarian and married Albert Horton, a leading member of the Ottawa congregation. She was president of the Canadian Women's Press club, a distinguished journalist, and an advocate of women's rights.
Mary H. Graves (1839-1908) Unitarian
Mary was the second woman ordained by the American Unitarian Association.
Deborah Webster Greeley (Apr. 4, 1911-Oct. 29, 1998) Unitarian Universalist
Born a Unitarian in Lexington MA, she was a leader in the Young People's Religious Union. She attended Radcliffe College but left to marry Dana McLean Greeley, who became the first president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, alter the Unitarian and Universalist denominations merged in 1961. Debby was active in Family Week at Star Island. She was a founder of the Institute of Religion in the Age of Science, president of the Ministers' Wives Association, and one of the founders of the African American Museum in Boston. A noted herbalist, she contributed to the book, A Basket of Herbs , published by the Herb Society. She organized a group of knitters who made squares for afghans for Boston AIDS Hospice. She was an excellent cook and a masterful baker.
Mary Grew (Sept. 1, 1813-Oct. 10, 1896) Unitarian
Abolitionist and suffragist, she was born and raised in Hartford CT and settled in Philadelphia (PA) in 1834. She was co-editor of the anti-slavery journal, Pennsylvania Freeman, and for 23 years was President of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association, siding with Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe in the split with Stanton and Anthony. A founder of the New Century Club, she preached in Unitarian pulpits and attended First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Some of her letters are in the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College; a diary and letters are in the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe.
Nina H. Grieg (1845-1935) Danish/Norwegian Unitarian
She was a singer and the wife of Edvard Grieg, the composer. She donated the organ to the Unitarian Church of Copenhagen.
Hattie Tyng Griswold (Jan. 26, 1842-?) Universalist
Born in Boston she moved as a girl to Columbia WI. An early contributor to the New Covenant, she found a mentor in Mary Livermore, and wrote for other publications as well. In 1863 she married Eugene Griswold and wrote on the Civil War for Harpers Weekly. A poetry collection, Apple Blossom, was published in Milwaukee in 1874 and in Chicago in 1877. Mary Livermore credited Hattie Griswold's poem, "Dead!" with helping her cope with the deaths of Civil War soldiers: "He who for country dies, dies not,/But liveth evermore!"
Augusta Stowe Gullen (1887-1943) raised Canadian Unitarian
This daughter of Unitarian Emily Jennings Stowe was a Canadian physician, appointed demonstrator of anatomy and later professor of pediatrics at the Women's Medical College. She was the first woman elected to the Toronto board of education. She was the founder of the National Council of Women, and the President of the Women's Suffrage Association.